Around 1,000 people in Hong Kong joined a celebration co-organised by Christian groups to honour imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo in an event coinciding with the Nobel ceremony in Oslo.
The Hong Kong Christian Institute and the local Roman Catholic Justice and Peace Commission organised the gathering with non-governmental groups to commend Liu, urging Beijing to release him and other political prisoners on 10 December 2010.
Liu has been imprisoned since 2009 as part of an 11–year sentence for "inciting the subversion of State power".
"Beijing should know that to confer the Nobel Peace Prize on Mr Liu is not to confront the Chinese people. Human rights are universal values, and should be abided by all," Catholic Hong Kong legislator Alan Leong Kah-kit told ENInews at the Hong Kong meeting.
China claims that 100 countries have backed its refusal to acknowledge the award, which is unknown to most of its citizens vecause of the media blackout on the issue within the country. Sixteen nations did not send representatives to the ceremony.
In Beijing, residents avoided making controversial statements to journalists. “If the Nobel Peace Prize contributes to peace then is means something,” said a 48-year old cultural exchange manager to Euronews. “But if it’s just for one group or country’s interests, then it means nothing and we’ll ignore it.”
Another man giving his name as Mr Gao accepted that “in terms of human rights, China and the West have different opinions. There is conflict but I hope that in the future there will be more mutual understanding and mutual acceptance but this will take time.”
ENI News (www.eni.ch) contributed to this report