End of the Monologues

09 Mar 2005

I was unhappy to receive this e-mail from Hank of The Laowai Monologues today. He didn’t mind me sharing it so that his anonymous readers might know what happened. All of his blog entries will soon be offline for good.

Today, ends my blogging here in China.

Without going into dramatics, or at least attempting not to, my blogging began to jeopardize my job, my marriage and my life. Let me give the final spill: it’s not eloquent, but I hope that many of you will stay in contact with me, and I want you–each one of you to know–that your support and comments through the last 2 and half years of my blogging career gave me moments of lucidity, sanity, and triumphs. Your emails brought me great satisfaction, great joy, and a real sense of connecting with humanity. Blogging was great for me; I never considered myself a real blogger; I mean, I never made daily blogs; I made lengthy missives which required I work and revise a great deal on them–some postings I thought humbly were quite good; others, in retrospect, made me cringe.

I am ending my blog because right now the internet is filled with moles, and in the People’s Republic of China, I feel that now and especially in the next few years leading to the Beijing 2008 Olympics, control and observation of websites will come under close scrutiny by the government internet police….

The bottom line: I do not want to risk losing my wife, my job, and be deported if push came to shove. Maybe that’s extreme; maybe I’m overreacting, but at this point, I don’t want to find out what exactly the consequences are, and its best to bow out now before I do jeopardize those things I have and love. This hits too close….

China is a lonely country for foreigners; the provinces even more so; isolation and scrutiny by the masses isn’t an easy thing to come to grips with. I definitely had my ups and downs, but one thing I know, as syrupy and mushy as it sounds, love is important: for your spouse or your students, and yourself and who you are, but never forsake those parts that make you human.

Please keep in touch!

Best,
Hank
The Laowai Monologues
March 9, 2005

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John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.

Comments

  1. Luo Dawei Says: March 10, 2005 at 3:14 am

    Hank, If you read this then Godspeed to you. I understand your reasons for doing this, though we will all miss reading your blog. Family and wife are definetly more important. Take care and keep us posted on your goings on via John’s site here.

  2. Luo Dawei Says: March 10, 2005 at 3:22 am

    Addendum: That’s 3 China Blogs down in as many months.

    Gweilo Daries R.I.P.
    Brainysmurf R.I.P.
    Laowai Monologues R.I.P.
    Who’s next??

  3. Sad…

  4. I received this sad news in my inbox this AM. I’m of the opinion that China has made significant progress in the rights enjoyed by her people in recent years, but things like this show that there’s still a ways to go….

  5. schtickyrice Says: March 10, 2005 at 7:10 am

    Sorry to hear the news. I was hoping that the Beijing Olympics would do for democracy in China what the Seoul Olympics did for South Korea. Now I’m not so sure.

  6. That sucks. The Monologues were among my very favorite reads. The day that China learns that criticism, not praise, is what drives progress is the day China starts on the road to being a real world power.

    That day is mighty far off, though.

  7. This is partly why I’m headed to Hong Kong in the near future: no internet firewall and you have the right to say what you like.

    Ummm…for now anyway….;)

  8. Da Xiangchang Says: March 10, 2005 at 8:28 am

    Yes, very sad indeed. It totally sucks to have something you’ve created and loved be destroyed. 🙁

    Having said that, however, I find the Chinese reaction to be understandable. The entire Chinese government is rotten to the core, and any liberalization of its political institutions would no doubt send a chain reaction that would wipe the Communist Party off the map. Look at what’s happening in the Lebanon. Can you imagine if even only 1% of China’s population going on the streets–that would be 13 million people! The Chinese government is most afraid not of America but its own pissed off people, especially its 800 million peasants.

    And you know something, I’m quite ambivalent with the Chinese government’s censorship. On the one hand, it’s ridiculous; anyone should be able to write what they feel. On the other hand, the collapse of the Communist Party right now might be a disaster since 1) it IS liberalizing its economy, and 2) the Chinese are NOT ready for democracy. Look at what happened in Russia. It went “democratic,” sure, but it also went from an evil totalitarian state to a shithole with an economy the size of Taiwan’s. Chinese leaders have been smarter, IMHO, though I’m still unsure whether they could hold the country together until a sizable middle-class emerges, an important consideration in any democratization process. So repressive controls of media, while evil, are understandable. I’d much rather see China go the South Korean route than the Russian one!

  9. In Nanning, where I’m living right now, I often have trouble sign in my own Hotmail and Gmail account, sometimes for weeks! I’m still trying right now…………

  10. Sorry to hear that the site is being shut down. You’re read about blogs taking over people’s lives online, you’ve read it in the newspaper, you’ve checked out friends weblogs and perhaps, you have a blog.

    There are many reasons to begin a blog and many ways to end it. Blaming it on China and the “moles” in relation to the upcoming 2008 Olympics is something I am disappointed in hearing.

    Control and observation of online websites run by foreigners seems to be one of the most wildly assumptuous topics. Sure, I was pissed when my site was blocked and sure I was pissed when the “high-speed” connection putted along more at 14.4k speeds, but there are no facts to prove that there is some monstrosity surfing the net 24/7, looking to close down foreigners and their sites. It’s absurd in my opinion.

    The wife and job are better reasons, more valid, something I am used to hearing or understanding. There needs to be balance in life – the virtual world can only do so much and be careful in investing your time online as you do in realtime.

    This is a topic John and I talked in lenghts about while in Taiwan and I’m sure will talked about to great lenghts in the future.

  11. Is it just me, or is it not the case that anyone, in any country, who writes negatively about his colleagues, particularly his boss, in public can expect to suffer job insecurity if it comes to their attention? If I was in the UK blogging about a crap boss I would fully expect to lose my job if it came to light, regardless of how crap he was, or otherwise.

    So why, then, the outpourings of disgust at Chinese this and that? I¡¯m no fan of censorship, oppression, and other bad things but I don¡¯t think this is a case of either, and reading those comments make me think more of a kneejerk complaint of ¡®imperialism¡¯ everytime a foreigner criticizes anything Chinese than anything else.

  12. Hank,

    Take care. To paraphrase the Chinese philosophical fable ÈûÎÌʧÂí°²Öª·Ç¸££¬ who’s to say any event won’t trun completely opposite of the intended (or originally perceived) effect. I say go do a good job with family and the wife. I would also say the same fable or the unspoken latter half to the Chinese government.

    Da Xianchang,

    I didn’t want to argue with you because it is so very true what you said, that the Chinese are not ready for democracy, and what you may have implied, that further economical development might make democracy (or other forms of political reform) to provail naturally one day. However, there were some unfortunate lessons. In 1957/58 Mao did a anti-rightist movement. We could say and some did say that the new people’s republic was economically too weak then and the Chinese were not ready for multiparty system. Looking back, such arguements were nonsense, at least it was no excuse. In 1989, some editorials were and still are that they had to use force or that the corupted China was not ready for democracy as the students saw it and the country would have turned chaos and worse off than Russia. To me, though, that was no excuse since they possibly could have been more patient and come out win-win and end up with a stronger country and a healthier party. Economical basis is important but courage on the part of the politicians, or the people, is also important.

    Were the Koreans ready for democracy? Were Taiwanese? Are Iraqis? Are Palestinians? Are Lebonese? Let’s watch this last one closely and G.W. may learn a thing or two.

  13. hmmm, well, Anonymous commentator does have a good point. A number of people in the States have gotten in trouble for posting about their jobs in private blogs. I don’t know that this lends a more positive light to what Hank has experienced so much as it casts a shadow on what the United States is increasingly becoming, however…

  14. Anon,

    It is true. Do Chinese Americans feel safe critisizing Bush in the US??? The big brother is watching, you don’t know what they will use and interpret against you.

  15. Canton, here I have to disagree. I criticize Bush all the time and I don’t worry much about Big Brother in that context. If you read American political blogs, websites, etc., you’ll find plenty of criticism about Bush. Scathing stuff.

    I’d be much more paranoid about criticizing my employer. That’s not going to get me arrested but in some circumstances it could get me fired. But that’s the beauty of it…once you’ve corporatized the economy to the extent that one’s employment options are limited, you can exert a fair amount of social control of people based on their fear of losing their livelihoods.

  16. I have archived all Hank’s entries before Laowai Monologue went offline.

  17. Well, Hank, best luck to you. I hope this is not taken as offensive, it is not intended; but I personally always thought you were rather paranoid. A lot of people are. I really do not think big Mao or Hu or whoever is out to get you, but then; even the paranoid have enemies.

    I thus agree with Wilson, and also Gin. Not to get into politics, but a case can be made that indicates political liberty is closely associated with economic devilopment assoicated with foreign trade. I think China in its own course and in its own way will develop political liberty.

  18. To those of you that would dare call him paranoid: you really haven’t a clue! You can live in a fantasy world and pretend that there are no eyes on you in China — but go ahead, make a false move — I DARE you. Surf a few of the wrong sites while doing a research paper for your home university, and don’t even BOTHER telling me ‘oh, so you WERE right after all’ the next day when they come knocking on your door and put you through a full interrogation about your motives, etc.. I’ve had direct knowledge of more than one such case.

    Actually last time I was in China I found a book (in English) in a Xinhua book store — which was written by a Canadian born woman. I can’t remember the title off-hand — sorry. Anyhow, in reading it, I was rather horrified and sickened to read such lame excuses and defenses for the not-so-stellar parts of China being defended 100% on every level by a woman who was born into the free world. I still have half a mind to write a letter to the Canadian government, asking if there aren’t any provisions whereby a citizen who has absolute disgraced herself can have their citizenship stripped away — as that woman certain would deserve such a thing. Anyhow — the point of my post is that this book is being sold in Xinhua — so it obviously has the official sanction of the PRC Govt., and as such — it is interesting that they are openly selling a book which mentions, amongst other things, the spys that are keeping an eye on you, and how your mail will be read etc.. While the people who are watching you will surely be ‘secret’, I don’t think they give a rat’s to keep the fact that the eyes are there secret.

    As for this dude — poor fellow, I’m SURE they gave him a good talking to, and ended the interview with ‘and you sure as HELL better not mention the details of this interrogation online’.

  19. Ah, Justin, I enjoyed reading Hankah’s blog. But, poor Hank, so often when he was in a saloon, or standing in line, or at school, or somewhere someone was whispering about him, or making some rude comments about him, or doing something to him. I read him as someone who has a lot of angst in his life. He is a good writer, though. I did not use the term Paranoid as a pejorative, so if it was taken in that form, I apologize. There was another blogger, a gueilo something or other out of Hong Kong. His blog is blocked here in China, but I did read him occasionally in the States. His posts, I thought, were probably fictional because there was just too much melodrama continuously happening. These are just my observations.

    During one stage of my life I was in a very unpleasant environment, dealing with very brutal and vicious people. I had to work with a number of women, many of them young, who had been either killed or wounded in a very agonizing fashion. It was not my job, but the task was thrust upon me because of language needs. There are those human beings, and I admit I am one of them, who in the midst of hell see the beauty in life all around us. There are those who in the midst of beauty see hell all around them. I am not implying Hank is one of those who see Hell all around him, because I do not know Hank personally nor am I aware of his environment. My observatins are just mine own, and are derived from my reading of Hank’s blog.

    That is a pretty heavy punishment you wish to inflict on the Canadian women writer. Of course, I do not know of anyone myself who was taken in the middle of the night and interrogated (and perhaps hauled off to the gulag). I have had the authorities stop by and tell me to register because I delayed in doing so; I have had a constable stop me because I, driving an auto, was attempting to go in a direction that was posted as a no-no (but I have had that happen to me in Washington D.C. also). But then again, I do not know a lot of expats so I am not aware of all the gossip that may be going on in that world.

  20. When I was working at a college in a smaller town in China a few years ago, a friend of mine visited. We had a party at my apartment with some of the younger English teachers in the college faculty. A couple Chinese teachers got drunk and passed out on the floor. My visiting friend from the States took some pictures. When he returned to the States, he had them developed and sent them to me. I received them and never thought anything more about it.

    A few months after that, one of the younger English teachers who had been drunk that night confided in me that he and the other teacher who had passed out had been punished for the incident. I was flabbergasted. How did the university find out? And what was wrong with getting drunk in a private apartment?

    It turned out that the mail with the photos of the two drunk teachers had been opened and the photos had circulated around the upper levels of the school’s administration.

    There were two teachers punished. One was given a slap on the wrist. The other, a ‘waidiren’ (a guy from another town), had no guanxi. He almost lost his job. At the time he was very afraid that his future had been ruined, but it’s been 5 years since the incident and he seems to be fine.

    One of the interesting things about the whole story is that I was never supposed to know. If the administration found out that the young teacher told me about my mail being opened, I’m sure that he would have been in much bigger trouble.

    I just wanted to tell this story to give another perspective to the people who say Hank might be making this up.

    Obviously the administration of his university has seen his blog. This is very serious. There are many Chinas out there. Not all of us are dealing with the China that Hank is.

    Now, let’s consider all the content on Hank’s website. And think about where he is. Really think about it. Including, for example, drunken comments made by the university president or vice-president or whatever.

    Some of you obviously never have had to deal with the little town, dark, insular, secretive, controlled side of China. I was so pleased that Hank was blogging because his writing gave all of us big Eastern city slickers a glimpse…

  21. New vocab–getting ‘dooced’= getting fired for something that you wrote in your blog.

    ¡°It comes from http://www.dooce.com, whose owner was, apparently, the first person to ever know this fate.¡±

    from: http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/39/messages/439.html

  22. “There are many Chinas out there. Not all of us are dealing with the China that Hank is.”

    Laska,

    Well said. I totally agree. That’s something I try hard to remember, living in as exceptional a part of China as Shanghai. My business trips to other (less affluent) parts of the country give me just little hints of the reality.

    I’m not sure if Hank was paranoid at all, but I’m sure that I can’t make any accurate judgments because I’ve never had to live in his China.

  23. So who’s the mole and what internet-furbished luxury apartment in a state-run school are they getting for keeping the foreign hordes in line???

    My money goes on Micah in the Shanghai faction. People drawn to Kafka always have strange ideas about government. Otherwise Brendan.

  24. nathaniel Says: March 11, 2005 at 12:13 am

    Laska,

    I’m sure opening of private emails do happen in a networked corporate world, in the U.S. or elsewhere.

    But we don’t lay the blame on the state, do we?

    The case you mentioned, and the topic at hand, in my opinion, is a “corporate” thing.

  25. Anonymous Says: March 11, 2005 at 12:31 am

    About Chinese feeling comfortable criticizing Bush in the US, uh, all of the Chinese I know here criticize him at every opportunity. They don’t seem worried that Big Brother is watching them. On the other hand, try criticizing the Chinese government as a foriegner in China. Please stop pretending — whatever the faults of the Bush administration are — that the US and China are the same in this respect. They aren’t even close, politically or culturally in this regard.

  26. I feel extremely sad after reading John’s entry today and all the comments herein.Needless to say,I enjoyed reading all of his posts of whatever contents.From my observation thru his entries and experiences of personal contact,Hank is no doubt an idealist type–a perfectionist to be more accurately.But never is he a ‘paranoid’ heckler questioning everything around him.He comes from a ‘free world'(doubt it though,to some extend) and is accustomed to a ‘perfect life’.Things then became shockingly bewildering and angonizing on a systematic scale when he started his life in that isolating small town.It’s despairingly hard for a perfectionist to get himself completely transformed and get into a whole different culture.I understand his final decision,albeit it’s so disappointing.
    I agree with JFS on “

    There are those human beings, and I admit I am one of them, who in the midst of hell see the beauty in life all around us. There are those who in the midst of beauty see hell all around them.


    For sure,I’m not implying Hank is one of those who see Hell around him either.
    Godspeed to Hank.

  27. Da Xiangchang Says: March 11, 2005 at 4:28 am

    Let me show you how much control the American government has over its population:
    POOPY ON GEORGE W. BUSH!

    If you want to know who I am, just email me with a .gov email address, and I’ll gladly send you my name and home address. And I’m Chinese American.

    The idea that Americans’ rights are somehow suppressed by the Bush Administration has to be one of the most idiotic myths around the world.

    Anyone care to write, “Poopy on _____!” (fill in the blank with a major Chinese politician)? I think not.

    [Editor’s Note: This is not your soapbox. Trying to make a point on a semi-relevant tangent is not an excuse to be needlessly obscene. Grow up.]

  28. DXC,

    Don’t be so naive, laws change, even the constitution can be changed. Japanese Americans were round up during WW2, and Michelle Malkin is recommending it in her new book.

    “Anyone care to write, “Poopy on _____!” (fill in the blank with a major Chinese politician)? I think not.”
    Did you mean dare or care? I dare but I don’t care about the childish game.

  29. Da Xiangchang Says: March 11, 2005 at 7:25 am

    Canton,

    I’m not making a stunt; I’m making a point. Of course, laws can change, but I don’t ever see it changing enough where I can’t say poopy on the US president in America. Of course, Japanese Americans were rounded up, but that was over 60 years ago; if you go back far enough, you can talk about how the enslaved Africans on the Middle Passage and the slaughter of Indians. But I’m comparing TODAY’S America with TODAY’S China. And there is no comparison when it comes to civil liberties. The idea that Americans’ rights are somehow curtailed in any way by the Bush Administration is RI-DI-CU-LOUS.

    And I don’t think you dare or care but are scared. And I wouldn’t advise writing that on John’s website since it might be shut down. Am I being paranoid? I don’t think so. Try it from a Chinese computer on a Chinese website, and you’re my hero. If you’re a laowai, you’ll surely be deported if caught. If you’re Chinese, hope you can get out without a hefty jail sentence.

  30. Most American living in American would not worry about saying something like ” George Bush is an idiot” on a web blog, but he would worry about saying something like “My boss is an idiot” on a web blog for everybody in public, especially when his identity can be easily revealed and he still care to keep his job.

  31. Interesting comments. I believe it is pretty well documented that small communities are much more intrusive on personal lives than large communities, be they public (i.e., villages vs. cities) or private/semi-private (i.e., small ma & pa shops vs. large corporations). I always have assumed that mail outside the United States was opened. It was rather safe to send small currency in the mail in the United States, but overseas, whether in Europe or Asia or Africa, sending small currency in the mail had a significantly statistical chance of not making it to its recipient.

    I have been to small towns in China, and that includes small towns in Anhui. But I was a guest invited. One thing that should be kept in mind is that Chinese society (all societies, really) are very fraction ridden, there is a lot of strife among factions in a community. So, wittingly or unwittingly, one quite often becomes a part of that fractionalism just by assoication.

    Just as there are different Chinas, so there different expat communities in China. A Chinese acquaintance of mine was taking English language classea at a private school, some of the teachers were leaving (going to Shanghai for the big city life) and the administration asked the students if they knew any foreigners that would like to teach English. My acquaintance introduced my name. I received a telephone call from the school, although not having enough time to be a full time teacher, I did go to see if there was some small fraction of time that would be suitable. I met the teachers that were leaving, some Canadian, some American. I received a hostile reception from them, because I was not part of their community. I just let that go by; I attempt to be congenial.

    What I am attempting to convey is that the world is complex, and I think I am cognizant of that complexity. I make no judgement as to whether Hank is a good guy or a bad guy, I suspect that he is a good guy and I probably would enjoy his company. But his penultimate column in his blog he removed, probably with good reason. Hank carries a lot of angst with him. I fully agree with Hank in his missive to John, I believe that most important aspect of our lives is the community we make with those around us. But we each carry our own cross into that community. In this instance I think that has far more significance than the intrusion of government.

  32. Anonymous Says: March 11, 2005 at 11:36 am

    I perhaps came across in my last post as rather self-righteous, especially in the last couple paragraphs. Though I really don’t have that much experience with China, I did have one story with relevance to Hank’s situation.

    The comment about surveillance being a corporate-type manifestation is really interesting to me. I don’t mean bad or good, right or wrong, just really interesting. Is the Chinese state like a corporation? On the other side of the Pacific, there’s no denying that U.S. politics and civil life are heavily influenced and enmeshed with large corporations. Heck, even much of our non-combat military infrastructure is now outsourced.

    Actually, it’s compelling to transpose the whole incident to the U.S: A Chinese foreign teacher at a small college in the Midwest posts negative comments on a public blog about school administration and alledges corruption and graft, painting a bad picture of key universtiy officials and making derogatory and cryptically critical remarks about the U.S. political system and leaders. What would the reaction be? It’s interesting to speculate.

    Maybe Hank will start up his blog again as a Kafkaesque satirical piece in an anonymous country with all the names blacked out. He could mail his letters to John or some other agent, and have them scanned in and posted in secret. That would be a story. 😉

  33. That was me

  34. Da Xiangchang Says: March 11, 2005 at 11:46 am

    Laska,

    Hey, that’s a cool thought: a Kafkaesque story! This is on a whole another tangent, but wouldn’t it be cool to read a novel set in China during the SARS scare? Everybody’s all huddled inside their homes, too scared to venture out. You can even make it a love story! “Love in the Time of SARS” (apologies to Garcia Marquez). Incidentally, how many of you bloggers are writing a book? If your blog does down, spend it writing a book. I’ve read “River Town,” and the writer Peter Hessler is now doing pretty well for himself.

  35. travelyan – Mole? What what what? That is, uh, utterly scurrilous, and slanderous! And untrue, as well!

    (looks around nervously)

    You will remember NOTHING!

    (drops a smoke bomb and vanishes in a cloud of smoke.)

  36. Da Xiangchang,

    In case you’re not kidding, that “Love in the Time of SARS” book was written. Long ago.

  37. Also, I seem to remember a short Mo Yan piece with a similar title — something like “face-masked love,” I think.

  38. Da Xiangchang Says: March 11, 2005 at 1:17 pm

    John,

    Damn, I didn’t know that! Who’s the writer? I can’t find it on Amazon.com. You’re not talking about the dinky expat short story, are you? If it’s a Chinese book, then I obviously never heard of it. I’m lame. 🙁

    When I was in grad school, I spent an entire summer reading stories about China written by laowais. Most of it was complete @)P^&$#, though, of course, I’m not saying I could do better. But still, even the really famous books like “Iron & Silk” were underwhelming. And the most overrated book written about China in English has to be “The Good Earth”! What a condescending piece of crap! Ha Jin’s stories are probably the best about China written in English. “Waiting” is a minor masterpiece.

  39. Apropos of…well, almost nothing…when I was in China in 1979, a friend sent my buddy a baseball hat that said “Kafka” on it. He wore it all through China. And when we’d travel on trains and stuff and take photos of friends we made while traveling – middle-aged train workers, a beautiful young woman – they’d all want to have their picture taken wearing the Kafka baseball hat…

  40. p.s. love Ha Jin. Liked THE CRAZED as well as WAITING. Have WAR TRASH but haven’t read it yet. Great writer, in spite of the at times slightly awkward phrasing. He still communicates so clearly.

  41. Anony... Says: March 11, 2005 at 2:48 pm

    My own run-in with the Chinese “Big Brother” was a bit un-nerving.

    Last summer, I came to work for an IT college. I won’t be specific as to the name, but it was one of the biggest and most well known in China.

    Anyway, I ended up seeing an employee of the college romantically. I was unnaware of the “unwritten” rule in this college that foreigners were not to have personal relationships (whether it be friendship or more) with any Chinese person working for or attending the school. In fact, it was understood that the foreigners’ purpose was to come to the college, teach the class, then leave promptly. Contact with Chinese people outside of class was “frowned upon”….but not OPENLY.

    It didn’t take long for the administration of the school to find out about my “relationship” with their employee. I was “warned”. The girl, however, was fired. Not only that… the school caused sooo many problems for her that she had to FLEE the city and travel 3,000 miles away to her hometown. The school ruined her future because she had to quit attending her own university and run away.


    Also, after a 2 month summer “probation” period for all foreigners, it came to light that the school had tapped all foreigners’ phone lines (in apartments that the school owned), and bugged all computers (that the school supplied)… reading all outgoing and incomming emails and re-surfing visited sites. They had also hired “spies” to follow the foreigners around the city to find out what they were doing.

    The school justified this behavior by saying that they had to assure “responsible” teachers that weren’t doing bad things and making a bad reputation for the school.


    The icing on the cake was that, after the 2 month probation, all teachers who refused to sign (or weren’t offered) a year contract were forced to leave China. This was done by illegally with-holding the foreigners’ Residents Cards and Experts Licences (which they gained through lies and deceit).


    The only way that I am still in China is because I fought back. I called so many government offices and caused so much fuss for the school that they agreed to let me stay in China (and even provided the paperwork for me to switch jobs to a new company) just to SHUT ME UP.

  42. Hank, if you ever end up reading these comments then I hope that even though you’ve given up blogging, that you will still continue writing about your life. One day when you finally escape from the middle of nowhere, take your writings and publish a book about it – I’m sure I’m not the only one who would buy it.

  43. Anonymous Says: March 11, 2005 at 3:38 pm

    I will say anonymously that several middling-level party members have specifically told me to watch what I say online in the US about China. Mainly because the Chinese goverment has many “moles” in the US watching what people say on blogs, MITBBS, and so on. You can call it paranoia or not, but I know Chinese in the US who have been contacted by the Chinese consulate and asked to “help” against things like FLG and other “troublemakers.”

    I really agree with the “many Chinas” theory. Just because a lot of you haven’t personally encountered this kind of stuff, don’t think it doesn’t exist. Also, for the record, I did think Hank was generally paranoid — but that is a separate issue.

  44. Anonymous Says: March 11, 2005 at 3:43 pm

    I believe Anony, I’ve heard similar story first hand twice….

  45. Da Xiangchang,

    It’s a Chinese book. I have a copy. I’ll have to dig it up. My original idea was to read it and report on it, but I’m way too lazy to read bad fiction in Chinese for such a purpose.

  46. Glass Houses Says: March 11, 2005 at 4:04 pm

    You believe Hank was generally paranoid? Did you ever meet him? Did you ever experience the things he wrote about?
    Apparently you didn’t, but I guess that makes him paranoid, and perhaps you are too, since you didn’t leave your name. He who is without sin shouldn’t throw stones………
    Some of these comments are valid, but I happen to know what really happened and a few commentators here do too, not everything is revealed on this site from his letter. He’s not a fool, and he damn sure knows better about his situation and his decision, but then again, everyone’s an arm chair quarterback………naivete and China don’t mix.

  47. I rather enjoyed the “The Good Earth”. But I also have read numerous other works of fiction, such as Lao She’s “Camel Xiangzi”, and more modern works such as “The Sandpebble” or the “The Joy Luck Club”, and one begins to develop a feel of what people think happened or how is was like to live in Republican China; from contemporary writers and later writers, both local Chinese and foreigners.

    Jin Ha represents to me a Chinese emigre community very active, vigorously active in writing about their world, their experiences; especially those affected by the trauma of the cultural revolution. I am very impressed with the fact that Jin Ha writes first in English, especially in view of the fact he learned English later in life, very impressive.

  48. I’m not going to get sidetracked with all of that stuff above.

    I’d just like to say a big thanks to Hank for sharing his thoughts and experiences.

    I found them informative, funny and entertaining. Good luck with the future.

    Pat.

  49. Stavros Mavropoulos Says: April 10, 2005 at 3:51 pm

    Hank Jones has called it a day, and now the world is lesser for it.

  50. Scotty Masden Says: April 14, 2005 at 8:21 am

    The Laowai Monologues is SORELY MISSED. Hank’s writing provoked and gave me a sense of the shared difficulties of foreigners in the provinces. It was honest and real–something that is missing from many China blogs. Great writing is a rarity on the web, and The Laowai Monologues was certainly that, and then some.

  51. I did a Google search on “what happened to LaoWai Monologues” and stumbled upon this post, whose blog I also read from time to time.

    I just want to say thanks to Hank for sharing his stories and experiences with us. I wish him the very best in his family life and career. I second the suggestion that he will continue his writing in private and publish them someday. He has my support and best wishes. Thanks again!

  52. Teresa K. Says: May 12, 2005 at 5:39 pm

    I too did a web search for the Laowai Monologues, and just found out the news. I am disappointed.
    Hank was writing in an area that doesn’t have the western bars, western stores, or western fastfood of Suzhou, Hangzhou, or Shanghai. I find it bizarre that some foreign readers–just didn’t get that most of China isn’t like those scenic cities–utterly naive.

    I hope that one day Hank will write again–he really knew the inside of a Chinese community;and he wasn’t afraid to show the human side of a foreigner struggling inside it.

  53. Sanitized For My Protection: Imagethief’s Self-Censorship Policy Explained

  54. Hank……..Are you still in China? Will you ever write again??

    Jake…….an American in China for 6 years.

  55. Is it possible to find those famous monologues somewhere on the web? I don’t seem to be able to locate them 🙁

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