SA respects Nobel Prize to Chinese dissident

2010-12-09 12:56

South Africa respects the decision to award this year’s Nobel Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, and will send a representative to the award ceremony tomorrow, Minister in the Presidency Collins Chabane said today.

Briefing the media after Cabinet’s last regular meeting for the year, Chabane however refrained from congratulating Liu and stressed South Africa had no say in the process.

He denied the decision to send a diplomat chargé d’affaires to represent the country was a “downgrading” of South Africa’s support for the prize, in response to pressure from China.

Beijing has been angered by the decision to award the prize to Liu, a key leader in the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, and has warned of “consequences” for countries that attend the ceremony.

The threat could have serious implications for nations cultivating greater trade with China as its economic clout grows.

Chabane said: “South Africa is one of the countries that has got the highest number of Nobel peace laureates. We respect the procedure that they use. We may not agree with some of the criteria or what, but we respect it.

“We are going to participate as South Africa. We respect that process, it is not whether we agree or don’t agree, because we are not part of that process in any way.”

Liu (54) last year received an 11-year sentence for “inciting subversion” after drafting Charter 08, which called for multi-party democracy and respect for human rights in China.

So far 17 countries apart from China have indicated that they would boycott the ceremony. These include Afghanistan, Cuba, Colombia, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Morocco, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sudan, Tunisia and Venezuela.

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