China tells US, EU Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo cannot be moved elsewhere for treatment: Source

Photos of Chinese Nobel rights activist Liu Xiaobo (left) and wife Liu Xia are seen outside the China Liaison Office in Hong Kong on June 27, 2017.
Photos of Chinese Nobel rights activist Liu Xiaobo (left) and wife Liu Xia are seen outside the China Liaison Office in Hong Kong on June 27, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese authorities on Thursday told US, German and European Union diplomats that Nobel Peace Prize-winning activist Liu Xiaobo can not be moved to get medical treatment elsewhere due to his illness, a source briefed on the meeting told Reuters.

Liu, 61, was jailed for 11 years in 2009 for "inciting subversion of state power" after he helped write a petition known as "Charter 08" calling for sweeping political reforms.

He is being treated in a hospital in the city of Shenyang for late-stage liver cancer after being granted medical parole, his lawyer told Reuters on Monday.

A deputy head of the justice ministry told the diplomats that Liu's family was happy with the treatment he was getting and had agreed he should not be moved, said the source, who declined to be identified.

Get The Straits Times
newsletters in your inbox

The diplomats asked that Liu and his wife be allowed to communicate directly with the outside world, choose their own hospital and get treatment from a foreign doctor.

But the Chinese side said that may not be possible, according to the source.

 

Liu's wife, Liu Xia, has been under effective house arrest since her husband won the peace prize in 2010 and was not available for comment on Thursday.

Western politicians and rights activists have voiced concern about the quality of Liu's treatment and have said he should be given the option of leaving China if that is the best option.

On Wednesday, the new U.S. ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, said the United States would like to see Liu treated elsewhere.

Amnesty International told Reuters on Tuesday that Liu Xia had told Chinese authorities she wanted her husband to get treatment abroad.

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing on Thursday declined to comment on any briefing from the authorities. A German foreign ministry source also declined to comment and there was no immediate comment from E.U. officials.

China's foreign ministry and justice ministry did not immediately reply to requests for comment.

'ORDINARY PRISONER'

A video of Liu being treated in jail was released on YouTube, which is blocked in China, late on Wednesday, in what a source close to Liu said was a move by authorities to counter growing concern over his care behind bars.

Liu is shown in the three-minute video playing badminton outside, being given a physical examination by prison guards and getting treatment from doctors, as well as being visited by his wife.

It was not clear who took the video or published it on YouTube but another source, who is close to Liu and his wife, described it as "propaganda", and an attempt by the authorities to respond to criticism of Liu's treatment.

The Shenyang legal bureau said in a statement on its website on Wednesday signs Liu was unwell had been detected on May 31 and he was immediately sent to the hospital where he was now being treated by eight well-known domestic cancer experts.

It said the cancer had spread to other parts of his body.

Several family members are with Liu in Shenyang, including his wife, and they had "expressed satisfaction" with his treatment, and had asked he be treated with traditional Chinese medicine which was now happening, the legal bureau said.

Liu had a history of hepatitis B before entering jail, it said, citing prison records, and said he had regular medical checks in prison, which had not previously found signs of hepatitis or tumours.

The state-run Global Times said in an editorial Liu had no right to expect special treatment.

"Liu is an ordinary prisoner. He ought to be grateful for extra help from the prison authorities, but he and his supporters have no right to demand preferential treatment," it said.

The source close to Liu's family told Reuters that his wife had weeks ago accepted an offer to move to Germany if she and Liu were released, but that was before the diagnosis of liver cancer was made public.

Chiu Chui-cheng, deputy minister of the Taiwan Mainland Affairs Council, the island's China affairs policy-maker, said Taiwan was willing to host Liu.

A Hong Kong reporter shouted a question at Chinese President Xi Jinping after he gave a short speech upon arrival at Hong Kong airport, asking if Liu would be released or receive treatment abroad. Xi did not answer.