News / Asia

China Snubs Norway Again in Nobel Prize Dispute

Beijing cancels performances of Norwegian musical as 'punishment' for Peace Prize going to jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo

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
Diaa Bekheet

China has canceled performances of a Norwegian musical as "punishment" for the Nobel Peace Prize going to jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo.

Tuesday's announcement is the latest in a series of actions China has taken to show its displeasure with Norway, the Nobel Institute's home country, over the prize.

The composer of Some Sunny Night, Thomas Stanghelle, announced Tuesday that Chinese authorities have canceled the musical's November performances in Wuhan and Beijing.  He told a Norwegian newspaper the action was taken as a punishment for jailed dissident Liu.

China's Foreign Ministry has said foreign politicians have shown "disrespect for China's judicial system" by supporting the awarding of the prize to Liu, a pro-democracy activist who is serving an 11-year prison term on charges of inciting subversion.

Liu's wife, Liu Xia, was quoted Tuesday by Reuters news agency as saying her husband has asked her to go to Oslo, Norway, to pick up the prize on his behalf. She said she thought it was unlikely she would be given permission to travel.  Her phone service has been restored after being cut off Monday, but Liu says she is still unable to meet with friends or leave her home without a police escort.

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing sent e-mails to reporters on Tuesday saying China should respect the rights of Liu Xia and that she "should be allowed to move freely without harassment."

In a separate interview with the Associated Press, Liu Xia said her husband has begun receiving better food in prison since Monday.  She said Liu's brother told her he is now receiving individually prepared meals with rice rather than portions from a large pot cooked for many prisoners.

Also Tuesday, China canceled a second meeting with Norway's fisheries minister. Authorities in Norway said Fisheries Minister Lisbeth Berg-Hansen will give up on her visit to Beijing after being snubbed for a second time this week.  Chinese officials had warned earlier that relations with Norway would suffer if Liu was awarded the peace prize, and Beijing responded angrily when the Nobel committee announced its decision Friday.

A delegation of diplomats from 11 European Union countries tried unsuccessfully to visit Liu at her home on Monday.  A spokesman said uniformed guards prevented the group from entering.

EU political secretary Simon Sharpe said the delegation was told they could not enter the house unless someone came out to meet them.  Sharpe said that was not possible because there was no way to telephone Liu.

VOA correspondent Stephanie Ho had the same experience when she and other reporters tried to visit Liu on Monday.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP.

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