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Correction to This Article
This article about Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese dissident who won the Nobel Peace Prize, incorrectly said that this would be the first year since 1936 that the award would not be presented to a laureate in person. The children of Burmese activist Aung San Suu Kyi accepted the prize on her behalf in 1991. And the last such instance before that, when Adolf Hitler prevented German activist Carl von Ossietzky from accepting his prize, was in 1935, not 1936.

China braces for Nobel Peace Prize ceremony honoring Liu Xiaobo

The Nobel Peace Prize ceremony Dec. 10 marks only the second time in history that neither the winner nor a family member is able to come to accept the award.

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By Keith B. Richburg
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, December 10, 2010; 6:26 AM

BEIJING - China braced Friday for the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to imprisoned human rights advocate Liu Xiaobo, blocking broadcasts of the ceremony and tightening its grip on activists to prevent them from celebrating the honor in any way.

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The Web sites of the BBC, CNN, Britain's Channel 4 and Norwegian television NRK were blocked starting Thursday, preventing live streaming. On Friday, CNN and BBC television broadcasts were on the air for people with satellite dishes, but with intermittent blackouts during some segments.

Various news Web sites remained inaccessible, with a message saying the sites are "temporarily unavailable."

Some Beijing cafe and restaurant owners have been warned by police not to allow any Nobel celebrations or demonstrations at their establishments. One cafe owner, who asked not to be quoted by name, was called to the local police station in the Gulou, or Drum Tower, area and warned that "overseas reactionary forces" might try to "instigate" some actions on Friday night.

China has prohibited Liu and his family members from leaving China to attend Friday's ceremony in Oslo. Nobel committee organizers said the jailed intellectual would be represented by an empty chair - the first time the award will not be presented to a laureate in person since 1936, when Carl von Ossietzky, a German pacifist jailed by the Nazi regime, was prevented from attending the ceremony.

Instead of a statement from Liu, a piece of his writing will be read aloud by the Norwegian actress and movie director Liv Ullmann, The New York Times reported.

China's Communist government has ratcheted up the rhetoric since the October announcement that the prize would go to Liu, a bespectacled 54-year-old dissident who is serving an 11-year prison sentence in China's northern Liaoning province for "inciting subversion of state power."

Liu was jailed after authoring Charter '08, a pro-democracy manifesto that was published Dec. 10, 2008 and has since been signed by more than 10,000 people inside and outside China.

Foreign embassies in Norway were warned that if they sent representatives to the Nobel ceremony, they would risk unspoken diplomatic "consequences." China broke off trade talks with Norway. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu denounced the Nobel committee members as "clowns" and accused them of "orchestrating an anti-China farce."

As of Dec. 6, the Nobel committee said, 46 countries had announced they would send representatives to the prize ceremony. Fifteen countries--China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Iraq , Iran, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Venezuela, Egypt, Sudan, Cuba and Morocco--said they would stay away.

The government of Serbia had said it would boycott the ceremony in order to maintain good relations with China, but reversed that stance on Friday in the face of an outcry at home and from the European Union and said it would send an human rights official to witness the event.


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