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.
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’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.