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Together and Apart: My Life with Liu Xianbin—Dedicated to the Wives of all Dissidents

August 10, 2010

Translation by Human Rights in China

Part One

A few years back, when Xianbin was serving in Sichuan No. 3 Prison (in Dazhu County), Ouyang Yi, a friend who had been campaigning on his behalf, implored me to write something about Xianbin and me. Honestly, I felt that I really couldn’t do it. How we got to know one another was quite simple, not the legend that people imagine. In November 1993, I was a teacher at Suining Middle School. Xianbin had just left Qincheng Prison and was helping his sister-in-law watch her shop. I often went to chat with his sister-in-law, so that was how we met.

Portrait of Liu Xianbin and his wife, Suining City, Sichuan Province, 1994. Photo courtesy of the family.

What did Xianbin and I talk about? I can no longer recall now. Though I had witnessed what happened in 1989, I was filled with curiosity about his experience. A man still so optimistic and active despite having suffered so much—what couldn’t he endure? I liked him tremendously. Though he didn’t have a job, and his hukou [household registration] was in the countryside, I knew that a job and a hukou wouldn’t matter much in the future: as long as he could support himself, I would be able to provide for myself and our children.

Our relationship began in March 1994. Xianbin had already left Suining at the time and had begun shuttling between Suining and Chengdu marketing a drink called “mango tea.” I’ve never been much concerned about money, but I was pleased to see that he was hard working.

In May, I think, Xianbin said that he wanted to go to Beijing. Before he left, we took a long walk through the old streets of Suining. Xianbin feared that I would be lonely and proposed to buy me a black-and-white television; I declined. He then suggested a gold necklace, but I didn’t want one. Later, we decided to have a picture taken together as a keepsake. We asked around at several places, but nobody was willing to take this kind of small business. We had no choice but to be extravagant and spent 35 yuan to take a set of four black-and-white wedding-style photos.

During the summer break my brother’s whole family took a trip to Beijing and brought Xianbin a letter and some clothes from me. They brought back a letter from Xianbin and a box of tapes of the Taiwanese television series The Years (似水年华). In his letter, he wrote of sitting in a park alone at dusk and how he cried when he heard piano music from a distance and thought of those dear to him back home.

We registered our marriage on September 13 [in 1994]. Xianbin had to leave in a hurry, and we didn’t have the time to take the standard photos, so we pasted one of the black-and-white wedding-style photos onto our marriage certificate. Xianbin took one of the photos with him to Beijing, and I stayed in Suining with the other three. Perhaps because of the pain of missing me, Xianbin had asked me to consider finding work in Beijing, but we did not act on it. At the urging of Xianbin’s mother, we had a modest wedding on January 28, 1995. I think Xianbin’s mother had been under a lot of pressure since Xianbin had gone from being a university student to being a convict; and now she finally had this day to be proud and happy for him. She said that she just wanted to sing at the wedding. And my own poor mother just kept crying; it was only on the eve of the wedding that she learned about Xianbin’s whole situation. My mother asked, resigned: “How much farmland does Liu Xianbin have?”

Part Two

I became Xianbin’s bride in a small room next to the boys’ dormitory, on the west side of the first floor of Suining Middle School’s Jiguang Building. Our new home was very plain: a 24-inch black-and-white photo of us hung on the wall, and translucent green contact paper covered a large window. If you looked out from the window, you could see a large banyan tree in the courtyard, a small pavilion covered in green tiles, and an old bell. The bell had long been abandoned, and almost never rang. The morning after our wedding, Xianbin, like a child, rang the bell with its iron hammer. The schoolyard was very quiet due to the holiday, and the resonant but simple peal reached far and lingered for a long time.

Xianbin has brought up this small detail many times on various occasions. I think it’s because our little home and that bell were the happiest memory in his entire life, and also a symbol of our rare peaceful life together.

On the fourth day of Spring Festival [in 1995], Xianbin and I returned from meeting with some of his classmates to find the main entrance to the dormitory unlocked and the door to our room open. Everything in the room was in order, but one of the two cameras that had been on the desk had disappeared. Xianbin had a different understanding of our strange burglary: the thief had wanted only the film in the camera, not money or things. And like this, his friend Chen Bing lost his camera, and Xianbin and I lost all the photos of our wedding.

Xianbin had faintly sensed something, but this didn’t affect his mood. Though I regretted the loss, I had no way of looking into it. It’s just that when the subject of those photos came up, I liked to believe that they were lying in someplace safe, and that perhaps one day they’d all be returned to us.

I can’t recall clearly how long Xianbin and I stayed together after the wedding. He always left in a hurry and then returned suddenly. Whenever he left, my heart would fall into a bottomless abyss, without a single word from him, and with nowhere to pour out my worries. Perhaps because the days we spent together were so few that even after so many years of marriage, I’d still be bashful when he came back, and my heart would not stop pounding.

In the summer of 1995, Xianbin took me to Baoshi Middle School to see his good friend Ouyang Yi. Ouyang Yi had become a father. His child was very young, so Teacher Luo [Luo Bizhen, Ouyang Yi’s wife] and I stayed at their home to watch him, and Ouyang Yi took Xianbin to local farmers’ homes to do a survey. Xianbin was very excited when they came back, and wrote for several days.

The first time the police searched our home, we had already moved to the eastern side of the Jiguang Building’s third floor. It was a three-room apartment made of wood, with a balcony and a simple kitchen and bathroom. The décor was simple, but warm, and it was here that Xianbin learned how to cook. In March and April 1996, Xianbin wasn’t able to leave as freely as he had been before; the police would quickly learn of his return and would take him in for questioning. At that time, the questioning was somewhat hostile. Xianbin didn’t want to tangle with them, and eventually he just wouldn’t come home. Our meetings as husband and wife became increasingly difficult. One morning in May, Xianbin’s mother came by to say that he had come back and was at the room she rented on Xiaodong Street. I rushed there anxiously, and slipped into his mother’s home, where I found Xianbin sitting on an old bench, waiting for me and peeling a peach.

That afternoon, Xianbin took me on a stroll through the park next to the school. Compared to our home, the remote park was a safer place to be. We nestled together on a bench until dusk. For dinner, we had “Feng Dumplings,” and Xianbin took me to the bank of Fujiang River. There was garbage everywhere back then, piles of rubble, and very few people walked there. We walked hand-in-hand in the dim lamplight, deep into the night. Xianbin decided to go to town only after we grew tired. We went through streets and alleys before finally finding a small hotel to stay where we wouldn’t have to register our names.

The police hadn’t seen Xianbin for quite some time, so they must have been anxious. At the beginning of June, I received a telegram that my father was critically ill, and so I rushed back to my family’s home in Renshou [Sichuan]. All the way I noticed that a well-dressed man was following me. He followed me when I changed buses and would take out some dark thing (I don’t know whether it was a portable phone) and step aside to contact someone. I knew instinctively that they were looking for Xianbin. My suspicion was later confirmed when I arrived at my brother’s wife’s home. She asked me, “Did something happen to your husband? Why did the police come here asking about him?”

In 1996, when the Copa Libertadores de América [soccer competition] began, Xianbin came home like a bird tired of flying. Domestic Security1 had gotten word of his return and came immediately; Xianbin’s high school homeroom teacher (the assistant principal) knocked on our door with a group of people. Like this, teacher and student reunited, somewhat awkwardly. Xianbin was quickly taken away by Wang Yanwen, the aggressive head of the Public Security Bureau’s Political Security Department2; others stayed behind to rummage through our things.

The police moved my mattress!

The police made a mess of my clothes!

The police opened my diary!

The police are reading what I’d written!

They blatantly violated my privacy. It was like someone had stripped me of my clothes and thrown them to the street—never had I felt so humiliated! I was tense and angry; my entire body was shaking. I was carrying inside my clothes the address book that Xianbin had slipped me; I was walking around on the balcony, pretending to be calm.

Xianbin came home safely the next day, and the six diaries, with 14 years of records of a girl’s youth and dreams—I burned them all until there was nothing left.

Part Three

In late May, 1997, shortly before the birth of our daughter, Xianbin stopped his travels temporarily and decided to stay at home for a while. My belly was already very big and walking was difficult; he often secretly worried for me. I took a walk one day and went to his sister-in-law’s shop; I was having a great time chatting and forgot to go home. He didn’t know what had happened to me and was as nervous as an ant in a hot frying pan. Our daughter was born on the morning of June 13, and Xianbin couldn’t stop beaming. Every day he’d do the laundry and cook, and look after our daughter, exhilarated at being busy. One day, less than a month after our child was born, he said, “I have to take a trip soon, but I’ll ask mother to come over to help you!”

Liu Xianbin, with daughter, Suining City, Sichuan Province, June 20, 1999. Photo courtesy of the family.

He gave me some money to get by and left, seemingly totally unencumbered. I didn’t know where he’d gone, and it seemed I didn’t need to. But when he returned that autumn, Xianbin was no longer the man we had known—he was a patient with a relapse of tuberculosis. He was coughing up blood nonstop and we had to send him to the hospital. I carted our daughter back and forth between home, the market, and the hospital, my heart filled with endless grief.

Xianbin was a strapping man, but his relapse left him frail like a child who needs coddling. I struggled to pay his bills for medicines and nutritious food, borrowing wherever I could. Later, when I really couldn’t face borrowing money anymore, I sold off a gold ring, given to me by Xianbin’s mother, at a low price—I’ll always remember how sad I was as I cautiously entered the little private gold shop, thinking: “What can I use to save you, my love?”

That was the second time Xianbin had contracted tuberculosis. His mother was distressed and tried all kinds of methods and remedies in an attempt to beat back the illness. She’d heard that there was an herbal soak that could alleviate his condition, so she hauled back a big wok from a market in Renli several kilometers away to make the medicine at our home. She economized at home to help us out time after time, so that we could scrape by. The police also visited Xianbin in the hospital, though, of course, I wouldn’t know whether that had any ulterior motives. By spring 1998, Xianbin’s condition had improved and he could come home to recuperate. In April, we moved to an apartment near the entrance of the school. It was old, but large and had space for three rooms. Thus Xianbin’s father was able to come live with us, and he’s been looking after us for 12 years since.

His father was 70 that year and still quite agile. He’d frequently take our daughter out and about in her bamboo stroller, and Xianbin would go with them. They’d often take her to the Chuanbei Institute of Education next door. The school had a large garden, and flowers were in bloom year round. Frequently I’d get out of class and look for them beneath a whirling osmanthus tree, and the whole family would gather there. We went there so many times that the osmanthus, rose willow, and wisteria began to grow in our hearts. [In the years] after Xianbin was released from prison [in 2008], he told our daughter a number of times that he used to take her there to look at the budding flowers and hear the birds, but how could she, by then 13 years old, have any fond memories of father and daughter together?

Xianbin had not fully recovered, but he couldn’t wait. He went to Chengdu once summer was over. Not long afterwards, he took some sheets, a quilt, and some other things with him from home, as if he intended to stay away for a long time. Our daughter was still young and needed affection; I tried extra hard to make up for the loss of her paternal love, and felt happiness in her growth.

In December, Xianbin came home in high spirits and brought with him a fax machine. It needed a telephone line to send messages. So, we installed a phone: 0825-2248222.

It was hard for Xianbin to control his enthusiasm over the fax machine. He didn’t go out and was busy all day long. But the atmosphere seemed to be unusually tense: Officer Wang’s temper was flaring hotter; the police were searching our home more; and his questioning sessions were lasting longer, often as long as 48 hours. Then there was a police car parked outside our building day and night, and we could hear it rumble even from our home on the third floor. Xianbin’s movement was restricted; he stayed at home and was unable to print his completed articles to fax out.

One day I went grocery shopping. Xianbin had given me his articles. I found a little out-of-the-way shop and used their printer to print them, and I brought them home in my cloth grocery bag. So Xianbin’s articles continued to be faxed out, and Domestic Security was baffled; they followed me and confiscated that shop’s printer and copier. I was taken to the police station and for the first time was questioned by the police.

Xianbin was livid at the endless police harassment, and took our daughter to the Suining Municipal Bureau of Public Security to protest. On December 19, at the entrance of the Bureau, Xianbin refused to accept a summons, and Wang Yanwen, exasperated, ordered his officers to drag him in by force; they tore his sleeves in the process.

Things seemed to cool off in January 1999, and Xianbin again left Suining. Winter vacation came, and Xianbin’s father went back home to Renli to prepare for Spring Festival. My daughter and I were left together, eagerly hoping for Xianbin to return soon. We had a phone, but Xianbin was cautious and would never call us. Two days before Spring Festival, Ouyang Yi said that something had happened to Xianbin, that he was being held at the Beijing Shelter Center. It was upon hearing that that my apprehension was eased a bit.

Our Spring Festival that year was a broken one, but I hadn’t expected that this brokenness was only a beginning, and would last until 2008.

Part Four

Family portrait of Liu Xianbin, his wife and their daughter at two-years-old, Suining City, Sichuan Province, June 13, 1999. Photo courtesy of the family.

Our daughter turned two on June 13, 1999, and we took a family portrait together. This is the only picture of us full of joy and happiness together. On the 20th, after her birthday dinner, Xianbin took a picture holding her. Who could have known that this would become the only proof in his entire life that he had held her in his warm embrace? On July 7, the police charged through our door; instantly, our simple home was in chaos. Our daughter was too young to feel any fear. Xianbin hugged her tightly before he was taken away, as if saying goodbye forever, as he would say to me each time he’d leave our home. (He always bid us farewell, but to me every “farewell” was a “goodbye forever.”) On August 6, Xianbin was sentenced to 13 years in prison, with three years of deprivation of political rights on charges of “subversion of state power.” On September 3, he was sent to Sichuan No. 3 Prison (in Dazhu County).

Dazhu is a small town in eastern Sichuan, a place I’d never been before. But for those ten long years,3 time and again, my daughter and I took crowded trains and then bolted on the rugged mountain roads by bus. The mountains were steep, the route was hazardous, and the bus ride was treacherous. Every time, I’d hold my daughter very tightly as if we were racing to an appointment with death.

To relieve the tension of the trip, we’d look at the mountains, the trees, and the hillsides emitting white smoke. My nerves would only calm once the bus had passed through the hemp-covered foothills of Jiulong Mountain. In that tiny, remote mountain town, we stayed at 8-yuan-a-night hotels and ate the simplest meals; Xianbin’s mother, my daughter, and I relied on one another to survive. My impression of prisons had come from the summer of 1995. Xianbin and I went to see our good friend Chen Wei,4 who had been transferred to Sichuan No. 1 Prison (in Gaoping District, Nanchong) from Beijing. Xianbin and Chen Wei smoked and talked, holding each other’s hands, across a long platform covered in white tile in a room that was like a large dining hall. Since then, I thought that all the inmates in China were allowed to talk with their families holding each other’s hands.

Seeing Xianbin was not easy. We had to pass through two large gates and then cumbersome procedures before we could meet with him in a room that was filled with watchful eyes. It was like a scene out of a European or American movie. Only then did I realize how foolish and naive my notion to have our daughter spend Spring Festival together with Xianbin in prison was. It was a room on the third floor, not that large, with a large rectangular area partitioned off by bullet-proof glass. Each time, Xianbin, filled with smiles, would come to sit facing us from the other side of the glass partition. Though we were sitting face-to-face we were unable to feel the other’s breath and could only chat for half an hour by phone.

One Spring Festival, I took a few nephews to see Xianbin. Our luck was especially good that year—we were actually permitted to eat hot pot with Xianbin. Xianbin and I sat close together for over an hour, though we didn’t dare to hold hands. Our daughter was seven that year. She ran into the glass-partitioned area, wild with joy, and hugged Xianbin. Then she pulled a funny face and said, “Mama, now you two hug!” Xianbin and I hesitated at either side of the entrance and glanced to the officers watching; finally we made that difficult step forward and had our only embrace as husband and wife in those ten years.

Xianbin is a reserved person, but in letters he was filled with great tenderness. He never stopped educating our daughter and would send her drawings and stories. Since I knew my letters were not read by him first, mine became formulaic. I’d talk about what was happening in the family, rarely revealing any of my sorrow—I did not want the police or prison wardens to revel in my sadness. Some of my letters were emotional, but Xianbin actually couldn’t tell. He was shocked later on to hear me say that I’d always cry when writing to him.

Around 2001, Xianbin wrote that he’d gained weight. I worried a bit about his health (he had not totally recovered from tuberculosis), and warned him that it could be swelling, like in the Great Famine of the 50s. The next time that I went to see him, one of the prison wardens, with an air of importance about him, held up my letter and criticized me, saying: “You’re a teacher? How can you say such a thing? What do you mean, ‘the entire country was swollen’?” I didn’t back down a bit and we fought loudly.

Beginning in 2005, my letters became more like photo captions than letters. I began using photos routinely to communicate with Xianbin, e.g., photos of a red dragonfly in flight taken on the outskirts of town, our daughter’s flute recitals, and family gatherings at Spring Festival. I hoped that Xianbin could visually experience nature and life in the photos, and thus come closer to us in spirit.

Part Five

I thought that our lives would calm down while Xianbin was in prison—he’d no longer drift endlessly without knowing where food or clothing would come from, and our daughter and I would no longer be frightened or harmed or have to spend our days in gloom and helplessness.

Sister Xie Jun (Huang Xiaoming’s ex-wife) and Teacher Luo Bizhen (Ouyang Yi’s wife) had spoken of how their children had watched with fear as the police rummaged through their things and then took their fathers away. I felt fortunate that my daughter was still young and knew neither fear nor harm. I enjoyed this kind of calm after the storm and felt the happiness that came from tranquility.

Occasionally Xianbin’s friends would visit and would leave some articles about Xianbin. I was busy caring for a two-year-old child and supporting my family and was too distracted to appreciate them.

Around the June Fourth anniversaries, I would be taken to the school’s security office and questioned by a scowling Officer Zheng Dashuang. Sometimes he’d be aggressive, sometimes entreating. Perhaps because they were disappointed that I never betrayed Xianbin, they once threatened to force me to teach at a primary school in the countryside. In fact, I was already prepared to return home and farm, so such threats had little power over me.

On the night of May 28, 2011—Xianbin had been in prison for almost two years—Zheng Dashuang, leading a large group of people, came knocking on our door unexpectedly. He said that Xianbin had committed an offense in prison and so he needed to search our home to help with the investigation. The police again looked through every corner of our home. In the end, they only found several particularly literary articles by Ouyang Yi and Huo Ge5 as well as a letter from Mr. Zhang (I apologize, I’ve since forgotten his name). They acted as if they had found treasure; they took me to the school administration office and questioned me until late into the night.

Mr. Zhang was Dutch and had been labeled a Rightist in his youth. In 2000, he sent a letter with US$100 and 40 guilder out of sympathy as a Spring Festival gift to our daughter. His letter was in traditional Chinese characters, and the contents were very clear. But the police dwelled endlessly on the letter, as if they were digging for something. It was quite amusing, actually, to see them making such a fuss over it. But I didn’t want to play this game with them, and so I told them that I needed to see to my daughter and wanted to go home. They exploited this weak point to threaten me, saying, “Don’t even think about going home if you don’t explain this clearly!” To them, I would never be able to explain clearly! So I decided not to talk. There was nothing else they could do, so they drove me to some place a ways away from the north entrance of the school and held me in a room.

The room was on a second floor and had several iron bunk beds in it. It looked like a student dormitory, except that it was bare and looked as if no one had stayed there before. I looked over the room in the light and found a mattress on one of the upper bunks. I climbed up and fell asleep on it in my clothes.

The next morning a voice shouting “Breakfast time!” woke me up. I saw an old man push a bowl of porridge through a small window. After I finished eating, I looked out my window and could see the dark green top of a large tree. The old man walked back and forth twice in the long corridor. Perhaps he saw that I seemed like a decent person, he found a magazine for me to pass the time. At 5 p.m., a plump woman opened the door. In her office, I filled out some registration forms. She went through the motions of asking me whether I had anything to add to the question from the day before and then let me go home.

I had evaporated from this world for 24 hours. Aside from Xianbin’s father and my daughter, nobody knew what had happened. When I spoke with Chen Wei later about it, he said, “I’ve also just been released from the rehabilitation center!” It turns out we were both held at the same place, but he was on the first floor. I asked, “What’d you have for lunch?” “Potatoes!” he replied, and we both cracked up.

Part Six

At the end of 1999, the police mounted a large photo exhibition of their accomplishments at a square near the Chuanbei Institute of Education. I heard that they had photos of Xianbin’s trial, but I never went to see. News of my husband’s sentence slowly spread through our community. Our daughter and I became objects of pity, and some people began avoiding me. Back then, associating with people of my sort of background was dangerous if you wanted to get ahead in your career.

I nearly cut off all contact with my family and friends back in Renshou so that they could live in peace. My mother only learned at the end of 2005 that Xianbin had been arrested and imprisoned, by which point he had already been in for six years. I feared a replay of the tragedy that happened with Chen Wei’s elderly mother, so I took my mother to the garden at Chuanbei Institute of Education and told her the news that Xianbin had won a prize and about the prize money, and then told her about his sentence and how well I was faring. My illiterate old mother looked relieved, as if she understood all that had happened. She seemed so young, so quiet, and so wise that I felt that all the worries I had for so many years had been baseless.

Yet for several days after, my mother hid in the kitchen to cry. My daughter was not yet eight, but she already knew how to comfort others. She said, “Grandmother, don’t cry. My father’s a teacher there, he’s doing very well!” Even though we received very little attention and help from my relatives, my daughter and I were still fortunate. On Children’s Day, June 1, 2000, a retired Rightist teacher came quietly to our door with a bag of plums and Wahaha bottled drinks for my daughter, who was three at the time. Two friends, a married couple, often brought their child to visit us, and, for these many years, showered attention on my daughter as if she were their own. A female doctor in the Yanshi Street Clinic took pity on us; she was attentive and compassionate every time she treated my daughter and would waive or reduce the prescription fee. Chen Wei’s mother lent me money that she had withdrawn without any hesitation from her stock market pension account to buy an apartment in Baisheng Jiayuan. And from faraway Chongqing, old Mr. Deng Huanwu visited us several times; he also lent me money for some simple fix-ups so that we could settle into a new home in September 2002. Though Xianbin was unable to come home, our life in Baisheng Jiayuan was simple and happy.

On June 25, 2002, Domestic Security again summoned me. But in six years that followed, the police seemed to have forgotten my existence and never again troubled me at home (though actually they were always prepared to do so). Only on two occasions did they call me to the school administration office to question me or give me warnings—the first was the Chongqing police asking whether Xiao Xuehui had sent me U.S. dollars, and the second was the Suining police asking me not to leave Suining during the Olympics. I kept my mind on my work and saving money to support our family. My daughter was growing up healthy and had excellent marks.

On December 5, 2002, Ouyang Yi was detained by the Chengdu police and later sentenced to two years for “inciting subversion of state power.” Luo Bizhen was devastated, but I had no way to comfort her. Because this is the possible fate for the wife of every dissident in China today, I don’t know how much our tears can change this reality.

Ouyang’s two years seemed to go by in a flash compared to Xianbin’s long prison term. In the morning of December 4, 2004, Ouyang was escorted to his family home in Suining by prison guards, and missed meeting up with Teacher Luo, who had gone to Chengdu to meet him, so the Baoshi police substation officers had to take him to Chengdu. In the end, Kong Jie, one of Ouyang Yi’s classmates, and I met him on a bridge in Heping Road.

Even two years in prison had changed Ouyang Yi quite a bit. When he came toward us looking so thin, I saw the helplessness and devastation that would be Xianbin’s many years later. In my dreams, I saw Xianbin come home in numerous different ways. At first, always, I would break him out of prison during a visit, rescuing him from the jaws of death. Later, it changed to Xianbin coming home with a smile, bag over his shoulder and looking travel-worn. Still later, I would only hear news of his early release but never see him. I think that my dreams went from hopes to hopelessness and in the end slipped into uncertainty.

Xianbin wrote me in September 2008 with the exact date of his release, but I was not as joyous as people might imagine. For us, freedom seemed like such an extravagance! If Xianbin had left me for ten years, then how much time would we need before we could become close to each other? I could not bear to see him helpless or forlorn; could it be that he could bear to see me harden like salt flats? I recall a passage that described a Russian dissident’s wife; it said that one could no longer see happiness or sorrow on her face. I think that I may also become that apathetic old woman in the end, because from November 6, 2008, to June 28, 2010, Xianbin and I only had one year, seven months and 22 days in which to come close to each other.

Postscript: Because of space, some acts of concern and assistance from others were difficult to describe in detail and therefore removed from the text. All that I’ve experienced over these past fifteen years are also what wives of Chinese dissidents have experienced, are experiencing, or will experience, and I dedicate this article to all of those past, present, and future wives of dissidents!

July 14–August 10, 2010
Baisheng Jiayuan

Translator’s Notes

1. The Domestic Security Protection Bureau (国内安全保卫局) is a division of the Ministry of Public Security (公安部). Across China, each Public Security Bureau has a Domestic Security Team (国内安全保护队), whose function is to deal with political dissidents, separatists, Falun Gong practitioners, and other activists. ^

2. Political Security is the predecessor of Domestic Security. See note 1. ^

3. While in prison, Liu received a three-year-and-eight-month reduction from his original 13-year sentence. ^

4. Chen Wei (陈卫) is a democracy and rights activist based in Suining, Sichuan Province. He was a student in Beijing in 1989. After the June Fourth massacre, he was detained in Suining and transferred to Beijing for investigation and was released in December 1990. Later, he served five years in prison (1992–1997) on “counter-revolutionary propaganda and incitement” charges. Most recently he was detained in February 2011 and formally arrested in March 2011 on suspicion of “inciting subversion of state power.” ^

5. Huo Ge (火戈) (also known as Deng Huanwu, 邓焕武) is a long-time democracy activist based in Chongqing. ^