Tributes pour in for dissident writer Liu Xiaobo

Tributes pour in for dissident writer Liu Xiaobo

A furious China responded on Friday to global censure over the death of Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo by describing the decision to award him the peace prize in 2010 as "blasphemy", and said it had lodged protests with several countries for meddling in its "domestic affairs" by speaking up for the pro-democracy activist.

Beijing had ignored global calls for Liu to be allowed to seek treatment overseas after he was diagnosed with late-stage liver cancer in May, apparently fearing he would use his final days of freedom to denounce its authoritarian rule.

As the laureate gasped his last breaths in the First Hospital of China Medical University in the northeast city of Shenyang on Thursday, Xi himself sat smiling with Canada's governor general as the two countries signed agreements on sports and culture cooperation. "The handling of Liu Xiaobo's case belongs to China's internal affairs, and foreign countries are in no position to make improper remarks", he said.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, the government's top spokesman, said Friday that Japan is paying close attention to the human rights situation in China following the death of Liu Xiaobo.

Liu's illness elicited a deluge of sympathy from friends, Chinese rights activists and worldwide groups, who saw him as a fearless advocate of peaceful democratic change.

The former head of the Nobel committee placed that year's peace prize on an empty chair to honour Liu.

"We find it deeply disturbing that Liu Xiaobo was not transferred to a facility where he could receive adequate medical treatment before he became terminally ill", the Nobel Committee said in a statement.

Liu spent much of the last three decades in forced confinement - at home, at labour camps or in prison.

Ai said Liu is one of many dissidents being oppressed in China. "The danger was extremely great", Liu Yunpeng said.

The death on Thursday of Chinese dissident activist and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo elicited an outpouring of grief and anger in China, particularly from its artists.

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"They even see our insistence on basic human rights as making trouble for the Chinese Communist Party", he said.

US President Donald Trump, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron were among Western leaders offering praise for Mr Liu.

Liu Xiaobo and his wife, Liu Xia, photographed in Beijing in 2000.

Liu was diagnosed with liver cancer earlier this year and released on medical parole just weeks ago from an 11-year sentence for writing a charter promoting democracy. Under de facto house arrest since his Nobel win, Liu Xia saw her communication with the outside world nearly completely cut by the government.

A drawing of Liu and his wife.

Beijing has long resented Western support for Liu, and reacted harshly when in 2016 the U.S. Senate unanimously passed a bill to rename the street in front of the Chinese Embassy in Washington Liu Xiaobo Plaza, in honor of the jailed writer.

Turkish writer Elif Shafak hailed Lui "a fearless and generous soul who dared to stand for freedom", and United Kingdom poet laureate Carol Ann Duffy praised him for his work, power, courage and love with thanks for "everything you have done in your fight for a better world".

For that, he said, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but also received subversion charges and an 11-year prison sentence. Relatives would only be allowed to hold "a simple farewell ceremony, under severe surveillance", Hu said, adding that Liu's friends had been unable to find out specific details.

"In 'No Enemies, No Hared, ' he once said 'I firmly believe that China's political progress will never stop, and I'm full of optimistic expectations of freedom coming to China in the future, because no force can block the human desire for freedom".

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