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"As long as human rights are violated, there can be no foundation for peace. How can peace grow where speaking the truth is itself a crime?"

China denounces Nobel contender

October 10, 2008

By Mure Dickie in Beijing
The Financial Times (UK)
October 9, 2008

Beijing on Thursday responded to speculation that a jailed Chinese
dissident might win the Nobel Peace Prize by denouncing him as a
criminal and warning that honouring him would amount to meddling in
China's internal affairs.

The tone of the remarks by Qin Gang, Chinese foreign ministry
spokesman, suggested real concern in Beijing that Hu Jia, an
outspoken campaigner for the rights of people with Aids and other
disadvantaged groups, is seen as a serious contender for this year's
prize, which is to be announced on Friday.

Such a choice by the Norwegian Nobel Committee would be a major
public relations setback for the administration of Hu Jintao, Chinese
president, which has been largely untroubled by international
criticism of its treatment on dissidents and social activists in the
last few years.

A crackdown on critics this year that was widely seen as being linked
to the August Beijing Olympics drew little diplomatic protest. The
jailing of Mr Hu for three years on subversion charges in April was
seen by fellow activists as part of the pre-games crackdown.

Mr Hu, who had been confined to his home for months before his formal
arrest, had become one of the government's boldest critics, using the
internet to repeatedly challenge what he saw as the illegal conduct
of officials and judicial authorities.

However, the foreign ministry on Thursday said Mr Hu would be an
unworthy peace prize choice.

"Everyone knows what sort of person Hu Jia is. He is a criminal
because he committed the crime of inciting subversion of state
power," Mr Qin told a regular press conference.

"If the so-called prize is given to this kind of person, that would
be crude meddling in China's domestic affairs, in its judicial
independence and sovereignty," he said in remarks that were markedly
more direct than ministry statements on the same topic earlier this week.

In 1999, Beijing issued similar public warnings against the rumoured
choice of exiled dissidents Wei Jingsheng and Wang Dan. Chinese
diplomats also lobbied the Nobel Institute hard against such a
choice. That prize was actually awarded to the medical charity
Médecins Sans Frontières.

Nobel predictions are often wrong as the five-member prize committee
conducts its discussions in secret and does not disclose its
nominees. China has paid close attention to its proceedings since the
Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan leader, won the prize in 1989.
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