Liu Xiaobo, a Chinese dissident and winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, continues to suffer from terminal liver cancer after being diagnosed last month. Yet instead of allowing him to leave the country to seek medical treatment, the Chinese government said it would invite German and American doctors to treat him in China.
“They will join the medical team composed of renowned Chinese oncologists to treat Liu,” a statement from local authorities said.
“Time is running out for Liu Xiaobo,” Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s secretary general, said Wednesday in a statement. “It is not too late for the authorities to end this cruel farce. They must let Liu Xiaobo and his wife, Liu Xia, travel abroad to get the medical treatment he so desperately needs.”
“If things continue as they are, if he is not allowed to receive better treatment, then we are just waiting for him to die,” Hu Jia, a longtime friend of Liu’s, told The Guardian last week. “If he stays where he is, the only option is to make him comfortable with drugs to numb the pain.”
Liu’s cancer is in a late stage, according to his lawyers and family, and it’s unclear what treatment he would receive abroad. His wife said in a video that her husband’s doctors “can’t do surgery, can’t do radiation therapy, can’t do chemotherapy.” Yet friends of the couple say it is Liu’s wish to be treated overseas, and that being permitted to so would improve his mental state.
Imprisoned since 2009, Liu, 61, was released earlier this month on medical parole and is being treated in Shenyang, a city in northeast China. He was detained in 2008 and sentenced the following year to 11 years in prison after he co-wrote a manifesto calling for political change in China.
Liu’s wife, who was placed under house arrest in 2010 but has not been charged with a crime, was able to visit her husband last week for the first time since he was detained. She has also asked for permission to leave the country for her husband’s medical treatment.
Terry Branstad, the new U.S. ambassador to China, said last week that the U.S. is “interested in doing what can be done to see if it’s possible. We Americans would like to see him have the opportunity for treatment elsewhere, if that could be of help.”
U.S. President Donald Trump will cross paths with Chinese President Xi Jinping later this week at the G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany. It’s unclear whether Liu’s case will come up.