By Kalsang Rinchen
Dharamsala, February 5 – China has said it opposed the awarding of the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize to one of the most prominent Chinese dissidents, Liu Xiabo, as legislators and right groups campaign for this year's award to be given to Liu and Chinese human rights activists.
"If the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to such a person, it is obvious that it is totally wrong," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu at a regular press briefing in Beijing.
Meanwhile, the Norwegian Nobel Committee played down Ma’s comments saying the committee will not be influenced by Beijing’s opposition. Geir Lundestad, the secretary of the committee, has reportedly said that there was no need for his committee to consider anything China says. He also said that the committee had not bowed under pressure from China which opposed the conferment in 1989 of the same award on the Tibetan leader Dalai Lama, reviled by Beijing as a “separatist”.
US lawmakers on Thursday nominated three Chinese activists for the Nobel Peace Prize. In a letter to the Nobel committee in Oslo, seven members of the US Congress said that rights lawyers Gao Zhisheng and Chen Guangcheng, along with writer Liu Xiaobo, deserved the prestigious prize later this year.
"Throughout its history, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee has often distinguished itself by its willingness to award prizes despite the strong opposition of governments," the lawmakers wrote in the letter.
"We can think of no one so deserving of recognition," they wrote of the three activists, "and no one whose recognition would be more timely or do more to foster peace in the 21st century."
Liu was last month sentenced to 11 years imprisonment for “incitement to subvert state power,” in connection with six essays he wrote and his role in initiating Charter 08, a widely circulated petition calling for more civil rights in China and an end to the Communist Party's political dominance that was released in December last year.
The Charter 08 was launched online on December 9, 2008, the eve of the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and draws its inspiration from the "Charter 77" document demanding political reform in Czechoslovakia in January 1977.
Also, a group of Czech MPs, including two main parties' representatives, has proposed Liu’s nomination for this year's Nobel Peace Prize, according to Prague Daily Monitor. Senator Alexandr Vondra who initiated the nomination said he wanted the nomination to be supported across the political parties, by those who stood up to defend human rights in the past. Liu's nomination is also backed by former Czech president Vaclav Havel and other Charter 77 signatories.
Chinese police took the 53-year-old Liu, a former university professor who spent 20 months in jail for joining the 1989 student-led protests in Tiananmen Square, away on December 8, 2008, a day before the publication of the document.
The document has been subsequently signed by some 10,000 intellectuals, lawyers, journalists, writers, scholars, artists including Tibetan writer Woeser.