The Nobel Peace Prize Committee has copped a lashing from Chinese authorities after it selected Chinese dissident and current prisoner in China, Liu Xiaobo as the recipient of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.
The government in China reacted to the news quickly, and unequivocally. On the Chinese Foreign Ministry’s website a statement was released calling the prize allocation an “obscenity” which counters the aims of the award. It also warned that relations between China and Norway, who host the awarding committee, could be damaged as a result.
Liu was sentenced to 11-years in jail in December for subversion. The 54-year old activist and writer is a known voice calling for reforms to China’s government.
The news of the Nobel Prize’s allocation was blacked out in Chinese media, with no national networks running the story, and international channels which carried the news were temporarily shut down. While the words “Nobel Prize” and Liu’s name were blacked from internet searches, users could get around that if they used proxy servers to search – this is the only way Chinese citizens can get around the cyber-blockade the government maintains on sensitive or illegal material.
Onlookers and activist have speculated that rather than dampening people’s will to speak out, the governments hard-line attitude will actually inspire more activists to voice their objections to unjust and authoritarian policies in the country.
“If the Chinese government cracks down on the people, that will have a reverse effect, to get more people in the streets," said Patrick Poon of f the Independent Chinese PEN Center, once headed by Liu.