Author and pro-democracy activist Liu Xiaobo will receive the Nobel Peace Prize in absentia, today, as Chinese officials continue to hold him in prison. In 1989, Liu was working at Columbia University in New York, when news of the protests in Tiananmen Square reached him: he decided to go home. His ongoing writing advocating the end of one-party rule in China earned him acclaim overseas and a prison sentence at home. Who is the man receiving the Nobel Peace Prize today? We talk about Liu and his work with Andrew Nathan, professor of political science at Columbia University, who sponsored Liu's travel to New York. We also speak with Carroll Bogert, associate director at Human Rights Watch. This excerpt from Liu's writing first appeared on the website of Human Rights in China, back in 2007, as part of a piece on child labor in brick-making factories: the "black kilns" he refers to. It is not a lack of humanity on the part of individual officials that makes the Hu-Wen regime so cold-blooded, but the barbarism of the dictatorship itself. As long as it is a dictatorship, it will never learn to respect life and protect human rights. A ruling clique that makes maintenance of its own monopoly on power its first priority cannot treasure the lives of its people, including those of its children. It is precisely because a dictatorship does not treat people as human beings that such heinous crimes can take place. In short, dictatorial power is as cold as ice. Officials of all ranks who keep their sight only on their own positions cannot feel warmth. Since the Communist Party of China (CPC) took power, generations of CPC dictators have cared most about their own power and least about human life. Without systemic change, evils like the black kilns will hardly be touched, let alone rooted out.

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