Clapping solemnly, dignitaries in Norway celebrated Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo with an empty chair. Some 1,000 guests, including ambassadors, royalty, and other VIPs, took their seats in Oslo's modernist City Hall for the two-hour ceremony; about 100 Chinese dissidents in exile and some activists from Hong Kong also attended, reports the AP. The prize can be collected only by the laureate or close family members, but with Liu's wife under house arrest in Beijing, this is the first time a Peace Prize has gone uncollected since Hitler prevented German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky from accepting the award in 1936.
The Peace Prize committee chairman stresses that while the award "is not a prize against China," the country, as an emerging superpower, "should become used to being debated and criticized." China has stepped up security in Beijing, blacked out foreign media like CNN and the BBC, and convinced 17 countries to skip the award (Serbia has reversed its earlier stance and decided to send a representative after all). The first winner of China's newly created rival peace prize, Taiwan's Lien Chan, wasn't at the "Confucius Peace Prize" ceremony in Beijing yesterday. The award was collected by an unidentified child.