Nearly eight years after her husband won the Nobel Peace Prize, Liu Xia is free. Kept under near total house arrest with no formal charges, her only crime was loving Liu Xiaobo — a dissident whose calls for democracy had angered Beijing.
The Chinese government said she was a private citizen, free to go at anytime. But her residence was kept under a tight guard, her movements restricted, and, almost a year after her husband’s death, she had nearly given up hope of ever being released.
Now she is on her way to Berlin, thanks in part to the behind-the-scenes efforts of German diplomats.
- Liu Xia arrives in Europe with a smile, as China says she left country for medical treatment
- NGOs, activists react as Liu Xia leaves China, but fears remain for brother in Beijing
- ‘I want to marry that enemy of the state’: Liu Xia – the apolitical poet who became a dissident’s wife
Here is a timeline of her de facto house arrest.
October 8, 2010
Liu Xiaobo is awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Liu Xia’s de facto house arrest begins soon after.
May 23 2017
Liu Xiaobo is diagnosed with terminal liver cancer. He is sent to a hospital in Shenyang days later, where Liu Xia joins him. They are kept under guard and out of public view.
July 13, 2017
Liu Xiaobo dies, becoming the first Nobel laureate to die in captivity since the Nazi Germany era. Liu Xia is incommunicado. Diplomats begin to pressure China to let her leave for Germany in accordance with her husband’s last wishes.
July 16, 2017
Liu Xia scatters her husband’s ashes at sea. It is the last time she is seen in public for almost a year, during which time she is held in Beijing under de facto house arrest.
July 10, 2018
Liu Xia flies out of China on Finnair flight A85 headed for Berlin.