18 countries join China in snub of Nobel Peace Prize ceremony

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OSLO | China and 18 other countries have declined to attend this year’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony honoring Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, Nobel officials said Tuesday as China unleashed another barrage deriding the decision.

Three days before the Nobel ceremony, Chinese officials in Beijing called Mr. Liu’s backers “clowns” in an anti-Chinese farce.

Beijing considers Mr. Liu’s recognition an attack on China’s political and legal system, and says the country’s policies will not be swayed by outside forces in what it calls “flagrant interference in China’s sovereignty.”

The Nobel committee said countries that have turned down invitations to Friday’s ceremony include Chinese allies Pakistan, Venezuela and Cuba, neighbors such as Russia, the Philippines and Kazakhstan, and business partners such as Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Other countries not attending the ceremony at Oslo City Hall are Ukraine, Colombia, Egypt, Sudan, Tunisia, Iraq, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Serbia and Morocco.

At least 44 of the 65 embassies that were invited have accepted the invitation, the prize committee said.

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu accused the Nobel committee of “orchestrating an anti-China farce by themselves.”

Authorities were placing Mr. Liu’s supporters, including his wife, Liu Xia, under house arrest and stopping numerous others such as lawyers, academics and activists from leaving the country — apparently to prevent them from traveling to Oslo for the award ceremony.

Ms. Jiang’s comments were the latest in a series of furious attacks against Mr. Liu, the Nobel committee and other supporters.

Beijing was enraged by the awarding of the prize to the 54-year-old democracy campaigner and literary critic and has sought to dissuade foreign diplomats from attending the award ceremony.

Nobel committee Secretary Geir Lundestad said countries gave various reasons for not attending, but “some of them are obviously affected by China.” He said the committee was pleased that as many as two-thirds of embassies had accepted the invitation despite Chinese pressure.

Nobel officials have said the peace prize might not be presented Friday because it’s unlikely that any of Mr. Liu’s family members will be able to attend. The prestigious $1.4 million award can be collected only by the laureate or close family members.

Mr. Liu is serving an 11-year sentence on subversion charges brought after he co-authored a bold call for sweeping changes to the one-party communist political system known as Charter 08.

At this year’s ceremony, an empty chair will symbolize that Mr. Liu and his family have been prevented by the Chinese regime from receiving the prize.

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