They didn't even wait until the dust had settled on the disastrous Copenhagen climate summit. In the middle of last week, China's leaders watched approvingly as a leading dissident, Liu Xiaobo, was hauled into court and tried on charges of "incitement to subvert state power". Relatives, journalists and foreign diplomats were barred from the hearing, leaving two dozen consular officials from Europe, Canada and the US waiting impotently outside the courthouse. Two days later, on Christmas Day, Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Post-Copenhagen, the message to the rest of the world could hardly be clearer: China's leaders will go on doing exactly what they like, at home and on the international stage.