It's a 'political charade', Global Times slams calls for sick Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo to be treated abroad

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

WASHINGTON (AFP, NYTIMES) - Washington on Tuesday (July 11) invited cancer-stricken Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo to come to the United States for medical treatment, renewing its call for Beijing to free him.

The next day, China's state-backed Global Times newspaper slammed the calls by Western forces, branding them "a political charade".

"Western forces are not persuasive in reasoning. What they care about is not Liu's treatment, but transferring him abroad. This is a political charade," it said.

The op-edalso reiterated that the calls for Mr Liu to be allowed to go abroad were an interference of China's domestic affairs.

US State Department spokesman Heather Nauert said on Tuesday that the US continues to call on the Chinese authorities to grant Mr Liu full parole and also for the release of his wife, Madam Liu Xia.

"We continue to call on China to release him so that he can receive medical treatment wherever he desires. If it's in the United States, I think we would certainly welcome that," she said.

Ms Nauert said Washington was pleased that US and German medical experts have been able to visit the terminally-ill cancer patient.

"The State Department was involved in helping to get a US doctor... to China to be able to take a look at him," she said. "There was also a German doctor that was in attendance, too."

Ms Nauert added that Washington is worried not only about the welfare of Mr Liu, 61, but of other dissidents held by China.

"The State Department remains deeply concerned about the continued detention of at least seven defence lawyers and rights defenders, and reports of their alleged torture and denial of access to independent legal counsel," she said.

"We urge the Chinese authorities to immediately release those still in detention and drop the charges."

Mr Liu's heath has deteriorated since authorities revealed last month (June) that he had been transferred from prison to a hospital due to late-stage liver cancer.

But Chinese officials have ignored calls by international human rights groups, Western governments and local activists to grant the prominent democracy advocate's wish to be treated abroad.

Mr Liu has an abdominal infection, organ dysfunction and he went into septic shock, the hospital said in a statement on its website.

He is undergoing kidney dialysis, and is getting anti-infection and organ function support therapy.

On Wednesday, an op-ed in Global Times said the core of the issue is that Mr Liu is a cancer patient and a convicted criminal under China's law.

"Chinese prison authorities are obliged to provide Liu with the best treatment they can, while retaining the responsibility to supervise Liu in accordance with the law," it said.

"Foreign governments and institutes can give medical advice, but they must respect the final decision by China's prison authorities and medics."

On Monday (July 10), a spokesman for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Mr Geng Shuang, denounced calls for Mr Liu to be freed to go abroad as "meddling" by foreigners, even though the two foreign doctors, who were invited by the government to examine Mr Liu said that he could travel and that their hospitals would treat him.

Mr Liu was arrested in 2008 after co-writing Charter 08, a bold petition that called for the protection of basic human rights and reform of China's one-party Communist system.

He was sentenced to 11 years in prison in December 2009 for "subversion".

At the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo in 2010, he was represented by an empty chair.