Norwegian authorities say China has called off a meeting with the country’s fisheries minister just days after the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a jailed Chinese dissident. Beijing has warned that the move to give the prestigious honour to imprisoned democracy campaigner Liu Xiaobo will harm relations between the two countries.
Xiaobo, who is currently serving the second year of an 11-year sentence for inciting subversion, dedicated the award to the “lost souls” of the Chinese military crackdown on student demonstrators in Tiananmen Square in 1989. The Chinese government, however, reacted angrily to Friday’s news, calling the 54 year-old literary critic a criminal and saying relations with Norway would suffer, despite the Nobel committee being an independent group.
Lisbeth Berg-Hansen, the Norwegian minister of fisheries and coastal affairs, arrived in Shanghai on Monday for what is meant to be a week-long visit. A scheduled meeting with China’s vice minister of fisheries has, however, been cancelled by the Chinese government.
The Norwegian-based Nobel committee honoured Xiaobo for supporting peaceful democratic change and human rights for more than 20 years. His efforts include taking part in the ill-fated Tiananmen Square demonstrations in 1989, and co-authoring a manifesto for political change in 2008 which led to his incarceration.