For­eign doc­tors deem ill Chi­nese No­bel lau­re­ate OK to travel

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

Two for­eign spe­cial­ists who vis­ited Liu Xiaobo said Sun­day that the can­cer-stricken No­bel Peace Prize lau­re­ate can safely travel abroad for treat­ment, ap­par­ently con­tra­dict­ing state­ments by Chi­nese ex­perts who say a med­i­cal evac­u­a­tion would be un­safe for China’s best­known po­lit­i­cal prisoner.

The Amer­i­can and Ger­man doc­tors, who saw Liu on Satur­day, is­sued a joint state­ment say­ing that their home in­sti­tu­tions — the Univer­sity of Hei­del­berg and the MD An­der­son Can­cer Cen­ter in Texas — have agreed to ac­cept Liu, but that any evac­u­a­tion would have to take place “as quickly as pos­si­ble.’’

Liu was di­ag­nosed in May with late-stage liver can­cer while serv­ing an 11-year sen­tence for in­cit­ing sub­ver­sion by ad­vo­cat­ing sweep­ing po­lit­i­cal re­forms that would end China’s one-party rule.

He was awarded the No­bel Peace Prize in 2010, the year af­ter he was con­victed and jailed by a Chi­nese court.

The dif­fer­ing opin­ions about the fea­si­bil­ity of Liu trav­el­ling could fur­ther com­pli­cate the tug-of-war over the 61-year-old ac­tivist. For weeks, fam­ily and sup­port­ers have asked for Liu to be fully re­leased and al­lowed to re­ceive treat­ment abroad, ar­gu­ing that author­i­ties are keep­ing him in China only out of po­lit­i­cal con­sid­er­a­tions.

Mean­while, the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment has main­tained that Liu is re­ceiv­ing the best treat­ment pos­si­ble at the First Hos­pi­tal of China Med­i­cal Univer­sity in the north­ern city of Shenyang. Chi­nese state me­dia have la­beled Liu a con­victed crim­i­nal, and the gov­ern­ment has warned other coun­tries to stay out of China’s in­ter­nal af­fairs.

Fol­low­ing in­ter­na­tional crit­i­cism, China al­lowed the two for­eign ex­perts, Dr. Markus W. Buch­ler of Hei­del­berg Univer­sity and Dr. Joseph Her­man of the MD An­der­son Can­cer Cen­ter at the Univer­sity of Texas, to visit Liu.

Buch­ler and Her­man said in their state­ment Sun­day that they “ac­knowl­edged’’ the qual­ity of care Liu has re­ceived in Shenyang. But they said that Liu ex­pressed a de­sire to leave China, and that they judged that he “can be safely trans­ported with ap­pro­pri­ate med­i­cal evac­u­a­tion care and sup­port.’’

Hours af­ter the for­eign doc­tors an­nounced their opin­ion, Jared Genser, a Wash­ing­ton­based lawyer who rep­re­sents Liu in­ter­na­tion­ally, said that any de­ci­sion by Chi­nese author­i­ties to still keep Liu would amount to “in­ten­tion­ally has­ten­ing his death’’ and “re­fus­ing to hon­our the wishes of a dy­ing man to re­ceive the treat­ment he de­sires.’’

Al­ready crit­i­cized for let­ting an im­pris­oned No­bel lau­re­ate fall ter­mi­nally ill on its watch, the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment faces a public re­la­tions dis­as­ter whether Liu stays in the coun­try or goes abroad.

Hu Jia, a Chi­nese dis­si­dent and fam­ily friend, said that Bei­jing is afraid of let­ting its most po­tent op­po­si­tion sym­bol go abroad as long as he is able to speak to the me­dia.

“As long as he can still talk, the global me­dia will re­port and trans­mit his mes­sage to the world,’’ Hu said. “Ev­ery sound he ut­ters will be recorded as a force for chang­ing China.’’

Shang Bao­jun, a for­mer lawyer for Liu who re­mains close to the fam­ily, told The As­so­ci­ated Press on Satur­day that Liu was co­her­ent enough dur­ing the visit with the for­eign doc­tors to say that he wanted to go abroad for treat­ment, prefer­ably to Germany, although the U.S. would also be fine.

At times, Liu was lu­cid enough to com­mu­ni­cate in English, Shang said.

AP PHOTO

In this file im­age taken from Jan 6, 2008, video, Liu Xiaobo speaks dur­ing an in­ter­view in his home in Bei­jing, China. Two for­eign spe­cial­ists who vis­ited Liu said Sun­day that the can­cer-stricken No­bel Peace Prize lau­re­ate is still able to travel abroad for treat­ment, ap­par­ently con­tra­dict­ing state­ments by Chi­nese ex­perts who say a med­i­cal evac­u­a­tion would be un­safe.

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