Sick Chinese dissident can be moved safely for overseas treatment, foreign doctors say
Medical evacuation needs to happen soon, US and German specialists say after meeting Nobel laureate
Chinese Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo can be moved abroad safely for cancer treatment but quick action is needed, German and US specialists who examined Liu said on Sunday, countering assessments by their Chinese counterparts.
The foreign doctors, who saw Liu in Shenyang, Liaoning province, on Saturday, said their own medical institutions had agreed to admit Liu.
“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 ... care and support. However, the medical evacuation would have to take place as quickly as possible,” the two doctors said in a statement released by the University of Texas’ MD Anderson Cancer Centre.
The two doctors – Joseph Herman, clinical research director of the cancer centre’s department of radiation oncology, and Markus Büchler, chairman of Heidelberg University’s department of surgery – said Liu and his family had “requested that the remainder of his care be provided in Germany or the United States”.
Liu was granted medical parole last month after he was diagnosed with late-stage liver cancer in May. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, a year after he was sentenced to 11 years’ jail for “inciting subversion of state power”.
In its statement on Saturday night, the First Hospital of China Medical University, where Liu is being treated, said the foreign specialists had endorsed the treatment plan and care in China, and that they did not have better treatment options.
Meanwhile, footage released online showed a frail- looking Liu on a bed surrounded by two foreign doctors, his wife and at least a dozen Chinese doctors and nurses.
Herman and Büchler acknowledged the quality of treatment offered by the Shenyang hospital and recommended Liu receive palliative care.
But they also said more could be done.
“Additional options may exist, including interventional procedures and radiotherapy,” the doctors’ joint statement said.
Liao Yiwu, a writer and Chinese dissident living in Berlin, said he was told by a mutual friend of the German chancellor that Angela Merkel tried her best to raise the issue of Liu Xiaobo every day with President Xi Jinping, during Xi’s stay in Germany for a state visit and the G20 summit.
Liao said that according to the mutual friend, Xi agreed to look into the matter upon returning to China. The president returned on Sunday, Xinhua reported.
On Twitter, Liao quoted the mutual friend as saying “Merkel is of the view that Germany is more suitable for Liu’s treatment but the right to the decision is in the hands of China”.
The German foreign ministry was not immediately available for comment on Sunday.
But the United States has urged China to allow Liu to travel.
“We continue to call on the Chinese authorities to grant Mr Liu full parole and to release his wife, Liu Xia, from house arrest, and to allow them to travel to seek specialised care that would ease his suffering in his final days,” Associated Press quote a spokeswoman for the US embassy in Beijing as saying.
Close friend Hu Jia said the statement countered conclusions by Chinese doctors that Liu was unfit to travel.
“This has also cleared all medical hurdles blocking Liu from being moved overseas. Now all that is left is the political hurdle set by the Chinese Communist Party,” Hu said.
“Liu Xiaobo is one step closer to freedom. After meeting German and US experts, he must be looking forward to [leaving] every second and every minute.”
Documentary maker and retired academic Ai Xiaoming, who studied at Beijing Normal University at the same time as Liu, called on other alumni, Nobel laureates and signatories of Charter 08 to speak up for the ailing dissident.
“Even though Liu Xiaobo is still a prisoner of this country, even though he’s nearing his death, his heart is still beating, and his soul longs for freedom. He has made the final choice of his life: leave this prison, and experience freedom,” Ai said in an online statement.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong-based FactWire News Agency reported on Sunday that in a previously unreleased interview in February 2009, Liu’s wife Liu Xia said Liu Xiaobo had not thought he would be arrested for drafting Charter 08, a manifesto calling for political reforms in China.