Oslo (AsiaNews / Agencies) - China is putting pressure on European governments not to attend the Nobel awards ceremony for human rights activist Liu Xiaobo and not to make statements in support of him. According to diplomatic sources, the Chinese Embassy in Oslo has sent official letters to foreign embassies in the Norwegian capital them asking not to attend the ceremony on 10 December.
In the letter, China reiterates its position that Liu is a criminal for his activities on behalf of human rights, and considers the Nobel award interference in internal affairs. The letter requests that the embassies do not make public statements in favour of Liu on the day of the ceremony. Liu is serving a sentence of 11 years because of his participation in the "Charter 08", a call for radical political reform in China. His wife is under house arrest since October, when his the selection by the Nobel Committee was announced.
In Beijing in the past two weeks, diplomats from several countries were invited to meetings with Chinese officials, who have made claims similar to those contained in the letter sent to the embassies in the Norwegian capital. "We were discreetly contacted - said a diplomatic source - invited to small gatherings and they passed on their message in this way." The existence of the letter was confirmed by various independent sources. The request comes at a delicate time, in which several European nations are in dialogue with China on economic matters. Hu Jintao is in Paris this week, to discuss, according to sources, an agreement for the sale of Airbus to Beijing. British leader Cameron is also due to visit Beijing in the hope of strengthening economic ties with China.