Hong Kong activists celebrate after Liu Xia 'leaves China'


After his death, human rights activists, as well as several USA lawmakers, expressed deep concern for Liu Xia's fate and livelihood and called on the Chinese government to release her from house arrest, which she had been confined and isolated for eight years.

Liu Xia, 57, had gone to "start her new life" in Europe, her younger brother, Liu Hui, said on his WeChat account, according to a screenshot of the message shown to Reuters by a friend who declined to be identified. "I'm grateful for all those who cared about and helped her over the years".

"Liu Xia is finally free and today the world celebrates her enjoyment of the liberties that were rightfully hers all along", he said.

But he voiced concern for her brother Liu Hui who remains in China and said she "might not be able to speak much for fear of her brother's safety". "I hope that being in a free country will allow Liu Xia to heal her longstanding traumas and wounds". The German government negotiated Liu Xia's release, whose health significantly deteriorated during almost eight years of house arrest.

Her departure, following a year of pressure on Beijing from activists and rights groups, comes at the end of a visit to Germany by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, during which the two countries signed commercial deals worth more than $23 billion.

Liu Xiaobo died on, 2017 of late-stage liver cancer, while serving an 11-year jail term for subversion, and the authorities denied requests for him and Liu Xia to travel overseas to seek medical treatment.

She has been under de-facto house arrest since 2010 after her husband, Liu Xiaobo was awarded the Nobel peace prize in absentia for his activism in China.

She was cut off from friends and family at her home in Beijing, with guards preventing a Sky crew from visiting.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman, Hua Chunying, confirmed that Ms Liu had left for Germany, saying she was seeking "medical treatment on her own accord". 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. "The German government deserves credit for its sustained pressure and hard work to gain Liu Xia's release". In a letter published a year ago, Liu wrote she was "going mad" in her isolation, according to the AFP news agency.

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Liu's late husband, Liu Xiaobo was a renowned writer and activist. It also comes nearly one year after the death of dissident Liu Xiaobo.

In Washington, the State Department welcomed Liu Xi's release and urged China to release all of its political prisoners.

Semi-autonomous Hong Kong, which enjoys freedoms unmatched on the mainland, is the only place in China where public campaigning for the couple and human rights are tolerated by authorities. People who know about the issue said Merkel also discussed Liu's case during a visit in May.

In May, Chinese writer Liao Yiwu, who lives in Germany, published a recording of an April phone call between him and a hysterical, desperate Liu.

He died last summer of late-term liver cancer after the Chinese government repeatedly denied his request to receive medical treatment overseas.

"It's easier to die than live". Handed an 11-year jail sentence for fraud in 2013, Liu Hui was later released but remained monitored, according to friends of the family. "Using death to defy could not be any simpler for me".

He was last arrested for his role in creating Charter 08, a call for political changes in China.

And Sophie Richardson, China director of the New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), expressed "relief" at the news.

A successful artist and poet, Liu told Associated Press reporters during a visit to her home in 2012 that she had expected China would punish her for her husband's Nobel award.