The Chinese government has been pressuring its allies not to attend the December 10 Nobel Prize Ceremony, during which the Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded to imprisoned dissident Liu Xiaobo. So far eighteen countries have declined the invitation. From the Guardian:
Beijing has urged diplomats in Oslo to stay away from the event, warning of “consequences” if they do not do so.
Several of those who have turned down invitations are long-term allies or trade partners. The full list comprises Pakistan, Iran, Sudan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Colombia, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Iraq, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Venezuela, the Philippines, Egypt, Ukraine, Cuba and Morocco.
Another 44 are attending, while Algeria and Sri Lanka have not replied to their invitations.
The Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said: “As far as I know, at present, more than 100 countries and organisations have expressed explicit support for China opposing the Nobel peace prize, which fully shows that the international community does not accept the decision of the Nobel committee.”
The Times of India reports on Chinese pressure on Indian diplomats not to attend:
New Delhi’s decision on the issue will have a major impact on the process of negotiations during the visit of Chinese premier Wen Jiabao to India in mid-December. An important question is whether Indian foreign ministry can use it as a bargaining chip in the behind the scenes negotiations prior to the visit.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu described officials in the Nobel committee as a set of “clowns” engaged in conducting a “anti- China farce” by rewarding a person, who has been declared a criminal by her country’s judicial authorities.
“The erroneous decision has not only met firm opposition from the entire Chinese people but also is not accepted by the vast majority of countries who uphold justice,” Jiang told a media briefing here on Tuesday.
India has not publicly said whether it will attend the ceremony. But the Nobel committee has said that India is among the 42 countries that have confirmed their attendance while 19 others have clearly stated they will keep away.
Meanwhile, Beijing is going ahead with plans to award an alternative to the Nobel, the Confucius Peace Prize. From AP:
Named after the famed philosopher, the new prize was created to “interpret the viewpoints of peace of (the) Chinese (people),” the awards committee said in a statement it released to the AP on Tuesday.
Awards committee chairman Tan Changliu said his group was not an official government body, but acknowledged that it worked closely with the Ministry of Culture. He declined to give specifics about the committee, when it was created and how the five judges were chosen, saying it would be disclosed later.
The first honoree is Lien Chan, Taiwan’s former vice president and the honorary chairman of its Nationalist Party, for having “built a bridge of peace between the mainland and Taiwan.” A staffer in his Taipei office said she could not comment Tuesday because she knew nothing about the prize.