Imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize today. The announcement, blacked out across China has infuriated the Beijing government which condemned the selection as a “blasphemy” and described Liu as a “criminal.”
54 year old Liu, an academic who has lectured abroad as well as in Chin, is serving an 11-year prison sentence for non-violent political activities, which include being a member of Charter 08, a group advocating respect for human rights and the rule of law in China. Liu helped lead the pro-democracy movement of 1989 — which was brutally cut short by the Tiananmen Square massacre.
Freedom of expression and association are guaranteed by Article 35 of China’s constitution, but are in fact routinely violated by authorities. As the Norwegian Nobel Committee pointed out, China has made huge advances economically, lifting hundreds of millions of its people out of poverty. But that achievement has not been paralleled on human rights front because anyone pressing for real democracy gets quickly repressed.
In response, The Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a short, angry statement on its website declaring, “The Nobel Peace Prize is meant to award individuals who promote international harmony and friendship, peace and disarmament. Liu Xiaobo is a criminal who has been sentenced by Chinese judicial departments for violating Chinese law. Awarding the peace to Liu runs completely counter to the principle of the award and is also a blasphemy to the Peace Prize.”
The decision to grant the Peace Prize to Liu will certainly add to the international pressure for his release.
“God we pray for China. We pray not only for peace, but for freedom for the Chinese people. We thank you that economic advance has brought physical blessing to China. Most Chinese now have their basic needs met. But we humans need more than bread alone. We need freedom and most completely, we need YOU. God, we thank you for the amazing growth the Christian church in China, in spite of the repression they face. But that growth has cost them dearly. Leaders in the church and Christians in general face overt persecution. Shield them and protect them. And beyond that, Lord, we pray that the officials in China would change their policies and permit religious and moral and conscience centered freedom. God, we thank you for bold voices like Liu Xiaobo. Raise up others to stand with him. And may his voice of freedom be echoed across China and may that One voice bring about true liberty. You, after all, are a God of freedom, in Jesus!”