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Meanwhile, the Chinese government has issued a demarche to other governments not to send representatives to the Nobel ceremony.

Dean Cheng, a research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, says China’s actions are unprecedented.

“I don’t think we have ever seen a case of a country openly lobbying other countries not to attend the investiture of a person with the Nobel peace prize” Mr. Cheng said. “What we are seeing are the limits of how far China is willing to go to accommodate both Western opinion with regard to its image and with regard to human rights.”

Sophie Richardson, advocacy director for Human Rights Watch’s Asia division, said the Chinese government has invested an “extraordinary” amount of resources into “trying to prevent the Nobel Committee from awarding the prize to Liu Xiaobo in the first place and then intimidating governments into not attending the ceremony.”

This week, Norway announced that China had indefinitely postponed bilateral trade talks, ostensibly to protest the peace prize.

“It is a fairly powerful indication of the crude thugishness of some Chinese diplomacy, but also a remarkable statement about Beijing’s unwillingness or inability to make a distinction between the Norwegian government and the Nobel Committee” which is based in Oslo, Ms. Richardson said.

“To try to browbeat, hector, coerce, intimidate others into doing its bidding is remarkable, and I don’t mean that in a good way,” she added.

Besides China, five other countries - Russia, Kazakhstan, Cuba, Morocco and Iraq - have told the Nobel Institute they will not attend the ceremony.

“Unfortunately, in some cases countries are capitulating to the Chinese bullying tactics and for others it is a case where that country also tends to have a number of political prisoners,” Ms. Turner said.

Mr. Yang said China’s actions are tantamount to “exporting repressive tactics to the international community.”

He said countries that have succumbed to Chinese pressure must carefully consider their decision because the Chinese government is “standing on the wrong side of history.”

“It doesn’t take rocket science to judge what is wrong and what is right in this regard,” Mr. Yang said.

The Obama administration is sending the U.S. ambassador in Oslo, Barry White, to attend the ceremony. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, and Rep. Christopher Smith, New Jersey Republican, will also be present. Both Mrs. Pelosi and Mr. Smith have been outspoken critics of China’s human rights record.

France and Britain also have said they will be sending representatives to the ceremony.

Announcing the prize for Mr. Liu in October, the Nobel Committee said it was honoring his “long and nonviolent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.”

Liu Xiaobo, armed with the credibility of the Nobel peace prize, has become a rallying point for resentment against the [Chinese] government both internationally as well as domestically,” Mr. Yang said.

Rights activists and the Lius’ attorneys say President Obama should seize the opportunity presented by Chinese President Hu Jintao’s visit to Washington in January to press for the Lius’ release.

Mr. Obama, a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize last year, said at the time of the prize announcement in October that Mr. Liu had “sacrificed his freedoms for his beliefs.”