Having a homegrown Nobel laureate has been a long-standing dream for many on the mainland, but the great expectations of one of them winning the prestigious prize this year has prompted criticism from Beijing and tighter control of his family on the eve of the award's announcement. Hu Jia , a frontrunner for this year's Nobel Peace Prize and now in jail, was a criminal, the Foreign Ministry said yesterday. It said that awarding the honour to him would amount to interference in the mainland's domestic affairs and judicial independence. 'I believe it's very obvious to everyone what kind of man Hu Jia is,' ministry spokesman Qin Gang said. 'He is a criminal convicted of subverting state power by the country's judicial apparatus. 'The Nobel Peace Prize should be awarded to people who really contribute to promoting world peace. If they wanted to find a Chinese person, I believe there are tens of thousands of people who are qualified for the prize here in China.' Controls on Hu's family have apparently been stepped up since news about his likely win emerged. It was still possible to contact his wife, fellow activist Zeng Jinyan , last week, but the home telephone line was blocked last night. Ms Zeng's weblog had updates from her last week but was inaccessible yesterday. A prominent rights activist, Hu, 35, championed causes from environmental protection and the plight of HIV/Aids patients to the well-being of fellow activists until he was sentenced to 31/2 years in jail in April. Pundits have suggested this year's Nobel Peace Prize could go to a Chinese or a Russian to highlight rights problems on the 60th anniversary of the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Other favourites include democracy activist Wei Jingsheng , rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng and Chechen human rights lawyer Lidiya Yusupova. In contrast to silence in the mainland media over Hu's nomination, state media widely reported the Nobel Prize for chemistry won by US-born Roger Tsien, nephew of Qian Xuesen , one of the mainland's most famous scientists. Commonly referred to in headlines only as the nephew of 97-year-old Professor Qian, Professor Tsien was quoted as saying he hoped his prize would encourage Chinese students and scientists, even though he was not a Chinese scientist. But many people were not impressed and wondered on the internet why the mainland had yet to nurture a homegrown Nobel winner. A commentator named Liang Ding said: 'This is the reality that we have to face: our writer won the prize after fleeing to France, our chemistry and physics scientists won the prize after running to America. 'So we have to ponder why the same 'tangerine' cannot bear a Nobel fruit when planted in China's soil.' So far, most Chinese laureates have won for work in other countries, mostly the United States. None is a mainland resident. Another Nobel laureate, the Dalai Lama, was admitted to Sir Ganga Ram Hospital in New Delhi yesterday with a recurrence of his abdominal pains. A senior doctor there said 'chances are that the Dalai Lama will be operated upon, probably [today]'. But Dalai Lama spokesman Tenzin Takhla said the spiritual leader was undergoing 'routine tests'.