Life and Death in Shanghai

Life and Death in Shanghai

Language: English

Pages: 560

ISBN: 0802145167

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


A first-hand account of China's cultural revolution. Nien Cheng, an anglophile and fluent English-speaker who worked for Shell in Shanghai under Mao, was put under house arrest by Red Guards in 1966 and subsequently jailed. All attempts to make her confess to the charges of being a British spy failed; all efforts to indoctrinate her were met by a steadfast and fearless refusal to accept the terms offered by her interrogators. When she was released from prison she was told that her daughter had committed suicide. In fact Meiping had been beaten to death by Maoist revolutionaries.

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British spy as long ago as 1940.” “Nonsense. I was just a Chinese visitor in Britain who was moved by the courage and resolution of the British people in the face of overwhelming odds when Britain stood alone to resist Hitler’s plan to conquer all of Europe.” “Listen to you! You are at this moment echoing the propaganda line of the British imperialists. We think you love Britain better than China.” “You can think whatever you want to, but you will have to prove your accusation against me.”

continued to be cold, hungry, and miserable, the long night seemed to pass more quickly. At daybreak, when the guard called the prisoners to get up, I stood up to stretch my legs. I tried to hold the handcuffs with my fingers and, to my horror, felt something sticky and wet. Turning to the quilt on which I had rested my hands throughout the night, I saw stains of blood mixed with pus. It seemed the handcuffs had already broken my skin and were cutting into my flesh. I shuddered with a real fear

any more, I am going to put them on you again.” With that threat she retreated to the guards’ room and remained there. I knew she had no authority to put the handcuffs back on my wrists again. It was just bluff. She knew I knew it too. It seemed there was no alternative to relying on myself to deal with the wounds on my wrists and feet. With the help of God, I thought, I would find some way to prevent infection. Very slowly I shuffled to the table and drank up the water in the mug. I heard the

When I told Lao Li that Sir John had arrived and that I had seen him, Lao Li asked, “Did you tell him everything that happened to you and your daughter?” “He knows all about the Cultural Revolution already. He was stationed in Beijing himself, so I wouldn’t think it was a surprise to him to learn what happened to us,” I told him. “Still, it’s somebody he knows personally,” Lao Li said. “He has many Chinese friends, including Party officials, I believe. I think he knows China very well indeed.”

lower pay in government organizations. While I ate toast and drank my tea, I reviewed the events leading to the closure of the Shell office and reexamined my own behavior throughout the negotiations between the company and the Chinese government agency. Although I had accompanied the general manager to all the sessions, I had not taken part in any of the discussions. It was my job only to observe and advise the general manager afterwards, when we returned to our office. I decided that if I was

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