A Chinese hospital said Tuesday it was still scrambling to save terminally-ill Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, fuelling fears that he could die without getting the freedom urged by foreign governments.

The health of the prominent 61-year-old democracy advocate has deteriorated since authorities revealed last month that he had been transferred from prison to a hospital due to late-stage liver cancer.

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Posters in front of Hong Kong’s China Liaison Office on Tuesday. Photo: HKFP/Catherine Lai.

But Chinese officials have ignored calls by international human rights groups, Western governments and local activists to grant Liu’s wish to be treated abroad.

A day after reporting that Liu was in a critical condition, the First Hospital of China Medical University in the northeastern city of Shenyang said on Tuesday that the patient was “still in active rescue”.

Liu has an abdominal infection, organ dysfunction and he went into septic shock, the hospital said in a statement on its website. He is undergoing kidney dialysis, and is getting anti-infection and organ function support therapy.

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, which contradicted Chinese medical experts.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman had said on Monday that she hoped for a “signal of humanity” from China.

Angela Merkel.
Angela Merkel. File Photo: Flickr/European People’s Party.

A British embassy spokeswoman said London expressed “serious concern at the treatment of Liu Xiaobo by the Chinese authorities” and called on officials to lift all restrictions on him and let him choose where to get medical treatment.

The United States has urged Beijing to grant him full parole.

Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang repeated on Tuesday that he hoped “relevant countries can respect the judicial sovereignty of China and not interfere in China’s internal affairs under the pretext of an individual case”.

Chinese authorities have insisted Liu is receiving top-notch care.

If he dies, Liu would 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.

 Medical evacuation ready 

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 China’s one-party Communist system.

He was sentenced to 11 years in prison in December 2009 for “subversion”. At the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo in 2010, he was represented by an empty chair.

Human rights groups have criticised the way Liu has been treated, with videos of him at the hospital being leaked to Chinese state-run media.

The German embassy complained on Monday that it seemed “security organs are steering the process, not medical experts” after the leak of apparent surveillance camera footage showing the Western physicians speaking to Liu, his wife and Chinese doctors.

Liu’s US-based lawyer, Jared Genser, said late Monday that he has arranged for a medical evacuation with life support for Liu.

“By denying him treatments that would extend his life, the Chinese government is intentionally hastening his death,” Genser said in a statement.

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A photo of Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia, believed to have been taken recently. Photo: Activists.

Amnesty International’s China researcher Patrick Poon voiced concerns that Liu will die in custody.

“There is little hope that the authorities will let him leave,” Poon told AFP.

“It’s very sad and outrageous to see how the Nobel laureate is being treated in such way,” Poon said.

Poon noted that the Communist Party is holding a key congress later this year and President Xi Jinping “might only have consolidation of his power in his eyes”.

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