As one of its final acts before leaving town, the Senate is set to pass a resolution Thursday calling on China to allow Liu Xia, the widow of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo, to leave China. The nonbinding resolution would also declare the view of the Senate that the U.S. government should give Liu Xia permanent resident status in the United States.
The bipartisan resolution was introduced Thursday by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.) and was placed on the Senate hotline. If no senator objects before the end of the day, the resolution will pass by unanimous consent and the Senate will have spoken in a clear voice about Liu’s case for the first time.
Liu has been under house arrest in China since 2010 and has publicly declared she is not free.
“The Government of the People’s Republic of China should permit Liu Xia the freedom to leave China and travel to a place of her own choosing,” the Senate resolution states. “It is in the national interest of the United States to grant lawful permanent resident status to Liu Xia if she is permitted to travel to the United States.”
The Cruz-Leahy resolution does not prevent the Senate from later taking up Cruz’s bill to rename the street in front of the Chinese Embassy “Liu Xiaobo Plaza,” but that bill will require more time to go through the legislative process.
The resolution also praises Liu Xiaobo’s long history as a democracy and human rights activist in China, dating back to the Tiananmen Square protests and massacre in 1989 and including his role in co-writing Charter 08, a manifesto calling for freedom and democracy in China.
Liu Xiaobo was jailed several times for his activism, most recently in 2009 for “inciting subversion of state power.” He received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 ‘‘for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights in China.” Last month, he died of liver cancer while in Chinese government custody.