Nobel laureate and poet fell in love after meeting in the 1980s and have endured persecution, detention and now, his critical illness, together

Not long after Liu Xiaobo was sentenced to 11 years in jail, he discovered two items had vanished from his correspondence with his wife. To their astonishment and amusement, the couple realised the only letters censors had blocked were the love poems that each had penned to the other.

Perhaps authorities feared they were arousing and would get the inmate too fired up, Liu Xia later joked. But there was nothing funny about the state’s unrelenting interference in even the most intimate parts of their life – nor about the unchecked force of their devotion in the face of every obstacle.

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