News / Asia

China Reasserts Displeasure about Nobel Peace Prize

A picture of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo is carried by a protester during a rally demanding his release outside China's Liaison Office in Hong Kong, 11 Oct 2010
A picture of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo is carried by a protester during a rally demanding his release outside China's Liaison Office in Hong Kong, 11 Oct 2010

China is again lashing out at the international community for awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo - with just a little more than one week to go before the ceremony in Norway.

The Chinese government is accusing the Nobel Prize Committee of openly supporting criminal activities in China, by awarding this year's peace prize to the jailed writer.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu described Liu as a criminal who is spending time in prison because he broke Chinese law.

Jiang says awarding this year's Nobel peace prize to a Chinese criminal is, in her words, "a flagrant provocation and interference in China's judicial sovereignty."

Liu is a writer and a long-time democracy activist.  In 2009, he was convicted of subversion and sentenced to 11 years in prison.  He was one of the key organizers of Charter 08, a manifesto calling for sweeping political reform and constitutional guarantees.

The spokeswoman again pointed out that the Chinese government believes the award is a political act, specifically aimed at insulting China.

Jiang says the case of Liu Xiaobo is not about freedom of speech or human rights, but about about respecting China's judicial sovereignty.

She defends China's social system and development path and says other countries have no right to interfere.

The Nobel Peace Prize may not be picked up this year, because the laureate is in prison and China is not likely to let anyone from his family leave the country to attend the ceremony.

Nobel Institute Director Geir Lundestad says there is past precedent for awardees not showing up in person.

Carl von Ossietzky, an opponent of Hitler, could not come in 1936.  Andrei Sakharov didn't come in 1975.  Lech Walesa did not come in 1983.  Aung San Suu Kyi did not come in 1991.  And, Liu Xiaobo will not be coming this year,” he said.  “And some have, in fact, argued that these are the most significant prizes in our 109 year history."

Liu's wife, Liu Xia, is under house arrest in Beijing and his other family members are under tight police surveillance.

Chinese authorities also are preventing Liu's friends from going to Oslo to show their support.   And, they are quizzing foreign journalists about whether they know of any commemorative gatherings planned in China on the day of the Nobel ceremony, December 10.

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