Oct 8, 2010

This undated image provided by Voice of America ...

OSLO, Norway – Imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for using non-violence to demand fundamental human rights in his homeland. The award ignited a furious response from China, which accused the Norwegian Nobel Committee of violating its own principles by honoring "a criminal."

Chinese state media immediately blacked out the news and Chinese government censors blocked Nobel prize reports from Internet websites.

This year's peace prize followed a long tradition of honoring dissidents around the world, although it was the first Nobel for China's dissident community since it resurfaced after the country's communist leadership launched economic but not political reforms three decades ago.

Liu, 54, was sentenced last year to 11 years in prison for subversion. Unlike some in China's highly fractured and persecuted dissident community, he has been an ardent advocate for peaceful, gradual political change rather than confrontation with the government.

The Nobel committee praised Liu's pacifist approach, ignoring not-so-subtle threats by Chinese diplomats even before the announcement that such a decision would result in strained ties with Norway.

The committee cited Liu's participation in the Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing in 1989 and the Charter 08 document he recently co-authored, which called for greater freedom in China and an end to the Communist Party's political dominance.

Chinese authorities would not allow access to Liu on Friday. In Beijing, his wife expressed her joy at the news.

Surrounded by police at their Beijing apartment, Liu Xia was not allowed out to meet reporters. Instead she gave brief remarks by phone and text message, saying she was happy and that she planned to go Saturday to deliver the news to Liu at the prison, 300 miles (500 kilometers) away.

Hong Kong Cable Television quoted her in a Twitter message as saying that Liu will draw encouragement from the award and she hoped to go to Norway to collect the prize if he could not.

"I believe that after the award, more people will put pressure on the Chinese side," the message quoted her as saying.

China's Foreign Ministry lashed out at the Nobel decision, saying the award should been used instead to promote international friendship and disarmament.


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