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Three Questions: China and Nobel-Winning Dissident

A Japanese protester holding a placard with a message reading, "Free (Nobel Peace Prize winner) Dr. Liu Xiaobo," marches down streets in central Tokyo as an estimated 2,500 protesters take to the streets in a protest against China, 16 Oct 2010.

The wife of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo has invited more than 100 Chinese dissidents and celebrities to represent her husband at the Nobel award ceremony in Oslo. In an open letter circulating on the Internet, Liu Xia writes that it is very unlikely that she or her husband will be allowed to leave China to attend the December 10 event. Liu Xiaobo is in prison for his pro-democracy activities and Liu Xia has been confined to her home since her husband won the prize.

Dr. Yang Jianli, President of U.S.-based Initiatives for China, said that the Nobel Peace Prize award should be seen in China as a positive for the country.

What should the Chinese government do with Liu Xiaobo winning the Nobel Peace Prize?

The Chinese dissident's winning of the Nobel Peace Prize actually has given the Chinese government an opportunity to move one step forward. But unfortunately, the Chinese government always keeps the old mentality that they think this is something against them. They should change their mentality so that they would see things differently, so that both the government and the people can come up with a consensus on how to push China to the peaceful transition to democracy. That's why I say there is a window of opportunity for the government to come up with a good decision, the decision that will put them on the right side of history.

Do you think the Chinese government will allow Liu Xiaobo or his wife to accept this award?

The chance for Liu himself or his wife to come out [of China] to receive the award at the award ceremony is very limited. I don't think it is likely. But, we still have a month to work on it. So, I still have hope and I always have hope. If we have a goal, we must have hope. The goal is to get Liu Xiaobo or at least his wife to come out to receive the award. The significance of their coming out to receive the award is that it will give the Chinese government an opportunity to open up, to be at ease with things like that. They will soon find that to let a dissident come out to receive an award and go back to China is not a big deal. People will be peaceful and China will, if they want, embark on the way toward democracy in a peaceful way. So, there is nothing to be afraid of.

If there is nothing to be afraid of, the government would not have blocked all the news coverage of Liu Xiaobo winning the Nobel Peace Prize.

I think definitely the Chinese government is afraid of free information, but I always say that there is nothing to be afraid of, even on their part. Although they do everything to control the information, the information would go back to China any way. Nobody can totally control information in a modern technology era. The Chinese government will find that, if they try these efforts [control information], such efforts will not succeed in the 21st century.