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May 26, 2017

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Chinese man, Malaysian woman in 'fairy tale' love story

A paralyzed man in China is blissfully married to a Malaysian woman he met online.

Li Kangyu has not left his house for 30 years. Diagnosed with rheumatoid arthritis, he has been paralyzed and bedridden since he was seven.

But his life took an unexpected turn for the better when he met a Malaysian woman Gan Suh Eng by chance on QQ, an online instant messaging platform, three years ago.

Despite being physically miles apart, they were drawn to each other.

"She has opened the windows of my soul," Li, 39, said.

A year ago today, they exchanged wedding vows and began their life together at Li's hometown, a village in Tangshan, Hebei province.

Li described their love story, which has attracted widespread media attention, as a fairy tale.

To him, Gan is an angel sent from heaven.

Her presence in his life has opened many doors for him.

Lying on a customized wheelchair given by a good Samaritan, he can now enjoy the sunshine outside his house with Gan by his side.

Together they have traveled to Shanghai and Suzhou, among other cities, where Li has been invited to give motivational talks.

"A Shanghainese enterprise has shown interest in training me to become a motivational speaker.

"A book on my life story, to be penned by a writer, is also in the pipeline," he said during The Star's visit to his house, about 45 minutes by car from the city center of Tangshan.

It is obvious that the love between the inseparable couple is going strong.

For the Chinese Valentine's Day, qixi, which was celebrated last Saturday, Li presented Gan with a novelty ring that had a hidden clock face, while she surprised him with a blue striped tie.

Wearing a pink top that he had bought on online shopping site Taobao specially for the occasion, Li was delighted when told that the patterns printed on the shirt were that of Malaysia's national flower, the hibiscus.

"It was a happy coincidence," he said.

As Li recounted their first year together as husband and wife, Gan sat next to him, stroking his head affectionately.

They were more than happy to oblige when Gan was asked to give a peck on Li's cheek.

"In the blink of an eye, a year has passed. We are both tolerant of and accommodating to each other's shortcomings. Our love has grown deeper," Li said.

Gan, 36, who hails from Selayang, was smitten by Li's romantic and caring nature.

"Sometimes he will insist on helping me blow-dry my hair," the former employee of a Malaysian Christian NGO said.

The couple leads a simple life in the village, surviving mostly on Li's financial assistance from the government.

Although it is a meager sum, Gan said the cost of living in the village is low, so they are doing fine.

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