BEIJING Chinese Nobel Peace Prize-winning dissident Liu Xiaobo's condition is critical and his breathing is failing, the hospital treating him said on Wednesday.
Liu, a prominent participant in the Tiananmen pro-democracy protests of 1989, was jailed for 11 years in 2009 for "inciting subversion of state power" after helping to write a petition known as "Charter 08" calling for sweeping political reforms.
He was recently moved from jail to a hospital to be treated for late-stage liver cancer.
Liu's kidney and liver function are failing, and he suffers from blood clots, among other ailments, the hospital in China's northeastern city of Shenyang said on its website.
However, Liu's family has declined the use of intubation machinery to help him breathe with the aid of a plastic tube placed in his windpipe, the hospital said in its statement.
"The patient is in a critically ill condition, the hospital is doing all it can to save him, and his family members understand the situation and have given their signatures," it added, without elaborating.
The announcement suggested a significant deterioration in Liu's health since Wednesday morning, when the hospital said he was being treated for worsening liver function, septic shock and organ dysfunction.
Rights groups and Western government have urged China to allow Liu and his wife, Liu Xia, to leave the country to be treated abroad, as Liu has said he wants to.
Liu's friends voiced suspicion over the hospital's earlier statement, which suggested a worsening of his health soon after two foreign doctors said he was well enough to travel abroad.
"We do not know how reliable these accounts are, or if they mean Liu Xiaobo cannot travel," one family friend told BusinessOfTurkey, declining to be identified because of the sensitivity of the situation.
No one answered the telephone at the hospital's publicity department on Wednesday.
The state-backed Global Times tabloid said the "confrontational tone" of those in the West voicing their opinions on Liu failed to focus on his illness.
"China has already taken the feelings of relevant Western forces into consideration, and has no obligation to meet their unreasonable demands," it said in an English-language editorial on Wednesday.
Two doctors from the United States and Germany who visited Liu on Saturday later said they considered it safe for him to be moved overseas, but called for the move as quickly as possible.
After the doctors' Sunday statement, China released short videos of their visit, apparently taken without their knowledge, in which the German doctor appeared to praise the care Liu had received.
On Monday, the German embassy in Beijing said in a statement the release of the videos went against Germany's wishes and suggested, "Security organs are steering the process, not medical experts."
Asked about Germany's statement, the foreign ministry on Tuesday said it did not know anything about the issue, and reiterated its position that other countries should not interfere in China's internal affairs.
(Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Tony Munroe and Clarence Fernandez)