BEIJING (NYTIMES) - Tensions and uncertainty over the fate of Liu Xiaobo, the Nobel Peace laureate imprisoned for subversion, escalated on Monday (July 10), when Chinese doctors warned that he was in critical condition from liver cancer, a day after two foreign doctors said he appeared strong enough to travel abroad.
Calls for Liu to be allowed to go overseas for treatment were denounced by the Chinese government as meddling.
The German Embassy in Beijing strongly criticised the release, apparently with Chinese approval, of a video that showed the foreign doctors - one German, the other American - visiting Liu in a Chinese hospital and the German doctor praising his treatment there.
The First Hospital of China Medical University in north-eastern China, where Liu is being treated after receiving medical parole, sounded ominous in an online update on his condition. A team of Chinese doctors advising on his treatment said his stomach was increasingly bloated, his abdominal wall was inflamed, his blood pressure was falling and his kidneys were faltering, the hospital said. Liu also had growing cancer lesions, the hospital said.
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"Our hospital is following the consultative opinions of the national expert team and entering a state of active rescue," the update said. "The family is aware of these developments."
The prognosis seemed far graver than the one the foreign doctors had given on Sunday, when they said Liu was well enough to go abroad for treatment, as he has requested. And comments from a spokesman for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geng Shuang, on Monday seemed to offer little hope that Liu would be allowed to leave the country.
Liu, 61, was sentenced late in 2009 to 11 years in prison on charges of inciting subversion, a year after he was detained on the cusp of issuing a bold democratic petition called Charter 08. In 2010, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, infuriating the Chinese government.
The American and German cancer specialists examined Liu on Saturday last week and said he was well enough to travel.
But the two doctors were also used in Chinese propaganda. They were shown visiting Liu in a video that appeared to have been made and issued with the backing of the Chinese authorities.
The German Embassy in Beijing denounced the video as an exploitative violation of promises not to record and distribute such images.