President Donald Trump was "deeply saddened" by the death of prominent Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, the White House said today, describing the Nobel Peace Prize laureate a courageous person who dedicated his life to the pursuit of democracy.
Liu, who was China's most prominent human rights and democracy advocate, died yesterday at age 61 from liver cancer. He had been serving an 11-year prison term for "subversion".
61-year-old Liu was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize while in jail.
"President Donald J Trump was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Nobel Peace Prize laureate and prominent Chinese political prisoner Liu Xiaobo," White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said.
"The President's heartfelt condolences go out to Liu Xiaobo's wife, Liu Xia, and his family and friends. A poet, scholar, and courageous advocate, Liu Xiaobo dedicated his life to the pursuit of democracy and liberty," Spicer said in a statement.
Just a day before Liu's death, the US had called on China to release him from custody so he could see his family and pursue the medical care.
Several American Senators expressed their sorrow over Liu's death.
"Today the world lost a hero of liberty and freedom," said Senator Ted Cruz, the Republican Senator from Texas.
"Ever since leaving the safety and comfort of America to lead the protests at Tiananmen Square in 1989, Liu sealed his fate as a persistent focus of persecution from the authoritarian PRC (People's Republic of China)," Cruz said.
From 'reeducation through labour' and deprivation of property to unjust imprisonment and physical abuse, Liu bore the brunt of the Communist Party's wrath for daring to challenge their immoral system of political oppression, he added.
Senator John McCain said the death of Liu in a Chinese prison represents an egregious violation of the fundamental human rights for which he spent his life.
"Unfortunately, and as Dr Liu would have wanted everyone to remember today, this is only the latest example of Communist China's assault on human rights, democracy, and freedom," he said.
McCain said that the Chinese government's delay in his treatment was the last "barbaric" violation of Liu's human rights.
"The news of Liu Xiaobo's death today is beyond tragic- for his beloved wife Liu Xia, for his family, and for the millions of supporters of his courageous efforts to champion human rights and democracy in China," said Senator Marco Rubio.
He said the Chinese government must give Liu's remains to his family and grant his wife an exit visa to leave the country.
"There should be an independent investigation into the circumstances surrounding Dr Liu's death, his treatment in detention, the timing of the diagnosis of his late-stage liver cancer, and countless other questions that need to be answered, he said.