China denounces Nobel prize supporters as 'clowns'

China's Foreign Ministry on Tuesday denounced backers of Nobel Peace Prize-winning dissident Liu Xiaobo as "clowns" engaged in an anti-Chinese farce.

China's criticism was becoming more shrill ahead of the prize ceremony on Friday, even as authorities were placing Liu's supporters under house arrest and preventing others from leaving the country, apparently to prevent them from traveling to Oslo.

Those who support Liu are fundamentally opposed to China's development and trying to interfere in the country's politics and legal system, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told reporters.

"I would like to say to those at the Nobel committee, they are orchestrating an anti-China farce by themselves," Jiang said.

"We are not changing because of interference by a few clowns and we will not change our path," she said.

Jiang's comments were the latest in a series of furious attacks against Liu, the Nobel committee, and other supporters. Beijing was enraged by the awarding of the prize to the 54-year-old democracy campaigner and literary critic and has sought to dissuade foreign diplomats from attending this week's award ceremony — to little effect.

Liu's wife Liu Xia and prominent opposition figures have been placed under house arrest and numerous others including lawyers, academics and activists such as artist Ai Weiwei have been banned from leaving the country.

China has also put ties with Norway on ice as retaliation for the prize and senior foreign policy official Dai Bingguo has told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton that Beijing believes Washington orchestrated the award, ostensibly to humiliate China.

Liu is serving an 11-year sentence on subversion charges brought after he co-authored a bold call for sweeping changes to the one-party communist political system known as Charter 08.