Unfortunately the Chinese government has not reacted well to Liu Xiaobo's win of the Nobel Peace Prize yesterday.
It summoned the Norwegian ambassador in Beijing and called Liu a "criminal" and that the award violated Nobel principles and could damage relations between Norway and China.
However the diplomat had to point out this had nothing to do with the Norwegian government, that the Nobel Committee is an independent body that can choose whoever they want to award the prestigious prize. Norway 1, China 0.
Meanwhile Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said: "Liu Xiaobo is a criminal who violated Chinese law. It's a complete violation of the principles of the prize and an insult to the peace prize itself for the Nobel Committee to award the prize to such a person."
While the committee is appointed by the Norwegian parliament, criticizing the committee is not a good idea. Norway 2, China 0.
International figures are now calling for the release of Liu so that he can receive the award in person in December.
"We call on the Chinese government to release Mr Liu as soon as possible," US President Barack Obama, last year's Nobel Peace Prize winner, said in a statement. "Over the last 30 years, China has 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."
China has angrily backed itself into a corner now.
What can it do now? It can quietly release Liu on humanitarian grounds since he is physically not well, but that could lead to a life under house arrest for the rest of his days, which in itself is illegal. It can try to make a deal with him to make him leave China for good, but he may believe this will weaken his ability to continue his fight in helping China. Or he will continue to languish in jail to fulfill the remaining years of his sentence, which is just under 10 years.
With the announcement, more people around the world will get to know who Liu is. They will see the greater truth of how the government has treated its people and that everyone deserves freedom of speech, freedom of the press, rule of law. One wonders if this will make Premier Wen Jiabao look better or worse for giving the appearance of backtracking on his recent statements on political reform.
In the meantime let's celebrate what I had thought was a slim chance for Liu to be recognized by the Nobel Committee with so many other deserving candidates. His wife has been given the chance to visit him and hopefully she will relay this fantastic piece of news to him.
Liu has put the spotlight on China, shining on the dark evil injustices that happen everyday in the country. Now it's up to the government to clean it up or it will further lose respect as a major player on the world stage.