Shanghai Life and Death(45)

“You have stirred up a most ordinary situation into what appears to be a mystery.” I said, “I do meet with Scout regularly. Mainly because he was very social, often feasted and often showed British films afterwards, which was fascinating because we don’t have the opportunity to see these foreign films here. As I recall, he also invited Foreign Ministry officials to see these films many times. It is our custom that it is not polite to come and go. I have a lot of antique porcelain collection, so I also hosted a banquet for some friends to enjoy some of my newly found antiques, which also includes Scout. He also came and recorded many of my records. The Red Guards must have told you that I have a lot of records in my collection. I know that he was really different from other Europeans in Shanghai. He often drove himself. Since he could speak Chinese, it was not inconvenient for him. It was a coincidence that he arrived in Shanghai before I left for Hong Kong and again before I returned to Shanghai. As for the ship I was on, when it was anchored due to a typhoon, he came on board, not to see me, but to see the captain, and another passenger, who seemed to be a Danish businessman. They drank and talked together, but I did not join them. When that foreign ship berthed, there were many PLA and customs officers on board. Why don’t you go and find out from them whether he came to visit me or that captain?” I said.

“Your relationship with Scout was not just a casual acquaintance.” The arraigner said.

“Anyway, your conclusion is unfounded and wrong.”

The interrogator gave me a hard stare: “I advise you not to cover up your political problems by saying that you are in a romantic relationship with Sigurd and not to play tricks. A Chinese woman who degenerates to the point of engaging in corruption with a barbarian from the West, that’s a sentence to go in for reform through labor.”

For a long time, the Chinese have suffered for the loss of their national pride. Those who had never left their homeland or had no ties with other countries often referred to people from other regions as “devils,” considering them to be uncivilized animals with very different habits and calling them “foreigners” or “foreigners” or “foreign devils”. China’s long-established closed-door policy has greatly deepened the Chinese people’s sense of arrogance. When Deng Xiaoping implemented an open-door policy to the rest of the world, he immediately received a lot of praise. Obviously, foreigners brought a lot of money to invest in China; they also exchanged consciousness with each other. The Chinese people awoke to this foreign shock. For this, they felt pain, shame and remorse. They began to adopt a more enlightened attitude toward Western culture in order to fight for a real “civilization”.

I really had nothing more to say to the arraigner. It seemed that he was not satisfied with just sending me to reform through labor, but had to make me a “spy”. I don’t understand why this is so. Normally, if they propose to punish someone, they do not care much about the charges of conviction, sometimes they are vague, or even no charges at all, and their purpose is only to punish. But this time, from the arraigner’s attitude, it seemed that I had to be convicted on the charge of “secret agent”, and not on any other charge. What was the reason for this? I waited for a long time before I realized the truth.

“I think you should stop arguing and tell me what you said when you were with Scout.” The arraigner asked.

“You can’t ask me to remember all the conversations I had with someone years ago. It was an irrelevant conversation anyway. We talked about books, music, Chinese porcelain, places we’d both visited, and our respective families. That’s all.”

“Did you never get into politics?”

“Maybe sometimes about current events, mostly international. Scout is a diplomat; he wouldn’t discuss current events in China with a Chinese man.”

The Europeans I know, diplomats and businessmen alike, have decided that the mainland is like a big question mark with thrilling connotations. It is a country that has become an extraordinary mystery, mainly because of its closed-door policy. Some foreigners come to China because they have an interest in Chinese culture. When they have the opportunity to talk to Chinese people, they will of course have all kinds of questions to ask, but these have absolutely nothing to do with politics. As a Chinese, I think it is not a bad thing to help foreigners understand China, including her cultural history, her struggle; but the radicals in the party do not see these favorable conditions. They imagine that any Chinese who is not a propaganda item for the Communist Party to sing its praises is against the state. And every foreigner who comes to China is trying to pick apart the faults and shortcomings of the Communist system. So they were always suspicious of Chinese people who worked for foreign companies or had contacts with Europeans.

Before the Cultural Revolution, I had a very solid sense of security because I didn’t know any Chinese people who held important positions in politics. So there was no such possibility of having access to state secrets. And I was always very careful and cautious, never mentioning any sensitive issues with my Chinese friends or relatives. Especially communists. Finally my problem was cleared up, because during the Cultural Revolution, my friends and relatives were also censored and they all honestly said that I had never expressed any interest in state secrets.

“Sigurdt was a secret agent, and his mission was to gather information. What did he ask you to do for him? He didn’t ask you to gather intelligence for him, did he?”

“I work for Asia, which is a foreign company, and I know no more about China than a foreigner.”

“For a secret agent, it’s impossible for him not to collect intelligence.”

“Are you sure he’s a secret agent?” I asked.

“Do you doubt the material we have?”

“Then why didn’t you arrest him? Publicly declare him a ‘persona non grata’ and deport him?”

“We didn’t want to alert the snake. He is already under our close surveillance, and we know all about his movements. These Englishmen work not only for his own country, but also for the Americans. For the Americans are not allowed to come to China openly. The Americans are close to the Kuomintang, so it seems that the British are also connected with the Kuomintang.”

He raised his voice and continued indiscriminately, “Scout came to Shanghai for the second time in 1962, just as the Kuomintang was waiting for an opportunity to counter-attack the mainland. Sigurdt contacted you at this time because you had ties with the Kuomintang.”

“No such thing! I have nothing to do with the Kuomintang.”

“Your husband is a senior official in the Kuomintang government, and that’s not all; your family origin shows that you are inclined to the Kuomintang. The Great Leader’s teaching on class struggle is not only a telescope, but also a microscope. Armed with Mao Zedong’s thought, we can see the essence through the phenomenon.”

I fixed my mind to recall whether those foreign friends, including Scout, had asked me about Taiwan. This thought activity caught the arraigner. But he only knew that I was thinking, but he couldn’t catch what I was thinking. He asked urgently, “Whether you explain it or not, we have a full record of your conversation with Scout.”

“If that’s true, then you must know that Sigurd and I never talk about politics.” I said.