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China Dissident Wants Wife to Collect Nobel Prize

Tuesday, 12 October 2010 07:03 AM

BEIJING — China's jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo has asked his wife to collect the award in Oslo, she said on Tuesday, as the Chinese government pressed the case that it is the victim of Western prejudice and plotting.

This isnt' the first time the prize has infuriated Chinese officials. In 1989, it went to the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing also reviles. The Dalai Lama has congratulated Liu.

"Xiaobo told me he hopes I can go to Norway to receive the prize for him," Liu Xia said by telephone from her home in western Beijing, where she is under virtual house arrest.

"I think it will be very difficult," she added, when asked whether she thought the government would allow her to go.

Liu Xia said the government had not yet explicitly told her she would not be allowed to go to Norway. The prize will be bestowed formally on Dec. 10 in Oslo.

China has condemned Norway's government, which has no say over the prize, and Oslo's fisheries ministry said on Tuesday the Chinese had cancelled a second meeting with a Norwegian minister.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said awarding the prize to Liu, who is serving 11 years in jail on subversion charges, would not shake China's one-party political system.

"Some politicians in some countries have seized on this chance to speak ill of China. This shows a lack of respect for China's judicial system, and it also leads one to suspect their true motives," Ma told a regular news conference.

"If anyone wants to adopt this method as a way to alter China's political system, to stand in the way of the forward advance of the Chinese people, then plainly they have miscalculated," Ma said.

But China's loud criticism of foreign governments over the prize was mainly for home consumption, said Nicholas Bequelin, a researcher who specializes in China for Human Rights Watch, an international group critical of Beijing's rights restrictions.

"Beijing's strong words are essentially theatrics directed at a domestic audience, with the Chinese government trying to cast the prize as another instance of the West trying to keep down China," Bequelin said in e-mailed comments.

"Portraying what is essentially a symbolic gesture of support to China's civil society as an attack against China by the West is a tried and tested technique of the Chinese government to deflect criticism and appeal to nationalist sentiment," he said.

Liu Xia, who said she was only being allowed out to see her parents and buy food, and only then in a police car, said she was not surprised by Beijing's tone.

"The government always says this," she said.

Her husband, whom she was allowed to see at his prison in northeastern China over the weekend, was taking the news solemnly and with a grave sense of responsibility, Liu Xia said.

"He said this prize should go to all the victims of June 4," she said, referring to the bloody 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protesters around Tiananmen Square, a movement Liu was deeply involved in. "He felt sad, quite upset. He cried. He felt it was hard to deal with."

Diplomats from the European Union as well as Australia and Switzerland unsuccessfully tried to visit Liu's wife in her apartment on Monday but were blocked.

The U.S. Embassy urged China to lift any restrictions on Liu Xia and earlier President Barack Obama called for Liu's release.

Asked about Obama's comments, Ma said: "We oppose anyone using this matter to stir up a fuss and oppose anyone interfering in China's internal affairs".

China's ruling Communist Party has long reacted angrily to pressure over its restrictions on political and legal rights of citizens, and the Nobel Prize for the prominent dissident has prompted vehement media comment in Beijing.

The Global Times, a popular tabloid that party mouthpiece People's Daily runs, said in a commentary on Tuesday that the Nobel committee members, who "live in luxury," had no right to pass judgment on China's legal system.

"This is not a dispute about democracy, but an incitement for 'dissidents' to break Chinese law," it wrote. 

© 2018 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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BEIJING China's jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo has asked his wife to collect the award in Oslo, she said on Tuesday, as the Chinese government pressed the case that it is the victim of Western prejudice and plotting.This isnt' the first time the prize has...
Tuesday, 12 October 2010 07:03 AM
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