China said on Tuesday the "vast majority" of nations would boycott this week's Nobel Peace Prize ceremony for jailed dissident Liu Xiaobo, but the Norwegian award committee said two-thirds of those invited would attend.
China said the granting of the prize to "a criminal" was an affront to its "legal sovereignty" and would not affect its policies.
"We will not change because of some wind blowing the grass and because of the interference of some clowns who are anti-China," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee offered a picture very different from that presented by Jiang.
Geir Lundestad, the executive secretary of the Nobel Committee, told Reuters the Chinese contention that most nations would stay away was "a very curious way of stating things" because only the 65 countries with embassies in Norway were invited, and 44 of those had accepted.
The committee has said China has mounted an unprecedented campaign to keep envoys from attending.
China has denounced the awarding of the accolade to pro-democracy activist Liu as an "obscenity" and has unleashed a torrent of diplomatic scorn towards host nation Norway, while exerting pressure on diplomats to boycott Friday's ceremony.
"As far as I know, at present, more than 100 countries and organizations have expressed explicit support for China opposing the Nobel Peace Prize, which fully shows that the international community does not accept the decision of the Nobel Committee," the Foreign Ministry spokeswoman told a regular news briefing.
"After the ceremony, you can see that the vast majority of the international community will not attend the ceremony. Some countries have resident missions in Norway, they will not send representatives to the ceremony," she said.
Friday's ceremony will be the first time that a laureate under detention has not be formally represented at the awards gala since Nazi Germany barred pacifist Carl von Ossietzky from coming in 1935.
"Don’t want to annoy China"
Besides China, the countries who have declined to attend the ceremony in the Oslo city hall are: Afghanistan Colombia, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Pakistan, the Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sudan, Tunisia, Ukraine, Venezuela and Vietnam.
The Nobel organizers stressed there were different reasons why some countries had declined their invitation.
"Among the 19 countries that have declined the invitation, you just have to look at the names to realize that their motives could be very varied," Lundestad said.
"Some have most probably bowed to pressure from China, but others have other reasons like a scheduled trip," he added.
Russia for instance has said scheduling difficulties rather than political considerations were keeping it away.
In Manila, a spokesman for the Department of Foreign Affairs declined to say why the Philippines was not attending the ceremony. But a senior Filipino diplomat said the reason was to avoid another fracas with China, still angry over President Benigno Aquino's handling of a bus hijack incident in August that killed eight Hong Kong tourists.
"We do not want to further annoy China," the official said,
The Nobel committee's Lundestad said the 44 embassies that had accepted the invitation included those of South Korea, Japan, Indonesia, as well as big emerging states India, Brazil and South Africa.
Algeria and Sri Lanka did not reply to the Committee.
The laureate himself, who remains in prison, will not be able to attend and neither will his wife, Liu Xia, who has been held in house arrest since the prize was announced in October.
An empty chair, a photograph and one of his texts read by Norwegian actress Liv Ullman will represent Liu at the ceremony