Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo “Deserves Our Admiration,” U.S. Says
Washington — The State Department says the U.S. ambassador to Norway will attend the December 10 Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in Oslo for Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.
In Washington, the U.S. House of Representatives has passed a resolution honoring Liu for promoting democratic reform in China and calling for his immediate release from prison.
State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said December 9 that Ambassador Barry White’s attendance at the ceremony reaffirms “the importance that the United States places on the Nobel award.”
The Chinese government has been critical of the Nobel Committee’s decision to recognize Liu, describing him as a criminal. Liu was sentenced in December 2009 to 11 years in prison for subversion of state power after he led the writing of Charter 08, a manifesto on human rights and political reform in China.
“Mr. Liu’s courageous advocacy for political reform and fundamental freedoms, including his role in the drafting of Charter 08, deserve our admiration,” Crowley said.
“We urge China to uphold its … human rights obligations and to respect the fundamental freedoms and human rights of all Chinese citizens. And we continue to call for Mr. Liu’s immediate release,” he said.
On December 8, Crowley said that by honoring Liu, the Nobel Committee has made “a strong statement” urging all countries to work toward extending full human rights to all of their citizens, including “the ability to express their views, participate in the political process, and enjoy freedom of expression, freedom of association and the opportunity to play a role in the future of any country.”
The U.S. House of Representatives honored Liu by passing House Resolution 1717 on December 8. The measure congratulates Liu for winning the Nobel Peace Prize and says his award also honors other Chinese dissidents who have promoted democratic reform, including those who participated in the 1989 Tiananmen Square demonstrations.
The resolution calls on the Chinese government to release Liu from prison and his wife, Liu Xia, from house arrest, and to free “all signers of Charter 08 from detention, house arrest and harassment.”
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi noted that Liu’s award is the first Nobel Peace Prize given to a Chinese citizen and said the prize “is a testament not only to Liu Xiaobo, but … [to] many Chinese dissidents who have sacrificed so much in pursuit of freedom and democracy in China.”
Speaking on the House floor December 7, Pelosi said U.S. lawmakers fully recognize the importance of the relationship between the United States and China and the “many issues where we have common ground or where we should seek common ground.”
“But all of that is better served by candor in our friendship and not ignoring sore spots,” she said.
In Charter 08, Liu wrote that “the most fundamental principles of democracy are that people are sovereign, and that the people select their own government,” Pelosi said. The document now has more than 10,000 signatures, and many of the signers have been harassed and intimidated by Chinese authorities.
“The courageous efforts by the signatories of Charter 08 to express themselves in the face of arrest and detention are truly an inspiration around the world,” Pelosi said.
She said many who are spending time in prison for exercising the freedom to express their views are often told by their captors that they have been forgotten.
“One of the things that we have done in the past decade is to make sure that those who have been arrested for expressing their views, whether they be religious or political, is that they are not forgotten,” Pelosi said.
“And of course, with the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize, what greater spotlight could there be placed on freedom of expression in China?” she said.
(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://www.america.gov)