The Latest: Trump saddened by political prisoner’s death – Washington Post
A Chinese Communist Party newspaper says the late Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo was a pawn of Western public opinion whose legacy would soon fade.
In an editorial Friday headlined “Liu Xiaobo a victim led astray by West,” the nationalist tabloid Global Times said China’s most famous political prisoner lived a “tragic life” because he sought to confront Chinese mainstream society with outside support.
Liu, a prolific essayist and literary critic, died Thursday of liver cancer while serving an 11-year prison sentence for incitement to subversion. He was 61.
Liu was only the second Nobel Peace Prize winner to die in prison. The first, Carl von Ossietzky, died from tuberculosis in Germany in 1938 while serving a sentence for opposing Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime.
The White House says President Donald Trump was deeply saddened to learn of the death of Chinese political prisoner Liu Xiaobo.
Press Secretary Sean Spicer says in a brief statement, “The President’s heartfelt condolences go out to Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia, and his family and friends. “
The United States had called on China’s government to let the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and democracy activist seek medical care at a location of his choosing. But China considered such requests to be interference in its own affairs and considered Liu a criminal.
The White House statement does not offer any criticism of China or of Liu’s case.
Liu’s wife remains under house arrest.
China has rejected foreign criticism of Beijing’s handling of the illness from which imprisoned Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo died Thursday.
The Foreign Ministry in Beijing, in an early morning statement Friday, says China made “all-out efforts” to treat Liu after he was diagnosed with liver cancer while in prison.
The statement says foreign countries “are in no position to make improper remarks” over the handling of Liu’s case, which Beijing sees as a domestic affair.
Liu’s death has triggered a flurry of calls from Western governments and officials for Beijing to let his wife leave China as she wishes.
Human rights groups and some governments had earlier urged Beijing to release Liu so that he could seek treatment abroad, but China rebuffed such suggestions, saying he was already getting the best care possible.
The United Nations says Secretary-General Antonio Guterres was “deeply saddened” to learn of the death of imprisoned Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiabo.
U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said Thursday that the U.N. chief sent his condolences to Liu’s family and friends. But he had no comment when asked whether Guterres had a view on whether Liu, China’s most prominent political prisoner, should have been allowed to travel abroad for treatment or about his wife.
Guterres’ tepid reaction was a sharp contrast to that of U.N. human rights chief Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein, who called Liu “China’s iconic peace and democracy figure” and urged Chinese authorities to guarantee his wife, Liu Xia, “freedom of movement, and allow her to travel abroad should she wish so.”
Zeid said Liu “devoted his life to defending and promoting human rights, peacefully and consistently,” and “was the definition of civic courage and human dignity — a poet and intellectual who wanted, and strove for, a better future for his country.”
“Despite all he suffered, (he) continued to espouse the politics of peace,” the U.N. high commissioner for human rights said. “He was and will continue to be an inspiration and an example for all human rights defenders.”
Germany’s foreign minister is urging the Chinese government to let Liu Xiaobo’s wife and brother leave the country following the death of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate.
Berlin had urged Beijing in recent days to let Liu leave China for treatment abroad, possibly in Germany. Foreign Minister Sigmar Gabriel said Thursday he “deeply regrets” that China didn’t let Liu and his wife, Liu Xia, travel to Germany.
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.”
Gabriel also urged China to look in a “credible and transparent way” into whether Liu Xiaobo’s illness could and should have been detected earlier.
Liu was transferred to a hospital after being diagnosed with advanced liver cancer in prison in May but remained under police custody.
Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen has expressed condolences over Liu Xiaobo’s death, saying she had the “highest esteem for this human rights warrior.”
Tsai, who is loathed by Beijing for her refusal to endorse its view that Taiwan is Chinese territory, wrote on her Facebook page that Liu’s passing would be marked by all those around the world concerned with Chinese human rights.
She urged China to grant its citizens democratic rights and freedoms, saying, “We hope the mainland Chinese authorities will display the self-confidence to grant the people of mainland China the natural right of democracy and freedom and open up new prospects for relations” between China and Taiwan.
China’s government made no immediate official comment on Liu’s passing, although state broadcaster CCTV issued a brief statement on its English-language website.
Reporting his death, CCTV said Liu had been “jailed for engaging in activities designed to overthrow the Chinese government.”
“Liu was sentenced to 11 years in jail on December 25, 2009, after a local court in Beijing convicted him of agitation aimed at subverting the government,” it said.