I first realized we were going to China while sitting at a bus stop outside the Commerce Department. It was late on a sunny spring afternoon in 1990. The Washington Monument rose high above as snarled rush-hour traffic inched along Constitution Avenue. I was reading Life and Death in Shanghai, by Nien Cheng. Not really a beginner in Chinese but still struggling, I had an English copy and a Chinese version of the book balanced on both knees, comparing their otherwise identical passages about her arrest in 1966 at the start of Mao’s manic Cultural Revolution.
There was a movement to my left. A man in a nicely tailored three-piece suit was staring—first at the books, then at me, then again at the books. His eyes were narrowed, jaw off-center. He was built like an athlete and reminded me vaguely of the tennis player Arthur Ashe. Possessing my attention, he wasted no time with introductions. Obviously, he was used to getting his way. “Excuse me,” he asked. ”Can you read that book?”
Originally published at https://www.thedailybeast.com/a-detective-in-china-a-memoir-of-sleuthing-out-trade-cheating?source=articles&via=rss on .