Thursday, 9 December 2010

Liu Xiaobo | Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize has chosen a worthy candidate.


(Reuters) - China stepped up rhetoric against Norway's Nobel Committee on Friday, hours ahead of the awarding of the peace prize to jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo, with media accusing it and the West of putting China "on trial."

Infuriated by the Committee's award to a man it labels a subversive and a criminal, Beijing has let the row with the Nobel Committee spill over into wider diplomacy, criticizing the West for trying to force its ideas onto China.

The Nobel Committee said on Thursday human rights were basic "universal values" but Communist Party ideologists consider the phrase to be code words for Western liberal values.

"Today in Norway's Oslo, there will be a farce staged: 'The Trial of China'," popular tabloid the Global Times, which is run by Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily, said in an editorial.

"Recently Western public opinion has not stopped cheering for the Nobel Committee, they are attempting to describe China's 'loss of face' and 'embarrassment'," it said. "No matter how strong the West's opinion, its slap will not be that strong, it will not be able to hoodwink the public."

China jailed Liu last Christmas Day for 11 years for subversion of state power and for being the lead author of Charter 08, a manifesto calling for democratic reform in the one-party state.

Authorities have conducted a sweeping crackdown against activists in the run-up to the Oslo gala and have prevented Liu's friends and family from attending.

The Nobel committee has decided to represent the laureate with an empty chair during the ceremony, in what it said was a symbol of Chinese policy to isolate and repress dissidents.

It will be the first time that a laureate under detention has not been formally represented since Nazi Germany barred pacifist Carl von Ossietzky from attending in 1935.


Gao Mingxuan, a Chinese criminal law expert, told state-run Xinhua news agency Liu had been "inciting people to subvert the legitimate state power of the people's democratic dictatorship that is under the leadership of the Communist Party of China and overthrow the socialist system."

"These words went beyond the scope of free speech and were harmful to society," Gao said. "If Chinese people do act according to his desire, the country will surely suffer from wars and conflicts, destroying the present peace which China has gained with great efforts."

Gao's comments echo the position of China's Foreign Ministry which said on Thursday Liu's articles were meant to "stir up and overthrow China's political authority and social system."

Chinese leaders, who fear broad-based opposition like the 1989 Tiananmen protests, have to tackle hundreds of cases of social unrest daily in the world's most populous country.

China views criticism of its human rights record as a bid to contain its growing might and it has repeatedly said any changes to its political system should not emulate Western democracies.

Now the world's second-largest economy, China sees the award as a denial of the dramatic changes that have taken place since it decided to open to the outside world in the late 1970s.
"Those few gentlemen in Oslo may think that because of the fame of the Nobel, coupled with the support of some Western political forces, they will win an 'applause'. They are wrong!" the People's Daily said in an editorial.
Oslo wanted to use the award "to change the direction of China's development," the newspaper said, adding the award exposed "the sinister intentions" of the West.
China also was outraged when the Dalai Lama, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, won the prize in 1989.
Beijing has used its economic influence in pressuring diplomats to boycott the ceremony, saying the "vast majority" of nations would do so. The Norwegian award committee says two-thirds of those invited would attend.
(Additional reporting by Huang Yan; Editing by Robert Birsel)

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