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Nobel Prize committee to China: A growing world power needs to handle criticism better

Following months of Chinese pressure, 19 countries plan to boycott tomorrow's Nobel Peace Prize ceremony honoring imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

By Correspondent / December 9, 2010

Supporters of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo demonstrate outside China's Embassy in Oslo, Norway, Thursday, Dec. 9.

Morten Holm/Scanpix/AP

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Oslo

On the eve of the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony honoring imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, the Norwegian Nobel Committee today reproached China for not showing the equanimity expected of a major world power.

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Thorbjørn Jagland, the committee's chairman, said in a press conference that this was not a prize against China, but that China’s status as growing global power brought with it the responsibility to handle debate and criticism, citing US involvement in the Vietnam War as an example.

He added that China needed to combine further economic development with political reforms to avoid a socioeconomic crisis in the country.

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“We strongly believe that the world as a whole should be very concerned about the future of China,” said Mr. Jagland. “With its 1.3 billion people, one could say that to a large extent the fate of China will be the fate of the world.”

Amnesty's bid for 100,000 signatures falls short

The Chinese have reacted angrily at Norway for the committee’s decision to award the prize to Mr. Liu, who has been sentenced for 11 years for “inciting subversion of state power.” Beijing sees the prize as a critique against its judicial system and has warned repeatedly that Norwegian-Sino relations would suffer as a result.

Beijing has also reacted sharply at home by cracking down on Liu’s supporters in the weeks following the announcement in October, most recently overnight.

RELATED: Chinese authorities silence friends of Liu Xiaobo in extensive roundup

Liu’s wife was put under house arrest and is unable to attend tomorrow’s award ceremony, which will mark the first time in 75 years that a laureate is unable to collect the Nobel Peace Prize.

Several hundred demonstrators led by Amnesty International marched outside China’s embassy in Oslo today in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to deliver 100,000 signatures calling for Liu’s release. Amnesty will also lead the traditional torchlight parade after the award ceremony in honor of the laureate.

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