nobel peace prize

The Nobel Peace Prize panel on Thursday defended its award to jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo as based on "universal values," rejecting Beijing's accusation that it is trying force Western ideas on China.

The attempt by a group of patriotic Chinese scholars to create a Chinese alternative to the Nobel Prize appears to have backfired disastrously today, with the recipient a no-show and the Chinese government distancing itself from their efforts.

Six countries declined invitations to the December 10 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo after an unprecedented campaign by China to sabotage attendance, the Norwegian Nobel Committee told Reuters.

Despite no-expenses-spared efforts to boost its soft power, such as the Shanghai Expo and plans to open a Xinhua news agency office atop a skyscraper in New York's Times Square, China's image has taken a beating in recent months, what with its tough talk to the United States and Japan, its defence of North Korea and, now, its attacks on the Norwegian Nobel Committee for honouring imprisoned dissident Liu Xiaobo.

In July last year, President Hu Jintao said public diplomacy would be a key focus of China's foreign affairs policy; his administration elevated the new form of diplomacy to a national strategic level. Soon after that, the country launched a "Made in China" advertising campaign in several international media outlets to boost the image of Chinese-made products.

When the Nobel committee selected Liu Xiaobo as the winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize, the distinction brought unwanted attention to China. For obvious reasons, Beijing did not want the world honoring a man who has dedicated decades to challenging the country's political system. But Beijing, in fact, seems uncomfortable with any kind of attention.

Amid scant awareness by the public of Chinese prisoner Liu Xiaobo, nearly six out of 10 people polled said the Norwegian Nobel Committee should withdraw the Peace Prize and apologize for the decision to award it to him, a survey has found.

Taiwan's traditional ambivalence over its relations with mainland China has taken a knock as it struggles to formulate a response to the Nobel Peace Prize awarded to imprisoned pro-democracy activist Liu Xiaobo.