Dissident Liu Xiaobo's widow Liu Xia allowed to leave China | 2018-07-10 | daily-sun.com

Dissident Liu Xiaobo's widow Liu Xia allowed to leave China

BBC     10th July, 2018 09:11:27 printer

Dissident Liu Xiaobo's widow Liu Xia allowed to leave China

Liu Xia (right) with Liu Xiaobo in 2002. Photo: AFP

The widow of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo has left China after eight years in unofficial detention.


Liu Xia boarded a flight from Beijing en route for Germany early on Tuesday, the Chinese government confirmed.


She had been under effective house arrest in the Chinese capital since her husband won the prize in 2010.


Liu Xiaobo, a university professor turned human rights campaigner, was jailed in 2009 for inciting subversion. He died of liver cancer last year.


Liu Xia, a poet, is said to have suffered from depression after spending years under heavy surveillance.


She has never been charged with any crime but said in May she was ready to die in protest at her continued detention.


A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman confirmed her departure - "for medical treatment, in accordance with her own will" - but said it had nothing to do with this week's visit to Germany by China's Premier Li Keqiang.


Sustained diplomacy led to release


Even under effective house arrest and in declining health, Liu Xia was a threat to the Chinese Communist Party. As the widow of a Nobel Peace Prize winner who'd died in Chinese custody, the authorities here feared that the poet would speak out.


She had never been charged with a crime and yet had guards permanently posted right outside her door and also at the gates to her housing compound. They were there to stop her from leaving and to prevent journalists, diplomats and supporters from visiting.


The Chinese government had always maintained that she was as free as any citizen here but - after eight years being denied permission to leave her house as she pleased - her physical and mental wellbeing were deteriorating.


The fear was that she, like Liu Xiaobo, might die in captivity.


Finally, in the days approaching the first anniversary of her husband's death, a sustained diplomatic effort, led mainly by Germany, has worked and she has realised her dream to get out.