The Chinese government said the award to Liu Xiaobo 'profanes the
Nobel Peace Prize.' The immediate future may see more activists
arrested, warns Mr. Liu's lawyer.
Infuriating the Chinese government, the Nobel Committee today
awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize to imprisoned pro-democracy
activist Liu Xiaobo.
The committee said it had picked Mr. Liu, the first Chinese
recipient, for his "long and non-violent struggle for fundamental
human rights in China." He was sentenced to an unusually harsh 11-
year jail term last Christmas Day for having authored a petition
demanding broad political reform in China.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said the award
"profanes the Nobel Peace Prize" in a statement carried on the
ministry's website. Liu "was sentenced to jail...for violation of
Chinese law and I think his acts are in complete contravention to
the purpose of the Nobel Peace Prize," Mr. Ma said.
Liu Xiaobo awarded Nobel Peace Prize. Take the Nobel Peace prize
Liu's wife, Liu Xia, told the Monitor that she hopes the award
"will be an opportunity to help China become a mainstream civilized
society." She hoped too, she adds, that it would lead to the early
release of her husband, to whom police were taking her Friday
evening for a prison visit.
Chinese websites carried no news of the award other than a brief
report from the state-run Xinhua news agency quoting Mr. Ma's
statement. References to Liu's award were being deleted from
Internet chatrooms, and mobile phone operators blocked all text
messages containing the three Chinese characters forming Liu's name.
Chinese activists emboldened
Human rights activists in Beijing heard and welcomed the news,
however. "I am so very glad because we are not alone any more," says
Cui Weiping, a democracy advocate who teaches at the China Film
Academy. "Our actions are approved and supported by the whole
"In the long run...this will encourage Chinese human rights
activists to strive for democracy and freedom," agrees Teng Biao,
In the immediate future, however, he fears that "the government's
control over human rights issues will be even stronger. More
activists may be arrested."
Rebuke to Chinese authorities
The Nobel Committee made it plain that it intended the award as a
rebuke to the Chinese authorities, which it accused of breaching the
Chinese Constitution's own safeguards of human rights such as the
freedoms of speech, assembly, and of the press.
"In practice these freedoms have proved to be distinctly
curtailed for China's citizens," the committee's statement said. …