Liu Xiaobo

A winner on the world stage, but does he really know it?

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 09 October, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 09 October, 2010, 12:00am


Related topics

It may be one of the world's most prestigious awards, but family and friends are not even sure that imprisoned dissident Liu Xiaobo knows he has won the Nobel Peace Prize.

His wife, Liu Xia, was shocked when she was told about the award by friends. 'It is incredible, because too many bad things have happened in my life and I never thought that this honour would land on Xiaobo,' she told Cable Television in Hong Kong.

When the announcement was made, several policemen were in her apartment in Beijing preventing her from going out to meet friends and journalists in a nearby teahouse.

Liu said she was told that she would be taken to Liaoning to meet her husband. Asked what she would tell him if she could visit him, Liu said: 'I will give him a big hug and I will tell him this good news.' About 100 journalists, supporters and friends, who began to gather outside the main entrance at 2pm, were blocked from entering the residential compound.

Liu Xia's mobile phone was switched off shortly after the announcement and her whereabouts remained unknown.

Outside the heavily guarded compound, several other signatories of Charter 08 gathered to show their support for Liu Xiaobo, the charter organiser.

Prominent blogger Mo Zhixu made a statement to journalists outside the compound on behalf of Liu Xia, saying the couple were very grateful, not only to the Nobel Prize organising committee and the people who nominated him, but also to those who signed Charter 08 and were criticised for doing so. Mo said Liu Xia had authorised him to make the statement during a phone conversation on Thursday night because she feared she might be barred from meeting the public.

Peking University law professor Xia Yeliang, another charter signatory, was among those waiting outside the compound.

'Chinese people have talked about winning a Nobel prize for a long time and when there is one, the common residents are forbidden from knowing about it,' Xia said. 'The authorities consider it might affect social stability. It's really pathetic.'

He said senior state leaders, especially Premier Wen Jiabao , had talked about political reform frequently in recent days but it was only talk. 'Look around us. It means even the premier can't change the situation fundamentally. Liu Xiaobo winning the prize will be a start of change that will see more people know about Charter 08 and show concern about our constitutional rights.'

Xia said he had ignored enormous pressure to visit the compound.