On Friday, Liu Xiaobo became the first Chinese citizen resident in China to be awarded a Nobel Prize.
Yet the landmark announcement barely created a ripple in China, where the jailed political activist is still unknown to most of his compatriots, and the telecast of the ceremony was blacked out.
Mr. Liu, 54, who is now serving an 11-year jail term in a prison in northeast China for “inciting subversion of state power,” is considered a “criminal” by the government for publishing articles critical of the Communist Party and collecting signatures on Charter 08, a pro-democracy document.
On Friday, the award drew sharp criticism from the government, which has waged an unprecedented diplomatic campaign in recent months to urge countries to boycott the ceremony.
“In the post-Cold War period, the Peace Prize has been further reduced to serve as the ‘human rights' sticks by a handful of Western nations to play tricks for meddling in other countries' internal affairs,” the official People's Daily wrote.
Almost a dozen activists, lawyers and scholars The Hindu spoke to in recent weeks shared the view that the award would be an important landmark on the road to greater political reforms.
“In the long-term, the award is good news for China's democratisation,” Qiao Mu, a professor at Beijing Foreign Studies University, said in a recent interview.