Outraged China blocks internet reports on Nobel Prize winner

8 Oct 2010

China is attempting to block internet news that hailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo as winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize and according to reports internet searches and Twitter-like messaging systems in the country are coming up blank.

China’s official Xinhua news agency headlined the government’s angry action to the news but across China the news appears to have been blocked.

The Nobel committee honoured the writer and university professor for his “long and non-violent struggle” for fundamental human rights in China.

China is understood to operate a massive surveillance system known as the ‘Great Firewall of China’ and it is estimated the country has 30,000 or more “internet police” who monitor offending content, such as pornography or political comment under what is known as the ‘Golden Shield Project’.

According to reports, searches for “Liu Xiaobo” on sites like Baidu, Sina and Sohu are coming up blank while searches on Weibo, a Chinese version of Twitter, are yielding nothing.

According to the Nobel prize committee: “For over two decades, Liu Xiaobo has been a strong spokesman for the application of fundamental human rights also in China. He took part in the Tiananmen protests in 1989; he was a leading author behind Charter 08, the manifesto of such rights in China which was published on the 60th anniversary of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 10th of December 2008.

“The following year, Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison and two years’ deprivation of political rights for ‘inciting subversion of state power’. Liu has consistently maintained that the sentence violates both China’s own constitution and fundamental human rights.

“The campaign to establish universal human rights also in China is being waged by many Chinese, both in China itself and abroad. Through the severe punishment meted out to him, Liu has become the foremost symbol of this wide-ranging struggle for human rights in China,” the Nobel prize committee declared.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years