Beijing's stance will backfire, many say

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 11 December, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 11 December, 2010, 12:00am

The forced absence of jailed Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo and his family from yesterday's award ceremony and tightening curbs on key activists will backfire, mainland dissidents, liberal scholars and high-profile bloggers say.

Liu's wife, Liu Xia , has been under house arrest in a Beijing housing estate since October. Dozens of policemen and plain-clothes officers were stationed outside yesterday.

Chen Ziming , a leading intellectual imprisoned after the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989, said: 'It's a great pity that neither Liu Xia nor their family members were allowed to attend such a meaningful ceremony, which has become a democratic, enlightening, educational lesson for all Chinese citizens as well as a good opportunity to stimulate the authorities to reflect on what [the government] has done to our country's democratic development. [They] should understand that they will be dragged down by the increasing cost of monitoring the rapidly growing number of dissidents and human rights activists over the past two decades.'

Liu's dissident friend Liu Feiyue , who runs a one-man rights advocacy office in Beijing, said the jailed democracy activist would have been weeping tears of joy if he knew the Nobel committee had arranged an empty chair for him at the awards.

Zhou Shuguang , a blogger, said the intensified action against dissidents since the announcement Liu had won the Nobel would enhance the Charter 08 author's impact on mainland public opinion. '[It] will only make more people disappointed, with more and more Chinese choosing to leave our country because they can only use their feet to say no,' Zhou said.

Dissident lawyer Pu Zhiqiang said the authorities had lost their best chance to narrow the gap with the public by not releasing Liu and letting him and his supporters attend the ceremony. 'What our government has done to Liu is foolish; it further proves that the Nobel committee's decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu is correct,' Pu said.

Another Beijing-based dissident, Wang Guoqi, questioned the central government's confidence in building up a harmonious society. 'It's a historical joyous event for a Chinese to be elected as a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Is it a proper move to ban it in a 'harmonious society'?' Wang asked.

Xinhua yesterday highlighted the mainland's economic achievements in the past 30 years, while issuing a commentary criticising the Nobel panel for ignoring the mainland's human rights development. Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said granting Liu the Nobel honour was a product of a 'cold war mentality'.