09/28/2010, 00.00
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Beijing putting pressures on Oslo to prevent awarding Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo

Geir Lundestad, head of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, said that a senior Beijing official told him that awarding the peace prize to a dissident who co-authored Charter 08 could have negative repercussions on relations between Oslo and Beijing.

Oslo (AsiaNews) – China is back to its old tricks, trying by all sorts of threats and pressures to prevent a Chinese dissident from receiving the Nobel Peace Prize. Geir Lundestad, head of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, said on Monday that a senior Beijing official told him that awarding the peace prize to a mainland dissident would affect relations between Oslo and Beijing.

Vaclav Havel, a former president of Czechoslovakia, then the Czech Republic between 1989 and 2003, nominated the jailed Chinese human rights activist for co-authoring Charter 08. Havel himself is one of the authors of Charter 77, an appeal to the Communist government of his country to respect the human rights of the people. Liu, who co-wrote Charter 08, took his inspiration from Charter 77 to call for democracy and respect for human rights as the bases of China’s full development.

Because of his role in drafting and publishing Charter 08, Liu was convicted on 25 December, and sentenced to 11 years in prison for subverting the power of the state.

Lundestad, who organises the meetings of the secretive five-member Nobel Peace Prize Committee, said China's Deputy Foreign Minister Fu Ying met him during a visit to Oslo this summer to deliver the message. Such a decision “would pull the wrong strings in relations between Norway and China, it would be seen as an unfriendly act,” he told Norwegian news agency NTB.

The Norwegian Nobel Peace Prize Committee will announce the name of the 2010 winner on 8 October in Oslo, after the other awards are announced in Stockholm.

China’s official stance is somewhat different from what Lundestad said. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said that China would not put pressures, adding however, “This person was sentenced to jail because he violated Chinese law.”

Jiang noted that China has good relations with Norway and that it is normal to have differences of opinion over human rights. However, diplomatic pressures could have repercussions on economic relations. China and Norway are now engaged in talks over a bilateral trade deal, which could serve as a blueprint for an agreement between the Asian superpower and the European Union.

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