IN 2009, President Obama won the Nobel Peace Prize. The controversial selection seemed to say more about the politics of the Nobel committee than it did about the President's achievements on justice or peace.
This year, the Nobel committee got back to basics by giving the prize to imprisoned Chinese democracy dissident Liu Xiaobo. Earlier this year, the human rights campaigner was sentenced to 11 years in prison for alleged subversion against the Chinese communist government.
China warned the Norwegian committee that there would be repercussions for honoring a man it described as a "criminal." China is still bitter about the Nobel committee's decision to honor the Dalai Lama, the exiled spiritual leader of Tibet, with the peace prize in 1989, the same year as the Tiananmen Square protests.
Like all other authoritarian states, China fears the prestige the Nobel Peace Prize imparts to its critics. The country doesn't want its human rights record debated on the global stage.
International pressure has begun to mount for China to release Liu Xiaobo. The Chinese government has its censors working full-time, but word will get out about the dissident's honor.
It is a reminder that despite China's economic progress, it remains a prison for those interested in liberty.