China Cracks Down on Nobel Prize Security Ahead of Ceremony

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As today's Nobel Peace Prize ceremony gets underway, China is making no attempts to hide its feelings on the matter. "Today in Norway's Oslo, there will be a farce staged: 'The Trial of China'," was the headline of the Global Times. "Most nations' oppose peace prize to Liu," read the China Daily.

Since the prize was announced two months ago China has waged a campaign to discredit the award, and its recipient, jailed activist Liu Xiaobo. It has suspended trade with Norway and sent diplomats across the world to strong-arm other nations into boycotting the event.

"The Chinese government is not happy that Liu Xiaobo is receiving this award, and that was to be expected," Minky Warden, director of global initiatives at Human Rights Watch, told ABC News, "But the overreaction that we've seen from Beijing is really not worthy of a government that projects abroad as a strong, confident, growing, responsible power."

Restaurants have been told not to accept large reservations tonight, for fear that Liu's supporters may gather to celebrate his win. And the government has clamped down hard on media. The websites for BBC and CNN have been blocked since yesterday, and all television reports on Liu or the Nobel are blacked out by censors.

More worryingly, hundreds of people in China have been arrested, put under house arrest or blocked from leaving the country- measures designed to stop them from trying to attend today's ceremony or talk to international media.

Among them, is Liu Xia, the wife of Liu Xiaobao, who has not been seen or heard from in almost two months. When an ABC News crew visited the home where she is being held under house arrest yesterday, they found uniformed and plainclothes security forces guarding the area. Today, journalists have been penned into an area away from the complex.

It was one year ago that Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in prison for co-authoring a pro-democracy manifesto, called Charter '08. But Liu has been a thorn in the side of Chinese authorities since his leading role in the Tiananmen Square protests of 1989.

Today will mark the first time that no representative will be present to collect the Nobel Peace Prize since 1936, when German pacifist, Carl von Ossietzky, could not attend because he was interned in a Nazi concentration camp.

Liu's supporters appear undeterred. "I feel very emotional because everybody is happy for Liu Xiaobo. Not only the overseas Chinese dissidents, but many friends in China also care about this event," Wan Yanhai, a Chinese democracy activist, told the Associated Press in Oslo.

In response to Liu not being present to accept the award, President Obama said in a statement, "Liu Xiaobo is far more deserving of this award than I was."

He said the U.S. "respect(s) China's extraordinary accomplishment in lifting millions out of poverty, and believe that human rights include the dignity that comes with freedom from want. But Mr. Liu reminds us that human dignity also depends upon the advance of democracy, open society, and the rule of law."

Obama also said Liu "should be released as soon as possible. I regret that Mr. Liu and his wife were denied the opportunity to attend the ceremony" in Oslo.

Savvy, Chinese internet users have been changing their Twitter avatars to pictures of empty chairs in support of the jailed Nobel laureate. Feng 37 posted, "Living truth and paying the price, empty chair for Nobel Prize." The Chinese for "empty chair" is kong yizi- a phrase that has been banned on China's social networking sites.

Yu Jie, an activist and good friend of Liu's, spoke with ABC News in August.

"If we stop fighting because we have been intimidated by the example the Communist Party has made out of Liu, then their purpose will have been achieved. We must continue to do what he has done. We must work towards conquering our fears."

But Yu has not been heard from since November 12th. And when an ABC News crew visited his house yesterday, security forces swatted their camera away, threatening to smash it, and warned them to go away.

Yet another heavy-handed move in this repressive operation.

ABC News' Jack Tapper and the Associated Press contributed to this report.