China demands Korea skip Nobel ceremony

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China demands Korea skip Nobel ceremony

China has demanded Korea not send a representative to the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony next month honoring jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, a diplomatic source in Seoul told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday.

Analysts said the diplomatic muscle-flexing by China, which has been confirmed by other countries including Japan, will boost concerns about its growing aggressiveness on the international stage.

“After requesting Japan and European countries not to send a government delegate to the Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony for Liu Xiaobo to be held in Oslo on Dec. 10, China requested the same thing from Korea through diplomatic channels,” the source said.

Many countries including Korea send their ambassadors in Oslo or other envoys to the annual Nobel Peace Prize Award Ceremony.

Liu, one of the best-known dissidents in China, was named the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate on Oct. 8. The Norwegian Nobel Committee called the 54-year-old former college professor, who started an 11-year prison term for subversion late last year, a symbolic figure for human rights and calls for democracy in China.

Chinese authorities denounced the decision, saying that awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to a “criminal” ran counter to the spirit of the award.

Liu has called for democracy in China and the end of one-party rule. Since the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, he has been jailed four times.

“It is yet to be decided who [among the Korean government] will go to the award ceremony,” said the source. “Everything is under review.”

On Tuesday, Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara acknowledged that China made the same request to Japan.

“It is fact that we received such a request through diplomatic channels in Tokyo and Norway,” Maehara said at a budget committee meeting in the Diet’s lower house on Tuesday. “We will make an appropriate decision.”

Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan said the issue will be decided in accordance with universal values such as freedom and human rights.

By Kang Chan-ho, Moon Gwang-lip []
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