Liu Xiaobo drafted Charter 08.
This won him international acclaim, including the highly respected Nobel Peace Prize, but it also put him in the bad books of Zhou Yongkang, former member of the Politburo standing committee and minister for public security, and he was sentenced to 11 years in jail.
Any discussion of the matter has been forbidden under socialism-with-Chinese-characteristics, and so I won't be talking about that today.
Liu Xiaobo is now seriously ill.
He wasn't informed that he had liver cancer until it was in its late stages, when he had already been in jail for more than eight years.
Is this a reliable basis for assessing the level of medical care that is currently available in China? Or does it have more to do with the authorities playing God with a human life? It is impossible to investigate this question fully in today's China, so I won't be talking about that here, either.
All I know is that it's for fate to decide when a person lives or dies, and that you sometimes have to move faster to save a life than you do to put out a fire. One cannot afford to lose a single day, a single hour, even. It must be given urgent priority.
Liu Xiaobo has made it very clear that he would like to go overseas to seek medical care. Many in the international community have offered to help him.
I would hope that he could even take a turn for the better, with so much concerted effort made to help him.
But recent comments from the spokesman for the Chinese foreign ministry and the Global Times newspaper give me no reason for optimism.
Volunteers around the world have so far been unable to make contact with Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia.
If we have really reached the point where there is no further hope, then I am forced to ask President Xi Jinping to exercise the sacred responsibility conferred by the Chinese constitution on the head of state, and grant an amnesty to Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.
This may be our last chance: the last opportunity Liu Xiaobo will have to be treated well in his lifetime, and an excellent opportunity for President Xi to govern according to the rule of law.
Translated by Luisetta Mudie.
Bao Tong, former political aide to the late ousted premier Zhao Ziyang, is under continual surveillance and frequent house arrest at his home in Beijing.