Chinese Dissident Possible Candidate for Nobel Peace Prize

Liu Xiaobo is a former literature professor now serving an eleven-year prison sentence in China, for so-called “subverting state power.”

Liu was imprisoned before for five years for taking part in the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy protests.

More recently Liu was one of the principal authors of Charter ’08, a petition calling on the Chinese regime to improve human rights, create an independent court system and allow multi-party democracy in China.

Charter ’08 was based on Charter ’77, a similar petition calling for freedom in the, then communist, Czechoslovakia. One of the authors of Charter ’77, Vaclav Havel wrote an open letter published in the international Herald Tribune last week calling on the Noble Committee to award Liu Xiaobo the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. A Chinese petition has also been circulating on the Internet signed by more than 300 Chinese lawyers and other professionals, supporting Liu for this year’s prize.

The possibility of Liu being a candidate for the prize has been on the table for a while and the Chinese regime has been keen to oppose Liu’s nomination. Norwegian media reported on Monday the director of the Nobel Institute Geir Lundestad said the Chinese Foreign Minister, Fu Ying, had approached him in the summer. He says Fu Ying told him awarding the peace prize to Liu would (quote) “pull the wrong strings in relations between Norway and China.”

A spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry claimed on Tuesday that Liu Xiaobo’s activism for human rights and democracy were (quote) “opposed to the aims of the Nobel prize.” The Nobel Committee told Norwegian news agency NTP “China has come with warnings before, but they have no influence on the committee’s work.”

The winner of this year’s Noble Peace Prize will be announced in Oslo on October 8th. If Liu wins, he would be the first Chinese national to receive the prize.