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China says Nobel peace prize shows lack of respect

posted 12 Oct 2010, 04:19 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 12 Oct 2010, 04:21 ]

China accuses the Norway-based Nobel Committee of showing a lack of respect for awarding their peace prize to jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo who wants his wife to collect the prize for him.

Giving the Nobel Peace Prize to a jailed dissident showed lack of respect for China's legal system, the Chinese government said on Tuesday (October 12), in further criticism of an award that has stirred tensions over human rights.

"The Nobel Committee giving the Peace Prize to a criminal serving a prison sentence shows a lack of respect for China's judicial system. Some politicians of some countries, who use the opportunity to point fingers at China, show not only a lack of respect for our country's judicial system, but also trigger suspicions about their real intentions," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu told journalists at a regular news briefing in Beijing.

The prize, awarded to Liu Xiaobo, would not affect the direction of China's political system, Ma said, but he added that it had damaged relations with Norway, where the peace prize committee is based.

China has condemned the Norwegian government, which has no say over the prize, and cancelled a planned meeting with a Norwegian fisheries minister.

"A responsible government should know what to do. The Norwegian government hurt bilateral ties by supporting the wrong decision made by the Norwegian Nobel Committee. The Chinese government and the people have good reason to be upset," he said.

Liu is serving 11 years in jail on subversion charges for demanding democratic transformation of China's one-party state, and his wife, Liu Xia, says she is being held under virtual house arrest in the couple's apartment in Beijing.

Speaking by telephone, Liu Xia said her husband had asked her to go to Norway to pick up his Nobel Peace Prize, but doubt the government would permit her to go.

"Xiaobo says he hopes that I can go to Norway to receive the prize for him. I think it will be very difficult," she said.

The prize will be formally bestowed on Dec. 10 in Oslo.

Liu Xiaobo had already been informed that he had won the award when she visited him in prison on Saturday (October 9) and he dedicated his award to the citizens killed in 1989 pro-democracy protests, she said.

"He was a bit upset, he feels very downcast, and then, when he talked about the Tiananmen mothers, he cried," she said.

Liu Xia said she had been under virtual house arrest since the announcement of her husband's award.

"They will not allow me to meet journalists, they will not allow me to meet friends. When I go to my mother's or go out to buy things I have to go in the police car. They don't allow people to come to my house," she said.

Diplomats from the European Union as well as Australia and Switzerland tried to visit Liu Xia, in her apartment in western Beijing on Monday (October 11) but were blocked.

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