The lack of public pressure meant “China was able to kill a Nobel peace laureate with impunity”, said Jay Nordlinger, a political commentator and author of a book on the Peace Prize’s history.
As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and others in Washington mourned the death of the long-imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, a Communist Party-affiliated newspaper in Beijing said the Nobel peace prize laureate had been “kidnapped” by the West and bestowed with “a halo which will not linger”.
In a statement the Norwegian Nobel Committee said it was “deeply anxious about Liu Xia’s situation” and called upon the Chinese authorities to “lift all restrictions they have put upon her”. He was admitted in June after being diagnosed with late-stage liver cancer. He was transferred from prison to a Shenyang hospital under heavy security, in his final days.
Teng Yue’e, the chief doctor treating Liu, told a news conference in a nearby hotel that Liu died at 5:35 p.m., surrounded by his family.
China’s warning seems to have gone unheeded, with even the USA president – not known to be a public champion of human rights activists – expressing his sorrow over Liu’s death and calling him a “political prisoner”.
“If there has been any progress in the Chinese society and politics over the last 20 years, it is all because the citizens have been pushing for change”, Liu said in an interview that year. China will eventually become a country of the rule of law in which human rights are supreme. “The Chinese government’s arrogance, cruelty, and callousness are shocking – but Liu’s struggle for a rights-respecting Democratic China will live on”.
However, Beijing-based activists, as claimed by reports, say they are unaware of the whereabouts of Xia following the demise of Xiaobo.
Some activists shared a picture of a black screen with the years 1955-2017 – his lifespan – or of a single candle superimposed over his face. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2010. The official Xinhua news agency, which had not mentioned his hospitalisation, reported his death in English.
While Liu did have considerable renown overseas official censorship made him virtually a non-person at home the party frequently uses the specter of Western manipulate to demonize its critics.
He urged China to lift restrictions on Liu Xia’s movements and communications and added, “She and her brother, Liu Hui, should immediately be allowed to leave for Germany or another country of their choice if they wish to”. He died on the 13th July 2017 in the company of his wife, Liu Xia, who is now under house arrest.
A drawing of Liu and his wife.
“As early as 2010 Liu Xiaobo was suspected of suffering from Hepatitis B. His lawyers had been petitioning the government to grant him medical parole but the Chinese authorities never allowed him proper [medical] diagnosis and treatment”, he explained.
Germany and the United States had offered to take him in for medical care.
Beijing has long resented Western support for Liu, and reacted harshly when in 2016 the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill to rename the street in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington Liu Xiaobo Plaza, in honor of the jailed writer. “We are very anxious about the impact that his death will be having on her”.
Xiaobo would spend the next three decades in and out of prison until his death from liver cancer while serving an 11 year sentence for “subversion”.
But outside the mainland, Chinese activists have been openly mourning him, with hundreds in Hong Kong attending a vigil on Thursday night. “(Now) our most important goal is to save Liu Xia from the bitter sea”. He says a visit Liu made one day to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY led to a sort of revelation.
She then referred to the “Chinese Dream”, a term popularized by Chinese leader Xi Jinping.
“President Xi is a terrific guy. And he’s a very special person”, Trump said.
Nicolas Benquelin, the director of the Asian program at Amnesty International said his treatment showed China was still a brutal regime.