The taxi that carries Erwan arrives at the Minzu Hotel. He pays and gets out of the car, an old Toyota. He likes this hotel which is a bit outdated. A doorman greets him and opens the door. Lobby almost empty. Nobody on the armchairs. He is a little upset whenever he meets Dominique Meyer. In fact, Dominique Meyer or X, it is roughly the same. A Jesuit or Dominican. No, there is nobody. He decides to move to the bar. Absolutely nobody. An employee arrives.
"Sorry, no coffee!"
"Well! Tea then! "
"Yes sir, green or black?"
The tea arrives very quickly. Erwan hoped for a small teapot with tea leaves. Too bad, modernity has also reached the Minzu. He is entitled to a large cup of too hot water and a teabag of something described as green tea. The bartender demands to be paid immediately.
The employee walks away.
Incredible. He takes the tea and sits at a table.
He carefully puts the teabag in boiling water, watches the liquid becoming greenish. Careful not to leave it in too long or it becomes undrinkable. He checks the label. No, it is not Lipton. They have not dared. The brew starts to change color. He forgot to take a spoon.
He gets up and goes looking for one at the bar. The room is desperately empty. He hears some voices in the lobby. Still no Dominique Meyer.
He returns to his seat. He removes the teabag from the cup, squeezes it to remove the excess water and deposits it in the ashtray on the table.
A person enters the bar and sits in chairs arranged in the back of the room. It is a man of forty, wearing a light black jacket. He throws a casual glance and immerses himself in reading a magazine. It seems exciting because the man does not even look up when another person enters the bar. A young woman elegantly dressed, high heels, designer dress, Louis Vuitton bag, not really cheap bought on the open-air market in front of Minzu (unless this is a fake!).
Erwan looks at his watch. 11:30 am and still no Dominique Meyer. He gets up! His tea is not finished but he does not care. He heads for the lobby. The man who was reading a magazine rises along with him. The woman remains seated. She sips a soda.
Erwan is walking. He finds himself in the lobby. He heads towards the outer door. Suddenly someone is behind him and pulls him by the sleeve. It is Dominique. Spy style again.
"Hi Erwan! Have you been waiting for a long time?"
"Nah, no more than half an hour! It doesn’t matter! But I didn’t realize you’d arrived. You really are very discreet!"
"You should learn the Taiji! It would change your relationship with the world!"
Erwan suddenly remembers that Mona told him about her encounter with a practitioner of Taiji Qigong. And it upset her!
Dominique takes him by the arm.
"Well, come, we’ll go out!"
They leave the hotel.
"You noticed that you were not alone in the bar!" says Dominique!
"Yes, there were two people, one male and one female."
"That is why it’s better to go elsewhere, e.g. in the street."
They go out.
"Are you not getting a little paranoid, Dominique?"
"No, just careful!"
They walk. Dominique looks puzzled:
"You know, this story of adoption is complex. I asked around, where I work."
"In the Publishing House of Marxist Leninists Works?"
"Yes, I have a very good colleague. I’m working with him on a new edition of Volume III of the works of Chairman Mao. This is a particularly interesting period for understanding the evolution of China through Mao's thought. But I’m digressing from what interests us today, the adoption of Emily ..."
He stops, he opens his coat and takes a paper out of an inside pocket.
"Guo Anding, it doesn’t mean anything to you?"
"Never heard of him. Who is this person?"
"An important person who can help a lot. He is perhaps the key to open the right door. But I'm going too fast. Here are his details."
He gives the sheet to Erwan and continues:
"Last week, my colleague met a senior official who happened to mention this story to someone in the entourage of Deng Yingchao. You know who she is?"
Erwan tries to remember. The name is not completely new to him.
"The widow of Zhou Enlai?"
"Exactly, and ... the adoptive mother of Li Peng! She is very old. She no longer receives anyone but there is a cabinet around her ..."
"Well, it's a response in Chinese style, but it's going in the right direction! According to my colleague, the difficulties you've had until now will disappear. But you have to be more discreet. The political situation is fragile in Beijing."
Erwan is nervous:
"But we’re not making politics and it’s a purely private matter."
Meyer looks at him with curiosity:
"From the beginning, I’ve considered this story as something beautiful. The Chinese administration doesn’t know what to do. As you know, here everything is political."
The statement does not surprise Erwan.
"The message is that Emilie’s adoption will over once the administrative process is complete. There are no political obstacles. The administration has realized that you're honest and you haven’t bought or stolen the child."
Erwan is flabbergasted.
"What is this about?"
"Ah, you're not aware?"
"No, what is it?"
"Your wife’s employer, the Foreign Languages Publishing House, contacted the Notary about a month ago. They said they believed there was child trafficking. I'll spare you the details but things were going wrong in May. Many meetings were held. Fortunately, Mona and her uncle influenced attitudes! They were successful in changing the Notary’s opinion, but ..."
"Because there is a but!"
Dominique smiles again!
"Erwan, you've been in China long enough to know that there is always a but, and a very tangible one. I am going to tell you a story."
They are walking close to Tiananmen.
"I'll tell you a story, Erwan, a true story that is currently experiencing its epilogue. Do you know Fang Lizhi?"
"Yes, the astrophysicist who is a refugee at the U.S. Embassy!"
"Exactly, says Dominique. There have been negotiations since he arrived in the embassy last year. It’s someone who has written texts on democracy and supported the democratic movement for a long time."
Erwan is somewhat surprised by the turn of the conversation!
"Kissinger met with Deng Xiaoping, Ambassador Lilley negotiated unsuccessfully. Deng called for self-criticism on his part. Fang Lizhi was ready to write. The culture of self-criticism is something purely formal. Nobody gives it any real importance. It gives legitimacy to a negotiation, but that's not enough in itself to break a stalemate. I assume that your wife had to write such a document for the Beijing Review?"
"Yes, indeed, Erwan answers but nothing changed after."
"In the case of Fang Lizhi, it was the same thing. Deng called for the lifting of economic sanctions for releasing Mr. Fang. The Americans flatly refused. A few days ago, in secret negotiations, the Japanese made an offer to China. They will provide state loans to China if the Fang case is resolved."
"And so, says Erwan, as far as I know, Fang is still in the U.S. Embassy ..."
They are right in front of the Imperial Palace.
"In less than two weeks, Fang Lizhi will fly to London. Everything is ready. It was only a matter of money. Chinese leaders are very pragmatic. They had their ransom and they will not lose face in front of their people as they will can still produce the Fang Lizhi’s confession, the traitor sold out to imperialism."
Erwan scratches his head. It is so warm! A policeman on duty at a crossroads looks at them with indifference.
"What do you advise me to do, Dominique?"
"You have to pay! That's all."
"But pay for what? They wanted to put Emily in an orphanage and after a while they would have given her back. However, we would have to have paid for the orphanage."
Erwan digs in his memory. No, there is something else. And suddenly, his face lights up. He takes Dominic in his arms.
"Eureka! I’ve found it! Yes, but of course, that’s it! "
Dominique is now intrigued.
"Now tell me!"
Erwan keeps walking. He makes great gestures when speaking.
"A month ago, I went back to the Notary with Mona and Guan Kai. From what we knew, Emily is a native of Qingdao. When we went looking for her, her mother gave us a document, a kind of birth certificate issued by the hospital. The notary office raided the hospital. Their conclusion was that the documents weren’t valid."
"Yes, still, very interesting!"
"But the entries were correct in the records and everything stuck. After, we tried to influence them. Friends tried to contact the family of the notary office manager, without any result. We even suggested gifts. She is truly incorruptible. And then she said a little sentence that I remember now."
Dominique is now curious. Erwan is thoroughly excited. They are almost at Tiananmen Square now. It is a little windy. Some children are flying kites. Erwan resumes:
"She said: we need to do a serious investigation in Qingdao. Mona told them that with the means of the Beijing police, it wasn’t necessary to go there, her uncle would contact his counterpart in Qingdao directly."
“So what? Although she refused, the cow! She said that only the notary office was entitled to such an investigation. This put Mona into a rage. We went out, and since it has been completely blocked."
"Now you understand why I told the story of Fang Lizhi?"
"Thank you Dominique. I'll talk to Cécile and reconnect."
Dominique looks serious:
"More specifically, do you have enough money to fund a tourist journey of the Notary Bureau to Qingdao?"
"It will be hard but I still have a few savings. Yes it should be fine!"
It must be 1 pm. He will invite Dominique to lunch.
He turns. He has vanished. He hears the door of a taxi slamming.
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