US joins growing calls for China to allow Liu Xiaobo cancer treatment abroad

Chinese authorities have refused Nobel laureate permission to move home to Beijing or seek medical treatment outside China

The US has called for China to completely lift all restrictions on renowned democracy activist and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, as fears mount he is close to death after being diagnosed with late-stage liver cancer.

Doctors have told his wife, Liu Xia, that he cannot receive chemotherapy or operations at this stage, according to a video posted by a friend. The medical team said they will attempt to treat him with targeted therapy, which uses drugs to stop the growth and spread of the cancer, according to friends.

Liu, 61, was more than half way through an 11-year prison sentence for inciting subversion of state power when he was released on medical parole on Monday. He was first detained in 2008 after penning a democracy manifesto calling for an end to one-party rule in China and for the Communist party to uphold the constitution.

Liu and his wife want to be allowed to travel outside of China to seek medical treatment, but authorities have rebuffed their request. Appeals to be moved to his home of Beijing have also been rejected.

If things continue as they are, if he is not allowed to receive better treatment, then we are just waiting for him to die, said Hu Jia, a longtime friend of Liu. If he stays where he is, the only option is to make him comfortable with drugs to numb the pain.

Officials in the US have urged Donald Trump to push for his transfer and the state department is working to gather more information on his legal and medical condition.

We call on the Chinese authorities to not only release Mr Liu but also to allow his wife Ms Liu Xia out of house arrest, said Mary Beth Polley, a spokeswoman for the US embassy in Beijing.

China should provide them the protection and freedom such as freedom of movement and access to medical care of his choosing to which they are entitled under the Chinese constitution and legal system and international commitments, she added.

Chinese activists in the US have already begun lobbying the White House to negotiate with China, and officials have said they will begin talks to bring Liu to the US, Washington-based dissident Yang Jianli said on Twitter.

At the same time, Trump is facing calls from within his own party to ensure Liu is allowed to leave China for treatment.

I urge President Trump to seek Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobos immediate humanitarian transfer to the United States, said Republican senator Marco Rubio, who chairs the US congressional-executive commission on China. Liu Xiaobo, and countless others like him who courageously seek peaceful change in China, are heroes worthy of honour, not criminals deserving to be tortured or unjustly punished.

Since coming to power in 2012, the Chinese president, Xi Jinping has launched a series of crackdowns on civil society in an attempt to silence feminist activists, human rights lawyers and book publishers.

Liu won the Nobel peace prize in 2010, less than a year after he was jailed. A literary critic and scholar, Liu was previously jailed for two years in the wake of the 1989 Tiananmen Square democracy protests and subsequent massacre.

Shortly after Liu was awarded the prize, Liu Xia was placed under house arrest. She has remained confined to her apartment for almost seven years, except for monthly visits to see her husband, despite never being charged with any crime.

Liu Xias hospital visit to her husband this week is thought to be the first time since 2010 the couple were allowed to touch. In the wake of Lius Nobel prize win, their meetings were highly restricted and constantly monitored by prison guards.

Agence France-Presse contributed to this report

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