October 8, 2010 / 11:10 AM / 9 years ago

China calls dissident Nobel prize an "obscenity"

BEIJING (Reuters) - China condemned as obscene the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to a jailed dissident on Friday, saying that it went against the aims of the award and would harm the country’s relations with Norway.

Pro-democracy activist Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Prize for decades of non-violent struggle for human rights, an award that Beijing had anticipated and bitterly criticized.

“The awarding of the peace prize by the committee to this person completely contradicts its aims and is an obscenity against the peace prize,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a statement on the ministry’s website (www.mfa.gov.cn).

“Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to jail because he violated Chinese law,” Ma said. “His actions are diametrically opposed to the aims of the Nobel prize.

“Nobel’s behest was that the Nobel Peace Prize be awarded to somebody who promoted peace between peoples, promoted international friendship and disarmament.”

Beijing residents reported that the signal was temporarily cut on CNN and BBC broadcasts when the peace prize story was mentioned. In China, foreign news channels are restricted to upmarket hotels and apartment complexes.

The award would damage Sino-Norway ties, said Ma, without elaborating.

Norwegian Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Stoere said earlier that the award should not cause a hostile Chinese reaction, emphasizing that the Norwegian Nobel Committee was independent of the Norwegian government.

Beijing was furious when Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, won the Peace Prize in 1989, the year of the Tiananmen Square crackdown by Chinese authorities.

China and Norway are now engaged in talks over a bilateral trade deal, which some say could serve as a blueprint for an agreement between the Asian superpower and the European Union.

Energy-rich Norway is also keen to export its offshore exploration know-how to China, with Norwegian oil firm Statoil announcing last month it aimed to look for shale gas in China.

Reporting by Ben Blanchard and Lucy Hornby, Editing by Don Durfee

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