Thursday, September 25, 2008

China warns against Nobel Prize

Sep 25, 2008 9:29 PM

TVNZ: China warned on Thursday that it would not be happy if a Chinese dissident won this year's Nobel Peace Prize, as suggested by two prominent Norwegians.

The winner of the 2008 peace prize, worth $1.5 million, will be announced in the Norwegian capital Oslo on Oct. 10 in a year marking the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Stein Toennesson, the head of Oslo's International Peace Research Institute, said his top choice would be jailed Chinese democracy, environment and AIDS activist Hu Jia.

Janne Haaland Matlary, professor of international politics at Oslo University, agreed that the time was ripe to award a Chinese citizen who had fought for human rights, though she said a Russian rights activist could be chosen instead.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said that such an award would not be welcomed by Beijing. "I don't know where this news comes from, but we think that the Nobel Peace Prize, if it awarded to somebody who really protects world peace, should be given to the right person," he told a regular news conference.

"So we hope that related parties make the correct choice on this issue and do not do anything that hurts the feelings of the Chinese people."

It is 19 years since Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, won the only award linked to China in the 107-year history of the prize.

China condemns the Dalai Lama as a separatist who foments unrest in Tibet, a charge he denies.

Geir Lundestad, secretary to the Norwegian committee, said in a speech in 2001 the committee should speak out about the lack of democracy in China "sooner rather than later".

OLYMPIC WATCH: Human Rights in China and Beijing 2008

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