The shock and surprise at the naming of US President Barack Obama as winner of the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize has mostly died down. Critics questioned what in his record justifies giving him the prize, and many suggested alternative winners winners. Now Guo Shuqing, chairman of China Construction Bank, has told the Wall Street Journal in an exclusive interview that there are "ten times as many reasons for Hu Jintao to win it."
Guo cited Hu’s contributions to the North Korea nuclear disarmament talks, peace in the Asia-Pacific region, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and for his efforts to reduce poverty at home.
That is an impressive list, but is Hu really any more qualified to win the Nobel Peace Prize than Obama? While Hu has arguably accomplished more – he’s been in office for about six more years than Obama, after all – none of the accomplishments that Guo cited seem really Nobel-worthy. Hu has played a major role in the North Korea nuclear disarmament talks, but those talks are far from over. As for helping poor Chinese to escape poverty, yes, Hu has made efforts to improve people’s chances of raising their standard of living, but that could be said about every Chinese leader since Deng Xiaoping began opening China up to the outside world over 30 years ago.
But Guo wasn’t as much trying to suggest that the Nobel committee should have awarded Hu the prize as he was trying to expose the double standards of the international community in its dealings with China. It’s not a new argument, but recent trade disagreements have led to what appears from China to be a rising tide of protectionism. That’s hardly a recipe for international peace and understanding.