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374 pages

Chinese Love Story

Kiinalainen rakkaustarina

Only love is rebellion. They fought for human rights of others – and lost theirs.


Beijing resident Hu Jia (b. 1973) is one of the world’s best-known dissidents. He received the European Parliament’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 2008 and has been a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. Hu is a third-generation human rights activist and even his infant daughter became a prisoner as soon as she was born. Hu’s wife Zeng Jinyan has stood by her husband – risking her own life in the process.

This book, based on previously unpublished material and exclusive interviews, is a true story of defiance in the face of a hostile political system and of a brave and doomed love.

What is it like to live under permanent police surveillance and to sit in an interrogation room, in a prison cell, or as a captive under house arrest? Phone calls are tapped, visitors are questioned, and one can only dream of a secure e-mail account…

Chinese Love Story is the award-winning journalist Sami Sillanpää’s account of the Chinese activist Hu Jia, his wife, and the human rights struggle that the couple have fought, sacrificing their own happiness in the process.


Rights sold

Danish (Kristeligt Dagblads Forlag)
German (Herbig)



2014 Finland State Award for Public Information


Reading materials

Finnish edition
English excerpts
English synopsis
Danish edition
German edition


Praise for the work

“For years together Sami Sillanpää followed closely the life of Hu Jia and Zeng Jinyan. Their life was under constant surveillance by the Chinese secret police, a story of love and intimacy that was overrun by the state apparatus. This the story of their love, a couple who fought for the human rights of fellow Chinese but whose own rights are trampled upon by a nasty system. The family crumbles piece by piece, and even their baby becomes a prisoner in her own home. The book is based on extensive interviews, detailed research and all relevant documents. Through the story of two human destinies the author pens a gory detail of the People’s Republic of China. Sami Sillanpää, an ace foreign correspondent, has reported on politics and economics and also closely observed the everyday life of the Chinese people for nearly a decade. His writing builds on his deep and complex understanding of contemporary China, taking the reader into a world that is unpleasant and yet one that cries out for our urgent attention.” – Statement of the Jury, State Award for the Public Information

“Sillanpää’s book is a journalistic tour de force.” – Annelin kirjoissa Literary blog, Finland

“It is this proximity, the long-term observation, the insights into two at the same time private and public life stories, which make his book worth reading – also for readers, who otherwise know little about China. Sillanpää has collected and researched the material for many years. The genesis of the book is as remarkable as the book itself.” – Deutschlandfunk, Germany