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NZ Adds Voice To Chinese Nobel Prize-Winner Debate

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Maryan Street
Maryan Street

Wellington, Oct 12 NZPA - New Zealand's opposition MPs have congratulated the Chinese winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, but Prime Minister John Key is not keen to talk about it.

Liu Xiaobo, 54, was awarded the prize on Friday. He is serving 11 years in jail for campaigning for democratic transformation of China's one-party state.

He told his wife, Liu Xia, he dedicated the award to the people killed in the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in central Beijing.

Mr Liu's prize was applauded in the United States and Europe and US President Barack Obama called for his release.

Labour's spokeswoman for foreign affairs and trade, Maryan Street, and Green MP Keith Locke have offered Mr Liu their congratulations.

Ms Street called on China to release Mr Liu as a demonstration of its progress in areas of human rights.

"We applaud China for the huge leaps forward it has taken in recent years in advancing the social and economic conditions of its people, but we would also encourage China to make similar progress towards respect for human rights and democracy."

Human rights and democracy were important parts of Labour's dialogue with China, she said.

Mr Locke said New Zealand should advocate for Mr Liu's release.

"It is wrong for Mr Liu to be in prison simply for promoting the sort of democracy all New Zealanders take for granted."

Mr Key said yesterday he would not comment about Mr Liu until he received more advice.

"I'm not aware of why he's in jail and it's not appropriate for me to comment on what is appropriate in terms of other countries putting people in those facilities."

The Chinese Government cancelled a meeting with a Norwegian minister yesterday because of the award.

China's Foreign Ministry called the prize an obscenity and blamed the Norwegian government, although Oslo has no say in who the Oslo-based Nobel committee awards it to.

State-controlled Chinese newspapers said the prize to Mr Liu showed a prejudiced West afraid of China's rising wealth and standing.

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