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Washington moves toward `Liu Xiaobo` street, defying China

Last Updated: Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 03:59

Washington: A street outside China`s embassy in Washington has moved a step closer to being renamed after jailed democracy campaigner Liu Xiaobo, despite angry warnings from Beijing.

The head of the US capital`s council introduced a resolution to give the city`s blessing to calls by lawmakers and activists to rechristen the street after the Nobel laureate in hopes of freeing him.

But Phil Mendelson`s resolution said that the federal and not the local government had jurisdiction over International Place, where China and several other nations have built embassies.

He called for a vote by the US Congress, where the proposal enjoys support across party lines. The resolution, which would still come up for a vote by the city council, credited a 1984 decision to rename the street outside the Soviet embassy after Andrei Sakharov with helping to win freedom of movement for the then-confined dissident.

Similar action in support of Liu "would send a clear and powerful message that the United States remains vigilant and resolute in its commitment to safeguard human rights around the globe, particularly at a time when the world community remembers the events of Tiananmen Square 25 years ago this month," the draft resolution said, referring to the deadly crackdown on pro-democracy student demonstrations.

Liu was sentenced in 2009 to 11 years in prison on subversion charges after he spearheaded Charter 08, a bold petition for democratic reforms in communist China. Liu won the Nobel Peace Prize a year later, leading China to censor any mention of the award and to put his wife under house arrest. After US lawmakers proposed the street renaming several weeks ago, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman warned it would be a "provocative action" and called Liu "a man who has violated Chinese laws."

First Published: Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 03:59

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