South China Morning Post
ON THE WEB, 10 July 2018
Liu Xia, the widow of Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo, flew out of China bound for Germany on Tuesday morning, the South China Morning Post has learned.
The 57-year-old poet and artist had been under house arrest for more than seven years since her late husband was awarded the Nobel Prize in 2010 while in jail.
News of Liu Xia’s release came as Chinese Premier Li Keqiang is on a visit to Germany. He met German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Monday.
Liu Xiaobo died aged 61 in hospital on 13 July last year. He was the first Nobel Peace Prize winner to die in custody since German pacifist Carl von Ossietzky in 1938.
Liu left the country aboard a Finnair flight, her friends said.
Her younger brother, Liu Hui, was not on the plane, they said.
A source close to Western diplomats told the Post that Li raised the issue of Liu Xia during his meeting with Merkel.
“Li also promised [Merkel] that Liu will be released for medical treatment in a short time,” the person said.
Liu Hui posted on social media on Tuesday morning that his sister had left Beijing for Europe to “start her new life”. He thanked everyone who had cared for and helped her over the years. The post was verified by two of Liu Xia’s close friends.
Another friend, Ye Du, told the Post that Liu Xia’s elder brother, Liu Tong, told him over the telephone that he was very happy that his sister had left China.
“I hope she can shake off all the unhappy memories of the past when she gets to a free place, and that her health can be assured. I hope I can meet her in person in the future,” Ye quoted him as saying.
Ye said he was also very happy for Liu Xia, adding that he hoped she could now make her health a priority.
After years of living under house arrest Liu Xia suffers from clinical depression and her friends said last year that she required medication just to be able to sleep at night.
While precise details of Liu’s flight out of China are unknown, the only Finnair flight that left Beijing Capital International Airport bound for Berlin on Tuesday morning was Flight AY86, which took off at 10.55am, according to the airport’s website.
It is expected to land in Finland at 2.15pm local time (7.15pm Beijing time) from where Liu will get a connecting flight to Berlin.