A dissident released with terminal cancer, and a deadly landslide – China’s latest top news

Top News

Jeremy Goldkorn’s selection of the top stories from China on June 26, 2017. Part of the daily SupChina newsletter, a convenient package of China’s business, political, and cultural news delivered to your inbox for free. Subscribe here.

Liu Xiaobo released on his last legs

One of the most recognizable figures of the quashed pro-democracy movement within China, Liu Xiaobo 刘晓波, has been released from prison on medical parole due to late-stage liver cancer, the New York Times reports (paywall). The Times cites one of Liu’s lawyers as saying that he was initially hospitalized a few weeks ago in the northeastern city of Shenyang, though the disease appears to be “very serious, very serious,” and “at this late stage, the treatment seems much more difficult.”

  • The Norwegian Nobel Committee, which awarded its Nobel Peace Prize to the imprisoned dissident Liu in 2010, released a statement expressing “a mixture of relief and deep worry” at news of his release, and reiterated that Liu has a “standing invitation” to visit Oslo and claim his award. Liu was sentenced to an 11-year prison sentence on December 25, 2009, for “inciting subversion of state power.” Liu has been an irritant to the Party-state since the 1980s, and detained several times. The major offense that earned him the 11-year sentence was his role as a key author of the Charter 08 document that advocated democratic reforms in China. You can read a translation of that document in full here.
  • News of Liu’s release, as with all mentions of his name on social media, was thoroughly censored in China. Joanna Chiu, a reporter for Agence France-Presse, noted that “asked about Liu Xiaobo’s parole, a foreign ministry spokesman told reporters: ‘I am not aware of the situation you’re talking about.’” 
  • The only mention of the medical parole in state media, it appears, was an extremely short article in the Global Times tabloid titled “Renowned cancer experts treat Liu Xiaobo on medical parole.” There is also a brief announcement on the website of the Liaoning Province Prison Management Office (in Chinese).  

For more on this story as it develops, follow Joanna Chiu’s Twitter feed.

93 missing after deadly Sichuan landslide

Xinhua News Agency reported on June 23 that a severe landslide in Xinmo Village of Mao County, in southwestern Sichuan Province, had “buried 46 homes, and 141 people are missing.” A full rescue operation of 3,000 personnel was dispatched, though surviving family members soon became frustrated at the lack of information made available about the search and the lack of warning from authorities on the hazards of the valley they inhabited, the South China Morning Post notes. The SCMP says that 93 remain missing amid the rubble.

By June 26, the rescue operation was called off due to the risk of a second landslide, according to CNN (article includes a sliding image of the village before and after it was buried). What’s on Weibo features a short timeline of events, and Sina has a photo gallery of the scene at Xinmo.