As Suu Kyi Visits, China Says Own Laureate Won’t Be Released

By Reuters 11 June 2015

BEIJING — China has no reason to change the verdict against jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, the government said on Wednesday, as Liu’s fellow laureate and Burmese opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi arrived for her first visit to China.

Activists are putting pressure on Suu Kyi, who will be in China until Sunday, to make some reference to Liu’s detention during her trip. Any mention of Liu would be bound to embarrass the ruling Communist Party.

Asked whether China would listen to any appeal by Suu Kyi to release Liu, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said: “There is no reason to alter the judgement made in accordance with the law by China’s judicial organs.”

Liu was jailed for 11 years in 2009 on subversion charges for organizing a petition urging an end to one-party rule. He won the Nobel Peace Prize the following year.

China has been keen to engage Suu Kyi, whose National League for Democracy (NLD) is expected to do well in a general election in November, the first free vote in the country for 25 years.

Suu Kyi is excluded from the presidency under a military-drafted constitution, but her power and influence will grow if the NLD performs as well as expected.

Hong said China hopes Suu Kyi’s visit would “further deepen the understanding and trust between the two parties” and jointly promote cooperation in all areas.

The China-Burma relationship has been strained this year as stray army shells from fighting between the Burmese government and ethnic Chinese rebels killed at least five people in China’s southwestern Yunnan province in March.

Suu Kyi became an international icon after winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 and spent most of the next two decades under house arrest, from where she continued to resist Burma’s military rulers. She was freed in 2010.

Despite tight censorship, several Chinese Internet users managed to remind others of the similarities between Suu Kyi and Liu.

“China’s ‘Aung San Suu Kyi’ is still in jail!” wrote a microblogger called “Beisilang.”

Several quoted her musings on living under an authoritarian government.

“Often the anxious question is asked: Will such an oppressive regime really give us democracy?” wrote Yuan Yulai, a well-known rights lawyer, quoting Suu Kyi.

“And the answer has to be: Democracy, like liberty, justice and other social and political rights, is not ‘given,’ it is earned through courage, resolution and sacrifice.”