China condemns Nobel award to 'criminal'

China denounced the awarding of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize to jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo today and said the decision would hurt relations with Norway.

The Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the award should have gone to promoting international friendship and disarmament.

“Liu Xiaobo is a criminal who has been sentenced by Chinese judicial departments for violating Chinese law,” it said.

Awarding the peace prize to Liu “runs completely counter to the principle of the prize and is also a blasphemy to the peace prize”.

It said the decision would damage bilateral relations between China and Norway. It did not give any details.

The Nobel committee was praised for its "courage" by Edward McMillan-Scott, European Parliament vice-president responsible for democracy and human rights.

He said: “This award is of immense significance for the future of China, the world’s most populous country with a booming economy but still a terror state.

"Between seven and eight million Chinese are imprisoned, many suffering torture or enduring forced labour. More suffer the death penalty each year – at least 5,000 – than the rest of the world put together.

“Some Chinese have the courage to speak out, but almost all are imprisoned. Yet the genius and culture of China deserves to flourish as it did before the communist takeover in 1949. I praise the courage of the Nobel committee. As the EU reviews its approach on human rights worldwide, I hope it will now take a tougher line on China. ”

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