Peace Prize: China Furious, Hectic Diplomacy, Wife Disappears

The Norwegian ambassador to Chine was – as expected – called in on the carpet of Chinese authorities yesterday, after the Norwegian Peace Prize Committee awarded the Nobel Peace Prize of 2010 to the Chinese imprisoned freedom fighter, Liu Xiaobo.

“If a Norwegian free-trade agreement with China collapses, the Norwegian fishing industry could lose about NOK 380 million a year.”

Verden Gang

What exactly was said during the meeting is not clear, but on Monday the Norwegian minster of fishery get on the plain to China. Presumably to try to save the Norwegian/Chinese trade agreement on seafood that has a value of NOK 380 million per year.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry has expressed strong displeasure over the choice of Liu Xiaobo as this year’s Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Spokesperson Ma Zhaoxu issued a statement about one hour after the announcement by the Nobel committee in Norway.

According to Free Tibet, Ma Zhaoxu says the prize should be awarded to people who contribute to world peace through such acts as promoting ethnic reconciliation and friendship among countries.

Zhaoxu reiterated that Liu is serving a prison term for violating Chinese laws, adding that making him a Nobel laureate damages the prize’s prestige.

He warned the decision to award Liu the prize will damage relations between China and Norway.

Trade Agreement In Jeopardy

Several experts believes that the far advanced negotiations on a free trade agreement between Norway and China can come to a halt because of the award, the Norwegian newspaper VG reports.

Negotiations on a free trade agreement applies to all Norwegian products, including fish.

China is expected  to pass Japan as the most important market for Norwegian fish in Asia during this year.

If a Norwegian free-trade agreement with China collapses, the Norwegian fishing industry could lose about NOK 380 million a year, according to the newspaper.

Norwegian Minister of Fisheries, Lisbeth Berg-Hansen, travels to Beijing for political talks already Monday.

She says there are no grounds for sanctions against Norway from the Chinese side.

Prize Winner’s Wife Disappear

Meanwhile, news agencies report Saturday that Mr. Xiaobo’s wife, who made comments to the press yesterday, seem to have have  disappeared.

 

Shang Baojun

 

According to Fox News, the mobile phone of, Liu Xia, was turned off Saturday as she was expected to be visiting the prison to meet her husband.

“She’s disappeared. We’re all worried about them,” Liu‘s lawyer, Shang Baojun, told The Associated Press on Saturday.

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He says even Liu Xia’s mother had been unable to reach her.

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Liu’s wife’s freedom of movement had been shrinking since the eve of the Nobel announcement, when she said police tried to get her out of Beijing, offering her a prison visit with Liu.

She instead planned to hold a news conference with reporters Friday night, but police would not let her leave her apartment.

 

Liu Xia

 

She was negotiating terms to visit Liu on Saturday and tell him the news.

Police often force political critics, religious dissenters and sometimes their family members to leave Beijing ahead of sensitive anniversaries, often putting them up in guesthouses and keeping them out-of-the-way for days and weeks.

Beth Schwanke with the Washington-based Freedom Now, an organization that serves as Liu’s international counsel, says, “We’re very concerned that the government might use this as a pretext for detaining her.”

“I think by the end of today if she has not reappeared, there will be a big brouhaha,” Nicholas Bequelin, Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch, says.

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News Being Sencored

Chinese authorities appear to have jammed foreign news reports that Liu Xiaobo is the winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, the Free Tibet reports.

Broadcasts of international TV programs across China were blacked out during reports about the prize, apparently in a bid to block the news from Chinese citizens.

A news program on NHK World Premium was blacked out on Friday afternoon while a report on Liu was being aired, and returned to normal when the story ended.

Other news organizations including CNN and BBC World were also blacked out during peace prize stories.

In China, the state-run Xinhua news agency and China Central Television have yet to report Liu has won the Nobel Peace Prize.

 

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