Obama, receiving the Nobel Peace Prize, made a mockery of the reward.
It was the ultimate genuflection to political correctness and fealty of the Left to hope over reason. A year later Oslo is seeking redemption by awarding the prize to Liu Xiaobo and Obama gives them a boost by calling on the Chinese to free him from prison.
Anything that makes the Chinese angry cannot be all that bad and the comments of Obama and the actions of the Nobel committee have the Chinese talking to themselves.
The Chinese are in panic mode, squelching the mention of Liu Xiaobo from the internet, further damaging their reputation.
Obama is right to call on the Chinese to release the imprisoned Liu Xiaobo. Let's hope that it is followed up by more than a one time comment.
Barack Obama calls on China to release Nobel Peace Prize winner
Barack Obama has welcomed the Nobel committee's decision to award the Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese dissident, and called on China to release him.
David Eimer in Beijing Telegraph
Published: 9:30PM BST 08 Oct 2010
Imprisoned Mr Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, sparking a furious diplomatic row as China accused the Norwegian awards committee of honouring a "criminal".
The Chinese authorities denounced the award as an "obscenity" and warned that it would damage relations between the two countries.
Mr Obama, the US president who won the award last year, said he "welcomed" the decision to award the prize to Mr Liu.
"Last year, I noted that so many others who have received the award had sacrificed so much more than I," he said.
"That list now includes Mr Liu, who has sacrificed his freedom for his beliefs."
Mr Obama then called on the Chinese government to release the dissident.
He noted that China had made "dramatic progress in economic reform and improving the lives of its people, lifting hundreds of millions out of poverty."
"But 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," he said.
"We call on the Chinese government to release Mr. Liu as soon as possible."
The Nobel Committee said Mr Liu was honoured "for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China". The 54-year-old activist, was sentenced last year to 11 years in prison for subversion.
In a strongly-worded citation, the committee criticised China's human rights record.
"Over the past decades, China has achieved economic advances to which history can hardly show any equal. The country now has the world's second largest economy; hundreds of millions of people have been lifted out of poverty. Scope for political participation has also broadened. China's new status must entail increased responsibility," it read.
"China is in breach of several international agreements to which it is a signatory, as well as of its own provisions concerning political rights. Article 35 of China's constitution lays down that 'Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration'. In practice, these freedoms have proved to be distinctly curtailed for China's citizens."
It added: "The campaign to establish universal human rights in China is being waged by many Chinese, both in China itself and abroad. Through the severe punishment meted out to him, Liu has become the foremost symbol of this wide-ranging struggle for human rights in China."
The award drew a furious response from the Chinese Foreign Ministry, who said choosing Mr Liu ran "completely counter to the principle of the prize". Norway said China had summoned its ambassador in Beijing to express their discontent while in Oslo, the Chinese ambassador met a state secretary at Norway's foreign ministry. A foreign ministry spokesman explained that the peace prize committee is independent of the government and that Norway wanted to maintain good relations with China.
"Liu Xiaobo is a criminal who has been sentenced by Chinese judicial departments for violating Chinese law," the ministry said, warning that the decision would damage relations between China and Norway just as the two countries are negotiating a bilateral trade deal. The Norwegian Prime Minister, Jens Stoltenberg, responded that it "would be negative for China's reputation in the world if they chose to do that".
Chinese state media imposed an immediate blackout and government censors blocked Nobel Prize reports from the internet. Online searches of "Nobel Peace Prize" and "Liu Xiaobo" drew a blank.
Chinese authorities refused to allow Mr Liu to speak to the media and it was unclear if he had received the news. His wife, Liu Xia, was also banned from meeting reporters but was able to make brief communication by text message and telephone.
"His friends repeatedly told me that they thirsted for Liu Xiaobo to win the prize more than he himself did because they think it would be an opportunity to change China," she said. "I hope that the international community will take this opportunity to call on the Chinese government to press for my husband's release."
The former university lecturer is virtually unknown in China, where he has spent decades campaigning peacefully for political change. The Nobel committee cited his participation in the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, and his co-authorship of the Charter 08 document which called for greater freedoms and declared that "the democratisation of Chinese politics can be put off no longer".
He was arrested hours before the charter was due to be released in December 2008. Following a brief Christmas Day trial he was convicted of subversion and jailed.
Mr Liu is the first person to be honoured with the prize while in prison, although other winners have been under house arrest, such as the Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi in 1991.
Last year, the Nobel committee was pilloried for giving the award to Barack Obama, who took office barely two weeks before the nomination deadline. Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said this year's decision emphasised that China's superpower status does not exempt it from criticism. "We have to speak when other cannot speak. As China is rising, we should have the right to criticize."
The award was welcomed by the UN and by the Dalai Lama, who called for the release of Liu and other jailed activists.