The Nobel Committee says the award of its Peace Prize to a leading Chinese dissident is founded on global human rights, and is not an attempt to impose western values on China.
Pro-democracy campaigner Liu Xiaobo is serving an 11-year sentence for inciting subversion.
Despite Beijing’s outrage at the award – to be made at a ceremony in Oslo on Friday – Nobel organisers hope it will help discussions with Chinese leaders.
“We are not advocating certain western values,” said Thorbjoern Jagland, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee. “I have seen that somebody are (is) trying to make a divide between the so called western countries that are upholding these values and standards and others. But actually, all the dissidents in China, they are advocating over common universal rights.”
Almost 20 countries are reported to be boycotting the Nobel ceremony, including Russia and Iran. Most of those staying away have strong economic links with China; some need Chinese investment. More than 40 countries have said they will attend.
Nobody is expected to pick up the award for Liu, whose wife is under house arrest in China. Other supporters have been prevented from travelling.
To represent the laureate, the committee is expected to display an empty chair, describing it as “a very strong symbol”.
It will be the first time in more than 70 years that the prize has not been handed out.