Journalists are always taught to cover the news, and not become the news.
On April 21, 2005, Straits Times correspondent Ching Cheong broke that
rule: he crossed the border into Shenzhen to investigate a manuscript of
the memoirs of the late Chinese leader, Zhao Ziyang. That was the start of
his nightmare. The next day, he was detained in isolation for more than
three months, as the Public Security Bureau tried all manner of ways short
of physical violence to get him to confess to spying for Taiwan. He was later
“tried” in a Beijing court, his 20,000-word so-called “confession” the only
evidence the State Prosecutor produced, and was summarily convicted of
spying for “foreign powers” and sentenced to five years’ jail.
His book re-counts in detail the emotional turmoil he felt at being “betrayed”
by his desire to see China and Taiwan peacefully reunified, the tortuous
circumstances under which he was compelled to write a “confession” of
his alleged crime, and his struggle to come to terms with what he – albeit
unwittingly – brought upon himself. He decided to write it “to contribute
in a small way to wiping out the soil that produces such miscarriages of
justice” in China, to make sure that he “had not gone to jail for nothing”.
For the international legions of human rights activists, Ching’s Ordeal describes,
in very ordinary terms, how the Chinese authorities — or any other
undemocratic regime — use “logic” and forms of mental torture to obtain
“confessions”. It shows up, without drama, the huge distance China needs
to cover to become a country where the rule of law is not subject to politics.
Most of all, it shows the “patriots” in the Chinese diaspora the gradient they
have to walk to separate communist dictates from a culture of which there
is much to be proud. Ching puts it simply: “I hope through the recounting
of my story to bring attention to the situation of China’s judicial system, so
that we can together build a country that respects and protects the rights
of a quarter of the world’s population.”
152 mm x 227 mm
Published Date (Month, Year)