"This award is for the lost souls of June 4th." - Liu Xiaobo via his wife, Liu XiaThe first to feel the fallout from Liu Xiaobo's Nobel win was Liu Xia, his wife. After the announcement was made she was placed under house arrest and had her mobile phone usage monitored and then restricted. She was eventually allowed to visit her husband, accompanied by some government thugs, and has been living under constant surveillance ever since. As she told the Guardian:
"They have told me not to go out, not to visit friends. If I want to see my parents or buy food, I can only go in their car. I don't even talk to my neighbours because I don't want to get them into trouble."Yesterday, Beijing stopped a group of diplomats from visiting her. Simon Sharpe, first secretary of political affairs of the EU delegation, said he wanted to deliver a letter of congratulations from Jose Manuel Barroso, the president of the European Commission.
Plain-clothes thugs keep watch where Liu Xia is being held. (via SCMP)Sharpe was accompanied by diplomats from the embassies of Switzerland, Sweden, Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Belgium, Italy and Australia. (What about Canada? At least we issued a statement). But three guards at the gate of Liu's apartment complex prevented the group from entering. Now it appears she may not even be allowed to leave the country to collect the award:
"I can't even get out of my home, how could I go out of the country?"This is how it's done in modern China - when all else fails, target the family. Then go after anyone remotely associated with the award, like other human rights advocates...and those damn Norwegians. China has called off a planned meeting with the Norwegian fisheries minister, blocked the Nobel peace prize website and promised further dire consequences. All this fuss because of an independent foreign committee made up of five members. As secretary of the Nobel committee, Geir Lundestad, said:
"We stand for a set of principles. A committee can't just overthrow a government. That is self-evident."In China, that's not so - this "Gang of Five" is feared for precisely that reason.
Things have not fared well in Hong Kong either, despite our much vaunted "one country, two systems" principle. While celebrating Liu's win by drinking champagne and eating Norwegian salmon outside the central Chinese government's local liaison office, a woman was arrested for splashing an officer with some bubbly. I can't really blame the guy - he was probably feeling left out. Next time pass around some glasses.