China has described the decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the late Liu Xiaobo as “blasphemy” and protested against countries that spoke up for the pro-democracy activist.
A furious China responded on Friday to international censure over the death of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo by describing the decision to award him the peace prize in 2010 as “blasphemy”, and said it had lodged protests with several countries for meddling in its “domestic affairs” by speaking up for the pro-democracy activist.
Liu, 61, a key leader of the Tiananmen Square movement, died of multi-organ failure on Thursday night at a hospital at Shenyang in northeastern China.
He was recently granted medical parole after being diagnosed with liver cancer but China ignored international calls to allow him to travel abroad for treatment. Instead, he was admitted to the hospital in Shenyang where two doctors from the US and Germany were allowed to check him.
“The hospital where Liu Xiaobo received medical treatment has done its best to save his life,” his main doctor Liu Yunpeng was quoted as saying by the official Xinhua news agency.
“Since the day Liu Xiaobo was admitted, the hospital has made every effort in his treatment,” Liu Yunpeng told a news conference late on Thursday night.
China’s decision not to allow Liu to go abroad, despite his own request, was widely criticised by the international community. Chinese censors also scrubbed social media networks of candles, RIP and other tributes to Liu on Friday as part of efforts to silence discussion about the dissident’s death.
Foreign ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said China had protested to several countries and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al Hussein, among others, to express its discontent. Reports said France and Germany too were on the list.
“Conferring the (Nobel peace) prize to such a person goes against the purposes of this award. It’s a blasphemy of the peace prize,” Geng said.
He said “all-out efforts” were made to treat Liu with “humanity and in accordance with the law”.
That “accordance with the law” has been questioned by governments, rights groups, lawyers and activists.
“Of course, foreign governments have the right to complain about (China’s) denial of internationally guaranteed human rights to the Chinese people,” Jerome A Cohen, a leading US expert on Chinese law, told Hindustan Times on email.
“(China), for example, in the exercise of its vaunted sovereignty, chose to limit its sovereignty by ratifying the UN Anti-Torture Convention that spells out in detail all the kinds of conduct that constitute internationally forbidden torture, mental as well as physical. (China’s) mistreatment of its many political dissidents plainly violates this convention in many respects,” he said.
“It is nonsense for (China), on the one hand, to commit itself to international rights protections in the exercise of its sovereignty and then, on the other, to say that holding it to such commitments is a violation of its sovereignty.”
Referring to Mahatma Gandhi, US-based Chinese economist and political commentator Weiping Qin summed up the mood among rights activists.
“In India, (Mahatma) Gandhi’s non-violent protests could be successful, but in China, Liu’s non-violent resistance suffered setbacks, even though he won the Nobel Peace Prize, as one of the signers of Charter 08, and the best way to mourn for Liu is to promote China’s constitutional democratic transformation as soon as possible so that the Chinese people can enjoy genuine freedom,” Weiping said.