Free dissident, says Obama as Chinese daily pans NobelBy IANS
Saturday, October 9, 2010
WASHINGTON/BEIJING - US President Barack Obama and Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper have called upon China to free activist Liu Xiaobo after he won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize as a Chinese daily said the prize been “degraded to a political tool that serves an anti-China purpose”.
Obama, who won the award last year, said he welcomed the decision to award the prize to Liu.
He said: “Last year, I noted that so many others who have received the award had sacrificed so much more than I. That list now includes Liu, who has sacrificed his freedom for his beliefs.
“We call on the Chinese government to release Liu as soon as possible.”
The US president noted that China had made “dramatic progress in economic reform and improving the lives of its people, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty”.
“But this award reminds us that political reform has not kept pace, and that the basic human rights of every man, woman and child must be respected,” he was quoted as saying.
Jailed Chinese dissident and writer Liu Xiaobo was unanimously chosen for his long-standing struggle for human rights in China. Liu authored Charter 08, a political manifesto similar to the Charter 77 of one-time Czech dissidents. He is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence for inciting subversion of state power in China.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper joined Obama in calling upon China to free the Chinese dissident.
“I would hope the fact that he is now a Nobel Peace Prize winner would cause our friends in the Chinese government to look seriously at that issue of his release from prison,” said Harper whose government has been a strong critic of China’s human rights record.
“But I would say, more than anything, we’re delighted for him and send him our congratulations.”
The reaction from Canada’s more than a million-strong Chinese community was muted. But Henry Chau, president of the Vancouver Society in Support of Democratic Movement, said he was overjoyed to know that Liu Xiaobo was given the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Chinese media was critical of the prize being given to Liu.
The Global Times, an English language newspaper that targets expats and the outside world, said in an editorial Saturday that the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Liu, “an incarcerated Chinese”.
“The Nobel committee once again displayed its arrogance and prejudice against a country that has made the most remarkable economic and social progress in the past three decades.
“The Nobel Prize has been generally perceived as a prestigious award in China, but many Chinese feel the peace prize is loaded with Western ideology,” the editorial said.
Continuing its scathing criticism, the newspaper said: “The (Norwegian Nobel) committee continues to deny China’s development by making paranoid choices.
“In 1989, the Dalai Lama, a separatist, won the prize. Liu Xiaobo, the new winner, wants to copy Western political systems in China.”
It went on to say that there were “many different perspectives to view these two people, but neither of the two are among those who made constructive contributions to China’s peace and growth in recent decades”.
Chinese “have (a) reason to question whether the Nobel Peace Prize has been degraded to a political tool that serves an anti-China purpose”.
The newspaper warned that it was an attempt “to impose Western values on China… Obviously, the Nobel Peace Prize this year is meant to irritate China, but it will not succeed. On the contrary, the committee disgraced itself”.
“The Nobel committee made an unwise choice, but it and the political force it represents cannot dictate China’s future growth.”