China blacks out Nobel Peace Prize ceremony

Last Updated: Fri, Dec 10, 2010 13:57 hrs

Beijing: Shortly after the Nobel Peace Prize was given to jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in absentia at Oslo, the government here on Friday slammed the decision to honour him as a "Cold War mentality" and insulated the country by blacking out international news channels besides putting his supporters behind bars.

Demonstrating its cyber might, China shut down all conceivable international news channels and websites, including those from Norway, leaving no stone unturned to keep the 1.3 billion Chinese people off the ceremony conferring the coveted prize to Liu.

The Nobel committee's decision to award Liu -- who is serving an 11-year sentence on subversion charges for urging sweeping changes to China's one-party Communist political system -- has been dubbed by China as a concerted attempt by external and internal forces to overthrow the one-party "socialist" system here.

Immediately after the ceremony in Oslo, the Chinese Foreign Ministry lashed out at the "political theatre" of the Nobel committee, saying the move to award Liu was a product of a "Cold War mentality".

"Facts fully show that the decision of the Nobel committee cannot represent the overall majority of the people of the world," Foreign Ministry spokesperson Jiang Yu said in a statement. "One-sidedness and lies have no footing to stand on, a Cold War mentality is unpopular."

"This kind of political theatre will never shake the determination and the confidence of the people of China to uphold the road of socialism with Chinese characteristics."

Reports here say that scores of Chinese human rights activists, lawyers and scholars, who were galvanised by Nobel to Liu, were prevented from leaving the country to attend the ceremony. Some fled to different provinces to escape detention.

Security was further beefed up in front of the apartment of Liu's wife Liu Xia, who has mostly lived under house since the prize was announced in October.

Besides stepping up internal security and cracking down on all remnants of dissent, China, before the ceremony, launched a massive diplomatic offensive, prevailing on a host of nations not to attend the event, putting a whole lot of countries including India in a quandary.

Around 19 countries, including Pakistan, reportedly declined Nobel Committee's invitation at the instance of China, while India went ahead and attended it arguing that there were no bilateral issues involved in it.

It was not yet clear how China would view it and the Indian diplomats who worked hard to make Premier Wen Jiabao's upcoming India visit a success kept their fingers crossed.

More from Sify: