Hospital: Ailing China Nobel laureate in critical condition

Human rights groups have denounced the lack of independent reports about Chinese Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo

The First Hospital of China Medical University in the northeastern city of Shenyang said Mr. Liu's family declined to have him put on artificial ventilation, which was necessary "to maintain life". According to the hospital, Liu is suffering from "infectious shock" and "spontaneous peritonitis" as fluids and inflammation build up in his abdomen.

The back-to-back pessimistic reports from the hospital came after foreign doctors who visited Liu over the weekend concluded that it was safe to transport him to another country, contradicting their Chinese counterparts.

The United Nations human rights office demanded today that the UN be given access to Liu.

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.

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 the one-party communist system.

"If a Nobel Peace Prize laureate dies in detention, it would batter China's image but only be a short-term political hit", said Mo Zhixu, a dissident writer who is friends with Liu.

Human Rights Watch's China director Sophie Richardson called the leak "grotesque propaganda". "We have been told that Liu won't be allowed to go overseas and we are not allowed to go to Shenyang".

Profile of Liu Xiaobo Chinese dissident
Profile of Liu Xiaobo Chinese dissident

Ai said Liu is one of many dissidents being oppressed in China.

Hu Jia, a dissident and friend of Liu's, said he was deeply saddened to hear the news of his worsening condition but vowed to do all he could to push for Liu's freedom.

"The economy is strong, the military is rising — does China still care about worldwide political opinion?" said Zhang Lifan, a liberal political commentator in Beijing. At the Nobel ceremony in Oslo in 2010, he was represented by an empty chair.

While it is good that the hospital has given health updates, "at the end of the day it's the Communist party that's making decisions about Liu Xiaobo's health, not the physicians", she said. Doctors treating Liu were in an "active rescue" mode, it added, saying they were trying to fight infections, correct Liu's blood pressure and purify his blood.

Amid growing global concern over Liu's health, a Chinese vice minister of justice met with representatives from the US, German and European Union embassies in late June to brief them about his case and told the diplomats that Liu was too sick to travel overseas, according to a source familiar with the meeting.

The German Embassy in Beijing expressed "deep concern" that the recording was leaked to Chinese state media outlets against the wishes of the German side.

The German statement also said the country's security services were steering Liu's treatment rather than the doctors.

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