Chinese Nobel widow Liu arrives in Germany

Liu Xia

Over the past year, the European Union and the United States have repeatedly urged President Xi Jinping to allow the widow to leave the country, asserting she had never been charged with a crime. Her brother, Liu Hui, posted on WeChat that his sister had flown to Europe to "start her new life". "I am happy for her, but I will continue to pray for all of the tens of thousands of prisoners who remain in Chinese jails, hospitals and homes".

"I hope Liu Xia can find some personal peace and restore her health in Germany", Hussein said in a statement.

Liu's release comes as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is visiting Germany, a country that in May said it would welcome the widow after a recording was released of her crying in desperation and indicating she had lost hope of being able to leave China. According to Liu Xia's friends, Liu Xia had previously hoped she and Liu Hui could be allowed to leave China together.

"The release of Liu Xia shows that when concerned governments push hard enough, Beijing will back down", Richardson said.

"Liu Xia is finally fulfilling Liu Xiaobo's wishes and escaping from the prison that is China", author Ma Jian said via his Twitter account.

Berlin has been pushing China to let Liu leave the country following the death of her husband.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has been vocal about Chinese human rights abuses and is believed to have pushed for Liu Xia's release during her May visit to Beijing, where she met the wives of detained human rights lawyers.

Chinese authorities put her under house arrest in 2010, days after the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded her imprisoned husband the Peace Prize, infuriating the Chinese government. State security assigned guards around-the-clock outside her Beijing home and restricted her access to the internet and the outside world, allowing her only occasional phone calls with a small circle of friends.

While Liu Xiaobo was a famous advocate of human rights and political reform in China, Liu Xia is an equally respected writer and artist and has written a number of poems about her now-deceased husband.

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China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Hua Chunying, at a regular briefing, said Liu Xia left "in accordance to her own will" for "medical treatment". Beijing has continued to keep her and her brother Liu Hui under tight control since the dissident's death, despite constant lobbying from foreign governments and human rights groups to set her free.

Liu Xia poses with a photo of her and her husband during an interview at her home in Beijing on December 6, 2012.

Germany and the United States both sent doctors to visit Liu Xiaobo during his last days.

Frances Eve, a researcher for Chinese Human Rights Defenders, said Liu Xia's release was likely meant to mute criticism around the anniversary of Liu's death. China's deteriorating rights record is also being felt beyond its borders as it seeks to undermine worldwide human rights institutions. Her situation drove the artist and poet into depression and resulted in criticism of China's human rights record.

The authorities' refusal to allow Liu Xiaobo or Liu Xia to leave China at that point prompted an global outcry.

"The deaths of our mother, father and then her husband in the course of just two years had a massive impact on her health", Liu's brother Liu Hui told RFA after her departure. "It would be easier to die than to live".

He was last arrested for his role in creating Charter 08, a call for political changes in China. "Nothing would be simpler for me than dying in defiance".

Despite a diagnosis of late stage liver cancer and calls from the global community to release him for urgent medical treatment, Liu Xiaobo died at the age of 61 while still imprisoned on July 13, 2017. "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". "She has been an unwilling symbol of the brutality of China's treatment of human rights activists".

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