Liu Xiaobo

Liu Xiaobo’s family want his cancer treated outside China

Jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner’s friends and relatives have applied to the authorities to allow him to leave the mainland as part of his release on medical parole

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 June, 2017, 8:00pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 June, 2017, 12:27am

Jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo and his wife have applied to mainland authorities for permission to seek medical treatment overseas for his cancer, his friends say.

Liu, who was serving an 11-year jail term on subversion charges, has been released on medical parole to receive treatment for late-stage liver cancer.

The civil rights and political ­activist was awarded the Nobel prize in 2010, but was represented by an empty chair at the ceremony in Oslo.

Liu’s family is communicating with at least one foreign country to find offers of help for the activist to leave China, according to his friends.

He is receiving treatment at a hospital in Shenyang, in Liaoning province, for terminal liver cancer. He was reunited with his family about a week ago for the first time outside prison in eight years.

In a statement posted on Twitter, his wife, Liu Xia, said she wanted to leave China with her husband and her brother. The statement bearing Liu Xia’s signature was posted by writer and activist Liao Yiwu, who lives in Germany. “It is their desperate wish to receive medical treatment overseas. This is genuine. Xiaobo says he would rather die in the West,” Liao wrote on Twitter.

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Liao said he also had part of a handwritten application from Liu Xia to the national security authorities seeking permission for the family to leave China.

According to Ye Du, a Guangzhou-based writer and a close friend of Liu Xia, the couple had ­already ­applied to the authorities to seek medical treatment overseas, preferably in the United States. “Liu Xia wishes to have ­Xiaobo treated overseas and an application has been made,” Ye said.

A statement by the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy also confirmed yesterday that Liu’s family members wanted him to receive urgent and advanced medical treatment abroad. The statement quoted Liu Xia’s brother Liu Tong.

The Liaoning Prison Administration Bureau announced on Monday that Liu had been granted medical parole after he was diagnosed with liver cancer.

Liu has been admitted to the First Hospital of China Medical University in Shenyang. A team of eight cancer experts had been ­assigned to treat him, the prison authority said.

Separately, a three-minute video clip produced by the authorities showing Liu apparently receiving medical treatment while he was in prison was circulated online on Wednesday. It also shows Liu paying his respects at the home of his late father, who died in September. The date of the clip is not clear, but it appears to be a response to complaints about his treatment in prison.

Meanwhile, the newly arrived US ambassador to China, Terry Branstad, said on Wednesday that he would work with Beijing to help Liu seek possible medical treatment overseas. “We are interested in doing what can be done to see if it’s possible. We Americans would like to see him have the opportunity for treatment elsewhere, if that could be of help,” Branstad said during his first press briefing after arriving in Beijing.

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Veteran activist Hu Jia, ­another close friend of the couple, said Liu Xia had already discussed with one foreign country whether Liu might be able to go overseas after his release. Those talks took place before his medical diagnosis was known, he said.

Hu said Beijing could avoid embarrassment if Liu were ­allowed to leave the country.

“The authorities are simply weighing up the situation to ­determine which nation Liu could go to – which place would have the least negative impact on Beijing,” ­Hu said.

The couple’s friends say Liu Xia left Beijing over a week ago to travel to the hospital where her husband is receiving treatment and since then she has been ­mostly out of contact.

Liu Xiaobo was jailed in 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power” after he helped to write a petition known as Charter 08, calling for sweeping political reforms on the mainland.

Additional reporting by Catherine Wong