8 Dec 2010

China boycotts Nobel prize ceremony

9:21 am on 8 December 2010

China and 18 other countries have said they will not attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

Mr Liu, 54, who was a key leader in the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, is serving an 11 year jail sentence.

A Chinese official has said a "vast majority" of countries would stay away, but the Norwegian Nobel Committee has said 44 countries have accepted invitations.

The committee said that, by way of comparison, 10 embassies were absent from the 2008 ceremony for former Finnish President and UN special envoy Martti Ahtisaari.

The United Nations' most senior human rights official, Navi Pillay, has been criticised for saying she will not attend, the BBC reports.

Mr Liu was last year sentenced for inciting subversion after drafting Charter 08, which called for multi-party democracy and respect for human rights in China.

Neither Mr Liu nor members of his family will be allowed to receive the prize in person. His wife, Liu Xia, has been under house arrest since the award was announced, and friends and supporters have been prevented from leaving China.