The China syndrome

China is burgeoning at an alarming rate, her original communist manifesto now thoroughly mixed with capitalism. My mother’s country wants to expand, install naval bastions in waters in Southeast Asia. Korea is alarmed and her former ally Vietnam is stirring uneasily.

I will never never go back within a thousand miles of that country. If I were of an age to do so I would enlist and fight them if it came to that between countries. I hold a grudge that goes deep for forcing my mother to beg on her knees in Shanghai to join us, her children waiting for her in Hong Kong.

Even being interrogated for six weeks at the hands of the secret police, cold-eyed men trained in the north by Russian communists, does not linger in my psyche in anger. That was what they did — hundreds of foreign nationals were put through the same treatment. Holding Italian citizenship through my father, I was lumped in with the others. Sign this confession or be executed, they told me. I was 18 and a bit young to be charged for spying, for the United States, no less, but I suppose any crime would do in the process of eliminating the unwanted elements of their new society.

Stubborn and angry, I refused to sign, and they didn’t execute me. The Italian citizenship was a deterrent and they executed only Chinese citizens anyway — 20 million, most for nothing more than being “capitalists” or for having been reported for saying something uncomplimentary about the regime. Parents stopped speaking their minds in the presence of their children, who got medals in school for telling on mommy and daddy.

The basic grudge I hold includes the sending of my family out of China with 50 American dollars each to start a new life. My father spent the entire 33-day voyage from Hong Kong to Italy in the cargo ship’s sick ward. His dying was completed a few months later.

Do I forgive China? Do I turn the other cheek to the new China’s billionaires for their causing the approaching extinction of elephants for their tusks? A pox on them, to the death.


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