China cremates body of jailed Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo

Liu Yunpeng, director of Oncology Department of the The First Hospital of China Medical University talks about the treatment of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo prior to his death in Shenyang in northeastern China's Liaoning Province, Thursday, July 13, 2017. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, China's most prominent political prisoner, died Thursday at a hospital in the country's northeast following a battle with liver cancer, officials said. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
ADDS IDS - In this photo provided by the Shenyang Municipal Information Office, Liu Xia, center, wife of jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner and Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, holds a portrait of him during his funeral at a funeral parlor in Shenyang in northeastern China's Liaoning Province, Saturday, July 15, 2017. The photo shows, from left to right, Liu Hui, younger brother of Liu Xia, Liu Xia and Liu Xiaoxuan, younger brother of Liu Xiaobo holding his cremated remains. (Shenyang Municipal Information Office via AP)
An exile Tibetan carries a portrait of late Nobel Peace Prize laureate Xiaobo Liu, China's most famous political prisoner, as she joins others during a candlelit vigil to mourn Liu's death, in Dharmsala, India, Friday, July 14, 2017. Liu died Thursday of liver cancer at 61. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia)
FILE - In this June 27, 2017, file photo, protesters display portraits of jailed Chinese Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo and his detained wife Liu Xia during a demonstration outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong. Friends of Liu Xiaobo's family say that efforts to persuade Beijing to allow the couple to leave China were motivated not so much to seek treatment for the terminally ill political prisoner but to facilitate an escape from China for his severely depressed wife, Liu Xia. Liu's death on Thursday, July 13, 2017 has now returned his wife's fate back to the fore, with foreign officials calling for Beijing to release her from house arrest and let her leave the country as she wishes. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu, File)
A bouquet of flowers is placed on a chair that reads: ''Mourning Liu Xiaobo'' in front of his image during a ceremony to mourn late Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu, China's most famous political prisoner, at Democracy Square in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, July 14, 2017. Liu died Thursday of liver cancer at 61. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)
Participants hold photos of Liu Xiaobo, right, and his wife Liu Xia during a vigil honoring Liu 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 Photo/Mary Altaffer)
A portrait of the late Chinese Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo is displayed outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong, Saturday, July 15, 2017. China cremated the body of imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died this week after a battle with liver cancer amid international criticism of Beijing for not letting him travel abroad as he had wished. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Patrick Brousseau from Canada plays the bagpipe in traditional Scottish attire as he mourns late Chinese Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong, Saturday, July 15, 2017. China cremated the body of imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died this week after a battle with liver cancer amid international criticism of Beijing for not letting him travel abroad as he had wished. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Supporters hold slogans reading ''Mourning Liu Xiaobo 1955-2017'' during a ceremony to mourn late Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu, China's most famous political prisoner, at Democracy Square in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, July 14, 2017. Liu died Thursday of liver cancer at 61. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)
In this photo provided by the Shenyang Municipal Information Office, Liu Xia, wife of Liu Xiaobo and her brother Liu Hui, left stand next to the casket of the late Nobel Peace Prize winner and Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo during his funeral at a funeral parlor in Shenyang in northeastern China's Liaoning Province, Saturday, July 15, 2017. (Shenyang Municipal Information Office via AP)
ADDS IDS - In this photo provided by the Shenyang Municipal Information Office, relatives stand next to the casket of jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner and Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo during his funeral at a funeral parlor in Shenyang in northeastern China's Liaoning Province, Saturday, July 15, 2017. The photo shows from left, unknown woman, unknown woman, Liu Xiaoxuan, younger brother of Liu Xiaobo, Liu Xiaoguang, older brother of Liu Xiaobo, Liu Hui, younger brother of Liu Xia, and Liu Xia. (Shenyang Municipal Information Office via AP)
A portrait of jailed Chinese Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo is displayed for mourning during a demonstration outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong, Thursday, July 13, 2017. Officials say China's most prominent political prisoner, Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, has died. He was 61. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
An exile Tibetan carries a placard featuring photos of late Nobel Peace Prize laureate Xiaobo Liu, China's most famous political prisoner, during a candlelit vigil to mourn Liu's death, in Dharmsala, India, Friday, July 14, 2017. Liu died Thursday of liver cancer at 61. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia)
An exile Tibetan participates in a candlelit vigil to mourn the death of late Nobel Peace Prize laureate Xiaobo Liu, China's most famous political prisoner, in Dharmsala, India, Friday, July 14, 2017. Liu died Thursday of liver cancer at 61. (AP Photo/Ashwini Bhatia)
Security guards stand at the gates of an apartment complex where Liu Xia, the wife of Chinese dissident and Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, had been living under house arrest in Beijing, Friday, July 14, 2017. Imprisoned for all the seven years since he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Liu Xiaobo never renounced the pursuit of human rights in China, insisting on living a life of "honesty, responsibility and dignity." China's most prominent political prisoner died Thursday of liver cancer at 61. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
A rosary hangs over the portrait of the late Chinese Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo is displayed outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong, Saturday, July 15, 2017. China cremated the body of imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died this week after a battle with liver cancer amid international criticism of Beijing for not letting him travel abroad as he had wished. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
A photo showing from right Liu Xia, her brother Liu Hui, Liu Xiaobo's elder brother Liu Xiaoguang and younger brother Liu Xiaoxuan attend a ceremony for the late Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Liu Xiaobo at a funeral home is shown at a government press conference held at a hotel in Shenyang in northeastern China's Liaoning Province, Saturday, July 15, 2017. China cremated the body of imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died this week after a battle with liver cancer amid international criticism of Beijing for not letting him travel abroad as he had wished. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
A plainclothes Chinese security guard attempts to stop a photographer from taking photos of an apartment building where Liu Xia, the wife of Chinese dissident and Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, had been living under house arrest in Beijing, Friday, July 14, 2017. Imprisoned for all the seven years since he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Liu Xiaobo never renounced the pursuit of human rights in China, insisting on living a life of "honesty, responsibility and dignity." China's most prominent political prisoner died Thursday of liver cancer at 61. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
FILE - In this June 9, 2013, file photo, a relative comforts Liu Xia, left, wife of imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, while she cries outside Huairou Detention Center where her brother Liu Hui was jailed in Huairou district, on the outskirts of Beijing. Friends of Liu Xiaobo's family say that efforts to persuade Beijing to allow the couple to leave China were motivated not so much to seek treatment for the terminally ill political prisoner but to facilitate an escape from China for his severely depressed wife, Liu Xia. Liu's death on Thursday, July 13, 2017 has now returned his wife's fate back to the fore, with foreign officials calling for Beijing to release her from house arrest and let her leave the country as she wishes. (AP Photo/Alexander F. Yuan, File)
A plainclothes Chinese security guard attempts to stop a photographer from taking photos of an apartment building where Liu Xia, the wife of Chinese dissident and Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, has been living under house arrest in Beijing, Friday, July 14, 2017. Friends of Liu Xiaobo's family say that efforts to persuade Beijing to allow the couple to leave China were motivated not so much to seek treatment for the terminally ill political prisoner but to facilitate an escape from China for his severely depressed wife, Liu Xia. Liu's death on Thursday, July 13 has now returned his wife's fate back to the fore, with foreign officials calling for Beijing to release her from house arrest and let her leave the country as she wishes. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
ADDS A DROPPED WORD IN FIRST SENTENCE - In this photo provided by the Shenyang Municipal Information Office, people attend the funeral of jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner and Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo at a funeral parlor in Shenyang in northeastern China's Liaoning Province, Saturday, July 15, 2017. China cremated the body of imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died this week after a battle with liver cancer amid international criticism of Beijing for not letting him travel abroad as he had wished. (Shenyang Municipal Information Office via AP)
ADDS IDS - In this photo provided by the Shenyang Municipal Information Office, Liu Xia, center, wife of jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner and Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, holds a portrait of him during his funeral at a funeral parlor in Shenyang in northeastern China's Liaoning Province, Saturday, July 15, 2017. The photo shows, from left to right, Liu Hui, younger brother of Liu Xia, Liu Xia and Liu Xiaoxuan, younger brother of Liu Xiaobo holding his cremated remains. (Shenyang Municipal Information Office via AP)
Patrick Brousseau from Canada dressing in traditional Scottish attire mourns late Chinese Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong, Saturday, July 15, 2017. China cremated the body of imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died this week after a battle with liver cancer amid international criticism of Beijing for not letting him travel abroad as he had wished. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
Coils of barbed wire top a fence next to an apartment building where Liu Xia, the wife of Chinese dissident and Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, had been living under house arrest in Beijing, Friday, July 14, 2017. Imprisoned for all the seven years since he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, Liu Xiaobo never renounced the pursuit of human rights in China, insisting on living a life of "honesty, responsibility and dignity." China's most prominent political prisoner died Thursday of liver cancer at 61. (AP Photo/Mark Schiefelbein)
A banner displaying a sketch of late Chinese Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo and his detained wife Liu Xia is displayed outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong, Saturday, July 15, 2017. China cremated the body of imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died this week after a battle with liver cancer amid international criticism of Beijing for not letting him travel abroad as he had wished. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
A portrait of late Chinese Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo is displayed outside the Chinese liaison office in Hong Kong, Saturday, July 15, 2017. China cremated the body of imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died this week after a battle with liver cancer amid international criticism of Beijing for not letting him travel abroad as he had wished. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)
A computer screen shows an image of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo during a ceremony to mourn late Liu, China's most famous political prisoner, at Democracy Square in Taipei, Taiwan, Friday, July 14, 2017. Liu died Thursday of liver cancer at 61. (AP Photo/Chiang Ying-ying)
People walk by an image of Chinese Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo shown on a large screen as a TV news reports Liu's death in Tokyo, Friday, July 14, 2017. World leaders and human rights advocates expressed sorrow and anger over the death of Liu, who died Thursday, July 13 in police custody while being treated for advanced liver cancer in prison. The words on the screen, top, "Liu Xiaobo passed away. " (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)
A photo showing Liu Xia, center, holding a photo of the late Liu Xiaobo as Liu Xiaoxuan, Liu Xiaobo's younger brother, right, holds his cremated remains in a black box near Liu Xia's brother Liu Hui, left, during a ceremony, is displayed at a government press conference held in a hotel in Shenyang in northeastern China's Liaoning Province, Saturday, July 15, 2017. China cremated the body of imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died this week after a battle with liver cancer amid international criticism of Beijing for not letting him travel abroad as he had wished. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

SHENYANG, China — China cremated the body of imprisoned Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, who died this week after a battle with liver cancer amid international criticism of Beijing for not letting him travel abroad as he had wished.

The government of the city of Shenyang in northeastern China, where Liu had been treated for advanced liver cancer, said in a briefing that the cremation took place early Saturday morning in a ceremony attended by family, including his wife.

Liu died Thursday from multiple organ failure that followed a battle with liver cancer while serving an 11-year sentence for incitement to subvert state power. He was 61.

The briefing, at which officials also provided images of the funeral, was the latest in a tightly orchestrated Chinese government propaganda campaign seemingly aimed at countering criticism that Beijing has failed to handle Liu's case in a humanitarian way. A video about Liu's hospital treatment released on the website of the city's judicial bureau Friday appeared aimed at the same objective.

The wife and other family members of China's best-known political prisoner have been closely guarded by authorities and remain largely out of contact with the outside world even after Liu's death. Governments around the world have urged China to free Liu Xia from the strict house arrest she has lived under for years even though she has not been convicted of any crime.

The handout images showed Liu's wife, who wore dark sunglasses, being comforted by her brother in a funeral parlor as they stood in a row with Liu's older and younger siblings and their wives. Liu's body lay in an open casket in the center of the room, surrounded by an arrangement of potted white flowers.

A black banner strung on the wall said "Mr. Liu Xiaobo's funeral" in white Chinese characters. It was positioned above a framed picture of Liu. A press release issued by the government said the ceremony was held at 6:30 a.m. to the music of Mozart's Requiem and that the body was cremated shortly afterward.

The government also said the couple's friends attended the ceremony, a claim that was disputed by people who have long been close to Liu. In the handout images, none among a group of people standing by the casket were identifiable as any of Liu's friends, said Mo Zhixu, a dissident writer who is friends with Liu.

"Not a single one of his real friends were there," Mo said by phone, adding that he thought the well-built young men with buzz cuts in the photos resembled security agents who kept track of Liu's wife. "This is just a big performance."

"This regime has long been acting without humanity, that's why they denied him even a minute of freedom even until his death. I have nothing to say other than that I'm extremely infuriated," Mo said.

In Shenyang, a spokesman for the city's information office said at the briefing that authorities were looking out for Liu Xia's interests and insisted that she is free.

"As far as I know, Liu Xia has freedom. But she just lost her relative and is in deep sorrow," spokesman Zhang Qingyang said. "After Liu Xiaobo's death, let Liu Xia tend to his affairs and try to keep her away from external interference."

Liu was only the second Nobel Peace Prize winner to die in prison, a fact pointed to by human rights groups as an indication of the Chinese Communist Party's increasingly hard line against its critics. The first, Carl von Ossietzky, died from tuberculosis in Germany in 1938 while serving a sentence for opposing Adolf Hitler's Nazi regime.

Tributes have rolled in from around the world to mourn Liu, but there is little mention of him in China's heavily-censored state media and social networking platforms. One notable exception is a newspaper published by the ruling Communist Party which on Saturday said the West was "deifying" Liu, a man the paper described as a criminal who was "paranoid, naive and arrogant."

"Liu's memorial tablet cannot find a place in China's cultural temple," the Global Times newspaper said in an editorial. "Deification of Liu by the West will be eventually overshadowed by China's denial of him."

The newspaper's editorial marked a rare mention of Liu in the Chinese-language media, possibly indicating a desire to guide popular opinion amid widespread reporting of his death in the overseas press and on social media platforms such as Twitter that are blocked in China.

While Liu did have considerable renown abroad — official censorship made him virtually a non-person at home — the party frequently uses the specter of Western manipulation to demonize its critics.

Liu rose to prominence during the 1989 pro-democracy protests centered in Beijing's Tiananmen Square, and became one of hundreds of Chinese imprisoned for crimes linked to the demonstrations after they were crushed by the military. It was the first of four imprisonments.

His last was for co-authoring "Charter 08," a document circulated in 2008 that called for an end to one-party rule.

He was in prison when he was awarded the Nobel in 2010, which Beijing condemned as an affront to its political and legal systems.

___

Wong reported from Beijing.

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