China chose to make an example of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo by jailing him for 11 years last year during a wider crackdown on dissidents, Spain's El Pais newspaper said on Thursday, citing U.S. diplomatic cables obtained by WikiLeaks.

China has called the award to dissident Liu an obscenity, while the Nobel Peace Prize panel defended the decision, saying it was based on universal values.

The cables reported Beijing increased pressure on dissidents last year due to concerns of renewed civil unrest coinciding with the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests and the 50th anniversary of the occupation of Tibet.

At that time, the global financial crisis had already fueled social conflict, the like of which China had not seen for a long time, the cables said.

The cables also highlighted the Beijing's anger at protests over Liu's sentence around the world, particularly in Washington and some European capitals.

Five prominent human rights lawyers told U.S. ambassador to China John Huntsman last December that since 2008 human rights abuse in China had entered its worst phase, the cables said.

(Reporting by Judy MacInnes; Editing by Jon Hemming)