Widow of Chinese Nobel dissident Liu Xiaobo arrives in Berlin

Albert Ho

Albert Ho

It's been nearly a year since Nobel peace prize victor, writer, and human rights activist Liu Xiaobo passed away of liver cancer in custody in China, with Beijing rejecting pleas for the dissident to be allowed to travel overseas for treatment.

Liu Xia, 57, had faced no charges but endured heavy restrictions on her movements since 2010 when her husband won the Nobel Peace Prize, infuriating Beijing. Liu Xia has a close friend in Germany.

Friends say Liu Xia had expressed an interest in going to Germany, where she has a network of friends among Chinese dissidents.

Liu Xiaobo and Liu Xia. I also pray that our parents and my brother-in-law will continue to bless her. The Chinese authorities have maintained that she has the same rights as all Chinese citizens.

The Chinese government has released Liu Xia, the widow of world-renowned poet and political prisoner Liu Xiaobo, from house arrest after renewed worldwide pressure from human rights activists.

At around 11 am on July 10 in Beijing, Liu Xia was allowed to board a Finnair plane leaving China for Germany, BBC Chinese reported.

"But then they refused to do so", one of the sources said.

However, some anxious she may not feel safe to speak about her life in China over the past decade, since her brother still lives in Beijing.

"Now, the harassment of Liu Xia's family who remain in China must end too". In May, the German government said it would welcome Liu after a recording was released of her crying and saying she had lost hope of being able to leave China.

"I'm so angry that I'm ready to die here".

Photographers caught up with her in Helsinki, where she was in transit, and she grinned widely for the cameras spreading her arms - a stark contrast from the few images of her that have surfaced over the past few years in China.


The Chinese government has criticized calls by Western governments for Liu's release, saying that foreign countries were making "improper remarks" over local issues.

"It's really wonderful that Liu Xia is finally able to leave China after suffering so much all these years". German Chancellor Angela Merkel meets regularly with dissidents during visits to China and has raised Liu Xia's case with Chinese officials, including during a visit in May, people familiar with the matter said.

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

Liu Xia is said to be taking medication for clinical depression after years under house arrest.

Pictures of the couple in happier times lined the walls.

Following Liu Xiaobo's release on medical parole last June, the dissident requested permission to receive treatment overseas - an unfulfilled wish that friends believed was for Liu Xia's sake.

Another friend who has spoken to her several times said she was in "bad shape, physically and psychologically". In a letter published previous year, Liu wrote she was "going mad" in her isolation, according to the AFP news agency.

Her husband Liu Xiaobo, a veteran of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, died last year of liver cancer while on medical parole from an 11-year sentence for "subversion".

June 2016: Liu Xia reunited with Liu Xiaobo in hospital. "I hope her life from now on is filled with peace and happiness".

Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said last Thursday that the government has been "caring about the health condition" of the widow, indicating that it will release her anytime soon.

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