Monday 22 January 2018

Blackout ensures even empty chair for Nobel laureate unseen in China

Peter Foster in Beijing

THE empty chair in Oslo where Liu Xiaobo should have been waiting to receive his Nobel Peace Prize was shown around the world but not in Beijing.

Authorities ensured there was no access to an event which the state media dismissed as a "farce". The BBC and CNN were blacked out, and China's internet censors did their best to delete any posts that referred to Mr Liu or the Nobel Peace Prize.

At the house in West Beijing where his wife, Liu Xia, has been under arrest since October, a cordon had been thrown up by a small army of police officers. She was prevented from travelling to Oslo to receive the award on her husband's behalf.

Jean-Philippe Beja, an expert on China and a friend of the couple, said he had heard through a third party that Liu Xia was "in OK spirits".

'The Global Times', which is part of the group that includes the Communist Party mouthpiece, 'People's Daily', said of the award ceremony: "It's unimaginable that such a farce, the like of which is more commonly seen in cults, is being staged on the civilised continent of Europe."

More than 100 dissidents were placed under house arrest or taken out of Beijing "for a holiday" without internet access or mobile phones in recent days.



Pandas

One entry on the Twitter social networking website reported that Mr Liu's lawyer, Mo Shaoping, who earlier this month was blocked from boarding a flight to Europe, had been taken away by the 'Giant Pandas' (internet slang for China's security officials).

One man recalled the night of June 4 1989, when the tanks of the People's Liberation Army rolled into Beijing's Tiananmen Square, killing hundreds, possibly thousands of protesters to whose memory Mr Liu has dedicated his prize.

The 52-year-old taxi driver said: "It seemed to me as if the world changed in just one night . . . but politics in China isn't the same as the West. I'm more worried about the rising price of fruits in the market."

The Nobel ceremony did not go totally unmarked. At Zhongnan University in Hunan province, a red banner appeared on the grounds. It read: "Congratulations to Liu Xiaobo for winning the Nobel Peace Prize." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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