Campaigners want answers over death of Chinese Christian lawyer

A Chinese lawyer who advocated for Christian freedoms has died in what campaigners say are suspicious circumstances.

Dr Li Baiguang, 49, died on Monday at a government military hospital in Nanjing after checking in for a stomach complaint. The hospital said he bled to death because of a liver condition.

Li Baiguang with President George W Bush.China Aid

However, Li – who was an outspoken advocate for pastors who had been arrested for their faith – was previously in good health. He had attended the National Prayer Breakfast in Washington earlier this month and had said he felt threatened. While he was out of the country, Chinese authorities interrogated his pastor.

Li left a wife and eight-year-old son.

Release International's chief executive Paul Robinson said: 'We are deeply saddened by the loss of this courageous, bold and compassionate Christian lawyer.

'We call on China to give a full, independent and transparent account of the reasons for Dr Li's sudden and unexpected death.'

Bob Fu, the head of US-based China Aid and a friend of Li Baiguang, said: 'We are deeply saddened by the loss of one of China's most courageous, pro-constitution lawyers.

'He was treated violently last year and was threatened a number of times recently by the Chinese regime. He has been a bold and compassionate human rights lawyer, always ready in defence of the persecuted and vulnerable.

'Like in the sudden death of [Nobel Peace Prize laureate] Dr Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese regime should be held totally accountable. The whole world should demand that the Chinese government give a full, independent, and transparent account on what caused Dr Li's sudden death.'

US congressman Chris Smith, co-chairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China (CECC), said: 'Dr Li was truly one of China's best and brightest – committed to the rule of law, to human rights, and to a more peaceful and prosperous US-China relationship. There are many unanswered questions about his death and these questions should be answered. Given that so many human rights lawyers have been disbarred, detained, disappeared, and tortured since 2015, the family should be allowed to undertake a truly independent medical investigation and get answers about Li Baiguang's untimely death.'