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World reacts with praise, sadness to Liu Xiaobo’s death

/ 07:58 AM July 14, 2017

Participants, one wearing a Tibetan flag, hold photos of Liu Xiaobo during a vigil honoring Xiaobo’s legacy and to protest continued human rights abuses in China, Thursday, July 13, 2017, in New York. China’s most prominent political prisoner died Thursday of liver cancer at 61. AP

PARIS—World leaders hailed Chinese Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo as a brave fighter for human rights after his death on Thursday following a battle with cancer.

Liu, a government critic and thorn in the side of the authorities for decades, died in custody, having been sentenced to 11 years in prison in 2009 for “subversion”.

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READ: Chinese political prisoner Liu Xiaobo dies at age 61

His death also brought criticism for Chinese authorities who refused international pleas to let him receive treatment abroad.

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Nobel committee

“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,” Berit Reiss-Andersen, who chairs the Norwegian Nobel Committee, said in a statement.

“The Chinese government bears a heavy responsibility for his premature death.”

READ: China bears ‘heavy responsibility’ for death of Xiabao – Nobel committee

No criticism, just warm tributes

Rather than comment on the Chinese writer and dissident — who died of cancer while under guard in hospital — as they took questions from reporters in Paris, US president Donald Trump and French leader Emmanuel Macron released warm tributes later.

However during the press event, Trump described Xi as a friend and patriot.

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“He’s a friend of mine. I have great respect for him,” Trump said.

“We’ve gotten to know each other very well. A great leader. He’s a very talented man. I think he’s a very good man. He loves China. I can tell you. He loves China.”

That praise was echoed by Macron, who described as “extremely fruitful and positive” his first contacts with Xi.

The French leader later remembered Liu in a tweet, praising him as “a freedom fighter” and saying his thoughts were with his family.

Several hours later, the White House also released a statement.

“President Donald J. Trump was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Nobel Peace Prize laureate and prominent Chinese political prisoner Liu Xiaobo,” it said.

The presidents of the United States and France praised their Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping at a press conference Thursday, avoiding criticism of Beijing over Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo’s death.

Rather than comment on the Chinese writer and dissident — who died of cancer while under guard in hospital — as they took questions from reporters in Paris, Donald Trump and Emmanuel Macron released warm tributes later.

However during the press event, Trump described Xi as a friend and patriot.

“He’s a friend of mine. I have great respect for him,” Trump said.

“We’ve gotten to know each other very well. A great leader. He’s a very talented man. I think he’s a very good man. He loves China. I can tell you. He loves China.”

That praise was echoed by Macron, who described as “extremely fruitful and positive” his first contacts with Xi.

The French leader later remembered Liu in a tweet, praising him as “a freedom fighter” and saying his thoughts were with his family.

Several hours later, the White House also released a statement.

“President Donald J. Trump was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Nobel Peace Prize laureate and prominent Chinese political prisoner Liu Xiaobo,” it said.

“The president’s heartfelt condolences go out to Liu Xiaobo’s wife, Liu Xia, and his family and friends. A poet, scholar, and courageous advocate, Liu Xiaobo dedicated his life to the pursuit of democracy and liberty.”

Earlier, Trump’s Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had praised Liu and called for his wife, poet Liu Xia, to be released. She has been has been under house arrest since 2010 but was allowed to be with him at the hospital where he died.

“Mr. Liu dedicated his life to the betterment of his country and humankind, and to the pursuit of justice and liberty,” Tillerson said in a statement.

Germany

“I mourn Liu Xiaobo, the courageous fighter for human rights and freedom of expression,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s spokesman Steffen Seibert tweeted on her behalf.

“His family has my deep sympathies.”

Germany had said it was prepared to welcome Liu for medical treatment after he was transferred from prison to hospital after a terminal liver cancer diagnosis.

United Nations

“The human rights movement in China and across the world has lost a principled champion who devoted his life to defending and promoting human rights, peacefully and consistently, and who was jailed for standing up for his beliefs,” the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, said in a statement.

“Liu Xiaobo was the true embodiment of the democratic, non-violent ideals he so ardently advocated.”

European Union

European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker and EU president Donald Tusk said in a joint statement that they had learned of Liu’s death “with deep sadness”.

“We appeal to the Chinese authorities to allow his wife, Ms Liu Xia and his family to bury Liu Xiaobo at a place and in a manner of their choosing, and to allow them to grieve in peace,” Juncker and Tusk said.

“We call on the authorities to remove all restrictions on the movement and communications of his family members.”

Britain

British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson hit out at China for preventing Liu from seeking cancer treatment abroad.

“Liu Xiaobo should have been allowed to choose his own medical treatment overseas, which the Chinese authorities repeatedly denied him,” Johnson said in a statement.

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TAGS: China, Liu Xiaobo, Nobel Peace Laureate, obituary, Politics, world leaders
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