Beijing: China said Tuesday that trying to change its political system by awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to an imprisoned dissident was a mistake and accused other countries of using the award to attack the country.
Meanwhile, prison authorities began giving Nobel winner Liu Xiaobo better food, his wife, Liu Xia, said in a rare phone interview with The Associated Press. She said authorities will not allow her to meet with friends or journalists, and police accompany her whenever she leaves her home.
Liu Xia said her husband`s brother told her that the prison began serving him individually prepared food with rice on Monday rather than a portion of food cooked in a large pot for many prisoners, which is usually of poor quality. There was no immediate indication that any other prison conditions for Liu had improved.
In naming him on Friday, the Norwegian-based Nobel committee honored Liu`s more than two decades of advocacy of human rights and peaceful democratic change — from demonstrations for democracy at Beijing`s Tiananmen Square in 1989 to a manifesto for political reform that he co-authored in 2008 and which led to his latest prison term.
Beijing reacted angrily to the award, calling Liu a criminal and warning Norway`s government that relations would suffer, even though the Nobel committee is an independent organization.
That anger continued Tuesday at a Foreign Ministry news conference at which spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said politicians in some countries were using the peace prize to attack China.
"This is not only disrespect for China`s judicial system, but also puts a big question mark on their true intentions," he said. "If some people try to change China`s political system in this way, and try to stop the Chinese people from moving forward, that is obviously making a mistake."
He said that by supporting "the wrong decision of the Nobel committee, the Norwegian government has moved to hurt bilateral relations." China has already abruptly canceled a meeting that had been scheduled for Wednesday between visiting Norwegian Fisheries Minister Lisbeth Berg-Hansen and her Chinese counterpart.
Ma refused to answer questions on Liu Xia. Chinese authorities allowed the dissident and his wife a brief, tearful meeting in prison Sunday. But Liu Xia said she and many of her friends have been under tight watch since Friday. Guards are posted outside her apartment in Beijing and she is not allowed to receive visits from anyone other than her two brothers.
I am not allowed to meet the press or friends. If I have to do any daily chores, like visiting my mother or buying groceries, I have to go in their car (police car)," said Liu Xia, who was using a new cell phone brought to her by a brother — after police rendered her old one unusable.
U.S. officials said Tuesday they were closely following her situation. "We remain concerned by multiple reports that Liu Xia is being confined to her home in Beijing," an U.S. Embassy spokesman, Richard Buangan, wrote in response to questions. "Her rights should be respected, and she should be allowed to move freely without harassment."
The Beijing public security bureau had no immediate comment on why authorities were apparently restricting her movements since she has not been charged with anything. But "soft detention" is a common tactic used by the Chinese government to intimidate and stifle activists and critics.