Nobel winner’s wife: Peace prize brings hope of change

Says she doubted doubted Liu Xiaobo’s chances of winning because of China’s opposition

Reuters
10/8/2010

BEIJING — China’s dwindling band of pro-democracy dissidents believe awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to one of their own could bring change to the world’s most populous country, his wife told Reuters.

Liu Xiaobo, jailed in 2009 for 11 years for subversion, won the prize for his decades of non-violent struggle for human rights, putting China’s rights record in the spotlight at a time when the world’s most populous nation is starting to play a bigger role on the global stage.

“His friends repeatedly told me that they thirsted for Liu Xiaobo to win the Prize more than he himself did because they think it would be an opportunity to change China,” she said by telephone.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee praised Liu for his “long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.”

The Chinese government called the prize for Liu an “obscenity” that went against the aims of the prize and warned that it would hurt relations between China and Norway.

Liu was first jailed in 1989 for joining a hunger strike in support of the 1989 Tiananmen Square student-led demonstrations for democracy, which were crushed on June 4 with heavy loss of life.
The democracy movement is largely forgotten in China, with many Chinese abandoning activism and focusing instead on cashing in on economic reforms…

…Beijing police offered to take Liu Xia to the prison in Jinzhou in the northeastern province of Liaoning, where her husband was being held, in an apparent effort to prevent foreign reporters from speaking to her.

“They are forcing me to leave Beijing,” said Liu Xia as her brothers packed her bags with plainclothes police waiting for her outside.

“They want me to go to Liaoning to see Xiaobo. They want to distance me from the media,” she said.

The complete article is at Reuters.

From The New York Times:

Liu Xiaobo, an impassioned literary critic, political essayist and democracy advocate repeatedly jailed by the Chinese government for his activism, has won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of “his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.”…

By awarding the prize to Mr. Liu, the Norwegian Nobel Committee has provided an unmistakable rebuke to Beijing’s authoritarian leaders at a time of growing intolerance for domestic dissent and a spreading unease internationally over the muscular diplomacy that has accompanied China’s economic rise.

In a move that in retrospect appears to have been counterproductive, a senior Chinese official had warned the Norwegian committee’s secretary that giving the prize to Mr. Liu would adversely affect relations between the two countries…

The prize is an enormous psychological boost for China’s beleaguered reform movement and an affirmation of the two decades Mr. Liu has spent advocating peaceful political change in the face of unremitting hostility from the ruling Chinese Communist Party. Blacklisted from academia and barred from publishing in China, Mr. Liu has been harassed and detained repeatedly since 1989, when he stepped into the drama playing out on Tiananmen Square by staging a hunger strike and then negotiating the peaceful retreat of student demonstrators as thousands of soldiers stood by with rifles drawn.

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