Chinese Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, a prominent dissident since the 1989 Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests, has died from multiple organ failure, having not been allowed to leave the country for treatment for late-stage liver cancer.
Already seriously ill, Liu was moved last month from prison to a hospital in the northeastern city of Shenyang to be treated.
The Shenyang Bureau of Justice said in a brief statement on Thursday that efforts to save Liu failed.
Liu, 61, was jailed for 11 years in 2009 for "inciting subversion of state power" after he helped write a petition known as Charter 08, calling for sweeping political reforms.
He came to prominence following the 1989 pro-democracy protests centred in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, which he called the "major turning point" in his life.
He was awarded the Nobel prize in 2010 and was represented by an empty chair at the ceremony in Oslo.
The leader of the Norwegian Nobel Committee which, to Beijing's ire, awarded Liu the peace prize, said the Chinese government bore a heavy responsibility for his death.
"We find it deeply disturbing that Liu Xiaobo was not transferred to a facility where he could receive adequate medical treatment before he became terminally ill," said Berit Reiss-Andersen.
"The Chinese Government bears a heavy responsibility for his premature death," she said in an emailed statement.
The ruling Communist Party considered Liu's writings subversive and imprisoned him four times.
China said at the time that Liu's award was an "obscenity" that should not have gone to a man it called a criminal and a subversive.
Earlier on Thursday, China resisted fresh international pleas to let Liu seek treatment abroad after the latest hospital updates suggested the democracy champion was close to death.