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10 July 2018, 05:07 | Glen Norman
China has allowed the widow of the late Chinese dissident and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Liu Xiaobo, to leave the country following almost eight years under de facto house arrest.
And in May, dozens of the world's leading writers and artists, from Michael Chabon to Paul Auster and Khaled Hosseini, called on China to release her to seek medical treatment overseas.
Liu Xia's brother Liu Hui told RTHK that he accompanied her to the airport himself on Tuesday morning, and a friend was accompanying her to Germany.
Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing that Ms Liu had gone to Germany to seek medical treatment in accordance with her wishes.
In a phone recordingposted on the internet in May, Liu Xia was heard sobbing without talking for much of the time, apparently over her frustration with the processing of her application to leave China.
Liu Xiaobo, a veteran of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, died last year while serving an 11-year jail sentence for "subversion", making him the first Nobel laureate to die in custody since the era of Nazi Germany.
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After his death, his wife Liu Xia-who was with him in the hospital in his last days-disappeared back into the state of house arrest she'd lived in for years.
A source close to Western diplomats told the Post that Li raised the issue of Liu Xia during his meeting with Merkel.
Meanwhile the rights group Amnesty International welcomed the report, even as it called on the Chinese government to stop members of Liu Xia's family who remain in China.
The German embassy had offered in April to help Liu Xia travel to Germany but the move did not take place.
Liu's release coincides with a visit to Germany by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
In May, dozens of the world's leading writers and artists, from Michael Chabon to Paul Auster and Khaled Hosseini, called on China to release her to seek medical treatment overseas.
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Berlin has been pushing China to let Liu leave the country following the death of her husband.
"We noticed that Liu Xia's brother Liu Hui still remains in the country, just like a hostage". "May the rest of her life be peaceful and happy".
China claimed that Liu Xia's freedom of movement was not impeded.
But now, Liu Xia is reported to have been allowed to leave China. She has never been charged with any crime.
Her husband was only the second Nobel Peace Prize victor to die in police custody, a fact pointed to by human rights groups as an indication of the ruling party's increasingly hard line against its critics.
Memorial events to commemorate the one-year anniversary of Liu Xiaobo's death on Friday are planned in cities around the world including Hong Kong, Taipei and Berlin. "However, after eight years under illegal house arrest her health is a cause for genuine concern". "It would be most callous of the Chinese authorities to use Liu Xia's relatives to put pressure on Liu Xia to prevent her from speaking out in future". At the time, Liu had arrived in Helsinki, Finland to transfer flights.
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