Chinese paper rejects comparison between Mandela and Nobel laureate Liu

Wed Dec 11, 2013 12:48am EST
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BEIJING (Reuters) - An influential Chinese paper lashed out on Wednesday at comparisons between Nelson Mandela and China's jailed Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, saying Liu was a common criminal not worthy of any praise.

Many Chinese internet users have noted the apparent contradiction of Beijing lauding Mandela's legacy at the same time that it continues a harsh crackdown on its own human rights activists.

Microbloggers have particularly alluded to Liu, whose name is banned from appearing online by government censors.

The Global Times, a nationalist-leaning tabloid published by the Communist Party's official People's Daily, said it was totally wrong to cast Liu and Mandela in the same light.

Chinese state media almost never mention well-known dissidents by name, making the editorial highly unusual and underscoring government anger at foreign criticism of its rights record, especially from the United States.

"This year, as Chinese people mourned the late South African leader Nelson Mandela, some Western media deliberately cast a light on the imprisonment of Liu and praised him as 'China's Mandela'," the Global Times said in an editorial in its English-language edition.

"Mandela was a Nobel Peace Prize laureate for leading African people to anti-apartheid victory through struggles, tolerance and efforts to bridge differences. However, awarding a Chinese prisoner who confronted authorities and was rejected by mainstream Chinese society derides China's judiciary system," it said.

A similar editorial slamming Liu appeared in the more widely read Chinese version of the paper, although that did not mention Mandela.

On Tuesday, China's Foreign Ministry rebuffed an expression of concern by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry over the fate of Liu and another prominent activist, Xu Zhiyong, saying only that the Chinese people had the right to talk about the country's human rights.   Continued...