China yesterday slammed what it called “gross interference” in its internal affairs from abroad, following statements from foreign governments expressing concern over the trial of a key dissident.
Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波), 53, a writer who was previously jailed over the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy protests, was tried in Beijing on Wednesday for “inciting subversion of state power” after co-authoring a bold call for political reform last year.
A verdict is expected to be announced on today, Christmas Day, a date many human rights activists suspect was chosen to avoid international attention to the case.
“Some officials from some countries’ embassies in China released some so-called statements, which is a gross interference in China’s judicial internal affairs,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu (姜瑜) told reporters. “We express strong dissatisfaction over that. We urge relevant countries to respect China’s judicial sovereignty and to stop doing anything that interferes in China’s internal affairs.”
Diplomats from more than a dozen countries including the US, Britain, Canada, Sweden, Australia and New Zealand stood outside the courthouse for the duration of Liu’s trial, having been denied access to the courtroom.
US embassy official Gregory May reiterated Washington’s call for Liu’s unconditional release, to reporters massed outside.
“We call on the government of China to release him immediately and to respect the rights of all Chinese citizens to peacefully express their political views,” May said, adding the case had been raised “at high levels.”
Jiang said the statements from foreign governments on the Liu case had violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations.
Liu, a university professor before his involvement in the Tiananmen demonstrations, co-authored Charter 08, which calls for human rights protection and the reform of China’s one-party communist system.
The petition — which has been widely circulated online — has been signed by more than 10,000 people, including other key dissidents and intellectuals, China Human Rights Defenders said.
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