CHINA has agreed to allow liver cancer experts from the US, Germany and other countries to join a medical team treating jailed Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo following international criticism of Beijing’s handling of his case.

The judicial bureau in the north-eastern city where Liu is being treated said on Wednesday that his doctors had agreed to a request by his family for foreign experts to be consulted.

Liu, China’s best-known political prisoner, is being treated at a hospital in Shenyang for late-stage liver cancer which was diagnosed in late May.

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The bureau said the invited medics were “the most authoritative liver cancer treatment experts”, but gave no other details.

Following initial questions over how Liu had become so sick without having been previously diagnosed, authorities said they had assembled a team of eight Chinese specialists to oversee his treatment and have released statements testifying to the care he is receiving.

Yet friends have raised concerns that Liu, his wife and other relatives have not been able to freely communicate with the outside and that their messages have been tightly controlled by authorities, who say Liu’s family has been satisfied with the course of treatment.

“Having foreign experts on the medical team is no replacement for Liu Xiaobo and his family to freely choose how and where he should be treated,” Liu’s friend, scholar Wen Kejian, said yesterday. “We have not been able to speak to family members, who are under pressure not to speak to us.”

Wen said he believes Liu and his family want to seek medical treatment overseas and it is important for Liu’s emotional health to be allowed to communicate with his friends as he battles the liver cancer that has metastasised to his entire body.

Together with another friend, Mo Zhixu, Wen tried to visit Liu at the First Hospital of China Medical University in Shenyang where the authorities said he is being treated. They made inquiries at likely floors, but were turned away when nurses said they were not aware of a patient by the name of Liu Xiaobo.