China is pressing European governments to boycott December’s ceremony awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to the Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, saying that the award interferes in China’s internal affairs and that Mr. Liu is a criminal, Western diplomats said on Thursday.
Beijing also urged governments not to issue statements of support and congratulation that are customary for Nobel laureates, they said.
The unusual request was delivered to European embassies in Oslo, the site of Wednesday’s ceremony, in a démarche, or diplomatic note, the highest level of communication between diplomatic outposts. How many embassies received the note was unclear.
Mr. Liu, a Beijing author and intellectual, was convicted of subversion and sentenced to 11 years in prison this year for his role in writing Charter 08, an Internet manifesto that calls for democratic reforms and an end to the Communist Party’s monopoly on power. The police detained him shortly before the document was issued in December 2008, and he has remained in custody since. His wife, Liu Xia, is under constant guard in the couple’s Beijing apartment.
Whether by Beijing’s design or otherwise, the Nobel award is emerging as an early test of China’s newfound diplomatic clout, the product of its emergence as a global economic power. Britain is sending its largest-ever ministerial delegation, including Prime Minister David Cameron, to Beijing next week in search of business deals. President Hu Jintao of China visited France on Thursday, apparently to purchase 110 Airbus passenger jets for Chinese airlines.
See also “China Communists Say Nobel Peace Prize `Political Tool’ After Liu’s Award” from Bloomberg.