The Imperial Commissioner Lin Zexu

Those who know don’t speak,
and those whose speak don’t know.’

Lao Tse, VIth Century BC

Beijing International Airport
April 26

The Chinese chauffeur waved his nameboard outside exit 3 of Beijing International Airport. Tom Bailey was at the other side waiting for his suitcase. He was listening to music, earpieces plugged into his ear. The saturated guitar of King Crimson’s Robert Fripp boomed in his head and gave a surreal air to the place. He took delight in these oppositions. He was here, elsewhere and nowhere all at the same time. In these moments, he felt outside time, as if in a cinema, watching the world on a giant screen.

Death seed blind man’s greed
Poets’ starving children bleed
Nothing he’s got he really needs
Twenty first century schizoid man.

He had left California with a collection of 200 music titles from the Sixties, the golden decade of Pop music, a decade he would gladly have lived in. That was before he was born and when his father was still alive. Tom’s trip was to be for two months. Possibly more. He was savouring the novelties unravelling before him to the full. Everything appeared new to Tom Bailey. He had travelled little in his youth, preferring to ruin his eyes in front of a PC screen rather than go out and see the world. In his early youth, he had visited England, his parents’ native country, and Scotland where his mother now lived. That made each mission for Microsoft seem like a pleasure outing, an exotic discovery: China, India, Japan, Brazil…
Officially, Tom was just a consultant for Microsoft. He had always refused the generous employment package the firm offered him, preferring to keep his freedom. This status hadn’t prevented him from taking part in Microsoft’s most advanced and strategic programs. As a specialist in security and network-based authentication systems, he was regularly called out to tackle the most critical and sensitive questions.

The automatic door opened and Tom made a few steps with his suitcase, stopped and pulled out his earpieces. He was in China. He spotted the nameboard displaying his name in large characters. The Asian driver greeted him and led him to a small group of four standing in the background. A man well into his fifties stepped forward, putting on a broad smile. He moved confidently towards Tom, grasping his hand firmly.
‘Hi Tom, welcome to Beijing. This is Kathleen, who is heading the Microsoft party; Mat, a colleague and a Californian like you, and Rajiv. And I’m Val Stenton of the US embassy Trade Department here in China.’
They gazed at him attentively. So this was the Tom Bailey everyone was talking about. This was the nineteen-year-old University of Berkeley student Microsoft had called upon to catch up on its technological lag in the area of the Internet; the one who, following a major strategic turnaround by Microsoft, performed an emergency implant of the Internet’s communication protocol into the heart of all the firm’s software, when Windows 95 could no longer survive its outdatedness. And now he was continuing to perform miracles in record time, taking in single-handedly millions of lines of code in one glance. They had all heard of Tom Bailey and were looking at him with admiration.
‘You’re all accommodated in the same residence,’ added Stenton. ‘Furnished apartments in a top-luxury condominium. You’ll be well looked after.’
Stenton couldn’t hold back a scowl seeing all the fuss made of that Tom Bailey. ‘If that guy was so clever,’ he thought to himself, ‘why didn’t they ask him to clear up once and for all the bugs in Windows which kept causing his computer to crash? What annoyed him most of all was the open-mouthed admiration the other members of the delegation had for this young man. It had to be said that, in addition to landing with a reputation that preceded him, Tom had the looks to seduce: the sporting type, long blond hair, a touch of laughter in his blue eyes. He beamed with happiness. But the young man, unmoved by the enthusiasm he aroused, looked at the view as it unrolled across the windows of the minivan, looking absent, daydreaming. His gaze struck against the reality opening up before him: this alternation of poor, often unfinished, dwellings forming a backdrop for dozens of busy Chinese children, contrasting with brand new buildings from which poured the latest Mercedes.
‘Is this your first visit to China?’ enquired Kathleen Morse.
‘My first trip to China and my first trip to Asia as a matter of fact.’
‘Don’t worry Tom, you’ll soon feel at home. If you can find your way around the Windows source code, then the mysteries of China won’t resist you for long,’ added Mat McCallum.
He was hoping his Californian colleague was right. Tom was somewhat reassured by the ease the fellow displayed in this universe, so different from the living and working environment he himself was used to. The road continued without the slightest pagoda, temple, or Chinese with long pigtails down his back to brighten up the scenery and remind him he was in China. If it had been in the suburbs of Los Angeles, he would hardly have noticed the difference. Perhaps that country wasn’t as exotic as the stereotyped mental image he had made of it.

Tom dropped off his luggage in the Spring Flowers residence. He had a neat one-bedroom apartment on the fifteenth floor with a view overlooking Beijing.
He had spent his first Sunday on Beijing soil in the company of Kathleen Morse and Val Stenton who had a schedule tailor made for him. He saw that there was no tourist visit planned and that he was to get down to work right away. But first he was to take a crash course on Chinese social customs and habits. Never lose face in front of your hosts, never say anything that could be interpreted as an insult, never make categorical statements, stay away from controversial subjects. In other words, avoid saying too bluntly what you think. Apparently, it wasn’t that the Chinese repressed their thoughts, but just that they didn’t express them in the same way as the Europeans or Americans. It was something to get used to, a manner which didn’t come naturally to us Westerners, but was necessary to put all the chances on our side. This was certainly not the time to offend their hosts. Belonging to Microsoft’s GSP mission had its constraints and compelled him to redouble in diplomacy and caution. In this matter, the Americans were the askers. They were there to gain their company’s acceptance, settle any misunderstandings and dissipate suspicions. The Redmond firm had decided to reveal the innards of its star program, the source code of Windows.
They were to be to-the-point and warm, rigorous and convivial at the same time, to give the impression of revealing all without saying anything beyond the strict minimum. For the moment, the meetings went through in a spirit marked by good will and the desire for cooperation.
Tom was to intervene strictly in his own field of competence, under Kathleen’s close supervision.

Beijing, CNITSEC
China Information Technology Security Certification Center Source Code Review Lab

Mid May

Tom left his laptop in his luxury apartment. He gazed one last time across the bay window overlooking a forest of buildings way in the distance. From that angle, Beijing invariably made him think of Los Angeles – no compliment from the native of San Francisco that he was.
At 10 am that morning, the young man was to meet the members of the Chinese Certification Center. Before leaving his room, he picked up a writing pad and a pen, and then slipped into his pocket the i-Pod he always carried around. Kathleen Morse would provide him the necessary equipment in due course.
He hardly had any time to rest between his arrival and getting down to serious business. His first two days in Beijing went by very quickly, taken up by briefing sessions and preliminary meetings. He was discovering the complex relations maintained between Microsoft and China. They had to be particularly cautious and diplomatic with the Chinese party, at the risk of seeing a total collapse in the talks. That was the message he got from these two days of briefing. He now knew what to say, how to say it and when to stop. For the rest, his job was simple. His colleagues had already answered the main questions from the Chinese party concerning the firm’s future operating system.
His role in the mission was well defined: to study how the security specifications imposed by China can be integrated into the Microsoft product, evaluate what these modifications would imply on the system architecture, and consider how the modules developed in China could be implemented into the software’s source code. ‘Easy,’ he said to himself. Only the political nature of his mission caused him concern.
In all, the Microsoft delegation counted seven people. Four of them had already taken part in several meetings since the start of the GSP program while, the three others had just arrived in Beijing.
They were welcomed with genial smiles and bows by two directors of the CNITEC in the lobby of the main building. Both sides expressed enthusiasm at the idea of this new collaboration and mutually congratulated themselves on the progress accomplished. Tom was able to see that here, like in the States, the reign of appearances was no myth.
In the meeting room on the tenth floor of the centre, an ultra-modern building with smoked glass walls, twenty five computer experts were already waiting for them. Kathleen Morse was the first to advance towards the group. The Chinese party was standing, somewhat wooden, shaking hands while making light bows.
The two delegations finally took their seats facing each other. Now came the moment of the introductions. Kathleen took care of that. Tom was described as one of those geniuses capable of figuring out the most complex of architectures like no other. Kathleen recapped his achievements. His reputation was already made. He hated that but understood the importance of this ritual. They had to impress the Chinese delegation and prove to them Microsoft had the best intentions and was sending over its top brains.
He began by scanning all these faces one by one. Young computer scientists just like the ones in the Redmond research and development labs. Others, less young, who must play a more political role… The Chinese group also included about ten women who all looked identical, with the same slit eyes and pony tails. Only one of them stood apart by the fineness of her features, soothing smile and hair cascading down to her shoulders. Her face was beautiful and proud. Had it not been for her fuchsia suit identical to those of her colleagues, anyone would have considered her a total stranger to that delegation. But it was above all the look in her eyes that arrested Tom’s attention. She seemed to possess a profound and penetrating intelligence. So much so that Tom was counting the minutes before the pretty Chinese girl would be introduced to him. His waiting was interrupted by a charming voice.
‘I’m Jin. I work at the Software Research Institute of the Chinese Science Academy. I am more particularly responsible for matters of authentication and access. I think, Tom, that we will be brought to examine these topics together.’
Tom’s face lit up.
The head of the Chinese delegation added:
‘Miss Lao Jin will lead the work group in charge of studying the way to implement into the system the access and authentication modules developed by our national laboratories.’
Tom couldn’t bring himself away from the young woman’s face. Their eyes met and she seemed unperturbed. She smiled at him and flitted by turning her gaze. She had the countenance of a queen, nobleness blended with strength and serenity. In a flash, Tom pictured her a moment, running on walls, leaping high, springing up, sword in hand then, back at the temple, eyes closed, meditating in levitation, raising stones by thought alone as in kung-fu films.
The first meeting of the GSP since the January session ended quite rapidly once a new work schedule and the workgroups had been set up. The American delegation was the first to leave the room. Almost as soon as they had reached the street, Kathleen was the first to break away from her reserve while Tom still seemed to be dreaming.
‘Jeez!’ she exclaimed when they were out of earshot of the Chinese. ‘I can’t believe this! Out of 25 people, 20 of them were new faces we’ve never seen before! How can we work constructively and make any headway under these conditions?’
‘What’s more, three of the six topics the workgroup addressed concerned matters we’d already gone through at the beginning of year,’ added a colleague. ‘It’s almost as if they’re trying to wear us into giving in.’
‘OK, take it easy,’ said the head of the delegation to calm things down. ‘It’s just their way of operating; you have to expect that in a country of one billion inhabitants, they’ve got to give a job to everyone…’
Tom remained silent. He only longed for one thing: to sit down in front of a computer screen with that Lao Jin.

‘So it’s him, that famous Tom Bailey, the operating systems genius, the great wizard of networks.’ Jin had studied that young man at length when they were introduced to each other in the CNITSEC laboratories a few days before. She had been expecting to meet a long-haired character, grubby and full of acme, introverted and unsociable. And she couldn’t have been more wrong. She smiled again as she thought of that juvenile face, eyes so blue, long auburn hair speckled by the sun. This kid glowed with intelligence.
It was as if they already knew each other in a past life. She felt a deep unrest which she attempted to hide when Tom set his lucid eyes on her. It wasn’t in her habits. She scolded herself for that weakness, convinced Tom had noticed it.
They met up again the next day in a group of four around a work table and she had managed to regain her composure. Tom was joyful, ebullient, his mind always alert. There was no doubt about it, he really was brilliant, a whiz kid who could stand up to comparison with Professor Mok Mengma.

Since his arrival in China, Tom played Donovan songs endlessly on his iPod. He couldn’t explain to himself why. It was as if there existed a secret and mysterious union between the Sixties’ folk singer and the Middle Empire!

Electrical banana
Is gonna be a sudden craze.
Electrical banana
Is bound to be the very next phase.
They call it Mellow Yellow
Quite rightly
They call it Mellow Yellow…

He felt happy. Jin’s face appeared before him. Her image seemed to be indelibly imprinted into his memory. And yet he had only met her six times over the last days during the GSP work group meetings with the his new team mate Mat McCallum , a very good programmer who knew the new Windows like the back of his hand. Jin, for her part, never came alone. She was always accompanied by one or two colleagues intent on maintaining distances and cutting short any excess of enthusiasm. It was out of the question to fraternise beyond what was reasonable.
The operations were coming along satisfactorily. The Chinese had presented their security modules, in the form of a black box. Obviously, there was no question of revealing its contents, which was moreover unnecessary. The first phase consisted in establishing the external specifications of that module, describing its interface and modifying it, if needs be. It was Mat’s job to integrate it into Windows, while Tom was to supervise the overall procedure. No one could match him in smoothing out difficulties; he had this rare ability to grasp several procedures simultaneously, in parallel and anticipate between mutually remote routines having no direct relation between them.
Jin had worked on one of those modules and was able to modify its programming interface if such an adaptation were to prove necessary.

Jin enjoyed these workgroups. Of course, she had to remain aloof and regretted that. But the cheerfulness of the two Microsoft computer scientists was contagious. At the fifth session, they had even all stayed together to dine at a small Pekinese restaurant, overriding the guidelines to stick strictly to courteous and professional relations with the Americans. She knew how much Microsoft was suspected of the worse intentions. The aim of these work meetings was precisely to dispel the doubts that weighed on the firm. They therefore had to remain reserved and not let themselves get taken for a ride. The Chinese party was going through the Windows source code with a fine-tooth comb, looking for backdoors, underhand routines and malicious modules. The very nature of the investigative mission hardly lent itself to unrestrained cordiality. The dinner was thus quickly got through, Chinese style, without lingering.
But the way Tom and Jin got along had soon eclipsed the presence of the two other participants. They decided to meet up on Saturday at the restaurant. Alone.

Cheng had invented an activity for almost each evening of the week: sport, a training seminar on international accountancy standards, the weekly evening meeting of the Beijing Accountants Society, of which he was the treasurer, an introductory course on seawater aquariums… There he went a bit too far. But Yaping appeared to believe this tale of a tropical aquarium he wanted to buy to replace the goldfish bowl and its two miserable little inhabitants he kept in his apartment. Thanks to this strategy, he had managed to limit his dates with that young woman to two evenings a week.
Before he even became aware of what was happening to him, he had become Yaping’s steady boyfriend…With all the constraints, obligations and duties this status implied. And if only he had got a free access to that damn PC! But the zealous young secretary didn’t mix business with romance, and that came as an enormous surprise to Cheng. His ego as an irresistible charmer took a severe blow. Clearly, he didn’t have that girl round his little finger. And Song was beginning to get impatient.
Between Yaping who clung to him with her tentacles, his bosses who were already talking about the wedding, his own wife Nanjing who made him feel guilty for no longer being present, and that Santana Song always asking for more, Cheng felt he was no longer the master of his existence…

Beijing
End of May

They had worked all through the morning. Jin got the impression of progressing much more quickly during those face-to-face sessions. That guy was so quick she sometimes felt he had guessed the internal architecture of her security module, that he was able to reproduce its inner workings from its external specifications. Despite all the reserve and distance she tried to maintain with Tom, she proposed a visit together to Beijing’s Summer Garden, a manner for her to discover more and continue her intelligence mission. Tom accepted. They met up the next day, a Sunday, in the lobby of the town’s large hotels for discretion, something Tom had perfectly understood. If the Microsoft experts had everything to gain by relaxing the atmosphere, it was not so for the Chinese.
There he sat waiting for her in a large comfortable red armchair, tucked into a copy of Newsweek while a pianist tried to make his dreary music heard by some distracted clients. His face lit up when he saw Jin come up towards him. It was their first time out together outside work. Taking care not to be followed by anyone, they clambered into the young woman’s car and head for the Summer Palace to the north-west of the city.
‘The palace backs onto the Hill of Millennial Longevity,’ explained Jin, scrutinising Tom’s reactions in her rear view mirror.
He appeared to marvel at the poetry of the Chinese, and this particularly delighted the young woman.
‘Here you see the Garden of Virtuous Harmony. Over there, the Palace of the Waves of Jade,’ she continued, trying to contain her jubilation.
He looked at her, dreamy eyed. They soon stopped the car to continue the journey on foot. They strolled along the broad, stone-paved alleys bordered with trees which sheltered walkers from the fierceness of the sun. The long gallery offered a succession of paintings depicting traditional Chinese legends.
‘The Pavilion of the Sea of Perfect Wisdom,’ she continued.

She liked seeing that bright smile light up the good-looking face of the young American. They came close to another building standing by edge of the water. Tom turned towards her with an enquiring look.
‘The Palace of Orderly Clouds,’ she said softly.
He burst out laughing.
‘Tom, would you like to go round the lake in a boat? But you’ll have to row!’
‘No problem. And what’s this lake called?’
‘Hum…the Lake of Eternal Spring, of course, Lake Kunming.’

Ming focussed his binoculars. His fat body lying on the grass, he watched the two computer scientists as they were moving away from the lake. He got up and moved over to the bank, mixing in with the tourists, without trying in the least to hide – still best way to pass by unnoticed. He was the one assigned by Song to keep a close watch on the Microsoft whiz kid and his Chinese pal. A girl who seemed to take too close an interest in that Tom Bailey for the liking of the CIA.
With his left hand, he brought a lapel of his jacket to his mouth and uttered into the miniature microphone.
‘Taken a rowing boat for a spin on the lake. Staying in visual contact…’

It was a beautiful spring afternoon, the sky was bright and the trees in flower. Tom seated himself in front of Jin and grabbed hold of the oars. The young woman drew in the pure air deep into her lungs. Several couples and a few families had, like them, also hired boats. Some children were arguing over whose turn it was to row, under the amused eyes of their parents who tried to separate them. Joyous laughs rippled from afar, reflected by the lake’s surface.
‘This Summer Palace isn’t all that old,’ she explained, ‘At least not by Chinese standards. It dates from 1888, and it was Empress Cixi who had it built. To finance its construction, she hived off money intended for the development of the Chinese navy!’
They were drawing away from the banks at slow speed. The pavilions on the lakeside began to form a harmonious picture as the viewers were gaining some distance.
‘Did you know, Tom, that in 1860 there was nothing but ruins left of these temples?’
‘No I didn’t, what happened?’
She had there the occasion to give him short lesson in Chinese history, which she knew so well, like all her countrymen.
‘Expeditionary corps from England and France ransacked the Summer Palace, then set it on fire, and did the same with the Garden of Perfection and Clarity situated a bit farther along. All that remained was the Great Marble Boat you see over there to your left.’
Tom knew nothing of all this. He took on a look of surprise and shock by this revelation.
‘And what were these troops doing in China?’
‘Well, for over a century, China was reduced to a state of virtual colony by the great Western powers. All began with the Opium War in 1839. The Europeans made China pay dearly for its splendid isolation, its refusal to open its frontiers to international trade, and for its somewhat haughty attitude, no doubt.’
‘Uh-huh. By the way, Jin, how come China always reckons itself to be at the centre of the World, so superior?’

She thought for a few seconds to frame her argument as well as possible.
‘One of the characteristics of China is to have always absorbed other populations, invaders from the North. In the 13th century, the Mongols conquered all of China then the Manchus dominated the country in the 17th century. But every time the coloniser brought along a civilisation far less refined and far less advance than that of China. Since its origins, thousands of years ago, China always saw itself surrounded by barbarians they had to push back and contain behind walls. It was the First Emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi who, around 220 BC, undertook to join up the different walls to produce what was to become the Great Wall. It was no doubt that which forged this vision the Chinese have of their country, a land situated at the centre of the universe, the Zhongguo, or Middle Empire.’
They had reached the other bank, opposite the Great Marble Boat. Tom dipped his oars nonchalantly into the black waters of the lake, following along the edge.

‘But with the arrival of Westerners, things didn’t go quite as smoothly, is that right?’
‘Yes, that’s right. Things were altogether different from the middle of the 19th Century, when the European traders set foot in China, beat us militarily and tore the country apart. China at that time was convinced it had no need for Western goods. It lived in its satisfaction – its certainty – of having a culturally superior and self-sufficient civilisation. The Neo-Confucian tradition which pervaded the administration during the Ming and Qing dynasties hardly encouraged change and openings to the outside world. On the other hand, the Europeans had a great interest in Chinese goods: silk, porcelain or tea. But the Qing emperors had got into the habit of considering peripheral populations as inferior, and saw no reason to change that attitude with regard to these people from the West. Trade with China at that time passed exclusively through the town of Canton, the only port authorised by the administration to trade. But the exchanges were one-sided. The Europeans bought a great deal from China while the latter bought nothing in return.’
‘This all sounds a bit like the present situation, don’t you think?’ America buys a lot from China and has a considerable trade deficit with that country. Our government insists on a revaluation of the Yuan and threatens to remove customs barriers, or even to impose quotas. Which explains why China is encouraged to buy more Boeings to reduce the deficit…’
‘It’s something like that. China has for centuries always tried to remain self-sufficient and never to depend on foreign countries. It’s a constant feature. In 1830, the British wanted to restore the balance and began by selling goods coming from India, raw cotton and…opium.’
‘Opium?’
He looked stunned by what he heard. Are you saying Great Britain was ruled by drug traffickers?

‘19th Century England was the biggest international drug dealer, at the head of an organisation no cartel today could ever match! Opium was much in demand in China, no doubt since the beginning of that century, even though it was officially forbidden by the Manchu administration. Thanks to opium, Britain’s trade deficit with China was soon to turn to a surplus. Revenues from silk and tea were no longer sufficient, and China had to sell its stocks of precious metals to buy its drug doses from the British!’
‘But couldn’t the Chinese do anything about it?’
‘There was an imperial ruling that prohibited the import of opium into the territory, but with unscrupulous traders and a corrupt bureaucracy, large quantities of drug were still coming in. The British traders were supplying opium to the troops of the Chinese army, civil servants and the population at large, which all became intoxicated and addicted. For ten years, the Qing government fought against opium without success.
Until 1839, when the Manchu government took drastic measures. An imperial commissioner was dispatched to Guangzhou on a mission to put an end to opium trafficking. His name was Lin Zexu. He was incorruptible and proceeded to seize thousands of chests of opium which he burnt, and prosecuted a part of the foreign community.’
‘Nice work, looks like that Lin Zexu turned the game around!’

‘Sure, but his initiative wasn’t to the liking of the British, who jumped at the pretext of this affront to retaliate! They decided to attack China, and that was to become the ‘Opium War’ which lasted for three years. It concluded with the defeat of the Manchu imperial forces. The British gunboats then had a firepower and military superiority which overwhelmed the Chinese.’
‘Tom couldn’t believe his ears. Such cowboy tactics were appalling.’
‘But that’s incredible, the British organise, for their own profit, the smuggling of an illegal drug into a foreign and sovereign nation. That nation reacts by putting an end to this traffic on its own soil, and the British declare war to it!’

‘Quite so, and this defeat was to have sinister consequences. First of all, it ruined the prestige of the Manchu imperial rule, which was to vanish completely seventy years later. And the war was to conclude by the perfidious Nanjing Treaty in 1842. China had suffered a national humiliation. The British obtained that China hand over Hong-Kong and open four other ports, in addition to Guangzhou, where they would be authorised to reside and have the privilege of extraterritoriality! These ports were Shanghai, Fuzhou, Ningbo and Xiamen. With the benefit of extraterritoriality, the British obtained the impunity of their countrymen for crimes they could commit on Chinese soil. A foreign power was thus able to set up its own judicial system! This impunity was later extended to all Chinese working for the British, and even to those were just doing business with them. These foreign trading posts quickly became a paradise for all sorts of criminals.’

She stopped a few seconds to admire the coloured branches of the flowering trees.
‘You can understand that it was a heavy blow to the Celestial Empire! This treaty, and the ones that followed, are known as the ‘Unfair Treaties.’ For a century, China was to be a virtual colony where all the great powers of the day came to settle.’
The boat was still progressing slowly on the black waters of Lake Kunming. They were now following the dyke that separated the lake in two. A few birds, egrets and ducks, had made it their playground.
‘The Western powers wanted more ports, more rights, and declared the second opium war in 1858.’
Tom was fascinated by this chapter of history he had never even suspected.
‘And there’s still more to come! For Japan, in turn, took advantage of the situation to attack China in 1895. We were conquered and, under the terms of the Shimonoseki Treaty this time, had to surrender Southern Manchuria and the island of Taiwan, which we still haven’t recovered…’
The boat had veered to the left, towards the Bridge of the Seventeen Arches which linked the shore to a small island. They were now returning to the mooring point. He took her hand to help her off the boat. The sun was low on the horizon and the temperature had dropped. They decided to stay for dinner at the Summer Palace. The ‘pavilion for hearing the song of the nightingale’ could only seduce Tom. It was converted into a restaurant and its magnificent setting, inspired from the court of the Manchu emperors, bathed in elegance. They seated themselves at the terrace; it was the magic moment when the declining sun cast a golden hue on everyone and everything. As young woman was studying the menu, Tom took the occasion to contemplate her face which exuded the peacefulness of a statue of Buddha. She sensed his gaze upon her and raised her eyes. He was smiling.

They ordered a Peking duck, the speciality of the house. Only the crusty skin was served. Tom felt like asking what they did with the rest of the duck. But as he was about to roll the crisp piece of poultry into a light rice pancake, he dared another question that was burning his lips.
‘But surely then, Jin, the Chinese must hate us Westerners.’
She broke into a smile, as if she wanted to dissipate his fears.
‘To be honest, the Nanjing Treaty and the century of humiliation that followed still remain very vivid in the memory and the collective conscience of the Chinese people. You know, China has opened itself to the world since 1978 and wants above all to avoid a new form of exploitation and subservience…’
Tom was wondering whether Jin was making a veiled allusion to Microsoft. Could the imposed use of Windows constitute such an exploitation? He dared not ask her.

 

A book by JF SUSBIELLE   – Translation by Dominic KING

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