Liu Xiaobo won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, something the Oslo based committee knew was going to put a large plumbing device into their relationship with China and true enough this week the Chinese Embassy in Oslo has been asking Governments around the world not to send any official representatives to the award ceremony.
Liu was awarded the prize for what the Nobel committee described as a "long and non violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China." He was jailed previously, including for his role in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests that were brutally suppressed.
China regards Liu as a criminal. He was responsible for drafting the multiparty democracy document Charter 08, itself inspired by Charter 77, the 1977 declaration of human rights by Czech and Slovak human rights campaigners. Beijing had warned the Nobel committee not to give the prize to the professor who has given his life to promote democracy, an extraordinary move by a Government when you think of it.
The decision of the Nobel Committee to ignore China's request was explained as follows: "We have to speak when others cannot speak," Nobel Committee Chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said "As China is rising, we should have the right to criticize ... We want to advance those forces that want China to become more democratic."
China has called the award an obscenity, which just shows how far behind the times they still are. State censorship, imprisonment for eleven years for campaigning for some form of democracy and accountability in a country where torture of political prisoners is routine is okay, but rewarding a man who is trying to make things better is obscene.
And for those of us interested in the continual spread of human rights to those parts of the world that, how shall I put it, seem a little backwards in coming forwards, this weekend may finally see news on the release of Aung San Suu Kyi after Burma's first election in 20 years. All eyes will be on Burma over the next few days and Aung is preparing for release following the mulitparty elections that could well see an end to fifty years of military rule in Burma.
Her current period of house arrest officially ends on 13th November and it seems inconceivable that she will be the subject of a further order insisting on her imprisonment. Of course there are those who fear her release will be short lived for other reasons, normally the answer would be a question along the lines of 'they wouldn't dare would they?' This is Burma however, a country where the political rules are made-up as they, the military junta, see fit.
All we can do is wait and hope.