Persian Xiaozhao: My First “Tea” Experience (Part V) (With Comments)

picture-2 Blogger Persian Xiaozhao wrote the following post after she was “invited to tea” by state security agents in Shanghai on Feb. 5, 2009 and questioned about her signing of Charter 08 and her interview with the Washington Post. The following excerpt has been translated by CDT’s Linjun Fan; this is the last segment of the five translations. Part I, Part II, Part III, and Part IV have been posted on CDT earlier.

They continued to ask, “Have you accepted interviews with the media?”

I thought to myself: You know this already. Why bother to ask? But I still replied, “Yes, I have.”

“Which press?”

“Washington Post.”

“When did the interview take place?”

“Jan. 19th, in the evening.”

“How did you find them?”

“I didn’t contact them. They contacted me first.”

“How did they get in touch with you?”

“I posted my email address on my blog. They saw it, and sent an email to me.”

“Therefore you set up the time of the appointment through emails?”

“No. Through a phone call. ”

“How was the interview conducted? Was it a phone interview?”

“No. It was a face-to-face one.”

“Why did you accept the interview?”

“Why?” I opened my eyes wide. “I have the right to accept an interview!”

Public entities need to observe the rule that they must, “refrain from doing anything that’s not clearly authorized by the law,” but individuals have the right to do anything that’s not prohibited by the law. I am very clear about which kinds of rights I have. What’s more, I had never talked to the foreign press before. I was quite curious.

“Where did the interview take place?”

“A restaurant. We talked while eating dinner.”

“Which restaurant?”

“On Huanghe Road. I couldn’t remember which one. There are many restaurants there on the road. I followed them in and out. I didn’t pay attention to the name of the restaurant.”

“How many people interviewed you?”

“Two.”

“Male or female?”

“Both are female.”

“Are they Chinese or foreigners?”

“One Chinese. The other one is American. But she is a Korean American.”

The Recorder put the things down as he listened to me, and he asked, “Thus I should write Korean Mei Ren [the phrase could mean "Korean beauty" in Chinese]?

I thought the phrase Korean Mei Ren was very funny. The two policemen discussed for a while about which words were proper. It seemed that he put down the phrase Korean American eventually.

“That Chinese person was an interpreter, right?”

“Yes.”

“Does that American look like a Chinese? How did you know that she was American?”

“I had thought she was a Chinese. But she spoke English to me. Thus I asked her assistant where she was from. The assistant told me that she was an American, and both her parents were originally from Korea.”

“How did they interview you? Did they record the conversation?”

“It was just a face-to-face interview.”

“Which questions did they ask you?”


“You already know this. They were all in the story that was published.”

“Have you read the story they wrote?”

“Yes.”

“Can you understand English?”

“Hah, that’s easy! I could get a general idea of it through the automatic translation tool on Google.” I explained. “I mainly want to check whether they got the part about me right. The story was basically accurate. There were a few mistakes, but just some minor ones. Thus I don’t care much.”

For instance, it said that I first got to know Charter 08 through an email message. That was a misunderstanding.

“However,” I added, “I don’t like the big headline they wrote. I felt that it was too extreme to suit me…”

“It was .. ” Leather Jacket took up a copy of the printed article and read, “In China, a Grass Roots Rebellion?”

I guessed that what the policemen had read was the version posted on Wanwei website, which introduced the Washington Post article, primarily the part about me, in third person. The police didn’t know that there was a full text of the article translated into Chinese on my blog.

“Yes. I felt that I was not that radical. Applying that headline on me seems a bit… severe, ” I said. I could not find the right adjective at that moment.

“Do you mean a little ‘radical’”? The Recorder helped to think of a proper word for me.

“Yes, ” I nodded instantly.

The title of the original Washington Post article was In China, A Grass-Roots Rebellion. Rebellion could have several meanings in Chinese, such as revolt, riot, uprising, insurrection, dissent, etc. It would do no good to me no matter which word is used in the Chinese translation of the title. Therefore I decided to avoid using the title when I translated the article. But when it was reposted by Wanwei and several other websites, the title was translated as “A Chinese grass-roots revolt”, or “Grass-roots revolt in China”, or “Chinese grass-roots rebel”, which scared me.

Actually I should not care much whatever title they use. But I live “in China.” This China does not take me in warm arms, like what a mother does to her child, but ruthlessly keeps me in a cage. It could tear me apart with its steel fingers at any moment. If the press uses combative words in their articles, Mr. Weiguangzheng [netspeak, abbreviation of "Great, Glorious and Righteous," meaning the CCP] would blame me for the problem. And my poor little being would face big trouble. — That’s why I refuse to accept the big headline.

“You see. The foreign press was manipulating you! You were exploited by them. And you don’t even know that!” Leather Jacket took advantage of the opportunity to educate me.

I don’t feel that Washington Post was using me. Anyway, even if they were, I was using them as well. They used me to observe the ordinary Chinese people who signed the Charter, and I used them to spread my ideas to the world. No Chinese press reported Charter 08. They were all silent about it. Only the foreign press was able to cover it.

The Leather Jacket was very interested in the content of the interview. He asked about it several times. I just answered, “It was all in the story in the paper.”

It took place quite a while ago. How could I remember? I was not a reporter. I didn’t take notes about it.

“Do you know something about the Washington Post?”

“No. I don’t. I had never read their stories before.”

“The Washington Post is a very large paper. It’s well-known world-wide,” Leather Jacket emphasized this point, and carefully observed my reaction.

I did not react much. “I don’t know. I had just heard the name of the paper.”

I thought to myself: You built a Berlin Wall [Great Firewall], restrict us, and prevent us from looking at the outside world. How am I able to know much about what’s happening abroad?

(Several days later, I was shocked when a friend told me that the Washington Post is a paper well-known for its anti-China stance. No wonder the police watched me carefully to capture my reactions. I have become such an idiot due to their indoctrination, that I didn’t know at all which papers are friendly to China and which ones are against China. However, it didn’t affect me much even if I had known about it beforehand. I do not believe that American media dare to oppose China/Chinese, because that could be interpreted as racial discrimination. And racial discrimination is definitely a taboo in America. It is understandable that they are against the Chinese Communist Party. It’s just a issue of different political opinions, which is quite normal in the United States. Generally speaking, no mainstream Western media would be friendly toward Weiguangzheng [CCP].

“Why did you accept their interview? ” Leather Jacket asked me this question once again.

I opened my eyes wide, ” Can’t I accept an interview request from the Washington Post?”

He had to say, “Well, you have the right to accept the interview with the Washington Post.”

Good, you acknowledge that.

Leather Jacket said candidly, “Please don’t talk to foreign press again in the future. ”

“I can’t make any promise on that,” I said.

“What? Do you want to accept interview requests from foreign press again?” Leather Jacket was surprised.

“I didn’t say that I would accept their interview again. I just said that I wouldn’t make any promises. It should be a decision I make myself.”

I am quite rebellious. I hate to be threatened. I am bound to rebound if someone threatens me. Actually they don’t have to worry too much. Not many foreign media would be interested in interviewing me. I did nothing special. I just signed my name, as others did. Such a trivial matter has no big news value. It is not worth covering.

“To be honest, I did not wish to become well-known because of Charter 08,” I said.

Leather Jacket agreed with me at once, “Yes, it does no good to you!”

It’s hard to say whether it’s good for me or not. Different people have different ideas on it. I did not think about that. ” I felt that if I am to become famous, it should be achieved through my own effort and capability. As for Charter 08, I didn’t do much. I didn’t write the document. It was not a representation of my own ability. That’s why I don’t want to gain fame through it.”

The police urged me to make a promise, “Do not participate in Charter 08 issues in the future.”

I answered, “It’s not a matter of taking part in the issue or not. What I could do was sign my name to it to show my support. I already did that. Thus the issue is over for me.”

The “tea-drinking” lasted for two hours. Although I can’t describe it as amiable, it was quite friendly and cordial.

Later they showed me what they put down, I read it carefully twice, changed two words, and signed it. I was happy that the Recorder included my sentence “Government power should be authorized by the people.”

The record was quite simple. But I figured that they would write another document to evaluate me after I left, just like what a teacher does to her students at the end of a semester.

They had been watching and assessing me all the time. I don’t know what kind of “official judgment” they will make of me.

All the three of us got up and were about to leave the room. Leather Jacket warned me, “Don’t tell anyone about what we did today. Don’t put it on your blog either.”

“I do not make any promises.”

“What? Are you going to write on your blog about what happened today?” Leather Jacket said with his eyes wide open.

“I didn’t say that I would write about it on my blog. I just said that I could not make any promises. I think that this is my own business. It should be decided by myself. I don’t like to be forced into decisions by others.”

“If you publicize what happened today, you will be legally liable for it!”

I turned my head toward him as I walked outside, “Please tell me, what kind of legal liability will I have?”

“Of course you are going to be legally liable for it!”

Come on! He didn’t answer my question. If I am going to be held liable, there need to be legal provisions to assess whether my conduct breaks the law or not. Also, what kind of legal consequences will I be faced with? Will it be confinement, imprisonment, or staying behind bars for several years, or for a lifetime, or the death penalty? I don’t really know. That’s why I asked him.

What I am sure is, the content of the tea-drinking session does not involve any national secret. Please do not accuse me of committing the crime of “leaking national secrets.” I could not take that.

An afternote on Feb. 21, 2009:

In order to assure the people who care about the fate of Xiaozhao, and to practice my principle of “standing in the sunshine,” I obviously would publicize my “tea-drinking” experience. It’s the first time that I had such an experience in my life. It’s so interesting that I can’t help but share it with my friends.

I have said that I won’t live like a rat in a sewer. Even if I am going to die, I would choose to die in the sunshine, and in the eyes of the public.

My dear friends, thank you for caring about me. Xiaozhao has not died. Everything is fine with her, at least for now. But who knows what will happen in the future. The fate of the several thousand people who have signed the Charter is uncertain as long as Xiaobo still lives in confinement. Since we have been unfortunately born in China, we have to bear the heaviness with our blood and flesh.

God bless us. Amen!

Comments:

Xiaozhao is very brave! My admiration.
Mayichong
2009-02-21 14:33

[Shock emoticon] You were “tea-ed”??
I was making a bet with my boss before, and I bet that you would not [be tea-ed] Wow!
I was going to make a dry joke to tease Xiaozhao who likes to cry. But, all of sudden my mood has gotten very bad……
I support you, and am with you in spirit!
Solocellist
2009-02-21 14:45

Xiaozhao’s account is very objective. Let’s leave the record to history.
[Cup of coffee emoticon]
Xudan Blog
2009-02-21 15:06

["Support!" and "Go!" emoticons] Be proud of being tea-ed! Anti-Party and Anti-Socialism? These dogs!!!
Flame
2009-02-21 15:10

I support Xiaozhao. You have also joined the ranks of great Chinese now.
Xiguadatao
2009-02-21 15:10

I think the issue here is quite simple. If Charter 08 is a legal issue, then leave it to the law to judge (of course it must be a just and open trial with due process, not a secretive one like Yang Jia’s); If it is a moral issue, then leave it to the public opinion for evaluations.
Let’s go on to drink tea as usual and let’s go on to reason as usual.
Xiaozhao is brave. Xiaozhao is lovely.
Haitian
2009-02-21 15:34

I was surprised that such a thing could happen. It’s like an encounter with the KGB. I am going to re-post your post.
History’s Sky
2009-02-21 15:40

Flame said this in a post above:
Be proud of being tea-ed! Anti-Party and Anti-Socialism? These dogs!!!
Can everybody please not use swear words against the police? We are all humans. After all they didn’t treat me too badly.
Persian Xiaozhao
2009-02-21 15:48

[Emoticons: Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. Shut up. Astounded. Astounded. Astounded. Astounded. Astounded.]
Beimudemin
2009-02-21 15:48

Hahahaha…Well done, Xiaozhao!
I have been followed and taken care of by different groups of people since last month…Heihei…They are too petty that way. Why not just be like gentlemen. Come to my doorstep with evidence, that will do. With Xiaozhao’s experience, I am more certain about (what they’ll do to me)…Hahaha…
An Unorthodox Mind
2009-02-21 15:51

To brave Xiaozhao: [flower emoticon].
Guoke
2009-02-21 15:51

Fantastic Xiaozhao. Lovely Xiaozhao
Linguniang
2009-02-21 16:04

Xiaozhao has made us men feel embarrassed!
George II
2009-02-21 16:08

Tea culture.
Wuyan
2009-02-21 16:24

Proposal: let’s make February 5 Tea Drinking Festival
George II
2009-02-21 16:25

Xiaozhao is so lovely!! [flower emoticon]
ChipGame
2009-02-21 16:38

Xiaozhao is such a true man! I want to sign my name but haven’t found a place to do so! LOL
Molizhitian
2009-02-21 17:07

We should have a right to remain silent, shouldn’t we?
The Washington Post is a very good newspaper!!!!!!!!!! Because our Reference News [参考消息, An official publication in China, which selectively cites contents from foriegn media] cites it frequently!!!! I often see stories from the Post when I read the Reference News. I subscribed to it for two years!!!
Pursuing Freedom
2009-02-21 17:26

Liu Hulan [a Communist heroine] did not frown at all in front of the beheading knife, so she lacked some femininity. Xiaozhao cried when she was answering questions, so she’s touching and lovely.
Let me tell ya: there is no other reason for you to be invited for tea. It’s only because of your interview with foreign media (I know these sons of bitches too well). They are just afraid of that. This may make you think they care about public opinion. Let me tentatively ask: do they really care?
Sohu net friend
2009-02-21 17:16
.
——————————————————————————————
A note from Xiaozhao:
There was a comment by an anonymous reader above. Because I don’t allow icons of feces on my blog, I deleted your original post and published this version. Readers, please keep that rule in mind. I am a woman who loves beautiful, not dirty, things.
Persian Xiaozhao
2009-02-21 17:41

Congratulations for winning the title “the most tearful boiled-water drinker”
Safe. I am reassured. I thought you’d get to drink fragrant milk tea once the interview came out. An obscure university? Patriotic alumnus years before me? I keep thinking…how many of these people? Congrats that you’ve been listed as someone who can be neglected.
Sohu net friend.
2009-02-21 17:42

Lovely Xiaozhao.
Those two cops’ attitude was not bad, quite moderate actually. If relevant departments assign a graver nature in the future, the consequences would be more dire. Sigh. [Cup of coffee emoticon]
Xinlingbushou
2009-02-21 17:43

An Unorthodox Mind said in a post above:
Hahahaha…Well done, Xiaozhao!
I have been followed and taken care of by different groups of people since last month…Heihei…They are too petty that way. Why not just be like gentlemen. Come to my doorstep with evidence will do. With Xiaozhao’s experience, I am more certain about (what they’ll do to me)…Hahaha…

You should be grateful for their (cops) protection and care. You ungrateful kid.
Sohu net friend.
2009-02-21 17:44

I like reading Xiaozhao’s articles. Humorous. I hope that I can read your long novels in the future.
I don’t like Xiaozhao’s courage. I am worried that bad things might happen (to you). Am I too selfish and timid?
Xinlingbushou
2009-02-21 17:48

After seeing you guys shouldering responsibility, I can’t help crying. What made a confident, visionary and powerful person be overwhelmed by fear? I can’t imagine how much humiliation his sensitive heart had suffered in prison. Tears.
Xinlingbushou
2009-02-21 17:52

Very objective and thoughtful. Good girl!
Yuanlaishiai
2009-02-21 18:40

Xiaozhao, you are the sun-lit clouds and you are the first light of the day. I haven’t been able to sign my name. Maybe it’s fate that’s not allowing me to sign. For that reason, I am hit by deep guilt and unease every time I read your blog.
Love of nature
2009-02-21 18:42

It’s more than good.
Today’s politics is history tomorrow. [flower emoticon]
Laobao
2009-02-21 19:15

Xiaozhao is beautiful, brave, sunny, lovely, transparent. Don’t be scared Xiaozhao.
Lanlanxinyu
2009-02-21 19:18

That’s too much! Stop it.
Persian Xiaozhao
2009-02-21 20:31

Mr. Cop must know that China’s democratization is good for the country, ordinary people and officials at all levels.
Laobao
2009-02-21 19:30

As rulers, they are always worried about being replaced by others. It shows they are conscious of the instability of their power base.
Sohu net friend.
2009-02-21 19:56

Fair, objective and rational. I read the post several times and think the police made no mistakes in the whole process. Any work will attract comments from people, but we can’t resort to cursing and dirty words. Xiaozhao is a kind person.
Hard Life
2009-02-21 19:56

Brilliant Xiaozhao!
Zhuoma
2009-02-21 20:44

Xiaozhao is very brave.
When we praise her courage, I feel powerless, because a citizen needs to muster courage to do something completely legal. Actually, people outside the system need not worry about being invited for tea. Just see it as a free treatment to quench thirst. For those who are within the system, don’t get yourself invited for tea too easily. After all we have to carry on life.
Wang Xiaoyang
2009-02-21 20:49

I’ve always been lamenting. Why does reality always force brave and kind people to make sacrifices? Why does it sound cruel whenever I say something praising you? Sigh.
Sohu net friend.
2009-02-21 20:55

Xiaozhao please forgive me for mocking you on the Free China Forum. I hope you are safe. Kudos to brave Xiaozhao.
Tomato
2009-02-21 21:24

They dare not see the sunshine. They dare not let other people know and talk about it after they do it. So despicable. Xiaozhao is so honest.
Sohu net friend.
2009-02-21 21:31

Xiaozhao is both brave and sensitive. The two officers are quite humane as well. It’s a win-win tea party.
Sohu net friend.
2009-02-21 22:09

On February 5, Xiaozhao got her long overdue tea party. Faint.
Oasis.
2009-02-21 22:20

I saw a freedom-loving angel flying….I am touched. I admire, contemplate and blame myself.
Sohu net friend.
2009-02-21 22:26

“I thank thee that I am none of the wheels of power but I am one with the living creatures that are crushed by it.” — Tagore. Sister, always remember you have a reliable younger brother.
Sohu net friend.
2009-02-21 22:58

Those cops are not ordinary cops. They are state security people. They are human beings and have relatives and friends as well. Can they not know what’s wrong with the country and why such a girl like Xiaozhao would do something that’ll bring no benefits to her personally? I believe they have a conscience also. To invite people for tea is their profession. Perhaps they don’t want to do that either. Let’s be tolerant toward them. Of course, it will be better if there are some in their ranks who are like Wiesler in the “Lives of Others”. That will demonstrate that China has found its cure.
Zhou Yingjie Sixianglu
2009-02-21 23:06

Laobao said this in a post above:
Mr. Cop must know that China’s democratization is good for the country, ordinary people and officials at all levels.

Let me borrow a religious saying: Forgive them, for they know not what they do.
Andoville
2009-02-21 23:08

Wang Xiaoyang said this in a post above:
When we praise her courage, I feel powerless, because a citizen needs to muster courage to do something completely legal. Actually, people outside the establishment need not worry about being invited for tea. Just see it as a free treatment to quench thirst. For those who are within the establishment, don’t get yourself invited for tea too easily. After all we have to carry on with life.

Mr. Xiaoyang had a good point. Of course we can only comfort ourselves like this.
Zhou Yingjie Sixianglu
2009-02-21 23:10

Remarkable!
Yiming
2009-02-22 00:41

You make us men ashamed.
Xianyunbuji
2009-02-22 00:48

.. sorry. I have copied sister Xiaozhao’s text and will find few more places to post it. Because I do not feel any trust and security in any corner of this giant intranet.
weiliantuier
2009-02-22 04:27

They have made a judgment against XX08 [Charter 08] now?
Why did we not see this in People’s Daily or CCTV’s news program?
None of us know that this text exists, what’s the judgment about?
Just for themselves?
If you dare why don’t you write an editorial, let people all over the country see how poisonous such a text is that is opposed by the Party.

mhtb
2009-02-22 05:59

congratulations to you for having such an interesting “autocratic tea” experience.
sohu net friend
2009-02-22 06:56

I hope charter 08 will be put on CCTV, let the people all over the country criticize it.
Qiaozhiershi
2009-02-22 08:08

Read also Persian Xiaozhao’s previous posts about Charter 08, “I Signed My Name After a Good Cry” and “We Are in This Together,” translated by CDT.