Shortly after returning home from a visit to the jail cell of her husband, Liu Xia was detained in a de facto house arrest. The wife of Nobel Peace Prize winner and political reform advocate Liu Xiaobo, made the trip to his northeast prison to visit him under police supervision. While she was not the first to inform him (we have the prison guards to thank for that) she did email The Times with a statement from Liu in which he dedicates the award to the victims of the 1989 military crackdown on pro-democracy protesters in Beijing.
Liu Xia was also able to tweet this before her cell phone reportedly broke:
“Brothers, I’ve come back. On the 8th I was put under house detention. I don’t know when I will see everyone. My cell phone has been broken, I have no way to make or receive phone calls. I saw Xiaobo. On the evening of the 9th he was told the news about the award. Later things I will tell eventually. Please help me retweet. Thank you.”
Liu Xia’s detainment follows crackdowns on meetings of intellectuals and heavy censorship of multiple forms of media across China. Searches for “Nobel Prize” are blocked as the government tries its best to gloss over this “insult to the Peace Prize.” Even journalists who showed up at Liu’s residence trying to gain access have found it rough going.
So what’s next in the Nobel Peace Prize saga? That is tough to tell and one that rouses quite a debate. Reactions from around the world have varied with some believing this actually hurts China’s reform. Others are saying that it’s now on Chinese citizens to take up the cause. There are even comparisons of Liu Xiaobo to Nelson Mandela and rumblings for revoking diplomats. China on the other hand has begun to position it as another example of Western abuse and a show of fear amongst Western nations of China’s rising clout.
Oh yeah, and if you forgot why the Nobel Prize is such a big deal for China to begin with, Evan Osnos and Julia Lovell can help fill you in. Wasn’t it just a couple of days ago we were all seeing nonstop headlines and playback on the bus and metro of Mario Vargas Llosa winning the Nobel Prize for Literature? Hmmm…