China Beat Archive


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April 27, 2009 in the China Beat


Copyright April 27, 2009 Philip J. Cunningham. Used by permission.


For the second time in a day I’m on the run with Chai Ling. For the second time in a month I find myself in a beat-up jalopy racing towards the Beida student center at Sanjiaodi. Again I am huddled together with members of the vanguard, only this time it’s not musicians wanting to know what the students are up to but the student leadership itself.

The interior of a moving van is a reasonably good place to hide, assuming the driver is trustworthy and the vehicle not bugged. Chai Ling sits behind me in the third row, curled up like a kitten, snuggled next to her puppy dog husband Feng Congde. They look like feuding lovers who have just made up. I am seated in the middle of the second row with a bodyguard named Yang on one side, a professor on the other. Way in the back, and up front, yet more students are squeezed in, keeping pretty much to themselves.

The driver turns north then eventually works his way west. Chai Ling is reviewing the familiar scenery with the intense appreciation of someone ready to take an extended trip abroad. Both she and her husband had been talking about studying abroad; maybe they had one foot out the door already. Start a revolution, then fly away in time for the start of a new school year.