OSLO, Norway, Dec. 10 (UPI) -- Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo was honored Friday during the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo, Norway -- an empty chair marking his absence.
"We regret that the laureate is not present. He is in isolation in a prison in northeastern China," Nobel committee secretary Geir Lundestad told the audience. "Nor can his wife or closest relatives be with us. ...This fact alone shows that the award was necessary and appropriate."
The audience offered sustained applause and a standing ovation, The Washington Post reported.
A portrait of Liu, serving an 11-year sentence for subversion, was on stage during the ceremony.
China, which reacted vehemently against the selection of Liu for the Nobel Peace Prize, blocked broadcasts of the ceremony on television and Internet sites, the Post reported. The government prohibited Liu and his family members from leaving China to attend the ceremony and barred other activists from traveling or gathering in public places.
Uniformed and plainclothes officers guarded Liu's home, where the dissident's wife is under house arrest, the BBC said. Reports indicate other instances of house arrests, travel restrictions and forced relocations.
Chinese experts said awarding the prize to Liu is "gross interference" in China's judicial system, the country's state-run news agency Xinhua reported.
"Giving the prize to figures like Liu Xiaobo has clearly demonstrated the Nobel committee's anti-Chinese attitude," said Gao Mingxuan, a Chinese criminal law expert. "They (Nobel committee members) are obviously harboring political motives."
It was the first time the award was not presented to a laureate in person since 1936 when Carl von Ossietzky, a German pacifist jailed by the Nazi regime, was prevented from attending the ceremony.