China blacks out Nobel peace prize ceremony
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Last Updated: Friday, December 10, 2010, 19:36
  
Beijing: Shortly after the Nobel Peace Prize was given to the jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in absentia at Oslo, the government here today slammed the decision to honour him as a "Cold War mentality" and insulated the country by blacking out international news channels besides putting his supporters behind bars.

Demonstrating its cyber might, China shut down all conceivable international news channels and websites, including those from Norway, leaving no stone unturned to keep the 1.3 billion Chinese people off the ceremony conferring the coveted prize to Liu.

The Nobel committee's decision to award Liu -- who is serving an 11-year sentence on subversion charges for urging sweeping changes to China's one-party Communist political system -- has been dubbed by China as a concerted attempt by external and internal forces to overthrow the one-party "socialist" system here.

Immediately after the ceremony in Oslo, the Chinese Foreign Ministry lashed out at the "political theatre" of the Nobel committee, saying the move to award Liu was a product of a "Cold War mentality".

"Facts fully show that the decision of the Nobel committee cannot represent the overall majority of the people of the world," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said in a statement. "One-sidedness and lies have no footing to stand on, a Cold War mentality is unpopular."

"This kind of political theatre will never shake the determination and the confidence of the people of China to uphold the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics."

Reports here say that scores of Chinese human rights activists, lawyers and scholars, who were galvanised by Nobel to Liu, were prevented from leaving the country to attend the ceremony. Some fled to different provinces to escape detention.

Security was further beefed up in front of the apartment of Liu's wife Liu Xia, who has mostly lived under house since the prize was announced in October.

Besides stepping up internal security and cracking down on all remnants of dissent, China, before the ceremony, launched a massive diplomatic offensive, prevailing on a host of nations not to attend the event, putting a whole lot of countries including India in a quandary.

Around 19 countries, including Pakistan, reportedly declined Nobel Committee's invitation at the instance of China, while India went ahead and attended it arguing that there were no bilateral issues involved in it.

It was not yet clear how China would view it and the Indian diplomats who worked hard to make Premier Wen Jiabao's upcoming India visit a success kept their fingers crossed.

Officials of the Chinese Foreign Ministry and its related departments, who took part today in an India-China cultural festival organised in connection with the 60th anniversary of establishment of diplomatic ties, spoke highly of bilateral relations.

But, there is a sense of disquiet as China is yet to officially announce the visit of its Premier to New Delhi, scheduled to take place from December 15-17 followed by a visit to Pakistan.

India and Pakistan have officially announced the dates for Wen's visit but Beijing is silent on it.

Indian Ambassador to China, S Jaishankar, today left for Delhi after ensuring a whole lot of preparations for the visit.

The Indian embassy has already issued visas for over 300 Chinese businessmen. Another 100 were due to join Wen in New Delhi making it the largest Chinese delegation.

The official media, meanwhile, highlighted the "international support" for China's stand on the Nobel issue.

"Most nations" oppose peace prize to Liu was the headline of the lead story of state-run newspapers 'China Daily' and 'Global Times' today, highlighting yesterday's comments by Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu, who claimed support of over 100 countries and organisations to China's stand.

Global Times ran an editorial saying "Oslo puts on a farce against China," while analysts from official think tanks criticised the prize to Liu.

"We have never seen such a situation in previous Nobel Peace Prize awards. The only explanation is that, compared with previous ones, this year's Nobel Peace Prize is going to the wrong person," Yan Xuetong, Director of the School of International Studies at Tsinghua University, told the newspaper.

Tao Wenzhao, a researcher with the Institute of American Studies at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the Global Times that the time is long gone when only one set of values and ideologies could manipulate the world.

"The Nobel Prize Committee has in recent years increasingly deployed the Peace Prize as a political tool to embroil nations into endless disputes and division," he claimed.

Jin Canrong, Deputy Dean of the School of International Studies at Renmin University of China, said that the award ceremony is a meaningless event in the course of China's development.

"People such as Liu will not change their rigid views that are not accepted by mainstream society and will be increasingly marginalised in society," he said.

Giving the prize to figures like Liu Xiaobo has "clearly demonstrated the Nobel Committee's anti-Chinese attitude," said Gao Mingxuan, a noted Chinese criminal law expert.

"The committee is obviously harbouring political motives," Gao said.

PTI


First Published: Friday, December 10, 2010, 19:36


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