Liu Xiaobo's medical treatment arouses clamor from West

By Global Times Published: 2017/6/28 0:28:44

Liu Xiaobo, who was sentenced in December 2009 to 11 years in prison for inciting subversion of state power, was released on medical parole after being diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. Since the Liaoning Prison Administrative Bureau released the news on Monday, there has been a torrent of commentary from overseas public opinion.  

Overseas dissidents, US Republican senator Marco Rubio and some Western human rights groups have demanded the Chinese government allow Liu and his family to travel abroad to seek medical treatment. The US State Department says it is "working to gather more information" on Liu's legal and medical condition and called on Chinese authorities to provide Liu and his family "the protection and freedom such as freedom of movement and access to medical care of his choosing." 

It must be pointed out that Liu was granted medical parole, but he was not set free. His activities beyond medical treatment are still subject to the supervision of prison authorities. Under the law, he is not allowed to participate in political activities. His actions will still be restricted by the law.   

The Liaoning Prison Administrative Bureau said Liu is receiving medical treatment from China's top cancer experts. If Liu raises further requirements for special treatment, such as inviting experts from abroad to participate in the treatment, he must get approval from the prison authorities based on the law. The authorities concerned will make proper decisions within the framework of the law and based on humanitarian principles.

There are precedents that prisoners on medical parole are allowed to seek treatment out of China, such as Rebiya Kadeer. She promised not to participate in overseas political activities endangering China's national security before going abroad, but she broke her promises. 

If Liu is allowed to go abroad for medical treatment, as a "Nobel Laureate," he could motivate more Western public opinion attacks against China than other dissidents if he takes the same action as Kadeer. But on the other hand, the West will have a decreasing interest in him if he leaves China. Exiled dissidents such as Wei Jingsheng, Wang Dan and Chen Guangcheng have all been marginalized after going abroad. Liu will be no exception. It needs to be stressed that whether Liu is allowed to seek medical treatment abroad is within China's own jurisdiction.

Liu is representative among Chinese dissents who have advocated political confrontation. He served a long sentence and is suffering from liver cancer at the age of 61, which deserves sympathy from the humanitarian point of view. But he wasn't willing to move forward with the trend of reform. Although he claimed he has "no enemies," he is against the Chinese Constitution. Charter 08, drafted by Liu, boldly takes aim at overthrowing China's political system. 

Liu has long separated himself from Chinese society. He is almost an outsider to China's development. If he is willing to go abroad, that is perhaps partly out of the despair he feels from being marginalized by Chinese society and constitutional order. 

China has not collapsed as the West forecast in the 1980s and 1990s, but has created a global economic miracle. A group of pro-democracy activists and dissidents lost a bet and ruined their lives. Although Liu was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, he is likely to face tragedy in the end. 

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