Richard’s back – sort of

My friend who developed a blood clot on his economy flight to Beijing has gone home after two weeks of daily double injections and visits to the hospital. He now has to continue treatment for three months. There’s a lesson here: always travel business class.

I had quite a week, including a visit to Guangdong, where I spent nearly an entire day at a factory in Donguang (which I’ve seen spelled as Donguan, Dongguan, and Dongguang). This was an experience – a positive one. Maybe I was lucky to be at a Western-owned factory; it was clean, the workers seemed to enjoy their jobs, worker safety was a top concern and the owner had just set up basketball and tennis courts for all the staff. I know there are lots of factories where life isn’t quite so rosy. I’m glad the one I will be working with is among the good ones.

On Tuesday my mobile phone got destroyed, so if anyone’s tried to call or message me, I’m not being rude. There’s never a good time to have your phone break, but this was the worst possible time, with a friend having a medical crisis and being out of Beijing for three days with no access to email – you realize your mobile phone is your lifeline to the world, and without it you feel utterly helpless.

I’m back but won’t be available to blog very much (business as usual). It’s reached the point where I never look at my site meter anymore (it used to be an hourly ritual) and sometimes have to go for days without even looking at the comments. I do miss the writing, but, priorities….

Thanks to those who offered to help me last week. It was really great of you.


Beijing police punch-up

No, really – this isn’t a joke.

Beijing police brawl over pastor

Police from two districts in Beijing brawled yesterday over a Christian activist, leaving four officers and the dissident injured, witnesses said. Police in Chongwen district had been trying to suppress Hua Huiqi, 45, an underground pastor who has fought against a development project in his neighborhood. Chongwen police moved Hua out of their jurisdiction on Monday to Fengtai on the city’s southwestern edge, but the Fengtai police brought him back to his home yesterday, said Hua’s friend Zhou Li.

A fight broke out between the eight Fengtai police and a greater number of Chongwen police and men hired by the developer, New World China Land, Zhou said. In the scuffle, four police were injured and Hua was knocked unconscious, Zhou said at the Tiantan Hospital where Hua was awaiting treatment. Police declined comment.

Ironic for once that it was the Chinese Police that were on the receiving end of their own brutality.

On a more serious note, if they’re going to resolve their differences with colleagues through a public punch-up it’s not surprising that so many ordinary Chinese get treated badly when they become targets of the “law”.


Any volunteers?

A good friend from America flew from San Francisco to Beijing last Saturday to spend the holiday week touring the city with me. When I met him after his flight his first words were that he had a serious pain in his left leg, like a cramp that wouldn’t go away. To make a long story short, the pain became progressively worse and by Thursday he could barely walk. We went to the hospital yesterday and the ultrasound showed what we both feared, the presence of a large blood clot. This affliction, known as deep-vein thrombosis, is often brought on by sitting in a cramped space for many hours at a time with no exercise to keep the blood flowing normally, and it’s the reason why all the airlines on their long-haul flights now show annoying videos on how to do isometrics and stretches from your seat.

Rick had to spend last night in the hospital. He will now need to stay in Beijing a full 8 days longer than planned (he was supposed to leave today). Each day he has to give himself two injections and he can only walk using crutches. And the holiday started off so nicely….

Here’s my dilemma: I need to fly to Guandong on business on Tuesday and then up to Shanghai and won’t be back in Beijing until late Friday. So my friend Rick will be alone in Beijing, on crutches and unable to speak a word of Chinese, for in effect four full days. I tried to get out of my business trip but it’s impossible — I’m going. So if any of you wants to take a really nice but somewhat incapacitated friend of mine to lunch or dinner on Tuesday through Friday, or maybe just hang out with him for a little while, please send me an email. I really appreciate it.

Needless to say, I won’t be able to blog during the week ahead, other than a quickie or two from the airport.