Today, Liu Xiaobo was not be present in Oslo to pick up his Nobel Peace Prize. The Chinese dissident was in Jinzhou prison in northeast China, serving the 11-year term he received last Christmas for “subverting state power.” Moreover, his wife wasn't on hand either. Liu Xia has been under house arrest or in the custody of security agents since the announcement in early October that her husband had won the coveted award.

What’s the most important thing to know about Liu’s Nobel?

It’s Beijing’s reaction. The Chinese government has gone on a bender this week, calling Liu’s supporters “clowns,” browbeating nations to skip the Oslo ceremony, pressuring Chinese citizens to participate in anti-Nobel rallies, and blocking foreign broadcasts.

The ugly response highlights how Beijing is demonstrably more hostile this year, from stepping up its support for North Korea and Iran to threatening war on the United States to pursuing claims to territory a thousand miles from its shores. China is becoming a rogue state and showing the world that its one-party system has essentially remained unreformed after three decades of economic transformation.
As the Chinese saying goes, “the fox is showing his tail.”

Gordon G. Chang is the author of “The Coming Collapse of China.” He writes a weekly column at Forbes.com. Follow him on Twitter @GordonGChang .