China awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to pro-democracy activist Liu Xiaobo

Pro-democracy demonstrators hold up photo of jailed Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo during a protest to urge for the release of Liu, who was sentenced to imprisonment seven years ago on Christmas day, outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong, China December 25, 2016. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu/Files

Vastavam web: China said today that awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to pro-democracy activist Liu Xiaobo amounted to “blasphemy” and lodged protests with several countries, including the US, for making “irresponsible statements” on the death of the prominent dissident.Liu, China’s best-known human rights prisoner, died yesterday at age 61 following a battle with liver cancer. The Nobel Peace Prize laureate who spent his last eight years as a prisoner of conscience died at a hospital in Shenyang, China.Liu’s death led to international criticism of China’s handling of the issue. The leader of the Norwegian Nobel committee Berit Reiss-Andersen said the Chinese government bore a “heavy responsibility” for Liu’s death.

Answering a barrage of questions today over the death of Liu, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said China had lodged protests with “certain countries” for interfering in its “judicial sovereignty”.”China is a rule of law country and everyone is equal before law. Anyone who violates law will be punished and remarks by certain countries constitutes interference in China s internal affairs. That goes against the spirit of international law,” Geng said at a regular news conference.China has lodged a protest with the US to show its dissatisfaction following remarks from Washington about Liu’s death, he added.

The UNHCR chief “should respect the judicial sovereignty of China and not interfering in China’s internal affairs. He should fulfil his duties in objective and fair manner. I can tell you that we also made representation with him for his above-mentioned remarks,” Geng said.Liu had been transferred from prison last month, where he was serving an 11-year term for “subversion”.Geng also said China would not make a prejudgement about whether Liu’s widow, Liu Xia, who has been kept under house arrest since 2010, would be allowed to go overseas as demanded by several countries and human rights groups.

Liu Xia, whose current whereabouts are unknown, is said to be suffering from depression after spending years under house arrest and heavy surveillance. She was allowed to visit her husband in hospital. Germany, UK, France, the US and Taiwan have called for China to allow Liu Xia to travel and leave the country if she wishes.Responding to the issue, Geng said, “We have lodged representations with the countries that made irresponsible remarks.” Asked whether Liu’s death has badly dented China’s image as he was second Nobel laurate to die in prison after first such incident took place in 1938 under Nazi Germany, Geng said “China’s status and image is all there to see”.

“Some irresponsible comments and remarks cannot represent whole international community,” he said and referred to the situation in the Middle East.”If you look at today’s Middle East, does this need so called preachers of human rights to reflect on what they have done,” he said.Meanwhile, responding to Liu’s death, Salil Shetty, Secretary General of Amnesty International, commented that he was a man of fierce intellect, principle, wit and above all humanity.”Today we grieve the loss of a giant of human rights,” Shetty said.”For decades, he fought tirelessly to advance human rights and fundamental freedoms in China. He did so in the face of the most relentless and often brutal opposition from the Chinese government,” he said in a statement.The death of Liu lays bare the Chinese government’s ruthlessness toward peaceful proponents of human rights and democracy, Human Rights Watch said.