Thursday, 18 December 2014

It was only a matter of money. Chinese leaders are very pragmatic...GAME OVER...NEXT EXCERPT

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 He likes this hotel which is a bit outdated.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.
"Coffee!"
"Sorry, no coffee!"
"Well!  Tea then! "
"Yes sir, green or black?"
“Green."
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.
 He pays.
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 ..."
"And...”
Dominique smiles
"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."
"Which was?"
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?"
“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."
Dominique smiles.
"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?"
Erwan pouts:
"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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Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Too late, he says, Comrade Huang is dead... a new excerpt of GAMEOVER

He is not alone. The previous evening, after the show he received a phone call informing him of a meeting at the highest level with a representative of the Prime Minister and other senior officials of the Party and State. He is tense. The representative of the Prime Minister speaks hard.
"Comrade Huang. Too many things are bad in police management. In particular, the incident last night shows that under your leadership the political situation is not handled correctly. All these people in white in Beijing, too, under the eyes of the international press. You are lax and allow counter-revolutionary elements to do what they want. The Prime Minister was very shocked by what happened last night. For several months, we have been investigating because of persistent rumors. Since the incident last year, the situation has been very worrying. All Party members must join forces to foil the plots of American Imperialism. The situation with the youth bothers us."
Lao Huang was expecting this. Ultras are increasing their influence: the comeback of all these leftists. A few years ago, they were Red Guards. They pledged allegiance to Li Peng last year. They hope to turn things in their favor.
The delegate of the Minister continues:
"A few months ago, the policy conducted by undercover officers from the Beijing police seemed ineffective, worse, counterproductive and may be linked to special interests"
Lao Huang is upset. What's going on here? Will they try to put things on his plate? He is worried. Have they infiltrated someone in his department? His secretary says nothing. She lowers her head. She doesn't dare look at him. The others remain silent. Only the representative of the Minister speaks.
"Another thing comrade Huang. The status of your niece."
How can he know this? Huang Yinghua has a special status and she is paid out of secret funds that are managed by him. Only two people know; his secretary and Guan Kai.  Guan Kai, the super agent. Have they found something against him?
The voice of the Minister’s Representative is like a dream. He does not feel very well. He hangs his feet on the bars of the chair. The windows are closed and fans purr.
"Comrade Huang, what do you plan to avoid such problems in the future? What is your action plan? "
They suspect him of not being faithful to the party. He is now like in fog. He must talk. Tell them he is a genuine Communist. He suffered during the Cultural Revolution.
He watches them all. It's hard to see them. His vision is blurred. Severe pain in his right arm coming up. Then his chest is taken as in a vice. He must speak. He wants to open his mouth. The Representative of the Minister speaks loudly.
"I await your explanation, Comrade Huang!"
He tries to stand up. His heart hurts. Shooting pain.  Like a bar in his back.  Feeling hot, then cold.
Lao Huang collapses at once. His secretary runs. Other people get up. Someone goes out into the corridor, calls the sentry on duty:
"Quick, call a doctor, an ambulance. Lao Huang has had an attack!"
Someone tries to give him the kiss of life. In vain.
A person enters the room.
"Get away! I am a doctor!"
He leans on Lao Huang, he releases the collar of his shirt, loosens the belt of his trousers. He begins heart massage.
"Too late, he says, Comrade Huang is dead.  An acute heart attack. He was probably ill for quite some time. The emotion was fatal!



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Wednesday, 3 December 2014

It's like a breath of freedom blowing...GAME OVER A NEW EXCERPT

There is a little movement to the left of the balcony. Important persons are settling. Rochester, who has an excellent sight, spots people:
"That is Li Peng! Gee! It’s serious! I understand the nervousness at the entrance and extra security checks."
The room doors are closed. The musicians are installed. Then silence falls. A man in a tail coat comes to the front of the stage and checks the microphone. Then he addresses the audience in Chinese and English.
"Ladies and gentlemen, the Beijing Symphony Orchestra and its chorus will interpret for you the Ninth Symphony by Ludwig Van Beethoven. This symphony is dear to our hearts because the composer wrote it while he was deaf, and yet it did not stop him keeping hope for the future. This masterpiece is also a way for us on this June 3, 1990 to celebrate our way to the freedom of the people and the friendship we feel for all the peoples of the world. In the words of Ludwig Van Beethoven, all men on earth want to hold hands, live and help each other as brothers for better days. But now, the music. We wish you an excellent concert."
Silence! The musicians begin the first movement. They play well, thinks Erwan but this is nothing exceptional. Technically it's fine but nothing more. The room is interesting and for this evening, there is joy to share with friends.
Symphony No. 9 is not extremely long. It is the quintessence of Beethoven's work. It is also the most popular. But then come the fourth movement and choirs - 25 minutes of happiness. Schiller's poem bursting.  Erwan has been waiting for this moment. He is not the only one! The fourth movement begins. No singers yet. The movement rises slowly to the Ode to Joy.
Erwan leans toward Sandra.
"In reality, Schiller had first called his poem Ode to Liberty, and then he changed his mind for fear of censorship."
It's like a breath of freedom blowing. The musicians play softly. The first five minutes preparing the choirs with the music slowly climbing in force. In the fourth minute, development and peace, it's like in the 6th Symphony, the Pastoral. As if the storm would burst.
At this point, the choir enters the room and gets behind the orchestra. Erwan has never seen such an approach. They are all dressed in white. They sing in German, the original version, but it's subtitled in three languages, English, French and Chinese.
They feel that the choir is speaking directly to the Chinese government, to Li Peng.
"My friends let us stop our complaints!
That a joyful cry raises our songs to heaven together with celebrations of our pious agreements! Joy!"
The music accompanies the choirs royally. A feeling of agitation in the gallery.
"All men become brothers"
The choirs are all facing the official stand:
"All creatures drink joy"
This is too much. The Prime Minister gets up and leaves the tribune.
The choirs don’t stop, the orchestra is getting stronger.
"Run, brothers, on your own way,
Joyful as a hero to victory.
They embrace all beings!
A kiss to the world!"
The Prime Minister is gone. The official gallery is empty. The concert continues. Joy explodes. The concert ends. Burst of applause. The choir has left the room. The spectators are leaving too. The diplomatic gallery is empty now. The comments are going well. Outside, the ballet of official cars. Erwan sees Mona leaving the concert hall with her uncle and Wang Jun. The U.S. ambassador has already gone too. He feels someone pull his sleeve.
"Mr. Le Floch, I want to talk!"
It is Dominique Meyer.
"I have important things to tell you. Are you free tomorrow?"
Erwan turns, Sandra hanging on his arm.
"Sandra, this is Dominique Meyer, but perhaps you know him?"
She nods.
"Yes, tomorrow is perfect. What time and where?"
"11 pm, at the Hotel of Minorities. But come alone. Wait for me in the hall; or rather have a coffee at the bar. I will find you."
"OK, Erwan answers, see you tomorrow!”
But he has already vanished!
"A real ghost that guy, Rochester comments! He could play in spy movies."
Meanwhile the driver of the minibus arrives. He opens up the van. They all get in. A police officer motions to go faster. Some nervousness prevails. An Associated Press reporter tries to take pictures. Too bad. Two muscle men approach him; take his camera, open it and presto, no more pictures. They disappear just as quickly. Everyone is on the bus now. The driver does not want to linger. He puts the engine on and starts off. An officer signals to drive on and they are quickly on Chang'an Avenue. Sandra looks sad.
"When will I see you again Erwan?"
I don't know. It's very complicated you know."
"Yes, but my door is open. Come when you want! I’m waiting! "
Tears stream down her cheeks.
"Don’t cry! I will manage! Trust me!
She pulls against him and will not move until arriving at the Hotel. When the minibus arrives, she gets out first and runs to her apartment without looking back. They all get out of the minibus. Rochester puts his hand on Erwan’s shoulder.
"Come see me more often. I shall cover for you. I don’t like love stories that end badly. And Sandra, she is a nice girl."
Erwan walks heavily to his apartment. He hopes that the children are back. He does not feel like facing Cécile tonight. Already he feels a nasty migraine attack. He enters the apartment. He's lucky. Lorraine and Loïc are there. Cosmos also, but not Na.

Cécile looks calm. She has Emilie in her arms. Erwan takes his jacket off. A quiet family, a quiet evening. 

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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

GAME OVER continuing the story ...Erwan and Sandra enroute to the Beijing Concert Hall

They are ready to go. The minibus is warming up and goes out of the hotel. Little traffic on this early Sunday evening. Night has fallen. Erwan looks at his watch: 8 pm now. Sandra puts her head on his shoulder. As Rochester told them, it does not last long. The van stops in front of the auditorium. The Beijing Concert Hall is a building in a socialist realism style with which only China shares the secret with some so-called popular democracies. There are already many people. A black Mercedes stops behind their vehicle. Would that be Mona and her husband, thinks Erwan? They exit the vehicle and watch the occupants getting out of the car. It is Mona and Wang Jun. Other official cars arrive, disembark their passengers and then leave. Mona spots them. She immediately comes to them. She embraces Erwan, shakes Rochester hand and greets his wife.
"You came, Erwan, it's nice of you!”
Sandra is surprised at the familiarity of Mona. She sees her closely for the first time. Her reputation is not overrated. She is very elegant and exudes a strong sense of empathy. But what is she exactly to Erwan? A hint of jealousy in her heart.
Mona is very spontaneous. She kisses Sandra in an extremely warm manner.
"Sandra, I'm just being jealous, you are extremely beautiful and charming. How can a man resist those blond curls? You are so elegant. I cannot stay with you for I’m with my uncle, but I invite you to enjoy a drink with me, for example about 5 pm tomorrow, if that suits you?"
Sandra is moved by the dynamism of this young woman. She is as if paralyzed. This woman, no one can resist her when she wants something. She looks so confident.
"Yes, of course! I'm not working tomorrow. 5:00 pm is good! And where?"
"At the bar of the Friendship Hotel, in the main building. So, see you tomorrow! And… I am very pleased to meet you. I want to share things with you!"
She gives them a little wave, she is already gone. She is like a storm! She joins another group of people. Officials apparently!
"Who are those people, Sandra asks Erwan?"
"Officials from the city of Beijing, there’s Mona's uncle, Lao Huang, the Director of Police! Also a professor from the Academy of Social Sciences and the Director of the Institute for Minorities. I’m working for them on this project about Muslim minorities in China and France. This is what occupies me the most!”
 Sandra is perplexed. She does not like mixing with powerful people. You only get problems with them and generally you are just poor small things which they reject as quickly as they welcome you.
She takes Erwan’s arm.
"Well here we go. I think it's time."
As in all theaters of the world, the first problem is to get through the doors. It is crowded. Many people are very well dressed. Women wear toilette. Clearly it is the chic resort wanted by the government to show that they control the situation. There are many cars from the embassies. Erwan sees the Consul of Belgium and also the Attaché of the Embassy of France. A sudden stampede. A limo arrives bearing the Stars and Stripes. Rochester sees the Ambassador of the United States get out of the vehicle. The bodyguards are very nervous and immediately take him inside the theater.
"That is James R. Lilley. He was born in China. A hell of a thorn in the side for the Chinese, says Rochester to them, he is fluent in Mandarin. Good, now move forward!"
All four are elbowing, but before entering the room they need to pass a security check: ticket check, body search and portal, and then re-body search and checking handbags. Finally, they enter the room. An attendant asks them for their tickets. She looks at the seats and makes a sign to follow her. Moments later they are comfortably seated facing the stage. Erwan is beside Rochester. The room has a conventional layout. But they needed little time to enter. Most of the seats are already occupied and the orchestra has begun to settle on stage.
Nothing special. The musicians are wearing tails and bow ties as in any orchestra. The stands are still empty. The U.S. Ambassador is installed with other members of the diplomatic corps in the balcony on the right. Sandra draws Erwan’s attention.

"This theater is nice. I didn’t know it before. This is a nice idea to go to the concert. That great organ in the background is impressive."

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