In what China dismisses as a "sheer farce" and "meaningless sensationalism," efforts to rename the road in front of its embassy in Washington, DC, after a dissident are gathering steam. An amendment that would make the embassy's new address 1 Liu Xiaobo Plaza—after a Nobel Peace Prize-winning dissident serving 11 years for subversion—was added to the annual State Department spending bill by GOP Rep. Frank Wolf, the BBC reports. The bill passed a House panel earlier this week, but still needs to be passed by the House and Senate.
The change would send a "clear and powerful message that the United States remains vigilant and resolute in its commitment to safeguard human rights around the globe," Wolf says. A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman told reporters yesterday that people were using "so-called human rights and the Liu Xiaobo case" to "smear" China, but declined to say whether Beijing would rename the road on which the American embassy sits as retaliation. Online commenters in China, however, have offered suggestions including "Torture Prisoners Street," "Snowden Street," "Osama bin Laden Road," and "Lewinsky," reports the New York Times, which notes that there is US precedent for such a change: The road outside the then-Soviet embassy was renamed for dissident Andrei Sakharov in the 1980s. (Read more embassy stories.)