Health of jailed Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo worsens in Chinese hospital
China's ailing Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo's health is further deteriorating as abdominal fluid accumulates, a friend and the Chinese hospital treating him have said.
The announcement adds to concerns about the long-term prognosis of the country's best-known political prisoner.
The First Hospital of China Medical University said in a statement that the doctor heading a medical team in charge of Liu's treatment has informed his family of this development.
The statement appeared on the website of the hospital in the north-eastern city of Shenyang on Thursday but is undated.
A family friend confirmed on Thursday that Liu's family had been asked to be on stand-by at the hospital over the next 24 hours - which they took as a sign that Liu is critically ill.
"We are worried about whether we should start planning for what to do after he leaves," said family friend Wu Yangwei, who is better known by his pen name, Ye Du.
Liu was diagnosed in May while serving an 11-year sentence for inciting subversion by advocating sweeping political reforms that would end China's one-party rule. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010, a year after his conviction.
Since the diagnosis was made public in late June, his supporters, Western governments and human rights groups have been urging Beijing to release him and give him the freedom to choose where he wants to be treated.
Beijing has maintained that this is an internal affair other countries should stay out of and that Liu is under the care of experts in the Chinese medical facility.
On Thursday, Maya Wang, a researcher for Human Rights Watch, called the treatment of the Nobel peace laureate "shameful".
"The Chinese government's treatment of Liu Xiaobo, which includes holding him and his family even in his dying days, reveal the cruelty and ruthlessness of the Chinese government," Wang said. "How can such a government be considered as a reliable and responsible partner for global leadership?"
The latest statement also included the names of some of the experts, including Dr Mao Yilei, a reputed expert on liver cancer at the prestigious Peking Union Medical College Hospital, who conducted another round of group consultation on the day when the statement was released, which was probably Thursday.
In a likely response to criticism that China might have failed to adequately care for Liu, the statement said the experts were approving of prior treatments of Liu. They also adjusted the treatment, the hospital said.
On behalf of the medical team, Dr Mao informed Liu's family of the latest development, and Liu's family said they understood, the statement said.
The statement was impossible to verify with Liu's wife or other family members, who have not been contactable and are said to face restrictions on their movements and communications with the outside world. Calls to the hospital went unanswered on Thursday.