Finally…….. she has got a relief. The Chinese Foreign Ministry has allowed Liu Xia – the widow of noted writer, literary critic, human rights activist, philosopher and Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo – to leave the country. After almost eight years of living under house arrest (since 2010), Liu arrived in Berlin on July 17. As the Finnair flight – carrying the poet and visual artist – landed at Tegel airport, human rights activists expressed satisfaction over her release.
Liu was imprisoned for criticising the government in 2009. Her only fault was to demand political reforms in Communist China. Although there were no criminal charges against her, she was under house arrest because of her husband, who received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. Liu recently said that it was “easier to die than live”.
Liu Xia & Liu Xiaobo
The US and Germany had put China under tremendous diplomatic pressure to ensure Liu’s release. Human rights activists, too, backed the move, as Liu – who suffered from depression after spending years under heavy surveillance – fell ill after her husband’s demise in 2017. Last week, Beijing decided to release her, with the Chinese Foreign Ministry saying in a statement that she would visit a foreign country to receive medical treatment.
Meanwhile, the foreign policy experts have opined that diplomacy and trade-related issues prompted Beijing to make such a decision. Earlier this month, the US and China levied tariffs of USD 34 billion on each other’s goods. Now, China plans to join hands with Europe in order to counter the US’ aggression jointly. Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang recently held a meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to discuss the issue. Later, Chancellor Merkel confirmed that some representatives of the European Union would visit the Asian country soon. Ahead of their visit, China released Liu mainly to please Europe.
Talking to the media, Director (China) of Human Rights Watch Sophie Richardson said: “Ever since her late husband received the Nobel Peace Prize while in a Chinese prison, Liu Xia was also unjustly detained. The German government deserves credit for its sustained pressure and hard work to gain Liu Xia’s release.” For his part, China researcher for Amnesty International Patrick Poon stressed: “It’s really wonderful that Liu Xia is finally able to leave China after suffering so much all these years. However, it’s worrying that her brother, Liu Hui, is still kept in China. Liu Xia might not be able to speak much for fear of her brother’s safety.”
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