China reacted angrily after the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded Liu Xiaobo this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. The Liu Xiaobo is serving an 11-year prison sentence for “agitation aimed at subverting the government.”
The decision to award the prize, made by a committee appointed by Norway’s parliament, “could harm Norway-China ties,” the Chinese foreign ministry said, October 8, the same day the prize was awarded.
Even before the decision was made, China’s foreign ministry warned the Nobel Committee against picking Liu as the recipient, implying that to do so could potentially harm relations.
Norway’s foreign ministry stressed that the committee reached its decision independently, though it is appointed by the government and Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg supported it.
Liu, who has been in Chinese prisons several times since his participation in Tiananmen Square in 1989, started his current sentence in December 2009, after being arrested in June of that year for signing the Charter 08 statement, which called for various changes in the Chinese system.
According to the committee, the prize was awarded to Liu “for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.”
According to the Norwegian foreign ministry, China canceled at least four diplomatic trips to Norway. The Nordic state was forced to cancel its own delegation to China after Beijing authorities informed Oslo that no Chinese officials had time to receive the dignitaries.
A spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, when asked, said that Beijing – Oslo relations had been harmed, but stopped short of suggesting a diplomatic break.
China argues that awarding the Nobel to Liu “discredits” the prize, because “the Nobel Peace Prize,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu, quoting from the mission statement of the committee, “should be awarded to the person who ‘shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.'”