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President praises Chinese dissident for being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize

President Obama on Friday praised Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo for
his Nobel Peace Prize win and called on the Chinese government to
release Liu from prison.

He is serving an 11-year sentence for “subversion” related
to his authoring of a treatise demanding broad
political reform in the country.

Obama, who won last year’s Peace Prize, noted in a statement that
“many others who have received the award [have] sacrificed” much more
than he has.

“That list now includes Mr. Liu, who has
sacrificed his freedom for his beliefs,” he said. “By granting the
prize to Mr.
Liu, the Nobel Committee has chosen someone who has been an eloquent and
courageous spokesman for the advance of universal values through
peaceful and non-violent means, including his support for democracy,
human rights and the rule of law.”

He added that Chinese
political reform “has not kept pace” with the country’s economic
progress during the last 30 years.


“As I said last year in
Oslo, even as we respect the unique culture and
traditions of different countries, America will always be a voice for
those aspirations that are universal to all human beings,” he said. “The
basic
human rights of every man, woman and child must be respected. We call
on the Chinese government to release Mr. Liu as soon as possible.” 

The statement is certain to upset Beijing, which blasted the award and blacked out news of the prize. “The awarding of the peace prize by the committee to this person
completely contradicts its aims and is an obscenity against the peace
prize,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said in a
statement on the ministry’s website

Liu,
a pro-democracy activist, was most recently jailed in December 2009.

The
Nobel Committee noted that he has been a spokesman for non-violent
reform in China for more than two decades — participating in the
Tiananmen protests in 1989 and authoring a political manifesto known as
“Charter 08” criticizing the Chinese government and calling on its to
recognize citizens’ human and democratic rights. 

The prize was
the first for a Chinese dissident in more than three
decades.

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