Sun, Dec 05, 2010 - Page 5 News List

Nobel ‘media blackout’ for China: broadcasters

SWEDISH SNUB:China’s ambassador to Sweden will not attend the awarding of the Noble Prize in Medicine on Friday, the same day as the Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo

AFP, GENEVA, Switzerland, and STOCKHOLM

European broadcasters said on Friday Beijing was preventing its media from covering the ceremony for the Nobel Peace Prize, awarded to a Chinese dissident, and they condemned control of journalists in China.

“Chinese authorities have advised their official representatives and the media to refrain from attending or covering next week’s Nobel Peace Prize Ceremony in Oslo,” the European Broadcasting Union said.

The union “strongly condemns political attempts to control free and independent journalism,” it said in a statement.

“We urge the Chinese authorities to remove all obstacles preventing national and international media from pursuing their work and to immediately release all journalists who have been deprived of their freedom,” it added.

China said on Thursday that it was difficult to maintain “friendly relations” with Norway following the Oslo-based Nobel committee’s decision to award this year’s Peace Prize to a Chinese dissident, Liu Xiaobo (劉曉波).

The union is comprised of 75 state and private broadcasters from 56 European countries.

Its general assembly expressed “immense concern” about the “imminent dangers” of information being withheld from the public, depriving it of an “enlightened understanding of the current affairs of its nation and ... a globalized world.”

The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded in October to Liu, who was jailed in December last year, for 11 years on subversion charges after co-authoring “Charter 08,” a petition calling for democratic reform in one-party China.

Beijing was furious over the decision, saying it was tantamount to encouraging crime.

Neither the jailed writer nor members of his family are expected to attend the award ceremony in the Norwegian capital next week. His wife, Liu Xia (劉霞), is under house arrest.

Meanwhile, Chinese Ambassador to Sweden Chen Mingming (陳明明) and this year’s laureate of the Nobel Prize in Medicine will not attend the Nobel Prize ceremony on Friday, Nobel Foundation executive director Michael Sohlman told reporters on Friday.

Sohlman also said that unlike last year, Chen has not accepted the invitation to the traditional banquet given at Stockholm’s City Hall in honor of the Nobel laureates.

He said he did not know if it was related to China’s opposition to Liu being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel Peace Prize will also handed out on Friday, but at a separate ceremony in Oslo.

Six countries — China, Cuba, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Morocco and Russia — are so far known to have declined the invitation to attend the Oslo ceremony.

British doctor Robert Edwards, who won this year’s medicine prize for his pioneering of in vitro fertilization, will not travel to Stockholm because of health reasons, Sohlman said.

The 85-year-old, whose work led to the birth of the first test-tube baby in 1978, was also too weak to give interviews when it was announced in October that he had won the prize .

His wife Ruth will travel to Stockholm to collect the prize on his behalf.

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