Liu was diagnosed with terminal liver cancer earlier this year, and released on a medical parole in May. But his condition did not improve, and his health rapidly declined in the last two weeks. Doctors reported his internal organs were shutting down two days ago, but dialysis seemed to improve his condition somewhat.
The writer co-authored Charter 08, a pro-democracy manifesto which urged the Chinese Communist Party to abide by the Chinese constitution’s protection of civil rights and political freedom.
In 2009 he was arrested on charges of “subversion of state power” and sentenced to 11 years in prison. A year later, he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in absentia, as China refused permission for Liu or any member of his family to travel to Oslo to accept the prize.
Liu Xia, his wife, has been under house arrest since 2010, despite no formal charges against her. She was allowed to visit her husband in hospital, however.
As the government has heavily censored news of Liu and his Nobel prize, it’s doubtful most Chinese know of him, and will probably not even hear of his death.