Chinese AIDS Activist to Attend Nobel Ceremony

A Chinese AIDS activist said Friday he will attend next month’s Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for Liu Xiaobo, slamming Beijing for refusing to let the dissident or his wife accept it in person.

Wan Yanhai, who moved to the United States in May, also denied suggestions that he could accept the the Nobel prize on Liu’s behalf at the December 10 ceremony in Oslo.

“I’m going to attend” the ceremony, he told AFP. But asked about reports in China that he could receive the prize for Liu, he said: “No, no, no, that’s not correct. Nobody is suggesting me to pick up the award.”

Liu, a writer, was jailed in December 2009 for 11 years on subversion charges after co-authoring “Charter 08,” a manifesto that spread quickly on the Internet calling for political reform and greater rights in China.

China has accused Norway of undermining relations and encouraging a “criminal” by announcing him last month as the winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize.

China has also pressured nations not to attend the Nobel ceremony. Six nations — China, Russia, Kazakhstan, Cuba, Morocco and Iraq — have told the Nobel Institute they would not take part.

Wan condemned China’s response to the Nobel Peace Prize nomination for Liu, and the way it is working to prevent critics from attending the Oslo ceremony.

“It is sad news, it shows how the Chinese government does not tolerate political critics,” said Wan, who first moved to Los Angeles in early May but is now based in Washington.

“Liu Xiaobo is a figure for a peaceful democratic transition of China… which includes all parts of the population, to be part of a political transition, not to divide Chinese people into good people and bad people.”

A friend of Liu said Friday that an empty chair will represent the Nobel laureate, unless Beijing allows him or his wife to attend.

Yang Jianli, a prominent Chinese democracy activist who is coordinating between the Nobel committee and dissidents, said all sides would keep pressing China to free wife Liu Xia from house arrest and let her travel to Oslo.


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