Chinese media downplays death of Liu Xiaobo, accuses West of hyping treatment as human rights issue

As tributes to China's Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo flood international media, those in China are refraining from giving prominence to the influential dissident.

While Xiabo's death made headlines globally, Chinese media curtailed its coverage significantly, releasing only brief reports in their English editions. Meanwhile, Chinese censors scrubbed social media networks of candles, RIP and other tributes to the laureate.

 Chinese media downplays death of Liu Xiaobo, accuses West of hyping treatment as human rights issue

File image of Liu Xiaobo. IBN Live

Communist Party's mouthpiece Global Timesreporting statements from the bureau of justice of Shenyang, announced on Thursday night that 'the cancer patient Liu Xiaobo has died from organ failure, despite emergency efforts.'

Xiaobo, who had been serving an 11-year prison term for subversion, died in a hospital on Thursday after losing his long battle with terminal cancer.

The 61-year-old had played a significant role in the Tiananmen Square student protests of June 1989, which ended in bloodshed when they were quashed by government troops.

Searches for Liu's Chinese name and his English initials LXB were also censored on Sina Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter.

On the other hand, thousands of Chinese have taken to social media to express themselves despite attempts from the government to censor and mute reactions.

Many used vague expressions such as "someone died today", or posted Christian allegories of suffering that did not directly mention Liu. Others cited the thunder and lightning storms that rolled through Beijing on Thursday night as a sign of heavenly disquiet.

Meantime, Xiaobo's death in custody lashed the Chinese media with a wave of criticism over its treatment of but has rejected the criticisms.

Beijing rejected international criticism for not allowing its most prominent critic to be treated abroad for liver cancer and claimed that the case is an internal affair and other countries were "in no position to make improper remarks".

Meanwhile, Nobel Committee called Xiaobo's death "premature" and said the Chinese refusal to allow him to travel was "deeply disturbing," the Communist Party's mouthpiece, Global Times has called Liu "a victim led astray" by the West.

China had even scoffed at his Nobel Peace Prize (he was the first Chinese person still living in the country to receive a Nobel award of any kind) in 2010. Chinese authorities had gotten furious and send out a disclaimer to Norway, stating that the decision would hurt relations between the two countries.

"Liu Xiaobo is a criminal who has been sentenced by Chinese judicial departments for violating Chinese law," the Chinese foreign ministry had said in a statement.

Xinhua and CCTV only issued a brief on their English site stating  Liu Xiaobo, "convicted of subversion of state power," has died. However, the paper defended China, stating that the country was focused on the treatment of Xiaobo's and some western forces were attempting to steer the issue in a political direction by hyping the treatment as a "human rights" issue.

The world leaders, however, are praising  Liu and called on China to release his widow, Liu Xia, from house arrest.

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Updated Date: Jul 14, 2017 17:21:01 IST