China media slam Liu Peace Prize
Beijing - Chinese state media on Saturday slammed the Nobel committee's decision to award the prestigious peace prize to jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo, as human rights defenders celebrated the new laureate.
As the activist community hailed the decision as giving some hope for other Chinese dissidents, police detained dozens of Liu's supporters as they gathered to toast his award on Friday night, a Hong Kong-based rights network said.
"While some have gathered in small groups to celebrate the momentous occasion, approximately several dozen of Liu's supporters, primarily activists and dissidents, have been ... taken into detention," Chinese Human Rights Defenders said in an email.
The award was condemned by state media, with the Global Times saying the Nobel committee had "disgraced itself" and suggesting the peace prize had been "degraded to a political tool that serves an anti-China purpose".
"The Nobel committee once again displayed its arrogance and prejudice against a country that has made the most remarkable economic and social progress in the past three decades," an editorial said, referring to the Dalai Lama, the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader who won the 1989 Nobel Peace Prize.
"Neither of the two are among those who made contributions to China's peace and growth in recent decades," the English-language daily said.
News that Liu - who Beijing has repeatedly branded a criminal following his December 2009 jailing for 11 years on subversion charges - had been awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize was reported in Chinese-language state media, but only through the government's angry reaction to the decision.
Internet searches using the key words "Nobel Peace Prize" and "Liu Xiaobo" brought up no results on Chinese web portals Sina and Sohu while similar searches on Weibo, a Twitter-like service, also drew a blank.
Some web users, however, got around the army of censors by not mentioning Liu's name in their postings on Weibo.
"A Chinese netizen won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize," one web user said.
Another web user described the award as the "October 8 dynamite prize" and posted a photo of Liu and details about his detention.
A search on Chinese search engine Baidu produced the government's reaction to the peace prize and previous reports on the 54-year-old writer's sentencing.
Friday's evening news on China Central Television made no mention of Liu, opening instead with a story about flooding on the southern island of Hainan while broadcasts on Liu by international television networks CNN and French TV5 were blocked by government censors.
Text messages sent containing the full name of Liu Xiaobo appeared to be blocked, according to several tests carried out by AFP correspondents.
Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said the award was a "gesture of historic significance for China's free speech movement".
"We see it as a message of hope for the laureate, who is serving an 11-year jail sentence, for detained dissidents all over the world, and for the Chinese people," the press freedom group said in a statement.
But the Global Times editorial sounded a defiant note, saying China would resist attempts to "impose Western values" on the country.
"Obviously, the Nobel Peace Prize this year is meant to irritate China, but it will not succeed. On the contrary, the committee disgraced itself.
"The Nobel committee made an unwise choice, but it and the political force it represents cannot dictate China's future growth."