A prison in China…

Posted on March 27, 2014


Female Chinese police officers

“Give me 200 renminbis and you can leave. Or….” He twiddled the corners of his mustache like he was some kind of James Bond master criminal, not just the Police Chief of a small Chinese town. “…you go back to the cells. And I can’t keep you away from the rest of the prisoners this time. No more luxury for you.”

So this is what it came down to. This whole thing was a shake down, designed to get me to pay for my freedom. I bet the internet café owner was in on this scam as well. How could I have been so stupid to let myself be taken in by it? There was no way I was going to cave in, even if I had to spend the next day, the next month, the rest of the year in my stinking, fetid cell waiting for my freedom.

“This is ridiculous,” I said, putting on my best wasp-y accent. “Do you have any idea who I am?”

He looked at me with a blank expression. Obviously not.

“Let me tell you, when the ambassador hears about this you will be in big trouble. I have connections back in the USA that could make your life very, very difficult. Political connections.” This was not entirely untrue. My Uncle Bob had once tried to run for a seat on the city council as an Independent candidate. He was very concerned with the falling standard of education in Georgia and he wanted the state to stop giving huge subsidies to farmers and invest in schools instead. His campaign slogan of ‘Less peaches, more teachers’ didn’t resonate with the voting public and he came dead last. Those Georgian farmers are experts at lobbying.

I let the last sentence hang in the air and sat back in my seat. I could tell my threat of repercussions had hit home with the chief, although he did not show any signs of fear or change his expression in any way.

“For 200 rembini I can make all this disappear. You can be outside in five minutes.”

Did he really think he could bribe me? I might have been arrested for causing a disturbance in an internet café, but that did not mean I was going to stand for this kind of third world treatment. I had morals, good old fashioned American morals. I would never betray my roots by paying for my freedom. How dare he think he could do this to me! I straightened by back, cleared my throat and fixed the mustache-twirler with the coldest, hardest stare I could manage in my hungover state.

“Sir, let me explain one thing to you: I am from The United States Of America, Land Of The Free, Home Of The Brave. I don’t know how you do things in this town of yours, but where I come from we have a certain little thing called democracy! And freedom! We Americans invented Justice and the Rule Of Law! Many of my people have died to preserve our way of life, free of tyranny and evil, where a man, or indeed a woman, be they black, white, brown, or yellow, can be sure of being respected by the law and have their human rights upheld, no matter what their misdemeanors or transgressions. I refuse to bow to your pressure and underhand bribery, even if that means spending the rest of my life here. I would prefer to live in a dirty, crowded jail cell and be able to hold my head high with honor than be released into the wonderful fresh air just outside that door and know that I had helped line the pockets of a dishonest man and corrupt regime. Somebody has to take a stand against the targeting of citizens of the USA against this type of filthy corruption. I will take my chances with your dubious legal system rather than pay $300 dollars for my freedom, and that is all I have to say on the matter. Please, take me back to my cell.”

Had I gone too far?

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Ebook cover for Backpacking With Chad In China & Hong Kong, travel guide and travelogue