Chi­nese dis­si­dent in crit­i­cal con­di­tion

Bei­jing re­jects calls to free him, fam­ily

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - NEWS - GERRY SHIH AND GIL­LIAN WONG In­for­ma­tion for this ar­ti­cle was con­trib­uted by Geir Moul­son and Josie Wong of The As­so­ci­ated Press.

BEI­JING — Chi­nese doc­tors worked ur­gently Mon­day to save crit­i­cally ill No­bel Peace Prize lau­re­ate Liu Xiaobo, as the gov­ern­ment hard­ened its po­si­tion against grow­ing pleas to al­low China’s best- known po­lit­i­cal pris­oner to leave for treat­ment over­seas.

A stark up­date is­sued by Liu’s hos­pi­tal said he was suf­fer­ing from poor kid­ney func­tion and bleed­ing in the liver from metas­ta­siz­ing tu­mors. It height­ened pres­sure on Bei­jing, which has re­sisted ap­peals from sev­eral na­tions to let Liu and his fam­ily go.

A for­eign min­istry spokesman, Geng Shuang, asked other coun­tries at a daily news brief­ing “to re­spect China’s na­tional sovereignty and re­frain from in­ter­fer­ing in its do­mes­tic af­fairs due to an in­di­vid­ual case.” On Mon­day, the of­fice of Ger­man Chan­cel­lor An­gela Merkel asked Bei­jing for a “sig­nal of hu­man­ity for Liu Xiaobo and his fam­ily.”

Liu’s health has been the sub­ject of in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion af­ter news emerged in late June that the dis­si­dent had been trans­ferred to a Chi­nese hos­pi­tal be­cause of lat­estage liver can­cer. Sup­port­ers and Western gov­ern­ments urged China to al­low Liu to choose where he wanted to be treated and to re­lease him. Bei­jing has so far re­sisted, cit­ing Liu’s frag­ile health and ar­gu­ing that he is re­ceiv­ing the best pos­si­ble care in China.

Liu was con­victed in 2009 of in­cit­ing sub­ver­sion for his role in the “Char­ter 08” move­ment call­ing for po­lit­i­cal re­form. He was awarded the No­bel Peace Prize a year later while in prison.

Two for­eign doc­tors who were per­mit­ted to visit Liu this past week­end said Sun­day that they deemed Liu strong enough to be evac­u­ated, ap­par­ently con­tra­dict­ing Chi­nese ex­pert opin­ion.

Chi­nese lead­ers face two un­palat­able choices, an­a­lysts say. If China sends Liu abroad, he could speak out against Bei­jing in his re­main­ing days and be­come a world­wide me­dia icon. If Bei­jing main­tains the sta­tus quo — keep­ing him un­der close guard in China — his death in cus­tody would tar­nish the Com­mu­nist Party’s im­age.

Liu’s sup­port­ers have drawn par­al­lels with the story of Carl von Ossi­et­zky, an ac­tivist who re­ceived the 1935 No­bel Peace Prize while he was held in a Ger­man prison camp and ul­ti­mately died from tu­ber­cu­lo­sis un­der the watch of se­cret po­lice. Even they say it is un­likely that China will let Liu go, which would seem like back­track­ing.

“If a No­bel Peace Prize lau­re­ate dies in de­ten­tion, it would bat­ter China’s im­age but only be a short-term po­lit­i­cal hit,” said Mo Zhixu, a dis­si­dent writer who is friends with Liu. “If he leaves and makes po­lit­i­cal state­ments, it would be a uni­fy­ing force for the world and re­ju­ve­nate a po­lit­i­cal re­form move­ment in China that’s reached a low — maybe even start a new wave.”

Liu’s plight has al­ready drawn public protests in the south­ern Chi­nese city of Hong Kong. On Mon­day, dozens of peo­ple waved ban­ners and chanted slo­gans as they staged a sit-in protest out­side the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment’s rep­re­sen­ta­tive of­fice, urg­ing Bei­jing to al­low Liu to be treated over­seas.

Hu­man- rights lawyer Al­bert Ho called it a “marathon sit-in” aimed at send­ing a strong mes­sage to Bei­jing. The ac­tivists said they would not leave un­til Liu is al­lowed to leave the coun­try.

The last time a po­lit­i­cal pris­oner was granted med­i­cal pa­role and al­lowed to leave the coun­try for treat­ment was in 2005, when au­thor­i­ties re­leased Re­biya Kadeer, an ac­tivist for her Uighur eth­nic mi­nor­ity group, ac­cord­ing to the San Francisco-based Dui Hua Foun­da­tion.

The Chi­nese fa­cil­ity treat­ing Liu says it is pro­vid­ing him with the best pos­si­ble care and that Liu is too ill to be moved. It is­sued an up­date Mon­day that ap­peared to highlight his de­te­ri­o­rat­ing con­di­tion.

The First Hos­pi­tal of China Med­i­cal Uni­ver­sity said Liu is also suf­fer­ing from low blood pres­sure and that an MRI scan re­vealed grow­ing can­cer le­sions.

“The na­tional ex­perts group’s view is that the pa­tient is in crit­i­cal con­di­tion,” the state­ment said. Doc­tors treat­ing Liu were in an “ac­tive res­cue” mode, it added, say­ing they were try­ing to fight in­fec­tions, cor­rect Liu’s blood pres­sure and pu­rify his blood.

A video clip leaked on Mon­day ap­peared to show one of the for­eign ex­perts who vis­ited Liu, Markus Buech­ler of Hei­del­berg Uni­ver­sity, ad­dress­ing Liu’s wife, Liu Xia, to tell her that Chi­nese doc­tors were do­ing their ut­most to help Liu and were “very com­mit­ted to his treat­ment.”

The Ger­man Em­bassy in Bei­jing ex­pressed “deep con­cern” that the record­ing was leaked to Chi­nese state me­dia out­lets against the wishes of the Ger­man side.

“It seems that se­cu­rity or­gans are steer­ing the process, not med­i­cal ex­perts,” the em­bassy said.

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