Imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo has won the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for "his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China."
The Norwegian Nobel Committee in Oslo made the annoucement Friday, saying the committee "has long believed that there is a close connection between human rights and peace."
Liu was sentenced last December to 11 years in prison for "inciting subversion of state power." He had co-authored and signed the Charter 08 manifesto that calls for political reforms in China.
The Nobel Committee said that through the harsh punishment given to him, Liu has become the "foremost symbol" of a wide-ranging struggle for human rights in China.
China referred to Liu as a "criminal" and said the Nobel Peace Committee violated its principles by honoring him.
China had earlier told a Nobel official that Liu is not the kind of person who should be considered for the prestigious award.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said Friday it is "independent of governments" and "has a responsibility to speak when others are not able or willing to speak."
Last year, the Nobel Committee shocked the world by awarding the prize to U.S. President Barack Obama, after he had has been in office less than a year and while the U.S. was waging simultaneous wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.