The Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony, which is going to take place in Oslo on December 10, has stirred controversy already. The awarding of the prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo has entailed harsh reactions from China. In addition, officials of 19 countries decided not to attend the upcoming ceremony in Norway.
The story began in October, when the Nobel Peace Prize Committee decided to award the prize to 54-year-old Liu Xiaobo for his continuous and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China. The Chinese administration set out its concerns about the committee's choice immediately. Many news websites on mainland China were blocked.
The winner of the prize is known for his opposition to the Communist Party of China. In 1989, he participated in the infamous protest action with other dissidents on Tiananmen Square. Two years ago, Liu Xiaobo became one of the authors of Charter 08 manifesto, which urged the 1.5-billion-strong nation to introduce a multiparty system of power.
As soon as Charter 08 was made public, Liu Xiaobo was arrested and jailed. In December of 2009, he was sentenced to eleven years in prison for agitating the subversion of state power and the socialist regime. His wife was taken under house arrest. Many Western human rights activists expressed their protests against such actions, but the expressed concerns showed no influence on the leadership of China.
As a result, the West decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the dissident. China responded immediately. The Asian giant suspended commercial negotiations and warned of serious consequences that could occur for the countries which decided not to boycott the ceremony in Oslo. What is more, China is not going to let Liu Xiaobo travel to Norway to receive the prize worth 10 million Norwegian kroner.
Russian officials are not going to attend the award ceremony either. However, it was said that the Russian ambassador to Norway would have to go on a business trip which could not be delayed. Officials of the Russian Foreign Affairs Ministry emphasized that the decision was not connected with China's pressure.
The list of boycotters includes Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Serbia, Vietnam, Pakistan, Morocco, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Tunisia, Sudan, Philippines, Cuba, Venezuela and Columbia.
Officials of all these countries resorted to various circumstances in their explanations. However, no one said a word about pressure from China.
Yevgeny Khakimullin, a Russian expert for China, said in an interview with Pravda.Ru that the decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the Chinese dissident shows that the West is highly concerned about the alleged violation of human rights in China.
"The West wants to find levels of influence for China. They want China to deal with its internal issues and stay away from geopolitical questions. The speedy growth of the Chinese economy makes the nation's leadership work more actively on the international arena.
"As for the Western support of anti-Chinese forces, this type of politics was used against the Soviet Union, but with China it will not work. China does not have its Gorbachevs or Yeltsins. The Chinese administration is more or less monolithic, and it is not going to give up on its power. The Communist Party of China reasonably invests in poorly developed provinces, where the West tried to organize anti-Chinese riots. In the long run, the West is not going to ruin its relations with China because the latter will soon turn into one of the world's major superpowers.
"The fact that so many countries did not send their officials to Oslo means that China's influence in the world is growing steadily. Russia, Kazakhstan and Vietnam are China's neighbors, and they are strongly determined to develop their ties with this country in the future. Iran and Sudan are the so-called rogue states for the West, but it does not stop them from developing their own ties with the Asian power. For Cuba and Venezuela, China is the key trade partner and ally in the opposition to the USA. Pakistan sees China as its natural ally in the opposition to India.
"As for Serbia, this country has special relations with the Nobel Committee. Two years ago, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Martti Ahtisaari, who authored the plan to separate Kosovo from Serbia. China still supports the Serbians as far as this problem is concerned," the expert said.