Sri Lanka will boycott Friday’s Nobel Peace Prize award ceremony in Oslo to felicitate a jailed Chinese dissident.
While no one from the Lankan Ministry of External Affairs was willing to comment on record, a senior official, on condition of anonymity, said the government had finalised the decision not to attend the ceremony where jailed dissident, Liu Xiaobao, will be given the award.
"The decision was taken to show our solidarity with China. It was in line with our friendly relation with China. Our friendship with China is a considered diplomatic policy. We support the 'one-China’ policy," the official told the Hindustan Times.
Xiaobao, a literary critic and human rights activist, was thrown in jail as a political prisoner in 2009 for being part of what the Chinese called subversive activities.
China has sent out diplomatic messages across the world to urge countries to boycott the function. As of now, China along with 18 other countries had boycotted the ceremony. Among the other nations boycotting the function are Russia, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, Iraq, Iran and Pakistan.
The official denied that Beijing had pressurised Colombo to stay away from the function. However, it was expected that the Mahinda Rajapaksa government would do so because of its increasing proximity to China – Beijing has emerged as Lanka’s biggest donor and is completing the country’s biggest infrastructure projects including a port and a power plant.
Recently, the Lankan government remained quiet after political prisoner and human rights activist Aung San Suu Kyi was released by the Myanmar junta after many years under house arrest.
In November, 2009, leader of the Myanmar junta general Than Shwe made a state visit to Sri Lanka with a large entourage that included his wife and top officials.