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China warns Norway's Nobel Institute not to award peace prize to democracy activist Liu Xioabo

October 3, 2010

China has warned the head of Norway's Nobel
Institute not to award this year's Nobel peace
prize to a jailed Chinese pro-democracy activist,
saying that the move would risk damaging relations between Beijing and Oslo.
Telegraph (UK)
September 28, 2010

Beijing: Liu Xiaobo was charged with 'inciting
subversion of state power' and given 11 years in prison Photo: REUTERS

A campaign is growing inside and outside China
for the award to be given to Liu Xiaobo, a
dissident academic who was sentenced to 11 years
in prison last Christmas for circulating a
petition calling for greater democratic and legal rights in China.

Geir Lundestad, the director of the Nobel
Institute, said the warning had been issued by
Madame Fu Ying, China's deputy foreign minister
and former ambassador to London, at a meeting at the Chinese embassy in Oslo.

"(Such a decision) would pull the wrong strings
in relations between Norway and China, it would
be seen as an unfriendly act," Mr Lundestad told
the Norwegian news agency NTB, recalling Fu's comments at the meeting.

On Tuesday a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman
reiterated the minister's warning, saying that
awarding Mr Liu said that would send the wrong message.

"This person was sentenced to jail because he
violated Chinese law," she told a news briefing in Beijing.

"His actions are diametrically opposed to the
aims of the Nobel prize. Mr Nobel's behest was
that the Nobel Peace Prize be awarded to somebody
who promoted peace between peoples, promoted
international friendship and disarmament."

China's warning comes at a time when Oslo and
Beijing are in the midst of trade negotiations
that could see Norway exporting its expertise in
offshore oil and gas drilling to China.

However, Mr Lundestad said that the secretive
five-man peace prize committee would not be
swayed by Chinese pressure. "China has come with
warnings before, but they have no influence on the committee's work," he said.

The award is due to be announced on October 8.

China has been angered by the decisions of the
Nobel committee in the past, as in 1989 when
Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama,
won in the year of the Tiananmen Square crackdown.

Mr Liu, a 54-year-old former literature
professor, circulated the Charter 08 petition
calling for greater human rights and freedoms in
China, echoing the Charter 77 issued by
Czechoslovakian dissidents during the era of Soviet occupation.

Last week Vaclav Havel and several other key
architects of Charter 77 wrote an open letter to
the Nobel Committee urging it to honour Mr Liu
and make him the first Chinese recipient of the award.

"In doing so, the Nobel Committee would signal
both to Liu and to the Chinese government that
many inside China and around the world stand in
solidarity with him, and his unwavering vision of
freedom and human rights for the 1. 3 billion people of China," they wrote.

Within China several petitions and open letters
have been circulating informally on the internet
calling for support for Mr Liu's stand to be recognised.

One open letter circulating from a retired
professor of politics, said that the award would
serve as a timely warning to China's leaders that
they cannot afford to ignore human rights.

"International society urgently needs to remind
the Chinese authority that it cannot destroy the
constitution, ignore the rule of law and do
whatever it likes to do," said the author. "To
award Liu Xiaobo the Nobel Prize would be an
authoritative and effective reminder as well as
an indirect protest against what the authority
has done." Another leading academic, He Weifang,
a law professor who signed Charter 08 and was
'exiled' to a provincial university in the far
western province of Xinjiang as a result, told
*The Telegraph* he would be delighted if Mr Liu won the prize.

"Personally I think it is an excellent proposal.
Xiaobo deserves it as a respected scholar. To
make him the winner would also reflect well on
committee. Last year the prize was been given to
President Obama, which caused great controversy.
I think if it goes to Xiaobo, there won't be much argument."
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