The Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded the 2010 Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China. From the committee’s announcement it’s written:”Over the past decades, China has achieved economic advances to which history can hardly show any equal and this status must entail increased responsibility. China is in breach of several international agreements to which it is a signatory, as well as of its own provisions concerning political rights. Article 35 of China’s constitution lies down that “Citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration”. In practice, these freedoms have proved to be distinctly curtailed for China’s citizens”. The whole idea by awarding Xiaobo, is to take the opportunity to focus on that – I guess.

Since my blog is about Norway: our history, culture, traditions and habits, this important yearly event is of course to be mentioned. However, since this is political dynamite, I shall be careful with my personal view on pro et contra – In my blog’s theme, I’ll give you some facts and reaction from the press in Norway instead:

The Committee’s independence:
Jagland with 2010 award winnerSome have the idea of The Norwegian Nobel Committee represent the official Norwegian Political authority – or in general the (whole) nation of people for that matter – It’s not so! In the beginning, the committee was filled with active parliamentarians, but ties were later weakened so that the committee became more independent. Now, active parliamentarians cannot sit on the committee, unless they have explicitly stated their intent to step down shortly. The committee have their own mandate and act as independents as the constitutional freedom of the press. (Photo: Andersen, Aleksander/Scanpix -> T. Jagland, the chairman of the committee with a picture of Xiaobo).

Comments and reactions from Norway:
Jonas G. Støre (Foreign Minister): “Liu Xiaobo has become a symbol of opposition to the Communist Party, which shows no signs of giving in to Western pressure to implement democratic reforms.
China has previously expressed a pressure against the Norwegian government and warned that Liu Xiaobo is awarded the Peace Prize. Minister stressed that the Nobel Committee is independent. There is no basis for China to take measures against Norway if they disagree with the price.”

Chinese in Norway: “We believe it is inappropriate. It creates more conflict between Norway and China, as Chinese officials have protested strongly against the deal” says Spokesman Ya Ming Yuen the Norwegian-Chinese Association. The statements came after both the Chinese Foreign Ministry and Chinese embassy has protested against the controversial Nobel Peace Prize-decision.
– A peace prize is to create peace. If a price creates conflict, then it becomes a problem. Therefore, we believe the distribution is inappropriate, “said Ya.

A threat to trade between Norway and China:
It is not long since the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Committee was in China to establish a free trade agreement with the country. The theme for the meeting between the Minister for fisheries and aquaculture issues is the bilateral cooperation between the two countries, trade issues and resource management. Today, China is the eighth largest purchaser of Norwegian fish, and so far this year, exports of fish there for 1.5 billion.

Some believe this will have consequences for the relationship between Norway and China. There is no doubt about the leadership of the Communist Party feels humiliated and there will be a strong reaction, and they have a tradition of over-reacting. The question is how long the relationship between China and Norway will be harmed by the current allocation?

Is it worth the consequences?
Most likely, Liu Xiabos chair in the award ceremony at the City Hall December 10th, will be empty. Probably he will not be informed that he has won the award at all. Already now CNN’s broadcasts to China to be blocked (or was at the announcement this morning) – and his His wife sits in the practice of house arrest today.

There are plenty of other good candidates – also this year – for the peace prize. It would have been a lot more easy to award a less controversial candidate too – like last year. I am happy The Norwegian Nobel Committee make some unpopular decisions that at least set focus on delicate, political matters – small or big, local or global.

For those who want to stay neutral in comments on this; have you noticed the announcement of this award at all?

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