Liu Xiaobo's family by his side when he died, hospital did its best to save him, say doctors

Chinese Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo (centre) surrounded by doctors and his wife Liu Xia at an undisclosed location.
Chinese Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo (centre) surrounded by doctors and his wife Liu Xia at an undisclosed location. PHOTO: AFP

SHENYANG - The family of China's Nobel Peace Prize-winning dissident Liu Xiaobo was by his side when he died on Thursday (July 13) after his condition abruptly deteriorated days earlier, his doctors said.

Mr Liu was "primarily saying goodbye to his wife" and telling her to "live well" in his last moments, Dr Teng Yue'e told a news conference hours on Thursday night after the democracy advocate died, Agence France-Presse reported.

Mr Liu, who died aged 61, was transferred from prison to First Hospital of China Medical University in the northeastern city of Shenyang after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer in late May.

US and German cancer experts visited Mr Liu last weekend and issued a statement on Sunday (July 9) saying he was still strong enough to fulfil his wish to be treated abroad, contradicting their Chinese counterparts.

But Dr Liu Yunpeng, the hospital's head of internal medicine, said that Mr Liu's condition deteriorated shortly after the foreign doctors asked for an assessment on whether he could travel.

"In just the 20-minute period of the examination, his condition drastically changed for the worse," Dr Liu said, as quoted by Agence France-Presse.

"At the time our collective assessment was that it would be very difficult for him to be moved for a long distance or period. The danger was extremely great."

Dr Liu said a patient is not obligated to get treatment from them and "you can go to where you desire to receive treatment".

But when asked whether other people prevented Mr Liu from leaving, he said: "This is not a medical question. I'm not so clear on these other matters."

Dr Liu said that the hospital had done its best to save Mr Liu's life, Xinhua news agency reported. "Since the day Liu Xiaobo was admitted, the hospital has made every effort in his treatment."

China's government rejected international calls to fulfil Mr Liu's request to receive treatment abroad, while human rights groups slammed the continued detention of the peaceful democracy activist.

On Friday (July 14), China reiterated its call on relevant countries not to meddle in its domestic affairs, Xinhua reported.

"We call on relevant countries to respect China's judicial sovereignty," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang.

Mr Geng said that Mr Liu was convicted of violating the Chinese law, Xinhua reported.

After he was diagnosed of liver cancer, all-made efforts were made to treat him out of humanity and in accordance with the law, Mr Geng added, as quoted by Xinhua.

"China is a country under the rule of law. The handling of Liu Xiaobo's case belongs to China's internal affairs, and foreign countries are in no position to make improper remarks," said Mr Geng, as reported by Xinhua.

Mr Liu was convicted of inciting subversion of state power in 2009. He died of multiple organ failure due to liver cancer after medical treatment failed.

Mr Liu's wife, the poet and artist Liu Xia, and his other relatives could not be reached Thursday evening, said Agence France-Presse.

Madam Liu Xia was placed under house arrest after her husband won the Nobel in 2010, and her contact with the outside world remained highly restricted through his hospitalisation.