China responded furiously last night after the country's most famous dissident, the imprisoned pro-democracy campaigner Liu Xiaobo, won the Nobel Peace Prize in recognition of his long and non-violent struggle for human rights.
Mr Obama said in a statement that the activist had “sacrificed his freedom for his beliefs” as supporters hailed the award as a victory for the human rights struggle. The Dalai Lama and other global leaders used the opportunity to call for the release of all prisoners of conscience.
Chinese State media imposed a blackout of the honour, and the country's efficient system of internet censorship, popularly known as the Great Firewall of China, blocked reports about the Nobel prize which highlighted Mr Liu's calls for peaceful political change. China said the award would harm relations with Norway and summoned Oslo's ambassador to Beijing to make a formal protest.
The Norwegians dismissed the warning as petty.
Mr Liu (54), a political essayist and democracy campaigner, was jailed last year for his role in writing a manifesto, Charter 08, with other Chinese activists that called for free speech and multi-party elections.