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Updated: December 10, 2010 01:52 IST

China reiterates call for nations to boycott Nobel ceremony

Ananth Krishnan
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Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmaker Albert Ho holds a copy of book written by jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo outside the Legislative Council in Hong Kong on Wednesday. Photo: AP
Hong Kong pro-democracy lawmaker Albert Ho holds a copy of book written by jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo outside the Legislative Council in Hong Kong on Wednesday. Photo: AP

Beijing, however, desists from saying whether India's expected attendance will have any impact on the bilateral relations

The Chinese government on Thursday reiterated its call for countries to boycott Friday’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony, though

refrained from saying whether India’s expected attendance would have any impact on bilateral relations.

"I think developing country to country relations should follow certain principles,” Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said, when asked about India’s likely attendance at the awarding of the prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, a political activist who is currently serving a 11-year jail term.

"We are of the view that countries, on the basis of mutual respect, equal treatment and non-interference in each other’s internal affairs have, dialogue and cooperation,” she said.

India's Ambassador in Oslo, Banbit Roy, is expected to attend Friday's ceremony, as is the usual practice. But this year, China's strong lobbying for countries to boycott the event, coupled with the arrival of Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao in New Delhi next Wednesday, had complicated India's decision. Officials said Mr. Wen’s visit, from December 15-17, had prompted a review of the issue this week at the highest levels of the government.

Ms. Jiang declined to say if India’s decision to attend Friday’s ceremony would have any impact on ties or on Mr. Wen's visit. She said China hoped countries which had received invitations “can tell right from wrong” and “uphold justice.”

India’s is among 44 embassies in Oslo which have accepted the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s invitation to Friday’s ceremony. As is the usual practice, 65 embassies in Oslo were invited. Nineteen countries, including China, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Russia, Kazakhstan, Colombia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam and Afghanistan have declined invitations.

Ms. Jiang said “the majority of the international community” did not support the “erroneous decision by the Nobel committee”, adding that “over 100 countries and international organizations had expressed support” to China’s position.

Over the past few months, the Foreign Ministry here has waged a diplomatic campaign against the award, meeting with officials from almost every country and calling on them to boycott the ceremony.

Mr. Liu was awarded the prize "for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” China, however, says Mr. Liu is a "criminal" for "inciting subversion of State power" by releasing a document calling for an end to one-party rule. The Chinese government says the Nobel committee's decision is an interference in its judicial sovereignty.

"Liu Xiaobo broke Article 105, a crime of instigating the subversion of state power," Ms. Jiang said. "He went beyond general criticism of the state."

Beyond the diplomatic campaign, China has also institued a travel ban on many Chinese activists to prevent them from attending the ceremony. While Mr. Liu remains largely unheard of in China, his case has stirred calls from the small community of activists and lawyers here for greater reforms.

Liu Xia, Mr. Liu's wife, has been placed under effective house arrest in recent weeks, though she has not been charged with any crime.

Mao Yushi, a noted economist, was barred from boarding a flight this week, as was Ai Weiwei, a well-known artist.

Fan Yafeng, a lawyer and activist, was picked up by police from his Beijing home on Thursday morning, and remained unreachable through the day.

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