China Releases Liu Xia from House Arrest, Allows Her to Leave Country

11 July, 2018, 01:56 | Author: Myra Gill
  • Widow of Nobel dissident Liu Xiaobo has left China

Liu Xia, widow of the Chinese dissident and Nobel peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, arrived in Helsinki this lunchtime en route to Berlin, ending almost eight years of house arrest in one of the most prominent global human rights cases.

Liu Xia's friend, meanwhile, told Kyodo News that she wanted to leave China together with her younger brother, but that was not permitted. "I'm grateful for those who cared about her and helped her all these year", Liu Hui wrote, according to Ming Pao.

"My sister has left Beijing to fly to Europe".

The Chinese-language report said Liu Xia was aboard a Finnair flight that departed from Beijing at 11 a.m. (0300 GMT).

"It's really wonderful that Liu Xia is finally able to leave China after suffering so much all these years".

"Liu Xia never gave up on her wrongfully imprisoned late husband, and for this she was cruelly punished". Her brother, Liu Hui, was not on the plane, they said.

Ms Liu's departure, following a year of pressure on Beijing from activists and rights groups, comes at the end of a visit to Germany by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, during which the two countries signed commercial deals worth more than $US23 billion ($31 billion).

Following her husband's death in July 2017, Ms Liu's whereabouts were unknown for six months, although the Chinese government claimed she was "free".

He had been sentenced to 11 years in prison on charges of inciting subversion of state power.


Liu Xia, the widow of Chinese Nobel dissident Liu Xiaobo, smiles as she arrives at the Helsinki International Airport in Vantaa, Finland, on July 10, 2018.

"Human rights concerns remain an irritant in the relationship, that is true, but I am pretty sure that all of the agreements and announcements that resulted from the intergovernmental consultations would also have been made if Liu Xia had not been released", she said.

While there was no immediate comment from its embassy, Germany had been urging China to allow Mrs Liu to leave.

"This is fantastic news, something we have all been hoping against hope for a long time", said Hu Jia, a family friend and Beijing-based activist. "But we still fear for Liu Hui, who is being kept in the country as a guarantee so that Liu Xia does not speak out overseas".

Hua Chunying, a Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, said that Liu's travel to Germany for medical treatment was "of her own free will".

China has previously criticized calls by Western governments for Liu's release, saying that foreign countries were making "improper remarks" over what Beijing sees as a domestic affair.

Officials have also insisted that Liu Xia was a free citizen - a clear contradiction of the reality on the ground, according to her friends and people who encountered guards blocking their attempts to visit her at her home in Beijing.

Western diplomats have said, however, that authorities had closely monitored her after the death of her husband and she had only able to meet and speak to friends and family in pre-arranged phone calls and visits.

"I want to marry that enemy of the state!" she said shortly before the pair Wednesday in 1996 during Liu Xiaobo's stay at a labour camp, according to a biography of the dissident by Yu Jie.

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