The Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to jailed Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo.
China has always opposed him winning the award.
To find out more about the Norwegian Academy’s choice, euronews spoke to Marie Holzman, President of the human rights group Solidarity China.
“Why did they give the Nobel Peace Prize to Liu Xiaobo?”
“Well, the decision is both surprising and very, very welcome. I think that by awarding the prize to someone from China, it is encouraging one fifth of the world’s population to continue his fight for democracy.
“It is also a way to integrate China into the modern world. The country’s 60-year-old dictatorship has many aspects that are completely archaic.
“Now that China has become a major economic power, it is time it became a great political power too.”
“What impact will this decision have in China?”
“We cannot say definitely and obviously we do not know what the future will bring. But maybe it will be a historic turning point in the evolution of the Chinese Communist Party.
“It is possible that the population will wake up and demand that the government fall in line with the spirit of this prize – to promote democracy.”
“Beijing has described the choice as “obscene”. China is the world’s second largest economy, but the country has never known democracy. Do you think this prize can encourage China to move in that direction?”
“Why not? In China now there are very strong democratic forces. We saw that in the labour union movement in July that demanded a reassessment of wages. We see it all the time. Farmers who are protesting because they have lost land, people protesting against losing their homes.
“So the Chinese government is sitting on a powder cake. It is not clear that this Nobel Prize is the spark to set it off however. We don’t know yet if it will trigger pressure on the Communist Party from the majority of people to move in the direction of political reform.”
“Liu Xiaobo is currently serving a sentence of 11 years in prison. How will this prize affect him?”
“Well it will protect him in prison. It is obvious that they cannot abuse a Nobel Peace Prize winner because sooner or later, even if it is in 10 years time, he will get out. The press will meet him and he will be photographed. So it is important to treat him well.
“The prize will have a huge impact on his experience in prison. It is obvious that all the guards will know who he is. His wife will know how well he is being treated and she will give interviews to journalists and foreign dignitaries so they will have to look after him.
“The prize will make a huge difference to him, but also to China as a whole.”