China slams calls for full release of cancer-hit Nobel laureate

Dozens of protesters demanded the release of Nobel Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo on Tuesday (June 27) in Hong Kong after his lawyers said he was being treated in hospital for late-stage liver cancer.
Supporters of Mr Liu Xiaobo, some wearing masks bearing his face, protesting outside China's Liaison Office in Hong Kong yesterday.
Supporters of Mr Liu Xiaobo, some wearing masks bearing his face, protesting outside China's Liaison Office in Hong Kong yesterday.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING • China yesterday rejected criticism over its treatment of cancer-stricken Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, after the United States urged Beijing to give the paroled activist freedom to move and choose his own doctors.

The US Embassy in Beijing joined a growing chorus of Chinese human rights lawyers and activists demanding Mr Liu's unconditional release amid concerns about his well-being.

With three years out of his 11-year sentence left to serve, the 61- year-old democracy campaigner was granted medical parole days after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer on May 23, his lawyer Mo Shaoping said.

The US Embassy said yesterday that it was "working to gather more information" about Mr Liu's legal and medical status after the authorities confirmed his transfer from prison to a hospital in north-east China.

"We call on the Chinese authorities to not only release Mr Liu but also to allow his wife, (Madam) Liu Xia, out of house arrest," embassy spokesman Mary Beth Polley said.

Madam Liu, a poet, has been under house arrest since 2010, when her husband won the Nobel prize. Ms Su Yutong, a Chinese activist exiled in Germany, shared a video on Twitter showing Madam Liu sobbing during a video call with a friend and saying her husband "can't have surgery, can't do chemotherapy".

Friends of the couple said Madam Liu has been allowed to visit her husband in hospital.

Ms Polley said China should "provide them the protection and freedom, such as freedom of movement and access to medical care of (Mr Liu's) choosing, to which they are entitled under the Chinese Constitution and legal system and international commitments".

But China's Foreign Ministry hit back, saying "no country has the right to interfere and make irresponsible remarks on Chinese internal affairs".

"China is a rule-of-law country, where everybody is equal in front of the law. Any other country should respect China's judicial sovereignty and shouldn't use individual cases to interfere," spokesman Lu Kang told a regular news briefing.

US-based rights group Dui Hua Foundation said a person granted medical parole in China is not "free or released", but would be "supervised by local public security bureaus". Under the law, it said, medical parole lasts six months, after which the person's condition is assessed.

Mr Liu was sentenced in 2009 for "inciting subversion of state power" after spearheading a petition for reforms.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 28, 2017, with the headline 'China slams calls for full release of cancer-hit Nobel laureate'. Print Edition | Subscribe