Nobel Prize to honour jailed Chinese dissident

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Nobel Prize to honour jailed Chinese dissident

Nobel Prize to honour jailed Chinese dissident
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The Nobel Peace Prize will be awarded to jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo at a ceremony in Oslo on Friday.

Dignitaries will gather around an empty chair at 1200 GMT to hail this year’s laureate in a ceremony that has enraged Beijing.

The 54-year-old human rights advocate was one of the leaders in the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.

He was jailed in December 2009 for 11 years on subversion charges after co-authoring “Charter 08”, a manifesto calling for political reform in China.

It will be only the second time in the more than 100-year history of the prize that neither the laureate nor a representative will be able to accept the award.

The only other time was when German journalist and pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, who was locked up in a Nazi concentration camp, could not travel to Oslo for his prize ceremony in 1936.

Fellow Tiananmen Square campaigner and dissident Wan Yanhai, who fled to the United States in May, will be in the audience at the Norwegian capital’s city hall.

He said: “I came to witness this most important and encouraging day in China’s contemporary history. It’s a milestone and we hope it will be a turning point as well.”

China has branded Liu a “criminal” in what is being seen as a stinging rebuke for its political system.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee, which awards the peace prize, denies it is an attack against China.

At least 18 of China’s allies are joining Beijing in boycotting the ceremony, including Russia, Pakistan and Iraq.