In Xinjiang on the Old Silk Road

 In the mid-1980s, foreign students traveling in China were much less fettered than journalists were. They often left their badly-taught Chinese language classes armed with a determination to see the minority areas (which were usually closed to foreigners) and their university ID cards (which along with a bit of arguing would often get them into Chinese-only hotels). They encountered a lot of prejudice against the “national minorities” in China. I talked with one young Australian who described the well-educated, official Uighur interpreter and the shocking way the Hans on their trip treated her.

My friend Nicole describes the autonomous regions Read More

In and around a Chinese Shipyard

The setting is Xiamen in 1985. Derek and Elizabeth are a lively, gregarious couple in their late forties. Like many New Zealanders, they have a wonderful sense of adventure and a desire to try all sorts of new things—from sailing around the South Pacific to taking off with the rest of the foreigners for the new restaurant in town.  Both Elizabeth and Derek have been around boats all their lives. 

Derek: When I was working in Australia as a boat building supervisor I got a telegram asking if I’d like to build boats in China. Would I?  So we sailed … Read More