11/22/2010, 00.00
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China is doing everything wrong on Liu Xiaobo

International analysts and the Hong Kong press attack the Chinese government for boycotting the pro-democracy dissident’s Nobel Prize award ceremony. “Terribly counterproductive,” it will undermine the limited respect China has gained internationally.

Oslo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Chinese opposition to pro-democracy dissident Liu Xiaobo’s Nobel Peace Prize is “terribly counterproductive”, and “reflects a strong sense of insecurity,” some international and Chinese analysts believe. For them, the mainland's aggressive response to Liu's award and its attempt to keep other nations away from the award ceremony have undermined whatever limited credibility it had acquired so far. Prior to such comments, the Norwegian Nobel Committee had not yet decided yet on whether to cancel the 10 December ceremony.

“There has probably never been a more hostile government reaction to one of its citizens winning a Nobel Prize,” the South China Morning Post wrote in an article today. “Dozens of his supporters are under tight surveillance and many are barred from travelling abroad in case they collect the prize on his behalf at the award ceremony next month.”

In the history of the prize, two other recipients were not allowed to pick up their prizes: German journalist and pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, who won the prize in 1935 when he was in a Nazi concentration camp, and Burmese democracy campaigner Aung San Suu Kyi, who was in prison when she won in 1991.

Still, the ceremony will go ahead despite the absence of the winner and his family, Geir Lundestad, the head of the Nobel Institute, said yesterday. Initially, he had doubts about its feasibility since the Nobel Committee's guidelines say only the winner or close relatives may collect the prize.

Six countries have declined to attend the Nobel ceremony, the Norwegian Nobel Committee said on Thursday.  Sixteen ambassadors have not replied to the committee's invitation.

Analysts say Beijing's hostile reaction towards the Nobel award has eroded the respect and soft power it has tried to build on the international stage.

“It is terribly counterproductive and will hurt its image,” said City University political scientist Joseph Cheng Yu-shek. “This kind of tactic reflects a strong sense of insecurity.”

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