WASHINGTON – House Foreign Affairs subcommittee chairman Chris Smith (R-N.J.) said Beijing is responsible for the recent death of Chinese dissident and human-rights activist Liu Xiaobo.
“Liu Xiaobo’s imprisonment in 2009 became a death sentence. The blame for this should lie squarely on the Chinese government and for his death they alone should be held accountable,” Smith said at a hearing Friday before a panel of human rights advocates.
Smith last month introduced a resolution calling on the Chinese government to grant unconditional release to both Liu and his wife, Liu Xia. She has been on house arrest since 2010.
Liu Xiaobo, a Nobel laureate, succumbed to liver cancer on Thursday at 61. Beijing granted Xiaobo medical parole in late June after the disease had advanced to Stage IV. The government would not allow Xiaobo to seek medical treatment outside China.
Liu was a vocal critic of Chinese communist political domination and served four terms in prison throughout the course of nearly three decades. He was nearly gunned down in Tiananmen Square during the student protests in 1989, and negotiated with the army to save many protesters from being shot.
Yang Jianli, president of Initiatives for China, testified that he has seen evidence suggesting Beijing authorities ignored signs of Xiaobo’s progressing illness.
“I saw a brief that [said] China’s regime deliberately choose not to treat Liu Xiaobo’s cancer early,” he said.
“As early as 2010 Liu Xiaobo was suspected of suffering from hepatitis B. His lawyers had been petitioning the government to grant him medical parole but the Chinese authorities never allowed him proper [medical] diagnosis and treatment,” he explained.
Both House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) briefly attended the hearing to pay tribute to Liu.