Delight swept through the mainland's dissident community yesterday, with some setting off firecrackers, participating in secret gatherings or finding other ways to celebrate the awarding of the Nobel Peace Prize to jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo . However, dozens of civil rights activists in Beijing and Shanghai were either placed under close surveillance by the authorities or taken away by police during a secret gathering to celebrate the prize. Although a number of dissidents said they believed the award was a strong international endorsement of the Chinese people's demands on human rights, many said they were pessimistic about democratic reform and did not believe changes would follow Liu's prize. Xu Youyu , a prominent scholar who witnessed the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989 and was also a signatory to Charter 08, said the prize would 'encourage Chinese people to use peaceful and rational methods to achieve human rights and democracy during China's social transformation, which could avoid possible huge social unrest and violence. 'The award isn't a personal honour for Liu Xiaobo,' Xu said. 'Liu is a symbol and spiritual representative of using peaceful methods to drive China towards democracy and freedom. Bestowing the Nobel Peace Prize upon Liu Xiaobo serves as indirect opposition to the current state of affairs.' Zeng Jinyan , wife of prominent jailed activist Hu Jia and herself an activist, said a single Nobel Peace Prize would not change Liu's destiny or China's regime. 'The political circumstances in China are so pessimistic that it's too difficult to change [simply with a prize]. The only hope [for democracy] is mature citizens beginning to realise their rights and fight for them,' she said.