Saturday, January 12, 2013

Behind the Curtain of the Tearoom

A Twitter user revealed his experience after returned from a Tea-Date. Police often summon political dissidents to a tea-drinking appointment in their first offence, before harsher enforcing measure would be involved.

Recently, after hinting support to Southern Weekend's fighting for freedom in journalism, entrepreneur Kai-Fu Lee, real estate tycoon Ren Zhiqiang and famous actress Annie Yi all were summoned to have tea with police. Among all tea-drinkers, Lee is the only person to have ever even brought up the experience afterwards. In fact, Lee posted a picture of the tea set in defiance (taking picture is not allowed). It is a very nice tea set. Lee, a renowned scientist in artificial intelligence, and former senior Global VP at Mircosoft, and first CEO of Google China, is not a nobody that police can easily mess up with everyday. Others were not as lucky. Protesters including many students reported being stripped and locked up. Veteran rights activists wrote about being beaten and scolded. However, Lee was not specific on his encounter with the police, but rather announced that effectively immediately he would only talk about weekdays (not Weekend), and that he would only mention East, West and North (not South).

We may, though, figure out what actually happened behind the door of the tearoom, thanks to Twitter which is beyond the reach of Chinese Internet Cops.

Twitter user xddcc shared his tea-drinking experience, which he later categorized as a hell-chat. XDDCC is a cartoonist and illustrator. He was summoned because his postings on Tibetan issues. In addition to routine questionings and educating, he was asked to draw a cartoon. It can be anything he likes to draw. The political police "just want to see how good he is", quote and unquote. So he drew a cartoon for them. Then he was allowed to leave.

In many cases, people were summoned to meet the political police for no obvious reasons. There is no intel to be extracted. The purpose is simple: we ask you come, you must come, regardless how polite we were when we asked you; we ask you to dance, you dance, even if we are not interested in dancing. We can make you do that because we know you will comply.

Perhaps, Lee wrote them a beautiful piece of code to examine the boundaries of an array. Perhaps, Yi sang one of her most popular songs. It's not a burden to them at all. It's actually what they do best. However, the point is: you do it when we tell you to do it; and you stop when we say stop.

Everyone looks to do what they do best. However, there is nothing more humiliating than having to do what you do best in a specified place at a specified time to a specified people. Did you have the courage to refuse? Will you have the courage to tell?

Having spoken for the Southern Weekend, and after learned of Annie Yi being summoned for the tea appointment by political police, actress Li Bingbing posted a photo of a tea set on her Weibo indicating she would not be intimated by an invitation to the tearoom.

Li was not foreign to police appointments. In her 2009 movie Feng Sheng, Li played a role of a government employee who was under suspicion of leaking key information. In the movie, Li was invited to a tearoom appointment with a detective Takeda (played by Xiaoming Huang). During the interview, no question was asked. The detective was simply curious on how precisely beautiful Li's body was. He asked Li to strip down, then used a range of instruments such as ruler, vernier caliper, micrometer and compasses to carefully measure every aspect of her body.

In the movie, Li's role was known for her beauty. The detective told Li that he wanted to study Li's beauty himself, therefore he needed to collect quantitative data from Li's body. The detective did not have to fully complete his work before Li mentally collapsed. Regardless how proud and confident Li was about her own body, making her to present it in the tearoom had been proved to be the most effective way to crush any dignity in her mind. The detective came to the conclusion that Li was innocent, because a career spy would be able to hold on longer.

Is Li Bingbing ready to face the challenge in real life? How far will she go to prove her innocence?

No comments: