24 October 2018
Photos of  Liu Xiaobo and wife Liu Xia are posted outside China's Liaison Office in Hong Kong. Photo: Reuters
Photos of Liu Xiaobo and wife Liu Xia are posted outside China's Liaison Office in Hong Kong. Photo: Reuters

Liu Xiaobo fit to travel for treatment, say two foreign doctors

Two foreign doctors who examined Liu Xiaobo said the cancer-stricken Nobel Peace Prize laureate is strong enough to travel overseas for treatment, contradicting Chinese authorities’ assessment that the dissident was too frail to go abroad.

The physicians, Joseph Herman of the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center and Markus Büchler of the University of Heidelberg, met Liu and his Chinese medical team over the weekend at a hospital in the northeastern city of Shenyang, the Wall Street Journal reports.

“Both physicians believe Mr. Liu can be safely transported with appropriate medical evacuation care and support,”  Herman and Büchler were quoted as saying in a statement on Sunday.

The evacuation “would have to take place as quickly as possible”, they added.

The foreign physicians’ statement, which was emailed to reporters and posted on both their universities’ websites, marks a surprise break in Chinese authorities’ tight control over information about Liu, who is suffering from late-stage liver cancer, the WSJ said.

The First Hospital of Chinese Medical University, where Liu is being treated, said Saturday it was “unsafe” for him to travel. according to the newspaper.

In recent days, Liu had accumulated a large amount of fluid in his abdomen and was having difficulty eating, the Journal quoted the hospital as saying.

Liu, 61, has been in custody since late 2008 for calling for political reforms and the end of communist single-party rule. 

He was granted medical parole in early June, although news of his illness was not confirmed by the government until June 26.

Beijing extended invitations to Herman and Büchler to come to China amid mounting pressure from the United States and the European Union for the government to allow Liu to seek treatment abroad, the Journal said.

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