Nobel Peace Prize could go to Chinese dissident


OSLO — The Nobel Peace Prize could go to a Chinese dissident this year as a way of keeping human rights pressure on Beijing as it basks in the glow of a successful Olympics, an expert said Wednesday.

“The prize this year will finally go to a Chinese dissident and I believe that the most likely is Hu Jia, perhaps together with his wife,” said Stein Toennesson, director of the International Peace Research Institute in Oslo.

“He has become the most well-known Chinese dissident.”

Hu is an ardent campaigner for civil rights, environmental protection and AIDS advocacy in China.

He was arrested last year and sentenced to three-and-a-half years in jail for subversion.

A total of 197 people and organizations are up for the Nobel Peace Prize, which will be awarded on October 10. The list is kept a tightly guarded secret.

The Nobel committee now had a better opportunity to award the prize to a Chinese dissident, Toennesson told reporters.

He said that “after the successful Olympics, (China) should be mature and in a position where it might encounter such a prize without really getting angry or breaking off relations with Norway.”

Chinese and international human rights activists say this summer’s Olympics in Beijing did not bring hoped for changes with China’s human rights record.

“During the Games, we saw that there was quite a lot of repression, this very immature kind of handling of human rights and of democracy, trying to censor journalists,” said Janne Haaland Matlary, professor of international politics at the University of Oslo.

“Obviously this is a golden opportunity to underline that this is not acceptable.”

In the past, Geir Lundestad, the influential secretary of the five-member Norwegian Nobel committee has said that “sooner or later the Chinese question must be tackled.”

Other candidates could also come from Russia, added Matlary.

“Another type of candidate for a human rights prize could be a Russian,” she said.

“Clearly Russian domestic politics is far from democratic, far from respecting human rights, far from liberal.”