WASHINGTON — US President Barack Obama on Friday urged China to release quickly Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo. Obama called the jailed dissident an "eloquent and courageous" supporter of human rights and democracy.
The comments are likely to rattle China further at a time that the United States is stepping up pressure on Beijing for a currency policy that Washington blames for American job losses.
Obama's statement, released hours after Liu was awarded the prize by the Norwegian Nobel Committee, reflected the sensitivity of US-Chinese relations. Obama praised China's "dramatic progress in economic reform and improving the lives of its people, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty."
But, he added, "this award reminds us that political reform has not kept pace, and that the basic human rights of every man, woman and child must be respected."