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China labels committee as ‘clowns’

China heaped fresh scorn yesterday on the Nobel committee ahead of a ceremony honouring 2010 peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, calling its members “clowns” and saying most of the world backed Beijing.

“Those at the Nobel committee are orchestrating an anti-China fuss by themselves,” foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters.

“We are against anybody making an issue out of Liu Xiaobo and interfering in China’s judicial affairs.”

She added: “We will not change because of interference by a few clowns.”

Mr Liu, a writer and academic who has boldly fought for reform of China’s one-party political system for more than two decades, was jailed in December 2009 for 11 years on subversion charges.

No one is expected to be on hand to accept the award on behalf of Mr Liu, who was named as the Nobel peace laureate in October.

His wife, Liu Xia, has been under house arrest since that time, other family members are under pressure not to speak publicly and many of Mr Liu’s fellow dissidents and supporters have been warned not to attend or have been physically prevented from leaving China, activists have said.

Diplomats have also said China – which has been deeply embarrassed by the award – has pressured other governments not to send their representatives to the ceremony.

Ms Jiang said “more than 100 countries and international organisations” had “expressed explicit support of China’s position opposing this year’s Nobel peace prize”, but she declined to provide details.

She said this showed that Liu’s award was “not accepted by the vast majority of countries who uphold justice”.

However, the Nobel Institute in Oslo quickly rejected that claim, with its director Geir Lundestad saying most countries that had been invited would indeed attend the ceremony.

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