Holder: US, China disagree on Liu

2010-10-21 09:26

Beijing – The US and China have a "fundamental disagreement" over the case of jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, US Attorney General Eric Holder said on Thursday.

"The issue did come up. This is an area in which the United States and China have a fundamental disagreement," Holder told a press conference on the second day of a visit to China, during which he met with several top officials.

"President (Barack) Obama has made clear his position on the issue. We believe that China should respect the fundamental human rights of all of its citizens and that includes Liu."

Liu, 54, was jailed last December for 11 years on subversion charges after co-authoring Charter 08, a bold manifesto calling for political reform in one-party Communist-ruled China.

The writer was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize on October 8 – enraging Beijing, which says the move is tantamount to "encouraging crime" and is disrespectful to China's justice system.

Liu's wife has been under house arrest since his win and several of his supporters have either received official warnings or been taken into police custody, activists say.

Sacrificed his freedom

Obama, the 2009 Nobel peace laureate, has led Western calls for Liu's immediate release, saying the one-time university professor has "sacrificed his freedom for his beliefs".

The US president, in welcoming Liu's win, noted that over the last 30 years, China had made "dramatic progress in economic reform and improving the lives of its people, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty".

But he added that "this award reminds us that political reform has not kept pace, and that the basic human rights of every man, woman and child must be respected".

Holder told reporters that Liu's case was not the main thrust of his talks with Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, Public Security Minister Meng Jianzhu and China's top security chief Zhou Yongkang.

The US attorney general said the meetings focused on more traditional law enforcement issues and intellectual property rights protection.