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October 11, 2010

Beijing Says Nobel Committee Disrespects China's Judicial System

China has again lashed out at the granting of the Nobel Peace Prize to jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo. A Foreign Ministry spokesman also made clear that Beijing blames the Norwegian government for the award.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu criticized the Nobel Committee for awarding this year's Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo - whom he did not mention by name.

Ma says the Norwegian Nobel committee's decision to present the Peace Prize to a Chinese convict shows no respect for the Chinese judicial system.

Ma also said Tuesday that is up to Chinese judicial authorities whether Liu Xiaobo will be allowed to go to Oslo to receive his prize in person.

Ma also said he had no information about Liu's wife, who apparently is under house arrest. He did not directly answer questions about whether Liu Xia - who has not been convicted of violating Chinese law - would be allowed to go to Norway to accept the prize on her husband's behalf.

The Nobel Committee is based in Norway but is a private organization. Ma, however, made it clear that China especially blames the Norwegian government for the award.

Ma says the Norwegian government supports what he described as the Nobel Committee's "erroneous decision." He also says the move has hurt relations and has, in his words, "made the Chinese people unhappy."

He gave no details about how Norway can improve relations, but said only that "a responsible government should know what it has to do."

Ma also did not have any direct answer to a question about whether China plans to retaliate against all countries that support Liu's Nobel.

Fellow dissident Dai Qing said she shed tears when she heard the news.

Dai says she cried because since the People's Republic of China was founded 60 years ago, she felt so many Chinese people have been bullied, murdered or exiled. Now, she says, the award is a signal that there are people around the world who support Chinese dissidents.

Dai says she does not always agree with Liu Xiaobo, but wholeheartedly welcomes the award. She says the award is not just for one person. She calls Liu a symbol for all Chinese activists, many of whom are less well known and, therefore, easily forgotten.

Liu has spent more than 20 years calling for political reform in his country. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2009 because of his key role in drafting Charter 08, a manifesto calling for change. More than 10,000 people have since signed the charter online.