Nobel Ire Increases in China

Jeremy Page
The Wall Street Journal
12/9/2010

BEIJING—China blocked access to several foreign media outlets, intensified a crackdown on political activists, and fired a fresh salvo of criticism at the U.S. on the eve of a ceremony Friday marking the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, a jailed Chinese dissident.

…A handful of Mr. Liu’s overseas-based supporters, meanwhile, began arriving in Oslo for a ceremony that has triggered a global schism between mostly Western democracies on one side, and China and a host of predominantly authoritarian governments on the other.

China has refused to release Mr. Liu or allow his family and friends to attend the ceremony. It has also pressured other countries to boycott the event. Of the 65 Oslo-based ambassadors who were invited, 20 at least will be absent—double the number last year.

But the Nobel Committee and Mr. Liu’s supporters appear equally determined to draw international attention to the ceremony—the first at which the award will not be collected since 1936, when it was given to Carl Von Ossietzky, a German pacifist detained in a Nazi concentration camp.

Mr. Liu—a former literature professor who was sentenced to 11 years in prison for “state subversion” last December—will be represented by an empty chair, with his photograph on it, said Geir Lundestad, secretary of the Nobel Committee…

…Among the musicians performing is Lynn Chang, a Chinese-American violinist who teaches at the Boston Conservatory. Mr. Chang still has family in China and has expressed concern that his appearance at the ceremony may prompt Chinese authorities to prevent him from visiting them, or even cause problems for some of his mainland Chinese students…

The entire article is at The Wall Street Journal, and includes a video report and a photo slideshow.

H/T Michael Yon on Facebook

At Human Events, The Empty Nobel Seat:

…China is not happy about the empty chair ceremony, and has apparently persuaded Russia, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Iraq, and Cuba to boycott the event.  (Sad and disturbing to see Iraq in there, isn’t it?)…

…The Nobel Committee shamed itself by awarding the Peace Prize to an empty suit last year.  Can it redeem its dignity by awarding one to an empty chair?  Unlike the 2009 winner, Barack Obama, Liu Xiaobo has actually done something, and suffered the repercussions.  His fate is a warning about the inevitable future of every statist society.  They always end up producing empty seats.

Liu has been involved with Charter 08, a petition calling for freedom and democratic reform, which has gathered over 10,000 signatures despite energetic government attempts to suppress it.  The Chinese Politburo has good reason to worry, since a similar petition helped get the Velvet Revolution under way in Czechoslovakia…

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