One of China‘s best-known dissidents Liu Xiaobo won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday night. Liu is currently serving an 11 year prison sentence for “inciting subversion of state power” after the former litarture professor circulated Charter 08, a petition calling for greater freedom in China. He has been in and out of prison since he took part in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests but on the mainland the Chinese language media have ignored the prize. Instead Xinhua, China’s official news agency, released an English-language statement later recycled by China Daily and the Global Times, detailing the Foreign Ministry’s angry response.
Those who have talked about the prize have come under sharp state scrutiny. The nobel laureate’s wife, Liu Xia, was placed under house arrest on Friday.
Last night she tweeted:
Brothers, I am back; I’ve been under house arrest since the 8th; I don’t know when I’ll be able to see everyone; my mobile phone has been ruined; I have no way of making or receiving calls. I saw Xiaobo; the prison told him on the 9th the news that he’s been awarded the prize. Later matters we’ll talk about in time. Please help me [re]tweet. Thank you.
Popular netizen Secretary Zhang was celebrating on Friday. Now he finds himself under house arrest with shifts of guards watching his home. Zhang is behind an invitation only internet forum for liberal leaning people, 1984bbs.com, which today put up a notice today warning users to backup their files as the website stops operating tomorrow due to official pressure. On his Twitter page, Secretary Zhang thanks those who have supported his forum, including artist Ai Weiwei, and records his day under surveillance.
Other intellectuals have also been harassed but this hasn’t deterred internet users from talking about the event by using abbreviations and circumlocutions for “Liu Xiaobo.” They know using the full name would trip internet filters, drawing the attention of the censors who patrol microblog and blog sites deleting suspect posts.