Mr. Liu, 54, perhaps China’s best-known dissident, is currently serving an 11-year prison term on subversion charges.

He is the first Chinese citizen to win the Peace Prize and one of three people to have received it while incarcerated.

By awarding the prize to Mr. Liu, the Norwegian Nobel Committee provided an unmistakable rebuke to Beijing’s authoritarian leaders at a time of growing intolerance for domestic dissent and a spreading unease internationally over the muscular diplomacy that has accompanied China’s economic rise.

In a move that in retrospect appears to have been counterproductive, a senior Chinese official had warned the Norwegian committee’s secretary that giving the prize to Mr. Liu would adversely impact relations between the two countries.