Planet China

True love

True love

Antony and Cleopatra, Abelard and Heloise and Casablanca’s Rick and Ilsa. Of course, they’re examples of great love stories, albeit ill-fated ones. “China’s so-called greatest love story” is from the 1950s reports Shanghai Daily and involved a couple from Chongqing who gave everything for amour. In fact to commemorate their love story, Chongqing is building a Rmb2.6 billion ($416 million) tourism site.

Around 60 years ago Xu Chaoqing and her husband Liu Guojiang eloped to escape their neighbours’ scorn; according to Chinese media, no one could understand why a man would marry a woman who was 10 years his senior (not a very liberal time, it has to be remembered). They spent much of the next half century or so living in a mountain cave, to which Liu carved more than 6,000 steps to prove his devotion. The path became known locally as the ‘love ladder’ and provides the basis for the new tourism site, which will be accessed by a major new road.

Thanks to love, perhaps, that age gap didn’t seem to matter: Xu died last October, three years after her ‘younger’ husband. Xinhua reports the funeral drew people from across the country “touched by their love story”.

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