Taiwan calls on China to release Nobel winner

TAIPEI (BestGrowthStock) – Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou called on long-time political rival China on Friday to release jailed Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.

“The Republic of China welcomes the Nobel award for Liu Xiaobo and calls on China to release him,” Ma said, using the island’s formal name. “Concern for human rights does not distinguish between nationalities and borders.”

Democracy campaigner Liu, who was jailed late last year for 11 years for subversion, will be represented at the award ceremony in the Norwegian capital, Oslo, by an empty chair after China prevented friends and family from attending.

China and Taiwan have been ruled separately since defeated Nationalist forces to the island at the end of a civil war with the Communists in 1949.

After decades of hostilities, relations have improved rapidly following Ma’s election in 2008, and the two sides have since signed a series of landmark economic and trade ties.

But there has been no sign of political talks starting, and Ma has consistently called on China to improve its human rights record and move toward democracy, as the island has.

Taiwan’s opposition Democratic Progressive Party, which has angered China with its support for the island’s formal independence, denounced Beijing’s refusal to allow Liu out of jail and to attend the prize’s formal award ceremony on Friday.

Spokesman Lin You-chang said China’s reaction to the Nobel prize and the actions it has since taken are “extremely regrettable”.

“The award is great recognition of Liu Xiaobo and of China’s democracy reformers. His imprisonment and inability to attend the ceremony will only serve to increase the international community’s attention on the state of human rights in China,” Lin said.

“We again call on China to respond to the strong requests worldwide and release Liu and end the confinement of his wife.”

China has denounced Liu, a man it calls a subversive and a criminal, as an unworthy winner of the prize. (Reporting by Jonathan Standing; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

Taiwan calls on China to release Nobel winner