The brother and sister-in-law of ailing Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo have been put under close surveillance by Chinese authorities, according to the Hong Kong-based Information Centre for Human Rights and Democracy.

An unnamed family member of Liu told a staff member at the information centre on Sunday evening that Liu Xiaoguang and his wife were under surveillance and unable to tell other family members about Liu’s condition.

liu xiaobo foreign doctors
Liu Xiaobo, his wife Liu Xia, with the presence of Chinese of foreign doctors. Photo: Screenshot.

“We learned that Chin[ese authorities] were still pressuring the family members in Shenyang to release a statement to support the assertion that a transfer to receive treatment abroad was ‘unsafe,’ but the family members did not comply,” the centre said.

The hospital said on Saturday that it is “unsafe” for Liu to be transferred abroad for treatment, but two experts – one from Germany, one from the US – invited by the hospital to assess Liu claimed otherwise.

The staff member wrote on the NGO’s website that they tried to call five of Liu’s family members who were in Shenyang using different phones about 1,200 times starting at 5pm, but only three calls went through, and they were disconnected seconds later.

The Centre also said that six of Liu Xiaobo’s family members who are present at the hospital are also being prevented from speaking with other family members.

liu xiaobo vigil
Photo: Catherine Lai/HKFP.

It said on Monday noon that calls to the phone of Liu Xiaoguang and his wife were transferred to a recorded message from the Chinese police.

According to the Centre, six other family members wished to visit Liu Xiaobo, but they were not permitted access. Of the six, five are able to reach Shenyang in two hours.

It cited a family member as saying that Liu Xiaobo’s situation was better than Otto Warmbier, the US student who was transferred from North Korea in a coma, and China should be able to transfer Liu out of the country.

catherine lai

Catherine Lai

Catherine is a Canadian journalist and photographer who lived in Beijing for almost two years, working in TV and online media. Aside from Hong Kong and mainland affairs, she is also interested in urban spaces, art and feminism. She holds a BA in Literature and Art History from the University of British Columbia.