Foreign docs: Ailing Chinese dissident can be taken abroad

SHENYANG • Ailing Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo can be moved abroad safely for treatment and he wants to go to either Germany or the US, but it needs to happen soon, two foreign doctors who visited him said yesterday.

Mr 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 was recently moved from jail to a hospital in the city of Shenyang to be treated for late-stage liver cancer.

Last Saturday, two doctors from the US and Germany visited him to assess his condition and consult on his treatment, after being invited by the hospital.

"Liu Xiaobo and his family have requested that the remainder of his care be provided in Germany or the United States," Dr Joseph M. Herman from the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Centre and Dr Markus Buchler from the University of Heidelberg said in a joint statement.

"While a degree of risk always exists in the movement of any patient, both physicians believe Mr Liu can be safely transported with appropriate medical evacuation care and support. However, the medical evacuation would have to take place as quickly as possible," the statement added.

The University of Heidelberg and MD Anderson Cancer Centre have both agreed to accept Mr Liu for treatment and are prepared to offer him the best care possible, they said.

The hospital had said last Saturday that moving him would not be safe. Calls have increased from rights groups and Western governments for China to allow Mr Liu Xiaobo to travel with his wife Liu Xia to be treated overseas.

China's Foreign Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether Mr Liu would be allowed to leave.

The hospital had said last Saturday that moving him would not be safe. Calls have increased from rights groups and Western governments for China to allow Mr Liu to travel with his wife Liu Xia to be treated overseas.

Mr Hu Jia, another well-known dissident, welcomed the doctors' statement: "First, this gives foreign diplomats Liu Xiaobo's authorisation. Second, it gives them the professional assessment that Liu Xiaobo can travel."

Mr Ye Du, an activist and friend of the Lius, said the statement proved that information released by the hospital was inaccurate and politically motivated. "I call on the governments of Germany, the United States, France and the United Kingdom as well as rights groups to pressure (China) together," he said.

A source with knowledge of the consultation and friend of the family said late last Saturday that Mr Liu had told the foreign doctors he hoped to go abroad for treatment, but the government had been very clear they would not allow this.

In a brief statement earlier yesterday, the hospital said Mr Liu was finding it difficult to eat and he was being given nutritional support and pain medication.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 10, 2017, with the headline 'Foreign docs: Ailing Chinese dissident can be taken abroad'. Print Edition | Subscribe