Chinese Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo in critical condition, says hospital

Liu Xiaobo in 2008.

Chinese Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo's condition is now critical and doctors are in "active rescue" mode for China's best-known political prisoner, the hospital treating him said.

The First Hospital of China Medical University said in a statement today that Mr Liu, who has liver cancer, is suffering from a severely swollen stomach, low blood pressure and poor kidney function.

An MRI scan also revealed growing cancer lesions.

Mr Liu's health has been the subject of international attention after the dissident expressed a desire to be transported abroad for treatment.

Two Western doctors visited him and said on Sunday that they deemed him strong enough to be evacuated, apparently contradicting Chinese expert opinion.

The Western doctors said the evacuation would need to take place soon before Mr Liu's condition deteriorates further.

Supporters and Western governments urged China to allow Mr Liu to choose where he wants to be treated and to release him, which Beijing has so far resisted, citing his fragile health and arguing that he is receiving the best possible care in China.

Mr Liu was convicted in 2009 of inciting subversion for his role in the "Charter 08" movement calling for political reform.

He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize a year later while in prison.

At a daily briefing on Monday, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang repeatedly declined to say whether Mr Liu would be allowed to leave China and asked other countries to "respect China's national sovereignty and refrain from interfering in China's domestic affairs due to an individual case".

A video clip surfaced on Monday of what appeared to be a foreign expert, Markus W Buchler of Heidelberg University, addressing Mr Liu's wife Liu Xia to tell her that Chinese doctors were doing their utmost to help Mr Liu and were "very committed to his treatment".

Following a visit with Mr Liu on Saturday, Mr Buchler and American doctor Joseph Herman from the University of Texas said yesterday that they deemed him strong enough to be evacuated.

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