My Take
PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 June, 2014, 3:13am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 June, 2014, 3:18am

China, United States go to extremes over farce

BIO

Alex Lo is a senior writer at the South China Morning Post. He writes editorials and the daily “My Take” column on page 2. He also edits the weekly science and technology page in Sunday Morning Post.
 

The central government's propaganda machine has a habit of dismissing things it doesn't like as "farce".

Occupy Central's mock referendum, which has attracted more than 740,000 voters, has been denounced as "an illegal farce". This week, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying dismissed as "a complete farce" a US congressional move to rename the street where the Chinese embassy is located in Washington after jailed Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo.

Actually, this is a bit of a farce. I am all for releasing Liu unconditionally, but the new address will serve no other purpose than provoking Beijing.

The US House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to the Fiscal Year 2015 State and Foreign Operations Bill that would force the State Department to rename the street. Instead of 3505 International Place, NW, the embassy will have a new address: No 1 Liu Xiaobo Plaza. In the 1980s, the State Department renamed the street outside the Soviet embassy as Andrei Sakharov Plaza, after the dissident nuclear physicist.

One reason the amendment went so far in the US legislature is because it was sponsored by the influential but retiring representative Frank Wolf, who spent much of the last 34 years climbing up the ranks of the powerful committee in charge of, you guess it, funding. A Republican who represents Virginia, Wolf is a master of pork-barrel politics and has exploited his position to steer massive federal funds to booming north Virginia. Now that's "real" democracy at work.

To be fair, Chinese communists invented this sort of provocation. During the Cultural Revolution, Red Guards renamed the street outside the Soviet embassy in Beijing "Anti-Revisionism Road", the ideological tag used against communist Russia after the Sino-Soviet split.

Even so, China is now incensed. Hey, don't get mad, get even. The bill wouldn't come into effect till next fiscal year, so there's plenty of time to rename the address of the US embassy in Beijing. In Chinese online forums, various names have been proposed.

How about No 1 Edward Snowden Boulevard or Guantanamo Bay Avenue for the US embassy?

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