China’s campaign of intimidation against nations daring to acknowledge that one of its political prisoners received a Nobel Peace Prize is in full swing, with China telling Japan bluntly not to allow its ambassador to attend the awards ceremony and warning that there will be “consequences” for European nations who do attend.
Sources in the Japanese government have revealed China has told them not to acknowledge the award of the prize by sending a representative to the awards ceremony. The prize was this year awarded to Chinese democracy advocate Liu Xiaobo, currently imprisoned.
Rather than condemning China or at least telling them to mind their own business, Japan’s foreign minister stated Japan would “like to respond appropriately” to the demands, timidly avoiding saying whether Japan would actually attend or not.
Questioned in the Diet about whether the Japanese ambassador to Norway would attend or not, Japan’s prime minister was almost as cagey:
“The Nobel Peace Prize is universally esteemed to a great degree, so I’d like to consider attending [...] I still think it would be desirable for the recipient to be released.”
The anaemic response by Japan is likely to reinforce the impression that Japan’s current prime minister regards himself as the governor of a Chinese province rather than the leader of a sovereign state.
The reaction of Japan contrasts sharply with that of France, also told by China that it should not attend – “Our ambassador attends the award ceremony every year, and this tradition will continue this year. The other nations of Europe have also indicated they intend to attend.”
Only the week before France signed a $20 billion trade deal with China.
10 European nations have already said they will attend in the face of Chinese admonitions that they “should not undertake any actions which will disrupt Chinese stability,” with China warning that “we will ensure any nation supporting him will be held accountable.”