Chinese Nobel Peace Prize-winning dissident Liu Xiaobo’s condition is worsening, the hospital treating him said on Wednesday, as his friends questioned the accuracy of official accounts of his health. Liu, 61, is being treated for worsening liver function, septic shock and organ dysfunction, and remains on dialysis, the hospital in the northeastern city of Shenyang said in a short online statement, its latest update.
Liu was jailed for 11 years in 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power” after helping to write a petition known as “Charter 08” calling for sweeping political reforms. He was recently moved from jail to a hospital to be treated for late-stage liver cancer. Rights groups and Western government have urged China to allow Liu and his wife, Liu Xia, to leave the country to be treated abroad, as Liu has said he wants to.
Liu’s friends have voiced suspicion over the hospital’s statements, which suggest a worsening of his condition soon after two foreign doctors said he was well enough to travel abroad. “We do not know how reliable these accounts are, or if they mean Liu Xiaobo cannot travel,” a friend of Liu’s family told Reuters, declining to be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation. No one answered the telephone at the hospital’s publicity department on Wednesday.
The “confrontational tone” of those in the West voicing their opinions on Liu failed to focus on his illness, the state-backed Global Times tabloid said on Wednesday. “China has already taken the feelings of relevant Western forces into consideration, and has no obligation to meet their unreasonable demands,” it said in an English-language editorial. Two doctors from the United States and Germany who visited Liu on Saturday later said they considered it safe for him to be moved overseas for treatment, but such a move must happen as quickly as possible.
After the doctors’ Sunday statement, China released short videos of their visit, apparently taken without their knowledge, in which the German doctor appeared to praise the care Liu had received from the Chinese doctors. On Monday, the German embassy in Beijing said in a statement the release of the videos went against Germany’s wishes and suggested, “Security organs are steering the process, not medical experts.” Asked about Germany’s statement, the foreign ministry on Tuesday said it did not know anything about the issues raised, reiterating its position that countries should not interfere in China’s internal affairs.