Liu was formerly a civil servant in the Beijing tax bureau, and met her husband Liu Xiaobo while part of the Beijing literary scene in the 1980s. She married Liu Xiaobo while he was imprisoned in China in a labor re-education camp, between the years of 1996 and 1999. Ms. Liu prefers to lead the solitary life of an intellectual. However, being the wife of an oft-imprisoned activist, she has been forced to act as his proxy in the public arena. She has been described as her husband's "most important link to the outside world." Because she is the wife of one of China's most prominent human rights advocates, she also personally experiences pressures from Chinese authorities for publicly voicing opinions. Since his arrest, she has lived under constant surveillance. From the time of their marriage, during his several terms in prison, she has continued to speak out, although somewhat reluctantly, on issues of human rights both on her own and on his behalf. Despite the pressures, she attempts to retain a life of normality.
Two Decembers ago on this day, Liu Xiaobo was honored with the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo, Norway. The Chinese government did not allow Mr. Liu to receive the prize and placed his wife Liu Xia under house arrest. He is the only imprisoned Nobel laureate and she remains under house arrest. Just last Thursday, Liu Xia gave her first interview in 26 months. Two reporters from the Associated Press managed to sneak into her home when the guards posted outside her residence stepped away for lunch. The interview, during which she reportedly trembled and cried, is required reading for those wanting to understand China today.