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Jailed China dissident's family unlikely to attend Peace Prize ceremony

Relatives of Liu Xiaobo, the jailed Chinese dissident and 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, are unlikely to travel from China to collect the award next month, report says.
Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo smokes a cigarette in this undated photo released by his family
Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo smokes a cigarette in this undated photo released by his family. Ho / Reuters
/ Source: msnbc.com news services

Relatives of Liu Xiaobo, the jailed Chinese dissident and 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, are unlikely to travel from China to collect the award next month, the Norwegian Nobel Committee was quoted as saying Wednesday.

Committee secretary Geir Lundestad said that if no close family member can come to the ceremony, the committee would temporarily retain the prize, consisting of a medal, diploma and 10 million Swedish crowns ($1.44 million).

"It looks like the family of Liu Xiaobo has given up believing that anyone in the prize winner's family will be able to travel from China and be present in Oslo on December 10," Lundestad told the website of Norwegian broadcaster NRK.

Liu is serving an 11-year sentence for subversion after co-authoring an appeal calling for reforms to China's one-party political system. He was a student leader at the demonstrations at Beijing's Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Lundestad said the ceremony, a massive gala in Oslo City Hall, would take place as scheduled, but without the award presentation.

Liu Xiaobo has expressed the hope that Chinese authorities would permit his wife, Liu Xia, to accept the award on his behalf in Oslo, NRK said.

But, on a new list of desired guests provided to the Nobel committee by Liu Xiaobo's representatives, no family members were named, Lundestad said.

"The family of course has a standing invitation," he told NRK.

Lundestad was not immediately available for comment when contacted by Reuters.

Diplomatic riftJapan's ambassador in Norway will attend the ceremony, embassy spokeswoman Mio Otashiro said Wednesday, a move which risks rekindling tensions between Tokyo and Beijing.

China has said the selection of Liu for the award is an interference in its internal affairs and has pressured other countries not to go, including Japan.

Relations between Japan and China have soured since a Chinese fishing boat collided with Japan patrol ships near disputed islands in the East China Sea.

The decision to give Liu this year's award has also caused a diplomatic rift between China and Norway, even though the Norwegian government is not involved in the selection of the winner.

Earlier this month, France's foreign ministry said its ambassador would attend the event, and other European governments appeared to be leaning toward attending despite the pressure from China.

Less controversially, it has been announced that Barry Manilow and Jamiroquai will be among the artists to perform at the annual Nobel Peace Prize Concert.

Organizers also said Indian musician A.R. Rahman, who did the score for "Slumdog Millionaire," will feature in the Dec. 11 show honoring Liu Xiaobo.

Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington will host the concert, which is always held a day after the prize ceremony.

Previously announced performers include British pop band Florence and the Machine, U.S. pop singer Colbie Caillat, pianist Herbie Hancock and singer-songwriter Elvis Costello.