(CNSNews.com) – As Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and others in Washington mourned the death of the long-imprisoned Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, a Communist Party-affiliated newspaper in Beijing said the Nobel peace prize laureate had been “kidnapped” by the West and bestowed with “a halo which will not linger.”
“One’s position and value in history will be decided by whether one’s endeavors and persistence have value to the country’s development and historical trends,’ Global Times said in a Friday editorial. “One can create some waves against the current, but history will eventually wash away these traces.”
Liu, a writer and scholar who helped to draft a manifesto advocating peaceful political reform, was arrested in 2008, convicted of “inciting subversion of state power,” and sentenced in 2009 to 11 years’ imprisonment. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize the following year.
Diagnosed with liver cancer at the end of May, he was granted “medical parole,” and died on Thursday, aged 61.
“In his fight for freedom, equality, and constitutional rule in China, Liu Xiaobo embodied the human spirit that the Nobel prize rewards,” Tillerson said in a statement. “In his death, he has only reaffirmed the Nobel Committee’s selection.”
The secretary of state called on Beijing now to release Liu’s widow, Liu Xia, from house arrest, “and allow her to depart China, according to her wishes.”
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.
The legislation – which echoed the 1980s naming of a section of the street then home to the Soviet Embassy for the dissident Andrei Sakharov – did not advance, and similar bills were introduced in the Senate and House in May this year.
The main author of the 2016 and 2017 bills, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), spoke about Liu on the Senate floor on Wednesday, shortly before his death.
“I stand here today on behalf of a hero of freedom and democracy in the People’s Republic of China,” he said. “Liu Xiaobo, and his wife Liu Xia, are the faces of liberty in China. They have sacrificed comfort and normalcy to chart a path towards political liberalization. For that they have been detained, imprisoned and abused.”
Cruz recalled that Liu’s name had been at the top of a list of signatories of Charter 08 – “a manifesto that shined a light on the Communist Party of China and its totalitarian abuse of power.”
For that, he said, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, but also received subversion charges and an 11-year prison sentence.
Cruz said only one man, President Xi Jinping, was preventing Liu and his wife from coming to America to live out his remaining days, as was their wish.
“As we stand here today we don’t know if Xi is going to allow Dr. Liu to come to freedom, to live out his last days in peace, and to receive the Nobel peace prize that he was so justly awarded,” he said.
“If Xi does the right thing, we can all commend that action,” Cruz said.
But “if Dr. Liu is not released, if he dies in China still under their oppression, I intend to continue to fight until the day when the street is named in front of the embassy, and the Chinese communists can bow their heads in shame at their injustice.”
After news of Liu’s death broke, Cruz in a statement mourned his passing, and urged senators on both sides of the aisle to support efforts to enable his widow to leave China.
“If there is an issue that should unite us all, it is that the wife a Nobel peace laureate speaking out for peace and democracy should not be kept hostage in Communist China.”
State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said Thursday the administration hopes that Liu’s widow will be freed from house arrest and “allowed to leave the country.”
“You know that we had called upon them to allow him to be released along with his wife so that he could get treatment where he needed to,” she said.
On June 28, Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.) introduced a concurrent resolution in the House calling on Beijing to unconditionally release Liu and his wife, and urging the Trump administration to seek their humanitarian transfer from China “so that he can seek medical treatment in the United States or elsewhere overseas.”
The House passed the measure the following day, and a similar resolution was introduced in the Senate by Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.)
In its editorial on Friday, Global Times said Liu’s supporters in the West had been less concerned about his health since his diagnosis than in making a political statement.
“Since Liu’s medical parole was made public, the Chinese side has been focusing on Liu’s treatment, but some Western forces are always attempting to steer the issue in a political direction, hyping the treatment as a ‘human right’ issue,” it said.
“Liu’s last days were politicized by the forces overseas. They used Liu’s illness as a tool to boost their image and demonize China.”
The party organ’s concluding verdict on the dead dissident’s struggle was blunt.
“Liu lived in an era when China witnessed the most rapid growth in recent history, but he attempted to confront Chinese mainstream society under Western support,” it said.
“Even if he could live longer, he would never have achieved his political goals that are in opposition to the path of history.”