China steps up Nobel action

CHINA has blocked European diplomats from meeting the wife of the jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner and cut off her phone, in anger over the award.

As China retaliated, UN human rights experts called on Beijing to free imprisoned democracy campaigner Liu Xiaobo, who was permitted a brief, tearful meeting with his wife on Sunday.

Liu dedicated the award to the “lost souls” of the 1989 military crackdown on student demonstrators.

Liu, a slight, 54-year-old literary critic, is in the second year of an 11-year prison term for inciting subversion.

In naming him, the Norwegian-based Nobel committee honoured 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 jail term.

Beijing had reacted angrily to Friday’s announcement honouring Liu, calling him a criminal and warning Norway’s government that relations would suffer, even though the Nobel committee is an independent organisation.

Yesterday it abruptly cancelled a meeting that had been scheduled for tomorrow between visiting Norwegian Fisheries Minister Lisbeth Berg-Hansen and her Chinese counterpart.

“If the meeting has been cancelled due to the Peace Prize, we find that to be an unnecessary reaction from China,” said Norway’s foreign ministry spokeswoman.


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