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Nobel oddsmakers look kindly on the Chinese

Liu Xiaobo was imprisoned because of his involvement with "Charter '08." (Reuters handout)

A Chinese dissident who is serving an 11-year sentence for writing a document calling for more freedom is the odds-on favorite to win the Nobel Peace Prize, according to Paddy Power, Ireland's largest bookmaker.

Ahead of the Friday announcement, is giving 3-1 odds to Liu Xiaobo, who was convicted last December for helping to write "Charter '08," a manifesto calling on the Communist Party of China to govern the country according to China's constitution.

The document was modeled on "Charter 77," the movement by Czech inellectuals to defy Soviet dominance three decades ago. Vaclav Havel, one of the leaders of the Charter 77 movement and the former president of the Czech Republic, has backed Liu's candidacy for the $1.5 million prize.

Liu is among four Chinese dissidents on Paddypower's list of the top 21 Peace Prize candidates. The others are Hu Jia, an AIDS advocate who has won numerous international awards and who is currently serving a 3½-year prison sentence; Chen Guangcheng, known in China as the "blind lawyer," who has been in and out of prison for much of the past five years for, among other things, representing members of the banned group Falun Gong as well as an alleged victim of a forced abortion; and Wei Jingshen, the longtime Chinese dissident who currently lives in the West.

The prize is administered by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, and China has told Norway that its relations with Beijing will suffer if Liu wins the award.

Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters last week that Liu was sent to jail because he broke Chinese laws. "I think his acts are in complete contravention to the purpose of the Nobel Peace Prize," she said.

The head of the Norwegian Nobel Institute, which assists the Nobel Committee in making its decisions, told reporters Monday that a senior Chinese official had warned him that awarding the peace prize to Liu would hurt relations between Norway and China.

Oslo and Beijing are negotiating a bilateral trade deal. The Norwegian oil firm, Statoil, is also known to be eager to sell its offshore oil exportation technology to China and also wants to search for shale gas in China.

The Nobel Committee has disappointed China before. In 1989, following the June 4 crackdown around Tiananmen Square, the Dalai Lama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, infuriating China's government.

By John Pomfret  | October 4, 2010; 2:37 PM ET
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Since his graduate student years at Beijing Normal University, Liu Xiaobo has shown that he is an honest, creative, patriotic and brave democracy advocate. Clearly, he is more deserving than many of the past winners of the Peace Prize. He deserves the support of the world. May he win the Nobel and soon be released from his unjust imprisonment.

Posted by: DanielMAmos | October 4, 2010 3:26 PM | Report abuse

The Chinese Foreign office seem to be as ignorant as Soviet Russia was when treating Sweden when a Russian citizen was a candidate
to a Nobel price.

Posted by: jibsail | October 4, 2010 4:55 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure he's qualified - we know he isn't George Bush and that's all it takes these days. Of course, I too am not George Bush and I sure could use the money.

Posted by: cduwel | October 4, 2010 5:31 PM | Report abuse

All these Chinese dissedents know that if they embrace Western values against the Chinese Government, they will be highly praised and famous in the West, or even awarded a Nobel Prize. That means that they are just opportunistic, shrewd politicians. USA has been slaughtering, torturing and maiming thousands of Arabs in the Middle East for the last 7-8 years and beyond and devastating the social structure there, done more harm to the peace of the world than China. Those who call against the war should be awarded, without question, the Nobel Peace Prize. Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to other indicates the utter hypocracy of the Nobel Committee.

Posted by: thmak | October 4, 2010 6:38 PM | Report abuse

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