Chinese President Xi Jinping has not responded to journalists in Hong Kong as they shouted questions about Chinese dissident and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo. A government staff member told reporters that Xi could not hear their questions.

Xi arrived in Hong Kong on Thursday at noon and made a short speech on the airport ramp before turning around and walking to his car whilst a live band started performing music. Xi is on a three-day visit to the city to celebrate the 20th anniversary of its Handover from Britain to China.

In a clip shot by local newspaper Ming Pao, a reporter at the scene shouted “Will [you] give freedom to Liu Xiaobo?” The question was asked more than once.

xi jinping peng liyuan handover airport cy leung chun ying
Xi Jinping at the Hong Kong Airport. Photo: GovHK.

Reporters also shouted another question: “Hong Kong people do not want more interpretations of the Basic Law [by the National People’s Congress], can you hear them?”

But Xi did not respond as he entered his car. The newspaper said that two government staff members walked towards reporters as one said that Xi could not hear their questions.

‘Liu wishes to leave China’

A three-minute video was circulated online on Wednesday night showing footage of Liu in prison. The video showed Liu exercising, labouring, and undergoing health checks, among other activities.

He was recorded as saying that prison staff were good to him, especially in caring about his health: “To be honest I am quite thankful.”

YouTube video

Before the video was circulated, Liao Yiwu, a prominent Chinese writer in exile and a friend of Liu, tweeted that Liu and his wife have expressed their wish for him to leave China to receive medical treatment.

He made public a letter he received from Liu’s wife Liu Xia, a poet who has been under house arrest for years. She wrote: “I hate my life; my life is ugly; I want to tear myself, living this ugly life, into pieces; I want to escape.”

Liao tweeted: “Xiaobo said even if he dies, he wants to die in the Western world.”

In another tweet, Liao said he provided the United States and the German government with the letter and an application for Liu to leave China that was submitted to Chinese authorities. Liao, who currently lives in Germany, said the German government gave a “considerably positive response.”

“The truth cannot be covered up anymore. Motherland, please, let them live,” he tweeted.

France has also proposed to host Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia, according to major French radio station France Info.

Editor’s note: Digital media outlets such as Hong Kong Free Press are barred from covering the Handover celebrations and inauguration of Chief Executive-elect Carrie Lam.

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Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.