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“All human beings are born free and equal

in dignity and rights.”

- Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Liu Xia


Liu Xia is a poet, artist, and founding member of the Independent Chinese PEN Center, a worldwide association for writers.  Xia is also the wife of China’s most prominent human rights advocate, Dr. Liu Xiaobo. Her husband is currently serving 11 years in prison for “inciting subversion of state power.”  Shortly after his imprisonment, Xia’s husband was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize on October 8th.  After visiting her husband on October 10th, Xia returned home only to realize that the government had placed her under house arrest without any formal, legal charge. She updated Twitter to inform her followers that she was being held against her will and pleaded for their help shortly after which her phone and internet lines were cut.  Xia has no access to the outside world, and only on rare occasions is she allowed to leave her home.  After two years of isolation, two AP journalists managed to get past the security guards to speak with her on December 6, 2012.  Then finally at the end of 2012, several of her friends also were able to push through the security guards to get in contact with Liu Xia.  She is currently suffering from coronary heart disease and severe depression.

Liu Xia has been RELEASED.


  • Liu Xia made an unusual phone call, defying her strict house arrest and raising further concerns about her mental health (February 9, 2017, Radio Free Asia).
  • Friends of Liu Xia's husband, the late Dr. Liu Xiaobo, are unable to contact her, now international attention is focused on freeing Liu Xia (July 13, 2017, Reuters). 
  • U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein calls for China to allow Liu Xia to move freely and leave the country (July 20, 2017, Washington Post)
  • Supporters of Liu Xia's husband are stepping up pressure on China for her freedom (July 21, 2017, Radio Free Asia). 
  • U.S. Senator Marco Rubio penned a open letter of support to Liu Xia, chastising the Chinese government for her continued house arrest (July 25, 2017, Time)
  • U.S. Congressman Sandy Levin of Michigan introduced a resolution urging China to release Liu Xia (July 27, 2017, U.S. House of Representatives)
  • In mid-August, Liu Xia appeared in an online video - her first appearance since her husband's death. In it, she tells the camera that she is recovering from her husband's death and will "readjust" in time. It is not clear who made the recording or where it was set, leading to speculation that it may have been made under duress (August 19, 2017, BBC).
  • More than 50 writers, artists, and supporters of PEN America have called on Chinese president Xi Jinping to end all restrictions and surveillance imposed on Liu Xia, widow of late Nobel peace laureate and political prisoner Liu Xiaobo. The signatories include Stephen Sondheim, Chimamanda Achibie, Margaret Atwood, and Khaled Hosseini (November 3, 2017, Radio Free Asia).
  • Friends of the late Chinese democracy advocate and Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo have voiced concern about his widow, Liu Xia’s, health after she sent a letter showing signs of deep depression (December 17, 2017, The Guardian).
  • Liu Xia was able to get out of her home and enjoy decorative lighting in Beijing on Christmas Eve with her younger brother (December 25, 2017, South China Morning Post).
  • Confusion surrounded the status of Liu Xia following a report from The Australian newspaper that she had been cleared by the ruling Chinese Communist Party to leave the country. The paper cited online posts by close friend and outspoken journalist Gao Yu. However, friends and other journalists do not believe this report is reliable. (January 16, 2018, Radio Free Asia).
  • Liu Xia spent Lunar New Year’s eve with her brother, but was not allowed out to meet friends and is still under house arrest (February 17, 2018, South China Morning Post)
  • China is repeatedly postponing discussions with Western governments on the possibility that Liu Xia be allowed to leave the country. “There are growing doubts that she will be released in the near future,” a Western diplomat involved in the case told Reuters, “The case has so far been handled discreetly in the expectation that she would soon be permitted to leave the country.”  (April 11, 2018, Reuters)
  • Germany and the United States have renewed calls for Liu Xia to be released from house arrest and allowed to travel overseas. The calls are the first from Western governments in more than six months. (April 26, 2018, South China Morning Post)
  • According to Liao Yiwu, a Chinese writer living in exile, Liu Xia has expressed on a phone call that if she can't leave China, "it is easier to die than live." (May 2, 2018, Hong Kong Free Press)
  • Chinese authorities have barred five Western diplomats including a European Union, French, Canadian and a German envoy from visiting Liu Xia. (May 13, 2018, Hong Kong Free Press)
  • Dozens of writers and artists have joined together to call for the immediate cessation of all restrictions placed against poet Liu Xia, including her illegal house arrest. (May 16, 2018, PEN America)
  • German chancellor Angela Merkel raised concerns about Liu Xia when she met with Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday. (May 25, 2018, Radio Free Asia)
  • Human rights experts at the United Nations have called on Beijing to release Liu Xia, amid growing fears for her mental health. The statement called on the Chinese government to grant "immediate and unfettered access" to Liu Xia, and also urged that she "be freely allowed to seek medical and psychological treatment where ever she wishes to, including outside China." (July 4, 2018, Radio Free Asia)
  • Liu Xia left China for Europe on Tuesday after a high-level diplomatic campaign by the German government. Her final destination is expected to be Germany. (July 10, 2018, The New York Times)