A Beijing court has upheld on appeal an 11-year prison term for leading Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo, who was jailed on subversion charges, triggering swift US and EU criticism.

上海性息

Washington and Brussels called for the immediate release of the 54-year-old Liu, who was first detained in December 2008 after co-authoring a bold manifesto calling for political reform in China.

The United States also hit out at what it called the “persecution” of individuals for expressing their political views, saying it was inconsistent with globally recognised human rights standards.

“The sentence was confirmed,” one of Liu’s lawyers, Shang Baojun, said after a brief hearing at the Beijing High People’s Court.

The initial conviction of Liu, who was previously jailed over the 1989 Tiananmen pro-democracy protests, also sparked international condemnation and calls from Western governments and rights groups for his release.

The subversion charge, which was also related to anti-government articles written by the 54-year-old Liu that were posted on the internet, is routinely brought against those who voice opposition to China’s ruling Communist Party.

The dissident’s wife Liu Xia had told AFP earlier this week that she was not optimistic that Liu would be given a reprieve.

“I’m preparing for the worst,” she said. “If you’re not that hopeful, then you can’t be disappointed.”

US ambassador Jon Huntsman said in a statement after the ruling that Washington was “disappointed” and lamented what he called the “persecution” of citizens expressing their political views.

“We are disappointed by the Chinese government’s decision to uphold Liu Xiaobo’s sentence of 11 years in prison on the charge of ‘inciting subversion of state power’,” Huntsman said.

“We believe that he should not have been sentenced in the first place and should be released immediately,” he added.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay said the case had cast an “ominous shadow” over Beijing’s commitments to protect and promote human rights.