Family of Liu Xiaobo declines artificial ventilation

Posted July 13, 2017

China's cancer-stricken Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo suffered respiratory failure as his condition worsened yesterday, his hospital said, as Germany offered to host him.

In 2009, Liu was sentenced to 11 years in prison for inciting subversion, after he helped pen a political manifesto urging the Communist regime to initiate democratic reforms.

In late June the dissident was transferred from prison to a hospital because of advanced liver cancer.

Liu could become the first Nobel Peace Prize laureate to die in custody since German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky, who passed away in a hospital while held by the Nazis in 1938.

Two foreign doctors, one German and one American, reported Sunday after visiting Liu that he expressed a desire to leave for the West and said it would be possible to evacuate him safely - but that it needed to happen soon.

Human rights lawyer Albert Ho called it a "marathon sit-in" aimed at sending a strong message to Beijing. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize a year later while in prison.

Liu had an abdominal infection, organ dysfunction and he went into septic shock, the hospital said on its website.

"We hope relevant countries will respect China's judicial sovereignty and not use a so-called individual case to interfere in China's internal affairs", said Geng Shuang at a regular press briefing.

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

Other prominent pro-democracy campaigners who left China on medical grounds, including Tiananmen student leader Wang Dan and veteran activist Wei Jingsheng, did so when China was still seeking membership in the World Trade Organization and made human rights concessions.

As China's government faces mounting worldwide pressure to grant Liu his wish to leave the country for treatment, information control is a familiar strategy.

The state-run Shenyang hospital has been steadily releasing more details on Liu's condition and treatment, revealing that his wife has been staying with him at the hospital and that traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) practitioners have joined the medical team at the family's request.

A more subtle effort to shape the narrative came this week when a video from Liu's hospital room emerged just as the government was saying that he was too sick to be transported overseas and was already receiving world-class treatment in China.

The United States repeated calls Tuesday for Liu to be released and said it was ready to welcome him if he chose to be treated there.