Panel votes to rename street at Chinese embassy for jailed dissident

The House Appropriations Committee voted Tuesday to rename the street in front of the Chinese Embassy for a jailed Chinese dissident. 

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Lawmakers approved a bill to rename the section of International Place in front of the Chinese Embassy as No. 1 Liu Xiaobo Plaza, a nod to the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize-winning Chinese citizen who is now in prison.

The move was timed to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, which was June 4.

As a student, Xiaobo took part in 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, according to the Nobel site. In 2009 he was sentenced to an 11-year prison term after co-authoring a manifesto advocating democratic principles such as free speech and open elections. 

"The case of the imprisoned Nobel Laureate, Dr. Liu Xiaobo, serves as a stark reminder to the world that China’s human rights abuses are as bad, if not worse, today," lawmakers said in a letter to D.C. City Council members last month signed by Frank Wolf (R-Va.), House Minority Leader Nancy (D-Calif.) and Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.), among others. 

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang last month called the proposed road name change "provocative" and "ignorant behavior," according to Reuters.

“We believe that the U.S. people will not like to see a U.S. street be named after a criminal,” a Chinese Embassy spokesman told The Washington Post last month.

For precedence, Wolf's group point to 1984 when the street in front of the Soviet Embassy to Sakharov Plaza, after the Soviet human-rights activist.