It was only a small demonstration in Hong Kong, but they were determined to make their voices heard.
The protest took place outside the central government liaison office, in support of the Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiabo, and demanding his release from a Chinese jail.
As a Chinese special administrative area, Hong Kong enjoys considerably more freedom than the rest of the country.
But in Tiananmen Square in Beijing – where Liu took part in the bloody pro-reform demonstrations in 1989 – very few people knew anything about it.
The official Chinese media had made little mention of the event.
“A Chinese man has won the Nobel Peace Prize? That can’t be possible. This I haven’t heard. I’m sorry, I haven’t heard anything of this,” said one Beijing resident.
Student Liu Jie said: “I feel very proud because he is Chinese. And now people are promoting human rights and there is more focus on democracy. Liu Xiaobo supports human rights.”
Her view though was not shared by the leader writers in official government media.
The popular tabloid, Global Times, said the award showed ‘arrogance and prejudice against a country that has made the most remarkable economic and social progress.’ The paper said the Nobel committee was ‘paranoid.’
Beijing’s English-language mouthpiece, China Daily, said the award was given to a ‘criminal who violated Chinese law’ and was part of a plot to contain China. Its editorial called it a ‘provocation.’
It is not the first time a Nobel Prize has inflamed official Chinese circles. In 2000, Gao Xingjian won the literature prize. His writings were banned in China in 1986, a year before he took up permanent residence in France, amid fear of persecution.
But above all, the Chinese government was enraged when the Nobel Peace Prize went to the Dalai Lama in 1989. He is considered a separatist by the Beijing administration, and his award was seen as external interference.
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