Nobel Peace Prize goes to imprisoned Chinese dissident

Liu Xiaobo receives award despite Chinese government protests that Xiaobo is "convicted criminal" unworthy of the prize.

311_Liu Xiaobo Nobel Prize (photo credit: Associated Press)
311_Liu Xiaobo Nobel Prize
(photo credit: Associated Press)
OSLO, Norway — Imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for using non-violence to demand fundamental human rights in his homeland. The award ignited a furious response from China, which accused the Norwegian Nobel Committee of violating its own principles by honoring "a criminal."
This year's peace prize followed a long tradition of honoring dissidents around the world, although it was the first Nobel for China's dissident community since it resurfaced after the country's communist leadership launched economic but not political reforms three decades ago.
RELATED:Irish Nobel winner Maguire boards flight out of IsraelIVF inventor Robert Edwards wins Nobel PrizeLiu, 54, was sentenced last year to 11 years in prison for subversion. Unlike some in China's highly fractured and persecuted dissident community, he has been an ardent advocate for peaceful, gradual political change rather than confrontation with the government.
The Nobel committee praised Liu's pacifist approach, ignoring not-so-subtle threats by Chinese diplomats even before the announcement that such a decision would result in strained ties with Norway.
The committee cited Liu's participation in the Tienanmen Square protests in Beijing in 1989 and the Charter 08 document he recently co-authored, which called for greater freedom in China and an end to the Communist Party's political dominance.
Chinese authorities would not allow access to Liu on Friday.
China's Foreign Ministry lashed out at the Nobel decision, saying the award should been used instead to promote international friendship and disarmament.
"Liu Xiaobo is a criminal who has been sentenced by Chinese judicial departments for violating Chinese law," the statement said. Awarding the peace prize to Liu "runs completely counter to the principle of the prize and is also a blasphemy to the peace prize."
It said the decision would damage bilateral relations between China and Norway.
In China, broadcasts of the announcement by CNN were blacked out. Popular Internet sites removed coverage of the Nobel prizes, placed prominently in recent days for the science awards. Messages about "Xiaobo" to Sina Microblog, a Twitter-like service run by Internet portal, were quickly deleted. Attempts to send mobile text messages with the Chinese characters for Liu Xiaobo failed.
The Nobel committee said China, as a growing economic and political power, needed to take more responsibility to protect the rights of its citizens.
"China has become a big power in economic terms as well as political terms, and it is normal that big powers should be under criticism," prize committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said, calling Liu Xiaobo a symbol for the fight for human rights in China.
The last winner of the Nobel Peace Prize was US President Barack Obama.