Taiwan, over which china claims sovereignty, was among the score of governments congratulating Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo on winning the Nobel Peace Prize.
Taiwanese media reported a statement from President Ma Ying-jeou hailing Liu's award as having historical significance and urging the Chinese government to treat him leniently. The German government said it would like to see him released soon.
"This decision embodies the defence of human rights everywhere," said France's Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.
Major international rights groups and the Dalai Lama, who asked China to free Liu and others imprisoned for exercising freedom of expression, echoed the call. The China-based group Chinese Human Rights Defenders urged US President Barack Obama to ask Chinese President Hu Jintao to free Mr. Liu. "This award can only make a real difference if it prompts more international pressure on China to release Liu, along with numerous other prisoners...'' said Amnesty International.