Nobel Peace Prize given to Liu Xiaobo in absentia

December 10, 2010

By Wojciech Moskwa

(Reuters) – China could face economic and social crises if it fails to embrace full civil rights, with consequences for the whole world, the Nobel Committee said in prepared remarks for a ceremony awarding the Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

The awarding of the prize to Liu, serving an 11-year sentence for subversion, has infuriated Beijing as the rising Asian power becomes more assertive on the world stage. It has attempted to use diplomatic pressure to discourage countries from attending the ceremony in Oslo.

Norwegian Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said Liu wanted to dedicate his Nobel to “the lost souls” of 1989 when troops crushed pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square. Witnesses and rights groups said hundreds were killed.

“We can to a certain degree say that China, with its 1.3 billion people, is carrying mankind’s fate on its shoulders,” Jagland said in the prepared speech.

“If the country proves capable of developing a social market economy with full civil rights, this will have a huge favorable impact on the world. If not, there is a danger of social and economic crisis arising… with consequences for all.”

An empty chair at the ceremony symbolized Liu’s imprisonment. It was the first occasion that no representative of a detained laureate had been allowed to the ceremony since 1935, when pacifist Carl von Ossietzky was jailed by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime.

Jagland called on China to release Liu and said Beijing’s reaction had showed the award was “necessary and appropriate”.

In Liu’s absence, Norwegian actress Liv Ullmann was due to read out the laureate’s speech from his court trial a year ago.

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