International Affairs

China claims 100 countries stand against Nobel Peace Prize award

BEIJING: China claimed to have the support of more than 100 countries and organisations in its campaign against the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Tuesday. She labelled the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony a “farce”.

“In fact I want to tell the Nobel Prize Committee that they are self directing and performing an anti-China farce. We are against anyone who makes an issue out of the Liu Xiaobo matter to intervene with China’s domestic affairs and judicial supremacy,” she said.

China has sent letters to foreign ministries and embassies urging diplomats to stay away from the ceremony and warned of “consequences” for those who support the pro-democracy activist. Beijing has also put trade talks with Norway on hold.

“More than 100 nations and organizations in the world have clearly presented their support for China’s stance to oppose the Nobel Prize Committee this year. I think this has fully proven that the majority of the international society don’t accept the wrong decision of the Nobel Prize Committee,” she said.

Shortly after China’s statement, the Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize Committee named 19 countries, including China, which have declined invitations to attend the Nobel Prize ceremony on Friday (December 10).The countries named were: Russia, Kazakhstan, Colombia, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Serbia, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Venezuela, the Philippines, Egypt, Sudan, Ukraine, Cuba and Morocco.

The countries declined the invitation “for various reasons”, the Nobel prize committee said in a statement. Their decision to skip the event will disappoint members of China’s dissident community who had hoped countries will put human rights first, said Zeng Jinyan wife of imprisoned AIDS activist Hu Jia.

“I know that many countries are now considering economic interests and trades as the priorities during their daily international dealings. However, lots of Chinese people and the applicability of human rights require that everyone prioritizes human rights,” she said.

The Nobel committee has said that China had carried out an unprecedented campaign to keep envoys away from the gala for Liu, who is serving an 11-year jail term for his calls to boost human rights and democracy in China.Tang Jitian, a rights lawyer working in Beijing, said countries that boycotted out of pressure from Beijing were disrespecting the wishes of their people.

“Chinese government is shortsighted. They failed to either shoulder the responsibility of protecting the human rights of the citizens or take the responsibility of being a member of the international society. Human rights is universal. The human rights status in one country will affect the whole human rights status in the world,” said Tang.

Liu Xiaobo was sentenced on several charges, including subversion, after he co-authored “Charter 08”, a petition calling for sweeping political reforms and freedoms, putting him at odds with stability-obsessed authorities.

The 54-year-old activist, writer and poet, is believed to be the fifth laureate in the 109-year history of the prize not able to attend the award ceremony for political reasons. A symbolic empty chair and a portrait of Liu on the podium will be used to represent him instead.-Reuters

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Mubashar Nizam

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