Nobel Peace Prize
winner Liu Xiabo
By Kang Hyun-kyung
Seoul has not yet decided whether it will send a delegate to the Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony to be held on Dec. 10 in Oslo, Norway, even after the Nov. 15 deadline.
The indecisiveness comes against the backdrop of China warning governments that back Liu Xiabo, a dissident and pro-democracy writer and the winner of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, will need to be prepared for negative consequences.
Kim Young-sun, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, told reporters that he did not know whether the government would send a delegate to the award ceremony.
He declined to give further information on the pending decision on the invitation, only to say that the government respects the Norwegian Nobel Prize committee’s decision.
The Norwegian Nobel Prize committee reportedly requested governments to respond whether or not they were going to send delegates to the award ceremony no later than Nov. 15.
Analysts said China’s growing economic clout and military build-up reportedly have made Asian nations, including Korea, feel pressure about making the decision.
Due to the politically sensitive nature, some ambassadors based in Oslo reportedly requested the committee to allow them to have more time before making a decision on the invitation.
Earlier, China condemned the Norwegian committee’s decision to award Liu, saying the winner is “a criminal who violated Chinese law.”
The Chinese government summoned the Norwegian ambassador based in Beijing shortly after the committee announced the writer was this year’s winner. China warned that Liu’s winning the prize could damage bilateral relations.
Liu, 54, one of the key people behind the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests in 1989, was sentenced to an 11-year prison term last year after drafting the document, Chapter 8 calling for multi-party democracy and improvement in overall human rights in China.
Several governments and international human rights groups called on China to release the pro-democracy writer.
In a statement, U.S. President Barack Obama said “Over the last 30 years, China has made dramatic progress in economic reform and improving the lives of its people, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty.
“But his award reminds us that political reform has not kept pace and that the basic human rights of every man, woman and child must be respected.”
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Liu’s winning the Nobel Peace Prize is recognition of the growing international consensus for improving human rights practices around the world.
The German and French governments also called on China to free Liu.
Many national and international human rights groups have also expressed their support.