A Christmas Pantomime – Part Two

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In the last act of Hu Jintao and the Three Represenatives, we placed a vicious Communist dictator in a cuddly family friendly situational pantomime, and asked you to suspend belief when we said Jiang Zemin had a soul. Now read on!

(As before, this was written ten years ago, so there are some footnotes for the dated references)

Act the Second: In which our hero takes a trip back in time to a humiliated past

SCENE: A British gentlemen’s club that has been built on the ashes of a destroyed Cantonese yamen. Pictures of Queen Victoria hang on the walls, and the distinct smell of over-boiled vegetables fills the air. A number of crusty old Englishmen sit in huge armchairs smoking cigars made from first editions of the Tao Te Ching. Rosie O’Donnell, dressed as Widow Twankey, enters the stage and introduces the second act.

ROSIE O’DONNELL: Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
Hu Jintao is in the past to study Christmas Day – hey!
Jingle bells, jingle bells, jingle all the way,
Ching chong ching ching chong chong ching ching chong!*

(ROSIE leaves in order to find somebody who “grasps” her sense of humour)

ENGLISHMAN 1: (Putting down his newspaper) Look here Caruthers, you know what I find very very funny?
ENGLISHMAN 2: (Smoking a pipe) What would that be, my dear sir?
ENGLISHMAN 1: A man wearing women’s clothing.
ENGLISHMAN 2: Steady on Grayson; don’t get ahead of yourself, man.

(Hu Jintao and the Representative of Christmas Humiliated Past materialise by the fireplace with the stuffed panda’s head hanging over it. The Representative’s features are disguised by his white hood)

HU: I want answers and I want them now. Just what in the sweet name of a Harmonious Society is exactly going on here? You wouldn’t be Taiwanese, would you?

REPRESENTATIVE: I am the Representative of Christmas Humiliated Past, and this is Christmas Eve 1857.

HU: 1857? Bah Mantou! If this is 1857 than I’m an unelected head of government who graduated from Tsinghua University with a degree in hydraulic engineering in 1964. Anyway, who are you exactly and why have you brought me here?

REPRESENTATIVE: I have brought you here to these years when Christmas was first introduced into China to teach you the true meaning of this special time. And as for who I am…

(The Representative throws of his cloak to reveal that she is none other than Zhang Ziyi)

ZHANG: …I am Zhang Ziyi!** And I took this part because my last period role was a pile of poo. But look around you Hu Jintao, what do you see?

HU: A couple of fat old men sat round drinking tea. It looks like the last meeting of the National People’s Congress.

ZHANG: Yes, but look beyond all that. See how these foreigners from afar have waged war on the Motherland and humiliated our people. Do you know why these Englishmen came here?

HU: To learn more about our 5000 years of history and to stand in line at the Bank of China whilst others push in?

ZHANG: Your hairdye has affected your brain, Hu Jintao. These men made war on China because we would only accept silver for their goods, and they were forced to find other ways to do business with us. Even now, your government is committing the same mistake by hording foreign currency and refusing to devalue the yuan. And besides, in 1857 we only had 4850 years of history.

HU: Bah Mantou! I demand that you take me back to Zhongnanhai. The Supergirls Contest*** is on in five minutes and I want to see if another androgynous dyke wins.

ZHANG: You may return to the present, but first I ask you to do me a favour. In the next room is a very precious lamp, which was stolen by the British during this time. I want you to go in and retrieve it for me.

HU: Why can’t you go yourself?

ZHANG: I haven’t brought my body double. Remember! Everything else is yours, but bring me the lamp!

(Hu enters the next room while Zhang Ziyi waits by the door. In the room is a multitude of wonderful Chinese objets d’art)

HU: Wow! I’ve never seen so many beautiful things! Snoopy car chair covers, Hello Kitty toilet roll holders, over-sized Lacoste belts, plastic cats which wave their paws, and fibreglass rods with neon fireworks coming out of the top! Such beauty! Ah, here’s that lamp she was asking for.

ZHANG: (Shouting) Give me the lamp now, and I promise your death will be a painless one!

HU: Well, if that’s the case, no. The problem with you Zhang Ziyi is that it was exactly this kind of unsubtle performance that ruined your career in The Banquet.

ZHANG: Then you are doomed to be trapped within this room forever!

(Zhang casts a spell on the door so that it was made in Gansu. It thus closes, breaks, and can never be opened again)

HU: Oh no! What am I going to do?

How will Hu Jintao escape from the Cavern of Chinese Delights? How are we going to fit the other two Representatives in our next and final act? And how the hell did a mediocre pastiche of A Christmas Carol suddenly become a mediocre pastiche of Aladdin? All will be made clear in our final extravaganza act: “Hu Jintao in the 24th and a half Century”! In colour!

*Rosie caused a stir in 2006 when she did a racist impersonation of a Chinese live on air. She has since gone on to be called fat by President Trump.

**Zhang Ziyi… what the fuck happened to her, eh?

***Pop music reality show at the time. The “androgynous dyke” was Li Yuchun.

***

If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.

A Christmas Pantomime – Part One

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As a special Christmas treat to both of our readers, I am is proud to present a very special pantomime with those all-important 中国特色.

I originally wrote this for my now-dead blog in 2006, so it is horrendously outdated now. Hu Jintao is no longer Chairman, and some of the cultural references make no sense at all now. For readers under the age of thirty I shall add some footnotes for those references which might be confusing now.

Featuring a full chorus of Communists, Supernatural Beings, Buddhists, Friendlies, Ethnic Minorities, Supergirls, laobaixing, Confucians, the foreigners, and more things than you can shake the Official Meursault Shaking Stick (TM) at.  So get the kids around the laptop, hand the dog over to the city authorities, and enjoy this seasonal story of how one very special President discovered the true meaning of Christmas.

Hu Jintao and the Three Representatives*

(Or A Christmas 民歌)

Act the First: In which Hu Jintao receives a surprise visitor. 

SCENE: It is Christmas Eve in Zhongnanhai, although you would be hard pressed to know it.  Hu Jintao sits behind his huge desk made out of skulls, with only the light from the carcasses of rabid dogs burning on the fireplace to guide him.**  Scrolls of paper hang over tall in-trays and out-trays which are labelled “Arrested Officials” and “About To Be Arrested Officials” respectively.  Andy Lau enters the stage dressed as a giant turkey and breaks into song:

ANDY LAU: ‘Twas the night before Christmas, and all through Zhongnanhai,
Homosexuals were being persecuted, even those that were bi.
The Death Lists were hung by the chimney with care,
With copies made out to Bush, Putin, and Blair.

HU: Bah Mantou!  We’ll have no jollity here!  This is Zhongnanhai, not some Shanghainese brothel full of Japanese sex tourists!***

(Pulls out a gun and shoots Andy Lau.  A nation cheers.)

HU: Anybody would think that Christmas was a festival designated by the state for approval.  We are a proud nation with 5000 years of history: we have no need for some foreign holiday celebrating the birth of some waidiren who was nailed against a giant number ten.

(Wen Jiabao scurries into the room and kowtows before Hu’s desk)

WEN: Oh Great Munificent Sovereign Who Upholds the Heavens…

HU: For Marx’s sake, get up off the floor.  That carpet was made in Hebei and won’t be able to endure your knees rubbing against it.

WEN: Sorry, your benevolence.  It was just that, with it being Christmas and all, the lads and me were wondering if we might possibly have the day off tomorrow so we could go out and give alms to the poor…

HU: Do my fucking ears deceive me?  (Pulls out a baby panda from his drawer and dashes its brains out on the corner of his desk)  You see that?  You made me do that.  And every minute you don’t work, another of these baby pandas has to die.  Christmas Day indeed!  Anybody would think you didn’t have enough holidays as it is.

WEN: But sir, the only time we’ve had off this year was a couple of hours during National Day.  And even then you made us go to the Mao Zedong Memorial Hall along with the rest of the population.

HU: (Pulls out another baby panda and stamps on its head) Now look: there’s only three Friendlies**** left, so get out of my sight and help to increase our nation’s GDP.

WEN: Yes your Dyed-Black-Hairyness.

HU: Bah Mantou!  If it’s not pregnant workers wanting the afternoon off to have babies, it’s disloyal cadres trying to undermine my legacy.

(Suddenly, the lights dim and a strange fog begins to emit all around.  An eerie voice booms out from above)

VOICE: Woooohh!  Hu Jintao!  Hu Jintao!  Heed my words and repent your evil ways!  Woooooh!

HU:  What?  What’s this?  Is somebody playing those Karen Mok songs again?  Who is this?

VOICE: It is I, the ghost of Jiang Zemin! (Jiang Zemin materialises in the middle of the room.  He is dressed in revealing red negligee and chained down to a thousand books.)

HU: Impossible!  You died during an overdose of karaoke at Buckingham Palace!*****  And why are you wearing red negligee?

JIANG:  It’s the weekend.  Now Hu Jintao, listen to me.  You have forgotten the true meaning of Christmas, so tonight the Three Representatives of Christmas Humiliated Past, Developing Present, and Harmonious Future will visit you and teach you what this day really means.

HU:  Bah Mantou!  I know already that the true meaning of Christmas is just another method by the imperialist West to contaminate us with their spiritual pollution.

JIANG: Heed my words Hu Jintao.  Heed my words, or like me, you too will be burdened for all eternity with a thousand copies of your own memoirs.  Remember the Three Representatives!  FAREWELL!  Farewell!  farewell…!

HU:  Why are you repeating yourself and pretending to fade away?  I can still see you.

JIANG:  Yeah, sorry.  We spent the special effects money on another empty skyscraper in Pudong, so this is the best we can do.  Anyway, see ya!  (Jiang disappears)

HU:  What nonsense!  Three representatives!  As if anybody could believe such rubbish!  (Note to reader: this is the subtle satire that we promised)  I shall spend this Christmas Eve like I’ve spent every other Christmas Eve: meeting the Prime Minister of some obscure Pacific Island and getting them to agree to the One China Policy.

(A pillar of smoke appears and a voice booms out)

VOICE:  Take heed President!  For I am the Representative of Humiliated Past!

HU:  Crikey!  What are the chances of that happening, eh?

Is Andy Lau really dead?  Does Hu Jintao really dye his hair?  Will the spirit of Santa prevail in Zhongnanhai, or will the only “ho ho ho” be a trio of AIDS infested prostitutes from Henan?  Tune in next week viewers for the second act of our Pantomime: “Widow Twankey meets the All-China Woman’s Federation”!

*Straight off the bat: does anybody talk about the Three Representatives anymore? This was Jiang Zemin’s pet political slogan, but seems to have been buried now Xi Jinping is in charge.

**2006 saw a bit of a campaign to kill any stray dogs off the streets of China. Ho hum.

***Another 2000’s scandal featuring China’s favourite race of people.

****Ah, The Friendlies – otherwise known as the Fuwa. They were the now-forgotten Panda mascots of the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

*****Amazingly, Jiang Zemin still isn’t dead! When he was still a bit more active he loved a bit of karaoke at state events.

***

If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.

Shanghai Talk selects its Top 3 China Books for 2016…

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Tom Carter showing off his photography skills again…

I’m pretty cynical when it comes to the boldness of China’s expat magazines, so I almost fell off my chair when I saw that Party Members was featured in Shanghai Talk Magazine’s Top Three China Books for 2016.

I have now pulled myself up off the floor and sat back down again.

Wonderful to be sharing the honour with two other books that I have mentioned and rate highly: Isham Cook’s At The Teahouse Cafe and JFK Miller’s Trickle-Down Censorship (both reviewed here previously). They both make fantastic Christmas/Hanukah/Kwanzaa gifts (choose as appropriate) for loved ones in the CCP.

You can see an image of the magazine reviews here on imgur, though you’ll have to grab a copy of Shanghai Talk’s December issue in order to hold the review in your own blessed hands. It’s available from all good Element Fresh outlets and coffee shops across the city. It also may appear on their website in the future. The reviews are written by none other than Tom Carter – editor of the acclaimed Unsavoury Elements (a book I was nearly included in but I threw a hissy fit at the time and watched all the Rocky films back-to-back instead).

Personally, it is refreshing to see one of China’s expat magazines has the boldness to not only feature books that are less than positive about certain aspects of China, but also has the foresight to highlight innovative works from small independent publishers that are otherwise ignored by most media outlets. I have no idea how Shanghai Talk got it past the censors, but I take my hat off to them for doing so. Except I don’t wear a hat. I lost it when I fell off my chair. I’ll raise a glass then.

The Nanfang also ran a review of Party Members recently, though I am sad to say that the announcement was a bittersweet one. At the same time The Nanfang announced that they were closing after seven years of being in the business. I always had a soft spot for The Nanfang – especially when compared to the abysmal Shanghaiist – and I’ll miss its news, views and reviews (good name for a magazine).

***

If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.

Book Review: Trickle-Down Censorship by JFK Miller

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China meltdown

China’s censors can be a sensitive bunch.

Once upon a time, your friendly reviewer worked as an Editorial Assistant on a tier-2 city expat rag. The title Editorial Assistant was more than a little overblown: it was little more than a glorified copy writer and certainly didn’t deserve the capitalisation. I would never claim to have been at the forefront of journalism (my biggest scoop was tracking down the reservation number of a local teppanyaki joint), but I did have the occasional brush with China’s hard-working censors.

March 5th is Lei Feng Day – the happy-clappy Socialist holiday built around the Communist hero Lei Feng who is revered in China for darning the socks of his colleagues and getting run over by a truck. The holiday – which has been declining in recognition over recent years – typically is used as an exhortation to the nation’s youth to volunteer, do good deeds, and be a good Socialist role model. The veracity of Lei Feng’s existence is held in some doubt by more than one observer, but even today you’ll see posters of the deceased do-gooder posted round schools every March.

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Study the good example of Lei Feng! Love the Party, Love Socialism, Love the People.

As part of our March edition of the magazine, we decided to include a section on Lei Feng, his history, and what his legacy meant today. All good stuff guaranteed to please our sinister Overlords – the idea was even suggested (read: he told us we had to do it) by our magazine owner (a slimy businessman who was more concerned about filling the magazine with adverts for his private English language school than genuine content). For the cover we chose a glorious Cultural Revolution propaganda painting featuring a rosy-cheeked Lei Feng valiantly leading the masses of the world towards a bright future of volunteerism. This painting was done during the period in the 1960s when China tried to align itself with many African countries in order to position itself as a leader of the Third World against the US and the USSR; so the crowd in the background included two or three black people amongst the Lei Feng worshippers.

What wasn’t to like?

We were more than a little confused when our censor informed us that we couldn’t run the cover. Our initial thoughts were that the Cultural Revolution era poster may have been deemed too politically sensitive, but similar pictures within the magazine had been deemed fit for approval before. The timing of the rejection coincided with one of the censor’s ad-hoc visits to the office, so we had the rare opportunity to ask the censor (a middle-aged woman with a bureaucratic job in a local university) what was the issue with the Lei Feng cover.

Her reply was astonishing.

In her eyes, the issue was not Lei Feng nor the Cultural Revolution themed painting, but actually the inclusion of black people amongst the volunteers stood behind Lei Feng. She stated that it wasn’t racism – she insisted she had no problem with black people – but that featuring black people as volunteers implied that they were more likely to volunteer and do good deeds than Chinese people were. To her, the fact that the revolutionary crowd included three fictional Africans, was a damning indictment that three fictional Chinese had decided to stay at home that day. Her suggestion was to edit the cover so that the skin colour of the Africans was altered to make them appear to be Chinese. With little time left before our monthly deadline, we had little choice but to swallow our distaste and put the Africans through the whitewash.

Such is the logic of China’s mysterious censors. I’m not the only person to have encountered such experiences. Australian JFK Miller was editor of well-known expat rag That’s Shanghai from 2005 to 2011. Now, in his book Trickle-Down Censorship, Miller exposes to the wider world the trials and tribulations of being an editor within the world’s most censorious regime.

The story is a fascinating one. The saga of the That’s magazines will be familiar to most long-term expats in China due to the well-publicised story of how it was founded by Mark Kitto… and subsequently stolen from him. Kitto was a pioneer in the world of China expat magazines, and is well known for his own book China Cuckoo * and an article on how laowai can never be Chinese. Kitto’s shadow looms large over the narrative in Trickle-Down Censorship. Though never referred to by name – he is always referred to as “The Briton” – Miller picks up the story from when he joined That’s Shanghai as editor in 2005 shortly after Kitto’s forced departure. We are immediately introduced to Miller’s opaque boss “Mr Li”, the person accountable for cutting Kitto out of the business and the main person responsible for ensuring the ever-watchful red pen is never far from Miller’s editorials.

And that’s where Trickle-Down Censorship becomes its own story. Rather than choosing to be a book about “What happened after Kitto”, instead we are treated to an insider’s perspective on the day-to-day dealings with the magazine’s censors. This is a wise move from the author. Instead of playing second-fiddle to another person’s story, Miller chooses to highlight to the world on how it is to be a foreign journalist in a highly controlled Communist country.

The author is humble about his limitations. He readily acknowledges that his main task is to provide fluffy city-info to expats rather than being on the forefront of investigative journalism. This self-deprecation continues throughout the book. Though Miller bemoans the censorship and nonsense he had to combat daily, he is ever mindful that the magazine he steered was just a small small ship within the ocean of Chinese authoritarianism.

Trickle-Down Censorship will provide few surprises to the Old China Hands out there. The insights on what is and what isn’t sensitive in the eyes of the CCP will not be revelatory to anybody who has lived in China for many years or worked within the journalism industry. However, what it does do is provide a fascinating, well-written and concise overview of Chinese censorship at both the micro and the macro level. Miller was new to China when he arrived in 2005, but he obviously invested his time well and is able to cite numerous anecdotes and stories about the smoke and mirrors of what China tries to present to the world; whether it be its obsession of deleting images of supposed poverty in China-based Hollywood movies (we’re looking at you, Mission: Impossible III), or hiding stories of the Shanghai stock market’s collapse.

Miller encounters several ludicrous situations similar to my Lei Feng cover. Early on during his tenure at That’s Shanghai he is almost forced to delete a map of China because it doesn’t feature the geographically-minuscule Spratly Islands, and is reprimanded by his censors after using the phrase “Mao would turn in his grave” to “not make fun of Chinese leaders”. However, the more insidious side of censorship soon begins to show its face. As any journalist operating in China will tell you, the biggest censor at That’s Shanghai was neither the official censors, nor “Mr Li”… it was none other than Miller himself. He quickly learnt to self-censor and edit out any potential sensitive subjects before it ever even reached his censors. He writes:

“Self-censorship is essentially self-preservation. The first law of nature is also the first law of self-censorship. Work goes into a story; work you’d rather not waste with a careless indiscretion that may fall foul of your censor. You often edit something questionable out of story in order to save the story; you sever a limb to preserve the body. You “murder your darlings”, not to rid the page of extraneous ornamentation, preserve a plot line or enhance pacing, but simply to maintain the life of a story. Plus you don’t want to waste other people’s time. You have freelance writers, photographers, designers, illustrators and editorial staff to consider. You don’t want to risk their hard work coming to not either.”

Or, more succinctly:

“Self-censorship is the true genius of the system.”

And there’s the rub. The truly Orwellian aspect of censorship is not only what is removed from the public’s sight, but the effect it has on the writer themselves. If something potentially sensitive is never written, before it even gets to a censor, then the battle is already won. That’s the true power of censorship. I can totally understand the situation of people working in China like Miller who have no choice if they wish to continue earning a living. Sadly, more than one China-watcher adopts this mentality even when not based in China and takes it upon themselves to be the country’s White Knight even when not necessary – “the Pollyannas who run the expat magazines assuming the burden of preventing China at all costs from losing face” as Isham Cook describes them. As an author who has had his own tell-all book on China rejected from review by both expat magazines and the Western mainstream media, I have more than a little understanding of the infection of self-censorship.

I recommend JFK Miller’s Trickle-Down Censorship for anybody looking for a glimpse within the machine that is the world of China’s censorious regime. It’s smoothly written with more than the occasional flourish of the absurd (an occupational hazard when dealing with CCP censors). It’s also a very timely book: in a time when the Western mainstream media is more controlled by political and economic interests than at any other time in its history, the lessons of Trickle-Down Censorship are increasingly applicable to our own culture as well as China’s. Miller never won his battle against censorship in China – it was an impossible fight and one that was lost before he even arrived in China – but his description of the process and its effect on people has never been more needed.

Of course, the supreme irony is that there isn’t a chance in Hell that That’s Shanghai would ever review their former editor’s book on censorship.

Recommended.

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JFK Miller (artist reconstruction)

Trickle-Down Censorship is available from the good people at Amazon

*For a fascinating little diversion, there’s an intriguing review of Kitto’s China Cuckoo on Amazon that is worth reading.

***

If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.

Banker’s Inferno: A Diabolical Tale About The Bank Of China

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(An old post from the archives after a memorably traumatic experience at the Bank of China. If you’ve got any Bank of China horror stories (and if you have ever used them then I am sure you have), please share in the comments section.)

Freezing winds blasted down the alleyways of Pandemonium’s Ninth Circle, shattering icicles and throwing them down onto the frost-covered stones. Somewhere, beneath the tall gateway where the words “Abandon hope all ye who enter” lay hidden beneath an inch of thick ice, two lower-level demons huddled together beneath a thick blanket.

“I, I… I’ve never been so cold in my entire afterlife…” stuttered the first demon, a minor diabolical deity who was now rubbing his claws together for any warmth he could muster. “When will His Dark Highness do something about this?”

The second demon, a low ranking Demon of the Eighth Level who had once taunted Christians in the desert two millennia ago, pulled his scarf tighter around his neck and let out a loud sigh.

“The last I heard His Satanic Majesty was trapped in the Palace of Eternal Fire behind a snowdrift. It could be days before they fix the boilers.”

As the demon’s teeth snapped off his final word, the wind blasted again, and brought with it a scrap of paper that smacked right into the first demon’s horned face. The creature pulled the paper off with chapped claws and read it aloud.

“A short lecture on new 21st century ways to increase misery and despair amongst the souls of mortal men by the CEO of the Bank of China…” The demon’s claws shook as he read.

“Nah, not interested,” said the Eighth Level Demon, “We kicked those Financial Demons out of Hell years ago when they started boring the damned instead of torturing them. Most of them work for Goldman Sachs now. They’re as dull as the Grim Reaper’s party tricks.”

“…Hot drinks and refreshments provided,” the first demon continued.

The wind howled again and the screams of the shivering damned rose up from frozen lakes of sulphur.

“Right, let’s go”

***********************************************************************

The Great Hall of Evil was packed as demon after demon filled into the Hall to escape the bitter winds outside. On stage, a representative from the Bank of China stood awkwardly and fiddled with his tie.

“Friends, devils, fellow minions of evil; it gives me great pleasure to address you all today on the great benefits the Bank of China can bring to the unholy cause of human misery…”

“GET ON WITH IT!” shouted Beelzebub’s second cousin from the back of the room as he pushed lesser demons out of the way from the tea urn.

“Ahem…” coughed the Bank of China representative, “The Bank of China has devised and implemented a number of initiatives that optimizes feelings of hatred and emptiness within the hearts of customers, thus providing a firm supply base for Hell’s future damned souls.”

The rep continued. “Our policy of not linking individual bank branches is proving to be a continuing success. Though all our branches carry the name “Bank of China”, we have seen to it that it is virtually impossible to do business outside of one’s hometown. Clients cannot receive bank transfers on business trips, and we even charge customers a hefty surcharge to deposit money into their accounts when away from home. So far, this has resulted in at least 7400 cases of unfortunate souls being without money when they needed it most, and so they turned to a life of organised crime in order to get by.

“Our refusal to convert Chinese currency back into foreign currency has led to over 300,000 foreigners going crazy and being committed to government sponsored mental institutions. However, mere refusal alone is not enough to condemn a man’s soul for a hellish eternity. We have left open avenues to convert renminbi into dollars, but the bureaucracy and paperwork involved is so long and torturous that it will surely lead to the ultimate triumph of evil over good. Victory will be ours!

“Oh! I haven’t mentioned the diabolical queuing system that we have installed in our banks! We have filled our offices with the most incompetent staff this side of Armageddon, and crippled them with regulations so that they can only utter “meiyou” to all but the simplest of requests. Not only that, but we have given each teller demon a two hour lunch break! Imagine the cursed wretch who attempts to withdraw some money during his lunch break: wait and wait he will, but he will never reach the front of the queue for a million years! Oh, the puny mortal may actually think he can reach the teller’s desk in time, but we have hidden so many line-pushing farmers into every bank that his hopes will all shrivel and die!

“And our Financial Reich of Despair will reign for eternity in China, as we have seen to it that the foreign banks will be unable to provide competition. Oh, they can come to China and open offices, but the regulations we have enforced will ensure that the only thing the people in those HSBCs and Citibanks will be able to offer is a cup of tea and a boiled sweetie. As long as His Satanic Majesty is the major shareholder in the Bank of China, our government friends will guarantee that no foreign bank in China will ever be able to issue a bankcard, nor will they ever be able to open an account that can hold less than 2000 dollars. Just think of the sweet misery that will bubble up in the heart of Johnny Foreigner as he walks into the HSBC thinking he can escape the awe inspiring dread of the Bank of China! He will have no choice but to crawl back to us for his banking needs, and we will stand there waiting for him, waiting to twist his heart into a blackened shell. Evil will reign supreme – the mortal man is cursed, CURSED! All rise and hail the dark power of the Bank of Satan’s China! HAIL IT! EVIL, EVIL, EVIIIIIL!

“Any questions?”

The Bank of China representative looked up and saw that the entire room was empty apart from a janitor demon sweeping the floor. The janitor looked up and answered the man.

“The boilers are back on, I guess everybody went home.”

“Oh,” said the Bank of China representative, slightly disappointed. “I’ll let myself out then.”

***

If you enjoyed this post you may also enjoy my book Party Members – a dark comic fantasy that exposes the corrupt underbelly of modern China.