Sunday, February 27, 2011
A year ago, I was waiting impatiently to make my exit from Beijing. Everything I’ve read about events there since then confirms me in my judgement that this was a society in which I simply could not live – despite the enthusiasm which my young German colleagues seemed to have for it. Last week it was first this amazing Open Letter- then an outline of the scale of the Securitate control system which governs people's lives in China. And today it was the touching final blog of a frequent blogger before he disappeared into the Chinese prison system. For an interesting debate about the current Chinese situation see here.
I’ve shared my enthusiasm here for the detective stories from Qiu Xiaolong based on Shanghai in the 1990s which give a better sense of political realities (systemic corruption) than most social science writing about the country. Yesterday my visit to the Anthony Frost English bookshop unearthed the 1930s detective mysteries of the Dutch diplomat Robert van Gulik who celebrated the work of Judge Dee, magistrate of Han-yuan in 666AD – followed by today’s discovery of someone even closer to power and corruption (in Beijing) who has turned his experiences into detective stories.