China invites foreign medical experts to help treat Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo

Decision to invite US and German doctors comes before G20 meeting in Hamburg

Chinese activists hold some of the one thousand postcards containing messages of support to be sent from the public to Liu Xiaobo. Photograph: Alex Hofford/EPA

Chinese activists hold some of the one thousand postcards containing messages of support to be sent from the public to Liu Xiaobo. Photograph: Alex Hofford/EPA

 

China has invited top medical experts from the US and Germany to help treat jailed Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who has terminal liver cancer, the justice bureau in the city of Shenyang said on its website.

The decision comes before a meeting of the Group of 20 nations in Hamburg on July 7th and 8th, which Chinese president Xi Jinping is due to attend. Germany is among the countries calling for Mr Liu to be allowed to leave China for treatment for the late-stage illness.

Jailed in 2009, Mr Liu has three years of an 11-year sentence left on subversion charges brought after he co-authored a call for legal and political reform of the one-party communist political system known as Charter 08.

The literature professor was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize for “his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China”, although he was forbidden from travelling to Norway to pick up his prize. Authorities have kept his wife Liu Xia under house arrest since he won the prize, although she has not been charged.

Authorities have refused to grant Mr Liu and his wife their wish to travel abroad to receive treatment but the decision to permit medical experts from the US or Germany raises the prospect of him being able to leave to one of these countries.

Authorities in Shenyang, the northeastern city where Mr Liu is being treated, said the decision was made at the request of Mr Liu’s relatives. There were reports this week that the hospital was using traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to treat him.

The rights group Amnesty International said the move appeared to be an attempt to limit international criticism.

“Time is running out for Liu Xiaobo,” said Salil Shetty, secretary general of Amnesty International. “It is not too late for the authorities to end this cruel farce. They must let Liu Xiaobo and his wife, Liu Xia, travel abroad to get the medical treatment he so desperately needs.”