The not-so-subtle diplomatic tactic of renaming streets to troll other countries

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China’s Washington Embassy (Google Maps)

China’s Washington embassy is getting a new address, according to The Washington Post’s Dr. Gridlock blog: No. 1 Liu Xiaobo Plaza. The move comes after a vote from the House Appropriations Committee on Tuesday, whose members want to rename the street as a protest of Beijing’s human rights record.

Liu Xiabo is perhaps one of China’s most famous dissidents, a writer who was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 but has not been able to receive it because he has been detained since 2008. Liu’s wife, Liu Xiu, has described their situation as “Kafkaesque” in a rare interview in 2012.

Is renaming U.S. streets as a way to criticize other countries a wise move? China evidently doesn’t think so. “We believe that the U.S. people will not like to see a U.S. street be named after a criminal,” a spokesperson for the Chinese embassy told The Post. On Weibo, Chinese Internet users have made some suggestions for renaming their own streets, including “Osama bin Laden Road” and “Lewinsky.”

However, it’s certainly not an unprecedented move. In 1984, then-Sen. Al D’Amato (R-N.Y.) helmed a successful attempt to rename the street outside the Soviet Embassy on 16th Street NW after Andrei Sakharov, a human rights activist and 1975 Nobel Peace Prize winner.


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