US treatment of Liu Xiaobo's Nobel Peace Prize angers China
China is leading a 19-nation boycott of Friday's ceremony awarding jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo the Nobel Peace Prize. It says calls to free Liu amount to meddling in its internal affairs.
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China has made clear that it does indeed consider any honoring of Liu – whom the Chinese government considers a criminal – as a sore spot in its relations with other countries. From Beijing’s perspective, recognizing or expressing concern for a criminal duly convicted of subversion in the country’s judicial system is meddlesome.Skip to next paragraph
China’s ire with the US over Liu and other Chinese dissidents dates from well before Liu’s receipt of the Nobel, as State Department cables released recently by WikiLeaks demonstrate.
In one of the cables, the US ambassador to Beijing, Jon Huntsman, reported that he was berated by Chinese officials for having written to the Chinese foreign minister expressing support for Liu. The cable said the Chinese told Ambassador Huntsman that the US must “cease using human rights as an excuse to ‘meddle’ in China’s internal affairs.”
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay added her voice to calls for Liu's release on Thursday. Criticized for not attending the ceremony, which falls on UN Human Rights Day, Ms. Pillay said Liu's plight illustrates the dangers and abuse to which human rights defenders around the world are subject.
In the hours before the prize’s bestowal, China is boasting that more than 100 countries and organizations are supporting its call for a boycott of the ceremony. Among the countries taking China’s side are India and Serbia – the latter particularly sympathetic to China’s call for support on the grounds that the prize is a form of foreign intervention in its internal matters.
Serbia is still smarting over the outside world’s involvement in the Balkans conflict.
Some human rights activists say they will be watching Obama’s recognition – or lack thereof – of Liu’s prize ceremony Friday for any signs of the administration avoiding controversy with China in the run-up to President Hu Jintao’s visit to Washington in January.
But some Obama supporters say they do not expect the president to go soft on China. They note that he did not shy away from initiating a blunt telephone conversation with President Hu earlier this week focused on the tougher stance Obama believes China should be taking with its neighbor and ally, North Korea.