12/03/2010, 00.00
CHINA

Beijing’s paranoia over Liu Xiaobo

A week before the award ceremony is to take place, Chinese authorities are still arresting dissidents and pro-democracy activists. The Communist government says it will be difficult to maintain “friendly relations” with Norway.

BEIJING (AsiaNews) – A week from the Nobel Prize award ceremony, more dissidents and pro-democracy activists are arrested in China. As part of their crackdown, police also prevented economist Mao Yushi and artist Ai Wei Wei from living the country, perhaps fearing they might take part in the ceremony in Oslo, Norway. Both Mao, 81, and Ai signed Charter 08, a manifesto co-authored and promoted by this year’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Liu Xiaobo.

“I have always been critical [towards the government] but I have had no trouble leaving the country” before, Mao said after he was stopped from boarding a plane for Singapore where he was supposed to participate in a conference.

For his part, Ai said he was stopped by police after clearing immigration controls on his way to South Korea.

"They showed me a note from the Public Security Bureau, which said my leaving China could harm national security," he explained. "I asked them how long these restrictions would last but they couldn't tell me."

China has also renewed its attacks against the Norwegian government, which it blames for the Nobel committee's decision to award this year's Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

“It is difficult to maintain friendly relations with Norway as in the past," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said. For Beijing, the Nobel committee and the government are the same.

Conversely, "China will have to bear the responsibility of eventual negative consequences," Norwegian Foreign Ministry spokesman Kjetil Elsebutangen said.

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