China Outraged Over Nobel Peace Prize Selection

Pro-democracy protesters raise pictures of Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo with Chinese words reading: ‘Release Liu Xiaobo’ during a demonstration outside the China's Liaison Office in Hong Kong, 08 Oct. 2010

The Chinese government's reaction was swift and unequivocal. A statement on the Chinese Foreign Ministry's website called the award "an obscenity" that goes against the aims of the award. It warned the award also will hurt China's relations with Norway, the country where the Nobel Committee is based.

The Chinese government's dismay had been expressed in recent days, in less harsh language, by Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu.

Jiang does not mention Liu Xiaobo by name, but points out that Chinese judicial authorities sentenced him to jail for violating Chinese law.

In December, Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison for subversion, although officials have given no details of which laws he has violated.

The 54-year-old writer was detained in December 2008, shortly before the release of Charter 08 - a manifesto he helped organize that calls for sweeping political reform.

Patrick Poon, of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, a writers' group that Liu has previously headed, says he thinks a hard-line from the Chinese government will actually inspire more people to speak out.

"As we can also see in the situation in the past few years, there may have been more and more crackdowns, but we have not seen a decreasing number of dissidents, people expressing their views. On the contrary, we are having more and more petitioners, more and more human rights defenders coming onto the scene. I think that will only bring a reversal effect, if the Chinese government cracks down on the people, that will have a reverse effect, to get more people in the streets."

The statement expressing the Chinese government's anger was carried on the Foreign Ministry's Webpage and aimed at outsiders.

Other than that, the news of the Nobel Peace prize going to Liu Xiaobo was not carried in Chinese media, and broadcasts of international TV channels carrying the news were temporarily cut. Internet users could find information about it on the Internet, but only if they used proxies to get around cyber-blocks the Chinese government maintains to filter out information that it deems sensitive or illegal.