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.

Beijing lashes out as dissident gets Nobel

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By Keith B. Richburg
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, December 10, 2010

BEIJING - Chinese authorities displayed growing frustration Thursday with the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to imprisoned intellectual Liu Xiaobo, tightening their grip on activists and blocking some Web sites and broadcasts.

China has prohibited Liu and his family members from leaving China to attend Friday's ceremony in Oslo. Nobel committee organizers said he 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.

As Chinese officials intensified their denunciations of prize organizers, police summoned restaurant and bar owners to local police stations and warned against allowing large gatherings on Friday. Some lawyers, writers and academics have been stopped at airports and blocked from boarding their flights; others have been forcibly taken to the countryside. Known activists are under house arrest. And Thursday, several foreign media Web sites and television stations were blocked.

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."

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."

Thursday's edition of the Global Times newspaper - the English-language tabloid published by the ruling Communist Party's main mouthpiece, People's Daily - asked in a lead editorial, "Is there a 'plot' among the Western countries against China?"

"The West has not ceased harassing China with all kinds of tricks like the Nobel Peace Prize," the editorial said.

'Universal values'

The Nobel committee's chairman, Thorbjoern Jagland, responded at a news conference Thursday that the choice of Liu was based on universal human rights and was not an attempt to enforce "Western" values on China.

"This is not a protest; it is a signal to China that it would be very important for China's future to combine economic development with political reforms and support for those in China fighting for basic human rights," Jagland said. "This prize conveys the understanding that these are universal rights and universal values . . . not Western standards."

The committee said Thursday that at least 19 countries would not send representatives to the ceremony. In addition to China, they include Russia, Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

The U.S. ambassador to Norway, Barry B. White, was to attend the ceremony, P.J. Crowley, the State Department spokesman, said Thursday. Crowley said the United States urges China "to uphold its international rights, human rights . . . and to respect the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all Chinese citizens," and renewed the U.S. call for Liu's immediate release from prison.

Navi Pillay, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights, also pressed China to release Liu and said she was "dismayed" by the recent restrictions China has placed on a "widening circle" of activists and government critics.


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