- The Washington Times - Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The House on Wednesday overwhelmingly approved a resolution calling for the release of jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo and congratulating him on winning this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.

Sponsored by Reps. Christopher Smith, New Jersey Republican, and David Wu, Oregon Democrat, the resolution passed, 402-1. Rep. Ron Paul, a Texas Republican known for calling for limits on U.S. foreign policy, voted against the nonbinding resolution.

“The Nobel Peace Prize is a testament not only to Liu Xiaobo, but Chinese dissidents — many, many Chinese dissidents — who have sacrificed so much in pursuit of freedom and democracy in China,” said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat.

In February, Mr. Smith led a bipartisan group of lawmakers in nominating Mr. Liu and two other Chinese activists for the prize.

He said this week that the resolution calls on China’s communist government to “cease censoring media and Internet reporting of the award and to cease defaming Liu as ‘a political tool of the West,’ and ‘a traitorous operative.’”

“These are ridiculous charges,” Mr. Smith said.

Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Smith are expected to attend the prize ceremony in Oslo on Friday at which Mr. Liu’s absence will be marked by an empty chair.

Mr. Liu was sentenced in 2009 to 11 years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power.” He took part in the pro-democracy protests in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989 and was a lead author behind “Charter 08,” a manifesto of human rights in China which was published on Dec. 10, 2008.

His wife, Liu Xia, was put under house arrest at the couple’s Beijing apartment soon after the Nobel prize announcement.

The House resolution congratulates Mr. Liu on winning the prize and honors the “courage with which he has bore repeated imprisonment by the government of China.”

It also recognizes Mr. Liu as a “political prisoner” and the Lius’ detained supporters as “victims of political persecution,” and urges President Obama to press for the Lius’ release.

Beijing has prevented the Lius’ friends and relatives from leaving China to accept the prize on Mr. Liu’s behalf. It also has pressured other countries not to send representatives to the ceremony.

China and 18 other countries have announced that they are not attending the ceremony: Russia, Kazakhstan, Colombia, Tunisia, Saudi-Arabia, Pakistan, Serbia, Iraq , Iran, Vietnam, Afghanistan, Venezuela, the Philippines, Egypt, Sudan, Ukraine, Cuba and Morocco.