- Associated Press - Tuesday, September 28, 2010

BEIJING | China has warned the Nobel committee against awarding its coveted peace prize to a jailed Chinese dissident, the head of the Norwegian Nobel Institute said Tuesday.

A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman denied that China has exerted pressure but said choosing dissident Liu Xiaobo would go against the prize’s aims.

“The person you just mentioned was sentenced to jail by Chinese judicial authorities for violating Chinese law. I think his acts are completely contrary to the aspirations of the Nobel Peace Prize,” said spokeswoman Jiang Yu.

Mr. Liu, one of the country’s most prominent activists, was the main author of a daring political manifesto that called for stronger human rights and an end to Communist Party dominance. He was detained in 2008 and found guilty of inciting to subvert state power. He was sentenced last December to 11 years in jail.

Geir Lundestad, secretary of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said China’s Deputy Foreign Minister Fu Ying warned that awarding the prize to Mr. Liu could harm ties between the two countries when she visited Norway in June.

Mr. Fu said that giving the Nobel to Mr. Liu would be “an unfriendly action that would have negative consequences for the relationship between Norway and China,” Mr. Lundestad told Associated Press.

Mr. Lundestad said the Nobel committee is independent and ignores pressure to influence its decisions. The peace prize winner will be announced on Oct. 8.

Mr. Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, said Tuesday that she thinks China will be able to exert enough pressure to stop her husband from getting the award.

“The Chinese government has money and power. There is nothing they cannot buy,” she told AP Television News.

In past years, when other Chinese human rights activists have been mentioned as prize contenders, China also has tried to quash their nominations.

Mr. Fu, speaking at a news conference in Beijing about a trip by Premier Wen Jiabao to Europe next week, said there is false talk every year about Chinese pressure.

“Every year, you report that China will apply pressure. And it’s standard practice around this time of year. You often talk about the Chinese pressure issue,” she said.

Mr. Lundestad said he told Mr. Fu that the committee is independent of the Norwegian government. He said giving the peace prize to the Dalai Lama in 1989 shows the Nobel committee doesn’t respond to pressure from China.

Beijing accuses the Dalai Lama of trying to undermine its control of Tibet and is sharply critical of anyone who supports him.

China has pointedly disavowed his award as well as the Nobel Literature Prize won in 2000 Gao Xinjian, a dissident emigre writer who lives in France.

“I’ve had many such meetings, but this is probably at the highest level,” Mr. Lundestad said. “They consider this an unfriendly action which would have negative consequences for the relationship between Norway and China.

“We, of course, reject any effort to interfere in the deliberations of the Norwegian Nobel Committee,” he said.

Before his latest sentence, Mr. Liu, a former university professor, also spent 20 months in jail for joining the 1989 student-led protests in Tiananmen Square, which ended when the government called in the military - killing hundreds, perhaps thousands, of demonstrators.

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