Statement on the Medical Parole of Nobel Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo

Chairs Urge President Trump To Seek Immediate Transfer to U.S. for Treatment, Medical Parole for Other Detained Dissidents in Poor Health

June 26, 2017

(Washington, DC)—Senator Marco Rubio and Representative Chris Smith, the chair and cochair respectively of the bipartisan Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), issued the following statements about the reported transfer of 2010 Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo from Jinzhou Prison in Liaoning province to a hospital in Shenyang municipality for treatment of late-stage liver cancer.  Dr. Liu is almost 8 years into his 11-year prison sentence for “inciting subversion of state power” in connection with his efforts to press for political reform and human rights protections.  The Chairs urge President Trump to seek Dr. Liu’s immediate transfer with his wife Liu Xia to the United States to explore treatment options, and call on the Administration to seek medical paroles for other detained dissidents facing serious health issues, such as Zhu Yufu, Wang Jing, Huang Qi and Li Guozhi (Yang Hua).

 “I urge President Trump to seek Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo’s immediate humanitarian transfer to the United States,” said Senator Rubio. “Even with the news today that Dr. Liu has been released from prison for medical treatment, serious questions remain.  How long have Chinese authorities known of his grave health condition?  What are the terms of his medical parole?  Will his wife, Liu Xia, be able to permanently oversee his care or will she remain under house arrest, where her own health has been a serious concern?  While we are pleased Dr. Liu is no longer behind bars, this is hardly an act of mercy on the part of the Chinese government.  His 8 years of imprisonment—due to his eloquent appeals for non-violent political reform and protection of basic rights—remain a travesty of justice and a stain on China's rights record.  Liu Xiaobo, and countless others like him who courageously seek peaceful change in China, are heroes worthy of honor, not criminals deserving to be tortured or unjustly punished.”

“Liu Xiaobo's parole is neither justice nor compassion; the Chinese government is just making sure this champion of democracy does not die in prison. It is a tragedy that his unjust imprisonment may now be tantamount to a death sentence,” said Chris Smith. “Hopefully initial reports are wrong and there are cancer treatments available and I urge President Trump to seek his immediate transfer to the United States, with his wife Liu Xia, so that all options can be explored. But, we should all be clear—China's treatment of those who peacefully seek legal and political reforms is shameful and sadistic—particularly if you look at the tortured bodies and broken minds of detained human rights lawyers.  There is no more time left for excuses, the international community must hold Beijing accountable before it silences all those, like Liu Xiaobo, who dare to say that embracing human rights and democracy will make China stronger, more prosperous, and a more respected global power.”


The CECC has been closely monitoring Liu Xiaobo’s efforts to promote democracy, his arrest, and sentencing.  On December 10, 2010, Liu Xiaobo, a writer, former literature professor, human rights activist, and one of the chief authors of Charter 08, was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in absentia for his “long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.”   He was the first Chinese national and resident in China to receive the prestigious award.   However, during the awards ceremony, his chair remained empty and he was unable to claim his prize; he was serving an 11-year sentence, after being found guilty of “inciting subversion of state power.” 

His wife, the artist and poet Liu Xia, was placed under illegal home confinement in Beijing shortly after the Nobel Committee’s announcement of the prize in October 2010.  She remains there almost seven years later, despite never having been charged with a crime.  Troubling reports indicate that her health has deteriorated during her years of arbitrary confinement.

Earlier this year, the CECC launched an initiative called “Free China’s Heroes,” in which individual political prisoners were highlighted to raise awareness about the specifics of their cases and the status of their unjust imprisonment.  Liu Xiaobo, who was initially detained seven years ago on December 8, 2008, was the first prisoner featured.  His case is also part of the Commission’s Political Prisoner Database (PPD) that contains searchable records on more than 1,400 political and religious prisoners currently known or believed to be detained or imprisoned in China.