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> Where in the city did you and most of the other expats live in the 1980’s?
Almost all foreigners in Beijing then lived in one of three “diplomatic compounds” – Jianguomenwai, Qijiayuan, and Sanlitun. I lived in Qijiayuan, the AP office was in Jianguomenwai.
> According to many of the expats I knew from Beijing that lived during that time, they used to speak about Beijing as a remarkably small tight-knit community.
The expat community was small, yes. Is that what you meant?
>Have any run-ins with press or local community “minders”?
Not in Beijing. I only had to deal with minders in other cities, and few of them were really a “problem.” I would occasionally have a problem with a cop, but when I would speak Mandarin and show him Foreign Ministry issued ID he would realize he was a bit out of his depth and that he probably shouldn’t fuck with me. I once had one who was being a total dick, for no good reason, and a plainclothes cop walked up, apologized to me for the trouble and marched the other cop away. It was weird.
> What were (or were there any?) fun hangouts in the city back in the day? What did people used to do for fun?
There were lots of good restaurants, the bars were all pretty tame, there were a few lame disco/nightclub kinda places at hotels. The primary social events of the diplomatic community were embassy parties, or just having dinner with friends. I had a Chinese girlfriend, later wife, and hung out with regular Chinese people as much as I did with fellow expats.
> Did you know John Pomfret or any of the other young correspondents back in the day (before he was kicked out)?
Yes, John and I worked together.
>How did witnessing the protests change the way you looked at the world?
To be honest, it didn’t change much. I studied history and poli sci at university, and specialized in China. So nothing about Chinese repression shocked me.
> Miss China?
Yes, but I haven’t been there since 2006, and then only for a week. I really have no idea what China is like now.