News / Asia

China Urges No Nobel Peace Prize for Chinese Dissident

Pro-democracy lawmakers and activities hold the picture of Liu Xiaobo protest outside the China's liaison office in Hong Kong (file photo – 25 June 2009)
Pro-democracy lawmakers and activities hold the picture of Liu Xiaobo protest outside the China's liaison office in Hong Kong (file photo – 25 June 2009)

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Stephanie Ho

China says jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo should not be considered for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, which will be announced in Oslo next week. There are reports that Chinese officials have warned the Nobel committee that giving Liu the prize would harm relations between China and Norway.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu would not say Liu Xiaobo's name, but she said Tuesday that China does not believe he is the kind of person the Nobel Committee should consider for the Peace Prize.

Jiang says Liu is in prison for violating Chinese laws, which she says is in "complete contrast" with the Nobel Peace Prize's purpose. She said Chinese law guarantees citizens freedom of speech but that this should be carried out within what she described as the country's "framework of laws and regulations."

Liu convicted of subversion

Fifty-four year old Liu was convicted of subversion for helping organize the Charter 08 manifesto, which called for sweeping political reforms. He was detained shortly before it was released online in December 2008. A year later, he was tried and sentenced to 11 years in prison.

Before that, he was prominent in student-led pro-democracy protests centered on Beijing's Tiananmen Square. Troops crushed the protests on June 4, 1989.

International attention to Liu's case has been growing. Earlier this month, Czech former President Vaclav Havel signed his name to a public letter calling on the Nobel Committee to honor Liu Xiaobo for what the letter describes as "unflinching and peaceful advocacy for reform."

Charter 08 was modeled on Charter 77, a manifesto that was a rallying document for activists in the former Czechoslovakia.

Award would affect Oslo, Beijing relations

The head of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, Geir Lundestad, recently said Deputy Chinese Foreign Minister Fu Ying told him that awarding the peace prize to a Chinese dissident would affect relations between Oslo and Beijing.

Fu told reporters in Beijing Tuesday that she does not remember the meeting.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang says China accepts that it will have differences with other countries over human rights.

Jiang says China believes disputes over human rights are normal, and that Beijing does not intend to place pressure over this issue.

She says she believes China and Norway are friendly countries, and that relations between the two could proceed.

She adds that China's idea of human rights includes allowing the country's more than one billion people to "enjoy development and a peaceful life."

The Nobel Committee announces this year's Peace Prize on October 8.

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