mercredi 12 juillet 2017

Political Murder: Beijing is stalling on allowing Liu Xiaobo out of China

It is medically possible for dissident to be moved for treatment, but China is waiting until it is not
By Tom Phillips in Beijing

Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo is critically ill and under guard in a Chinese hospital.

Diplomats in Beijing say time is running out for the ailing Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo to go overseas for treatment and fear China’s top leaders are deliberately stalling the process until it is no longer safe for medics to move him.
Last Sunday two foreign doctors who were allowed to visit the critically ill dissident announced – contrary to Chinese claims – that Liu was well enough to be taken overseas but it needed to happen as quickly as possible.
On Wednesday – amid contested reports that his condition was deteriorating – voices within the diplomatic community told the Guardian they believed it was still possible for the dissident, who has asked to be treated in the US or Germany, to be taken overseas with his wife, Liu Xia.
“There still is a window of opportunity but it is rapidly closing,” they said.
However, the sources said they feared China’s leaders were playing a calculated waiting game, attempting to ride out a storm of international criticism until Liu was genuinely too unwell to be moved from the hospital in north-east China where he is being treated under guard.
Chinese leaders are reluctant to allow such a high-profile critic out of the country as they fear the disapproval of hardliners before a key Communist party congress this autumn marking the halfway point of Xi Jinping’s 10-year term.
Xi hopes to use the 19th party congress to stack the upper echelons of the party with loyalists.
“The leadership – with the party congress in mind – has decided to ride it out, irrespective of the considerable reputational damage,” the diplomatic sources said.
Beijing has sought to take advantage of the US retreat from the world stage under Donald Trump to boost its own soft power
It wants to portray China as a forward-looking nation that opposes protectionism and, unlike the US, is committed to fighting climate change.
However, Liu’s plight underlines the chasm between that claim to responsible global leadership and the realities of one-party China.
Nicholas Bequelin, Amnesty International’s east Asia director, said: “Hastening the death of a Nobel peace laureate is not the kind of leadership that the world needs from China.
“The treatment of Liu Xiaobo should sound serious alarms bells about China’s commitment to abide by international norms when the interest of the Communist party appear to be at stake.”
Taiwan’s president, Tsai Ing-wen, added her voice to calls for Liu to be freed on Wednesday afternoon and said Taiwan was also willing to offer medical assistance to the dissident.
Asked repeatedly about Liu’s case by foreign journalists this week, Beijing has responded with the same mantra: “We oppose any countries interfering in China’s domestic affairs by using an individual case.”
On Wednesday afternoon, the hospital treating Liu claimed his condition had worsened and he was “close to death”. 
It said he had suffered respiratory failure but relatives had refused to allow him to be intubated. 
The hospital was making “great efforts” to save him.
However, supporters question the reliability of such official accounts, suspecting they are designed to bolster Beijing’s assertion that Liu is unfit to leave China rather than accurately convey the state of his health. 
One relative said Liu’s condition had actually improved.
Hu Ping, a US-based editor and friend of Liu, asked why the international community was not doing more to secure his release. 
The Chinese government is consciously committing a political murder,” he said. 
“How far backwards is the world really moving?”
Ai Xiaoming, an activist and filmmaker, said: “Liu Xiaobo is no criminal. He is a person who has made a great contribution to China and to the world. He deserves to be free now.”

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