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China Opposes Peace Prize for Rights Activist

Beijing Says Nobel Peace Prize Should Not Be Awarded to Chinese Human Rights Activist
October 09, 2008

China said Thursday that a prominent Chinese human rights activist should not be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, saying such an honor would go against the spirit of the award.

Jailed dissident Hu Jia is considered among the front-runners for the prize to be announced Friday. No short list of potential Nobel laureates is announced.

"I hope the Nobel Peace Prize should be awarded to the right person. If the prize is awarded to such a person it would be against the purpose of such a prize," Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said at a regular news conference.

Qin said the prize should be awarded to someone who has "truly made contributions to world peace," and there are thousands of eligible Chinese they could pick.

Hu is a brash dissident who tirelessly chronicled the arrests and harassment of other activists before he was sentenced to 3 1/2 years in jail in April. Security agents took him without explanation from his apartment on Dec. 27.

He started out fighting for the rights of HIV/AIDS patients but his scope expanded after the government gave little ground and he began to see China's problems as rooted in authorities' lack of respect for human rights.

"Everyone knows what kind of person Hu Jia is," Qin said. "He committed the crime of subverting the state and has been convicted."

Stein Toennesson, director of the Peace Research Institute in Oslo, whose picks tend to shape world speculation, said last week the prize committee might pick a Chinese activist "in view of the fact that the Olympic Games did not bring the improvement many had hoped for, but instead led to a number of strict security measures."

Toennesson also mentioned jailed Chinese dissident Gao Zhisheng as a possible Nobel laureate. Gao is a lawyer who became a prominent critic of China's civil rights lapses in 2002-2006, taking on cases involving property-rights violations, the banned Falun Gong spiritual movement and religious persecution.

He was arrested in August 2006, convicted in a one-day trial and placed under house arrest. He was convicted on the basis of nine articles posted on foreign Web sites, state media reported at the time.

Last year's prize was shared by former Vice President Al Gore and the U.N. panel on climate change for their efforts to raise awareness about global warming.

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