Beijing: China will not yield to outside pressure on jailed Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, the foreign ministry said on Thursday, striking a combative tone the day before the award is due to be formally bestowed.
Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu denounced what she said were “double standards” applied to China’s legal system, and criticised the US House of Representatives for calling on China to release Liu and his wife, Liu Xia, who is under house arrest.
China awarded its answer to the Nobel Peace Prize on Thursday, giving the “Confucius Peace Prize” to former Taiwan vice-president Lien Chan, though his office said he was unaware of the award and he did not show up to collect it.
Jiang told a regular news briefing any attempts to pressure China on Liu, and to “deter China from its development”, would not succeed.
“China urges the relevant US lawmakers to stop the wrong words and activity on the Liu Xiaobo issue and to change their arrogant and rude attitude,” Jiang said. “They should show respect to the Chinese people and China’s legal sovereignty.”
“The US Congress’ so-called resolution distorts the truth, it is widely meddling in China’s internal affairs,” she said.
Liu was jailed last Christmas Day for subversion of state power and for being the lead author of Charter 08, a manifesto by intellectuals and activists calling for democratic reform in the one-party state.
Jiang again defended China’s jailing of Liu. “Liu Xiaobo was not convicted because of his remarks,” she said. “Liu wrote and published inflammatory articles on the Internet, organising and persuading others to sign it, to stir up and overthrow China’s political authority and social system.”
“Liu’s problem is that he has gone beyond general criticism; it was an act that jeopardised society,” Jiang said.
China, which views criticism of its human rights record as a bid to contain its growing might, has flexed its economic muscle in drumming up support for a boycott of the Oslo award ceremony for Liu, jailed for 11-year for subversion.
Most of the 18 states joining the boycott have strong commercial ties with with China or share its hostility towards Western human rights pressure.
China said the “vast majority” of nations would boycott the ceremony. The Norwegian award committee says two-thirds of those invited would attend.
In a sign of growing tension with Norway, which China is angry with because it is home to the Nobel Committee, the Chinese delegation to UN climate talks in Cancun, Mexico, has refused to meet Oslo’s team, led by Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg and Environment Minister Erik Solheim.
“They are clearly marking it by not wanting to have political meetings,” Solheim told Norwegian daily Dagbladet in Cancun.
“There is no doubt that China sees the Peace Prize as a part of a Western crusade against their form of government,” Solheim was quoted as saying.
Chinese state-run media accused the West of “launching a new round of China-bashing”.
“Liu has done everything he could to subvert the Chinese government, and that suits the strategy of some organisations and people in the West toward China,” the official Xinhua news agency wrote in an English-language commentary on Wednesday.
“That’s why some people in the West immediately embraced the Nobel Committee’s decision, launching a new round of China-bashing,” it said.
The popular Global Times tabloid, run by Communist Party mouthpiece the People’s Daily, said this year’s Peace Prize had “caused the world confusion and divisions”.
“All the applause has come from the West and the citizens of the third-world countries are all now China’s allies,” it said in an editorial.
A number of countries and international human rights organisations have criticised Beijing for its sweeping crackdown on dissent ahead of the Oslo ceremony, preventing Liu’s friends and family from attending.
“The Chinese government should be celebrating this global recognition of a Chinese writer and activist,” said Salil Shetty, secretary general of rights group Amnesty International.
“Instead, the government’s very public tantrum has generated even more critical attention inside and outside China -- and, ironically, emphasised the significance of Liu Xiaobo’s message of respect for human rights,” Shetty said.
Beijing has also been briefly blacking out BBC and CNN reports on Liu and his supporters over the past few days, though foreign news channels are generally only available in up-market hotels and apartment buildings mostly inhabited by foreigners.
The BBC and CNN websites have been blocked too.
“The West has shown great creativity in conspiring against China. With its ideology remaining dominant at present, the West has not ceased harassing China with all kinds of tricks like the Nobel Peace Prize,” the Global Times wrote.