Furious China blocks visit with Nobel winner’s wife

** FILE ** Liu Xia, wife of jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who won this year's Nobel Peace Prize, is shown during an interview with the Associated Press in Beijing on Sept. 28, 2010. Mrs. Liu said in a Twitter message that she has been under house arrest since Friday, Oct. 8, 2010. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)** FILE ** Liu Xia, wife of jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, is shown during an interview with the Associated Press in Beijing on Sept. 28, 2010. Mrs. Liu said in a Twitter message that she has been under house arrest since Friday, Oct. 8, 2010. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)
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BEIJING (AP) — China on Monday blocked European officials from meeting with the wife of the jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner, cut off her phone communication and canceled meetings with Norwegian officials — acting on its fury over the award.

As China retaliated, U.N. human rights experts called on Beijing to free imprisoned democracy campaigner Liu Xiaobo, who was permitted a brief, tearful meeting with his wife Sunday.

Mr. Liu dedicated the award to the “lost souls” of the 1989 military crackdown on student demonstrators.

A slight, 54-year-old literary critic, Mr. Liu is in the second year of an 11-year prison term for inciting subversion.

In naming him, the Norwegian-based Nobel committee honored Mr. Liu’s more than two decades of advocacy of human rights and peaceful democratic change — from demonstrations for democracy at Beijing’s Tiananmen Square in 1989 to a manifesto for political reform that he co-authored in 2008 and that led to his latest jail term.

Simon Sharpe (center), the European Union's first secretary of political affairs in China, is confronted by a plainclothes security officer as he tries to enter a residential compound where Liu Xia, the wife of this year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, Liu Xiaobo, is held under house arrest in Beijing on Monday, Oct. 11, 2010. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

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Simon Sharpe (center), the European Union’s first secretary of political affairs in ... more >

Beijing has reacted angrily to Friday’s announcement honoring Mr. Liu, calling him a criminal and warning Norway’s government that relations would suffer, even though the Nobel committee is an independent organization.

On Monday, it abruptly canceled a meeting that was scheduled for Wednesday between visiting Norwegian Fisheries Minister Lisbeth Berg-Hansen and her Chinese counterpart. Ms. Berg-Hansen was in China for a weeklong visit to the World Expo in Shanghai.

“If the meeting has been cancelled due to the Peace Prize, we find that to be an unnecessary reaction from China,” said Norwegian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Ragnhild Imerslund. “We have not received any reason for canceling the meeting.”

Meanwhile, the Dalai Lama criticized China for its response to the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize, saying the government “must change,” the Kyodo News agency reported. The Tibetan spiritual leader, who won the prize himself in 1989, said Beijing must recognize that fostering an open society is “the only way to save all people of China.”

Also Monday, four U.N. human rights experts released a statement calling for China to release Mr. Liu immediately. The independent U.N.-appointed investigators, who examine issues from free speech to arbitrary detention, called on China to release Mr. Liu and “all persons detained for peacefully exercising their right to freedom of expression.”

European diplomats, meanwhile, were prevented from visiting his wife, Liu Xia, who has been living under house arrest since Friday. Mrs. Liu has been told that if she wants to leave her home, she must be escorted in a police car, the New York-based group Human Rights in China said.

She reported that her phone communications, along with her Internet, has been cut off; both her and her brother’s mobile phones have been interfered with, HRIC said. She is not being allowed to contact the media or her friends, the group said.

Simon Sharpe, the first secretary of political affairs of the EU delegation in China, said he went to see her at her home in Beijing to deliver personally a letter of congratulations from European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso.

Mr. Sharpe was accompanied by diplomats from 10 countries, including Switzerland, Sweden, Poland, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Belgium, Italy and Australia.

But three uniformed guards at the main gate of Mrs. Liu’s apartment complex prevented the group from entering, saying someone from inside the building had to come out and fetch them.

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