Published: Tue, July 10, 2018
Global | By Marsha Munoz

Liu Xia, wife of late Nobel Peace Prize victor, leaves China

Liu Xia, the widow of a Chinese dissident and Nobel peace laureate, left Beijing this morning for Berlin, ending almost eight years of house arrest in one of the most high-profile worldwide rights cases.

"There are very strong elements within China who do not want to acquiesce to foreign pressures, but the problem is that they can not keep her under house arrest... in the long term because they will face global condemnation, and they do not have an explanation, so it's a very tricky hot potato..."

"Liu Xia has been suffering from depression and under tight surveillance for so many years", he said.

Liu Xia, who has been under house arrest since 2010, left China to receive "medical treatment according to her own will", foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said.

She took a Finnair flight from Beijing to Berlin at 11:00 local time (03:00 GMT) on Tuesday, a friend, Ye Du, told news agencies. He was jailed for 11 years a year earlier for inciting "subversion of state power", after he penned Charter '08 - a manifesto urging democratic reform.

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Johnny Lau, a political commentator in Hong Kong, said he believed the authorities had let Liu Xia go to avoid her case sparking a "surge" of pressure on China around the July 13 anniversary of Liu Xiaobo's death.

"We call on the global community to continue to try to save Liu Hui, to release Liu Xia from worries, to let her obtain true freedom".

An accomplished artist and poet, Liu told Associated Press reporters during an unexpected visit to her home in 2012 that she had anticipated China would punish her for her husband's Nobel award but she had not expected to be kept under "Kafkaesque" house arrest. He met German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday.

In May, dozens of the world's leading writers and artists, from Michael Chabon to Paul Auster and Khaled Hosseini, called on China to release her to seek medical treatment overseas.

China is expected to use her brother as a "hostage" to make Liu Xia shy away from criticizing the Chinese government or the ruling Communist Party overseas, some foreign affairs experts say.

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"Xiaobo is gone, and there's nothing in the world for me now", Liu said tearfully. "I hope from now on her life is peaceful and happy", he wrote.

Liu Xiaobo's prison sentence turned out to be for life.

Her younger brother, Liu Hui, is in China.

Efforts to secure Ms Liu's departure came amid growing concern over her health and state of mind, after Liao Yiwu, a dissident and friend living in Germany, released details of a telephone conversation in April in which an anguished Ms Liu said she was losing hope of leaving.

"Now, the harassment of Liu Xia's family who remain in China must end too". "The Chinese authorities tried to silence her, but she stood tall for human rights. It would be most callous of the Chinese authorities to use Liu Xia's relatives to put pressure on Liu Xia to prevent her speaking out in the future". At the time, Liu had arrived in Helsinki, Finland to transfer flights.

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