On Wednesday, it was announced that Liu Xiaobo, the Noble Peace Prize winner, will be receiving treatment from foreign experts in order to aid him in his battle against cancer. Liu is a prominent human rights activist who was imprisoned in 2009 for advocating for democracy in China. Last month, he was transferred out of prison to a hospital in Shenyang in order to receive treatment for late-stage liver cancer.
Earlier this week, the Shenyang Bureau of Justice announced that Liu was receiving “world class” traditional and contemporary medical treatments from some of China’s top doctors. However, officials and human rights activists from around the globe have continued to pressure the Chinese government to allow Liu to seek treatment outside of China. It appears that China has given into their wishes… sort of.
In an apparent effort at compromise, Chinese officials are allowing foreign experts into the country in order to treat Liu. This most recent development in the treatment of the ailing Liu comes just a few days before Xi Jinping is expected to attend the G20 summit in Germany. At the international gathering, Xi is expected to advocate for key issues on China’s global agenda, such as free trade and environmental protection. Sources in Beijing believe that the Chinese government may be worried that the public’s focus on Liu’s case might diminish the significance of Xi’s presence at the summit.
According to Albert Ho, a lawmaker from Hong Kong, China’s willingness to allow American and German experts to treat Liu demonstrates that “the Chinese government is quite concerned about its image,” and that the administration may be worried that “they would be subject to accusations that they had maltreated” China’s most well-known jailed dissident.
While this news is a step in the right direction for Liu, his treatment is still very much out of his own, or his family’s, hands. Efforts to move Liu out of the country to receive treatment at another hospital have failed. However, friends and family are hopeful that inviting help from foreign doctors means that Chinese officials are considering allowing Liu to travel elsewhere to receive treatment. While China has said that Li is not well enough to travel, his family reportedly believes otherwise.
By Emma Abrams
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