BEIJING – Awarding the Nobel Peace Prize to a 54-year-old imprisoned Chinese dissident sparked praise from Western governments, brought condemnation from Beijing and is exposing the difficulties fitting a powerful, authoritarian China into the international order.

A day after Liu Xiaobo was named the winner, the Chinese government built upon its initially angry response Saturday.

Authorities escorted Liu’s wife from Beijing to the northeastern city where he is imprisoned but did not let her see him to deliver news of the honor. That will have to wait until today, a family member said.

Activist lawyers in Beijing, inspired by the award to hold a get-together, said police followed them and told them to stay home.

And a tabloid newspaper affiliated with the ruling Communist Party’s flagship People’s Daily caustically criticized the prize as part of a Western plot to sow divisiveness in a rising China.

“Good Chinese have reason to suspect that the Nobel Peace Prize has been reduced to a political tool of Western interests,” said the popular Global Times. “What they’re doing now is using the Peace Prize to tear a hole in Chinese society.”

The message that Westerners are out to get China has frequently been used by the leadership to inspire nationalism, and is likely to be promoted anew in coming days to keep ordinary Chinese from granting Liu and the dissident community any prestige the award might confer.

Members of the Norway-based committee said the award should encourage China to become a more responsible global force and avoid the arrogance of power. President Obama and other world leaders echoed the theme, calling for greater respect for human rights.

That gap between Beijing’s authoritarian ways and the way some in the West hope it will behave yawns uncomfortably as the world tries to make room for a China with a rapidly growing resource-hungry economy, a large military and hundreds of millions of citizens joining the consumer classes.