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China Denounces Foreign Backers of Nobel Winner

China Denounces Foreign Backers of Nobel Winner

China says the decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to an imprisoned Chinese dissident was the same as encouraging crime in the country.

The remark Thursday by Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu was the latest in a series of angry responses to last Friday's announcement of the award to pro-democracy activist Liu Xiaobo.

Several countries have called on China to release Liu, and on Thursday Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said it would be "desirable" for Liu to be set free. The dissident is serving an 11-year prison term on charges of inciting subversion.

But Ma showed no sign of compromise at a press briefing Thursday. He said the award was "equivalent to encouraging crimes in China" and a violation of the nation's judicial sovereignty.

Mr. Kan's remark to a parliamentary committee risked re-igniting a bitter dispute between China and Japan over a group of islands in the East China Sea.

Mr. Kan told the committee that relations between the countries have improved and are now back to "the starting point of a mutually beneficial strategic partnership."

Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.