China Says Supporters of Nobel Peace Prize Winner Are Encouraging Crime

By Tini Tran | October 14, 2010 | 5:25 AM EDT

A November 2007 photo shows Liu Xiaobo at a gathering in Beijing. (AP Photo)

Beijing (AP) - China said Thursday that supporters of imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo were encouraging crime in China and should stop interfering in his case.

China has been issuing angry statements and rejecting calls for Liu's release since the Norwegian Nobel Committee honored him Oct. 8 for his more than two decades of advocacy of human rights and peaceful democratic change that started with the demonstrations at Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989.

The 54-year-old literary critic is serving an 11-year prison term after being convicted of inciting subversion over his role in writing an influential 2008 manifesto for political reform.

"Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to such a person is equivalent to encouraging crimes in China. It also constitutes a violation of China's judicial sovereignty," Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said.

Numerous countries, including the United States, have asked for Liu's release. On Thursday, Japanese Prime Minister Naoto Kan guardedly said it would be "desirable" for China to free Liu, but stopped short of specifically calling for the imprisoned dissident's release.

"I wonder what their true intention is. Is it because they resent China's development path and hate China's political system?" Ma said at a regular news conference.

He accused the Norwegian Nobel Committee of being biased and said "Western governments had no right to interfere" in China.

Ma refused to comment on the status of Liu's wife, Liu Xia, who has been under house arrest since Friday.

Liu's winning of the peace prize has caused a diplomatic rift between China and Norway, even though the Norwegian government is not involved in the selection of the winner.

China has canceled a string of meetings with Norwegian officials, and Oslo has pushed Beijing to lift restrictions imposed on Liu Xia.