Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


PM’s Presser: No praise for jailed Nobel winner

PM’s Presser: No praise for Nobel winner in Chinese jail

John Key says he has no words of congratulation for a Chinese political prisoner who has won the Nobel Peace Prize, but denies any pressure from the Chinese government.

The prime minister Monday declined to comment on the win by Liu Xiaobo, a human rights activist serving eleven years in a high-security prison for “inciting subversion of state power”.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said Saturday they sought to recognise a “long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China”.

“Article 35 of China's constitution lays down that ‘Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration’,” the committee’s statement read.

“In practice, these freedoms have proved to be distinctly curtailed for China's citizens.”

Liu’s involvement in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and the publication of Charter 08, a manifesto of human rights in China, had made him a symbol of the struggle for human rights and stressed the connection between human rights and peace, the committee said.

Since Saturday foreign dignitaries including US president Barack Obama, European Commission president Jose Manuel Barroso, Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou, British foreign secretary William Hague and his French counterpart Bernard Kouchner have joined in congratulating Liu and calling for his release.

Liu’s nomination for the award has been a flashpoint between the Chinese government and western nations in recent months – but Key told reporters at Monday’s post-Cabinet press conference he had never been briefed on the issue.

“I’m not aware of why he’s in jail and it’s not for me to comment about what’s appropriate in terms of a country’s putting people in those facilities.”

Key said he would take advice from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade but could not guarantee any kind of public statement on the matter.

Key’s silence would not be the first instance of New Zealand governments skirting the subject of human rights issues with China -- New Zealand’s second largest trading partner.

In June Key apologised to Vice-President Xi Jingping for a protest by Green MP Russel Norman on Parliament grounds – despite footage which showed members of Jingping’s security detail grabbing Norman and stripping him of his Tibetan flag.

In 2007 then-deputy prime minister Michael Cullen said it was “unfortunate” that parliamentary reporter Nick Wang had been barred from attending a press conference in the Beehive on instructions from a Chinese official.

Cullen later defended China’s decision to bar Wang from attending New Zealand’s free trade talks in China, comparing Wang to holocaust denier David Irving.

And in 1999 then-Prime Minister Jenny Shipley declined to comment on police interfering with demonstrators during a visit by then-President Jiang Zemin.

But Key denied the situation was diplomatically difficult, repeating that he simply had not been briefed on it.

He did not congratulate Nobel peace prize winners as a general rule, he said.

Play To Start
Audio Playing….




© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Gordon Campbell: On The Media Collusion With National’s Attack Lines

For most of the past week, any consumer of this country’s management of Covid-19 would think New Zealand was actually Brazil, or Texas. The media language has been full of claims of “botches” at the border, and laxness and inexcusable errors ... More>>

Gregor Thompson: Don’t Be Too Pessimistic About New Zealand’s Future.

With the first hurdle hopped our Government will be turning its attention to trying to soften the economic damage this pandemic has on our little archipelago. More>>

Eric Zuesse: U.S. Empire: Biden And Kerry Gave Orders To Ukraine’s President

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at Strategic Culture On May 19th, an implicit international political warning was issued, but it wasn’t issued between countries; it was issued between allied versus opposed factions within each of two countries: U.S. and Ukraine. ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Budget Cockups In The Time Of Coronavirus: Reporting Errors And Australia’s JobKeeper Scheme

Hell has, in its raging fires, ringside seats for those who like their spreadsheets. The seating, already peopled by those from human resources, white collar criminals and accountants, becomes toastier for those who make errors with those spreadsheets. ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Altars Of Hypocrisy: George Floyd, Protest And Black Face

Be wary what you protest about. The modern moral constabulary are out, and they are assisted by their Silicon Valley friends in the Social Media club. Should you dare take a stand on anything, especially in a dramatic way, you will be found out ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Welcome Deaths: Coronavirus And The Open Plan Office

For anybody familiar with that gruesome manifestation of the modern work place, namely the open plan office, the advent of coronavirus might be something of a relief. The prospects for infection in such spaces is simply too great. You are at risk from ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Why Thinking Makes It So: Donald Trump’s Obamagate Fixation

The “gate” suffix has been wearing thin since the break-in scandal that gave it its birth. Since Watergate, virtually anything dubious and suggestive, and much more besides, is suffixed. Which brings us to the issue of President Donald Trump’s ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Brutal Choices: Anders Tegnell And Sweden’s Herd Immunity Goal

If the title of epidemiological czar were to be created, its first occupant would have to be Sweden’s Anders Tegnell. He has held sway in the face of sceptics and concern that his “herd immunity” approach to COVID-19 is a dangerous, and breathtakingly ... More>>