Liu Xia (protest march pictured – Credit: HKFP/Catherine Lai), the widow of Chinese dissident and Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, left Beijing for Berlin on Tuesday after living eight years under house arrest and three days before the first anniversary of her husband’s death.
Her release comes amid Chinese Premier Li Keqiang’s visit to Germany and his meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday. Reports say Liu’s health issue figured in their talks and Li promised Merkel that the 57-year-old poet and artist would be released for medical treatment shortly.
Hours after Liu flew out of China, spokeswoman of China’s foreign ministry Hua Chunying told media that Liu went to Germany to treat her illness according to her wishes, adding that the issue was not diplomatic in nature.
Reports indicate that Liu boarded a Finnair flight which took off from Beijing at 10.55am to Finland from where she will take a connecting flight to Berlin.
Liu’s younger brother, Liu Hui, said on social media that she left for Europe to “start her new life” which, he hoped, would be peaceful, happy and healthy.
Liu’s friends are worried about her health as she is depressed and needs treatment.
Rights activists are concerned about her brother who has been convicted of fraud in what they believe is a false case. They think China is holding him hostage so that Liu will not talk about her ordeal to the world.
Liu had been under house arrest since 2010 after her husband was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his activism in China.
Liu Xiaobo was jailed in 2009 for subversion and he died last year at 61 from liver cancer while serving an 11-year prison sentence.