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Nobel prize ceremony: Who is not attending

Last updated on: December 10, 2010 10:53 IST

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China and 19 other countries have declined invitations to attend the December 10 Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee says that the envoys of 18 countries -- including Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Pakistan, Russia and Serbia -- will miss the event "for various reasons."

China has been furious following the award to the 54-year-old democracy campaigner and literary critic and has mounted diplomatic pressure to dissuade other nations, including India, from attending the December 10 ceremony.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu denounced supporters of the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu as 'clowns' taking part in a farce.

Liu is serving an 11-year jail term on subversion charges for his role in advocating democracy and multi-party rule. The Chinese may have obvious reasons for not attending the ceremony, but what's preventing others from taking part? Let's take a look....


Image: The Nobel Peace Prize medallion

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Venezuela

Reason: According to the BBC, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez was highly critical of his own country's opposition media for their coverage of the Nobel Peace Prize. "This [Liu] is like Obama, the other peace prize," Chavez said, adding: "Viva China! And its sovereignty, its independence and its greatness"

Reality: The ties between Venezuela and China bloomed in 2010. The two countries signed seven agreements this, six energy based ones and one around petroleum. China also offered $20 billion dollars in financing, the largest offer it has made in the last 50 years. Why would Venezuela let go off Beijing?


Image: Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez

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Colombia

Reason: No official reason given

Reality: In China, Colombia sees a military ally. China is also Colombia's third largest trading partner. Earlier this year, Beijing gave Colombia a million dollar worth of aid. There's no surprise why it backed out of the award ceremony


Image: Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos

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Tunisia

Reason: No official reason given

Reality: China established diplomatic relationship with Tunisia on January 10, 1964. Today, economic and trading co-operation between the two countries has increased manifold. Back in May, the Chinese government donated 4 million dinars to the Tunisian government to finance a development project. Call it sticking up allies for the future


Image: Tunisian President Zine El Abidine Ben

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Serbia

Reason: Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic cited that the government's decisions "are linked primarily to the realisation of national interests and state priorities."

Jeremic said Serbia "pays extreme attention to the violations of human rights," but that its bilateral relations with China have priority
"One of our most important bilateral partners and one of the four pillars of our foreign policy is the People's Democratic Republic of China," Jeremic said.

Reality: China is Serbia's proven friend, and has offered unconditional support in our difficult moments, which meant a great deal


Image: Serbia's President Boris Tadic

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Sri Lanka

Reason: No official reason given

Reality: Sri Lanka is borrowing 760 million dollars from two state-banks in China to upgrade more than one thousand kilometres of roads in the island, including key roads in former war-torn areas in the Northwest of the country. Earlier last year, China built a 1 billion dollar port that is being used as a refuelling and docking station for the Lankan navy, as it patrols the Indian Ocean and protects China's supplies of Saudi oil.




Image: Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa

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Egypt

Reason: No official reason given

Reality: It is an indirect message to the US that its opposes Washington's interference in its internal affairs. Political commentator Ammar Ali Hassan was quoted in the local media as saying that it was predictable that Egypt would decline the committee's invitation to attend Xiaobo's ceremony. Egypt is seizing this opportunity to align itself with China against the US


Image: Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak

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Morocco

Reason: No official reason given

Reality: Morocco has developed substantial trade interests with China, which is a major client for the Kingdom's phosphates. Upsetting China could have disastrous implications.


Image: Morocco's King Mohamed VI with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton

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Sudan

Reason: No official reason given

Reality: Sudan economy is heavily reliant on its oil trade, of which China is a major buyer. One trip to Oslo could hit the cash pipeline as well as potential ties with Beijing


Image: Sudan's President Omar Hassan al-Bashir

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Iran

Reason: No official reason given

Reality: According to the BBC, Iran has important contracts with China for the development of its oil and gas and depends on China to block tighter sanctions against it in the Security Council over its nuclear activities.


Image: Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad

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Russia

Reason: Russia's Ambassador will not attend the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony is Oslo due to a business trip. Moscow made it clear that the decision was not politically biased or caused by China's campaign to undermine participation in the December 10 event.

Reality: Obviously, China's power as the world's No 2 economy is being taken very seriously by Moscow




Image: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev

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Kazakhstan

Reason: The foreign ministry says the country's ambassador in Oslo is too busy to attend.

Reality: Media reports say that China is one of the main investors in oil-rich Kazakhstan. The two countries share a border, and Kazakhstan is a long-time supporter of China's foreign policy. The Kazakh government is itself often criticised by rights groups for jailing activists.


Image: Kazakhstan president, Nursultan Nazarbayev

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Pakistan

Reason: No official reason given

Reality: Pakistan and China are closer than ever today. The two nations have separately collaborated on a welter of nuclear and military programmes. Annual trade has increased from less than $2 billion in 2002 to $6.9 billion last year, with a goal of $15 billion by 2014. In times when it is being taken apart for 'not doing enough' to tackle terror originating from within its borders, Pakistan has embraced Beijing, which has reciprocated 'appropriately'. Surely, Pakistan won't want this honeymoon to end tragically.




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Afghanistan

Reason: No official reason given

Reality: A war-ravaged Afghanistan is limping back to normal, and at this juncture can't afford to lose out on China, one of the principal sources of financial aid.


Image: Afghan President with Chinese President Hu Jintao

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Iraq

Reason: No official reason given

Reality: Like Afghanistan, Iraq too can't afford to lose out on China, which is one of the principal sources of financial aid for the country.


Image: Iraq Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki

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Philippines

Reason: Manila's envoy to Oslo, Elizabeth Buencuceso, is out of Norway on an official consular mission. "Our ambassador to Norway has a scheduling conflict," Department of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Eduardo Malaya said.

Reality: Two senior government officials who did not want to be named said the move was meant to appease China, which had repeatedly warned governments around the world that ties would be harmed if they attended the ceremony.


Image: Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo

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Vietnam

Reason: Hanoi enoy's will not come because dissident Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Quang Do was among the nominees for the 2010 prize

Reality: Disappointment apart, Chinese muscle-flexing


Image: Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Quang Do

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Nepal

Reason: The caretaker government of Nepal, under mounting pressure both at home and the international community over its failure to demobilise the guerrilla army of the opposition Maoist party, has directed its ambassador to Norway and the US, Suresh Chalise, not to attend the ceremony that China regards as a slap on its face

Reality: China has stepped up a diplomatic blitzkrieg in Nepal to ratchet up its already considerable influence on the tiny republic and Kathmandu is anxious not to antagonise the northern giant.



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Cuba

Reason: Media sources recently quoted Fidel Castro as saying: "Let's hope to God, this is just one of those ideological strikes that this once-prestigious honour has delivered over its long history, and not a new rule".

Reality: Oil politics. Chinese investment in Cuba is another example of the increasing role China has been playing of late in the search for oil in Latin America and the Caribbean. Besides, in 1960, Cuba was the first country in Latin America to establish diplomatic relations with communist China and with the fall of the Soviet Union it drew closer to Beijing.


Image: Former President Fidel Castro

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