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SINO DAILY
China's ailing Nobel laureate in 'critical condition'
By Joanna CHIU, Becky Davis
Beijing (AFP) July 10, 2017


Western doctors say Chinese Nobel winner can travel
Shanghai (AFP) July 9, 2017 - US and German medical experts who examined Chinese Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo said Sunday it was safe to transport him abroad for cancer treatment, contradicting the assertions of Chinese doctors.

The statement by the foreign physicians looked likely to add to international pressure on China to release its most prominent democracy advocate for treatment overseas.

The First Hospital of China Medical University in the northeastern city of Shenyang where Liu is being treated for late-stage liver cancer had said Saturday it was "unsafe" for him to travel due to his deteriorating condition.

But American oncology expert Joseph Herman from the University of Texas' MD Anderson Cancer Center and German doctor Markus Buchler of Heidelberg University, who visited Liu on Saturday, said otherwise.

"While a degree of risk always exists in the movement of any patient, both physicians believe Mr. Liu can be safely transported with appropriate medical evacuation care and support," they said in a joint statement.

"However, the medical evacuation would have to take place as quickly as possible."

Their statement added that both of their respective institutions had agreed to accept Liu for treatment.

Beijing has come under fire from human rights groups over its treatment of Liu and for waiting until he became terminally sick to release him from prison more than a month ago.

- 'China lied' -

Liu, 61, and his family want him to be allowed to seek treatment abroad.

Rights activists and Chinese dissidents accuse Beijing of stalling and falsely claiming Liu is too sick to travel for fear of giving him a platform to speak freely overseas.

"The statement by the two experts shows that the Chinese authorities lied when the hospital released the statement yesterday," Amnesty International China researcher Patrick Poon said.

"The Chinese government should face it instead of covering up and faking news any more. They should respect Liu Xiaobo's wish to leave the country before it's too late."

Herman and Buchler said they "acknowledge the quality of care" that Liu had received at the Chinese hospital.

But while noting that the hospital is recommending a focus on relieving the symptoms of Liu's terminal illness, the foreign doctors implied that more could be done.

"Additional options may exist, including interventional procedures and radiotherapy," they said.

That appeared to jar with the hospital's account of their visit.

The hospital has said Saturday that the Western experts claimed they knew of "no better method" for treating Liu other than the care he was now receiving.

Liu was arrested in 2008 after co-writing Charter 08, a bold petition that called for the protection of basic human rights and reform of China's one-party Communist system.

He was later sentenced to 11 years in prison in December 2009 for "subversion" after calling for democratic reform. At the Nobel ceremony in Oslo in 2010, he was represented by an empty chair.

He is also known for his efforts to help negotiate the safe exit from Beijing's Tiananmen Square of thousands of student demonstrators on the night of June 3-4, 1989 when the military violently suppressed the protests.

A group of Liu's friends fear he is near death and they issued an open letter earlier this week calling on the Chinese government to give them access to him on "humanitarian" grounds.

Hu Jia, a prominent Chinese activist and good friend of Liu, called for increased pressure on China in the wake of the doctors' statement.

"Now we're waiting for the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) to unlock the doors of Liu's prison. Liu's supporters need to increase the pressure," Hu said.

China's cancer-stricken Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo is in a critical condition, his hospital said Monday, raising fears about his life after Western doctors said there was time to take him abroad.

The First Hospital of China Medical University in the northeastern city of Shenyang said Liu's tumour has grown, his liver is bleeding and he has kidney problems.

The hospital said in a statement on its website that it is preparing to take the 61-year-old democracy advocate into emergency care if necessary, adding that "Liu's family members have been informed of the above circumstances".

But human rights activists decried the hospital statement as a delay tactic to prevent Liu from getting his wish of going abroad, where they say he would be free to speak out.

The Germany embassy, meanwhile, voiced "deep concern" about the leak of a video showing a gaunt-looking Liu in his hospital bed while the German and American doctors talk to his wife, Liu Xia, and Chinese physicians.

Decrying a breach of doctor-patient confidentiality, the embassy said in a statement that "certain authorities have evidently made audio and video surveillance recordings" of the weekend visit "against the expressed wishes of the German side".

"It seems that security organs are steering the process, not medical experts. This behaviour undermines trust in the authorities dealing with Mr. Liu's case, which is vital to ensure maximum success of his medical treatment."

China has faced international pressure to grant its most prominent dissident complete freedom and let him leave the country since he was transferred from prison to the hospital after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer in late May.

The two foreign cancer specialists examined Liu on Saturday and said Sunday he could still safely leave the country, contradicting their Chinese counterparts.

But US oncology expert Joseph Herman from the University of Texas' MD Anderson Cancer Center and German doctor Markus Buchler of Heidelberg University warned in a statement that "the medical evacuation would have to take place as quickly as possible".

The video shows one of the foreigners, apparently Buchler, telling Liu Xia that the Chinese doctors had made a "very nice gesture" by inviting them to help and that they "are very committed to the treatment of ... your husband".

Liu moves his head during the conversation while the American doctor strokes his wife's back.

- Rights groups question motive -

Human rights activists said the hospital's latest statement shows the government is dragging its feet.

Amnesty International's China researcher Patrick Poon said the government wants to avoid any embarrassments ahead of a key Communist Party congress later this year. The meeting is expected to boost President Xi Jinping's grip on power.

"Allowing Liu Xiaobo and his family to go abroad would risk giving Liu Xiaobo the opportunity to talk to media and other supporters about his views on China's human rights situation," Poon told AFP.

Hu Jia, a Beijing-based activist and friend of Liu's, said the statement may be in response to the foreign doctors' conclusions.

"This is a way of slowing down the process. It doesn't show the patient's situation has deteriorated to the point of falling off a cliff."

Hu voiced concerns that if there is further delay, Liu may fall into a coma and never go free.

About 30 protesters staged a sit-in outside China's liaison office in semi-autonomous Hong Kong on Monday, chanting "free Liu Xiaobo!".

Asked whether Liu would be allowed to leave the country, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters: "This is not a diplomatic question. It's China's internal affairs. We oppose any country interfering with China's internal affairs using these so-called individual cases."

German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said Berlin hopes Beijing will make a "humanitarian gesture (for Liu) and his family."

- For his wife -

Liu was arrested in 2008 after co-writing Charter 08, a bold petition that called for the protection of basic human rights and reform of China's one-party Communist system.

He was sentenced to 11 years in prison in December 2009 for "subversion". At the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo in 2010, he was represented by an empty chair.

Another dissident close to the family, Ye Du, said Liu Xiaobo wants to go abroad for the sake of his wife, Liu Xia, who has been under house arrest since 2010.

"It's his personal wish to go abroad, because Xiaobo is very clear about his current situation -- which is that if he doesn't get out now, then he has no way to obtain freedom for his beloved wife Liu Xia," he said.

SINO DAILY
Chinese Nobel laureate too sick to travel abroad: hospital
Beijing (AFP) July 8, 2017
Chinese doctors treating ailing Nobel Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo warned US and German medical experts he is too sick to travel abroad for care, the hospital looking after him said in a statement Saturday. The foreign doctors visited Liu, China's most prominent democracy advocate, at the hospital in the northeastern city of Shenyang following international pressure for China to let him go abr ... read more

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