During a recent chat in a nearby teahouse, Ms. Liu wondered aloud why she unnerves China’s rulers enough to merit her own guardhouse. She is not active in politics, she said, and does not even use a computer. “I take photos, paint paintings, write poems, read books, cook food,” she said with a mirthless laugh. “And drink.”
But, of course, she knows why. She is married to Liu Xiaobo, a writer, philosopher and democracy advocate. On Dec. 10, Mr. Liu and 302 others issued a manifesto, called Charter 08, that urged China’s Communist Party to abandon monopoly rule and establish a multiparty system of government.
The police seized Mr. Liu two days before Charter 08 was released. He has been locked ever since in a windowless room about an hour’s drive north of central Beijing. He is denied access to lawyers, to pen and paper and, except for two brief visits, to his wife.
He is allowed to ask for books. His latest request was for the works of Kafka.
[…] Yet Charter 08 continues, slowly, to gain adherents. Mr. Zhang says considerably more than 8,000 Chinese citizens have joined the original 303 signers, representing a swath of society well outside the clique of political dissidents. Another tranche of signatures is imminent.
In Beijing, the police recently searched the flat of a man who printed T-shirts with Mr. Liu’s face on the front and “Charter 08” on the back. In Nanying, a central city of about a million, an oil refinery worker named Liu Linna handed out perhaps 100 copies of the charter on April 4 before the police seized her.