Demonstrators in Hong Kong have been calling for the release of jailed Chinese dissident, Liu Xiaobo, who has just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
To their voices have been added those of the European Union, the United Nations, the Dalai Lama and heads of state from around the world.
But the pleas have angered Chinese authorities for whom Liu is a subversive. Beijing had lobbied strongly against him being awarded the prize.
Chinese state television said choosing Liu contradicted everything the prize stood for and described it as an “obscenity”.
If European reaction was muted, US President Barack Obama openly accused China of falling behind on political reform and called for Liu’s release, leaving Sino-American diplomacy to a State Department spokesman.
Mark Toner told journalists: “We’ve got a broad mature relationship. As we’ve said many times it spans many issues: economic issues, trade and currency issues as well as human rights issues.”
Liu, 54, was chosen for his non-violent pro-democracy campaign in China.
A protester in Tiannamen Square in 1989 he is currently serving an 11-year jail term for gathering signatures for the Charter 08 movement.