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Trouble at Home
Wu took his place at the weekly meeting in the Party Room greeting each of the members sitting around the table in turn. He’d known them all since student days and they were regulars in each other’s homes. While orthodoxy was preached in the party room each had done well as they’d moved through the ranks and many of them had facilitated their children’s careers in business or the professions. Usually they welcomed each other loudly on arrival but the response this time puzzled him. The mood was sombre and response muted. Each shifted uneasily in their seats and made themselves busy with the persons next to them in conversation. Wu glanced around the room and noted the presence of four new faces. He acknowledged them with a bow as he took his usual seat.
The usual chairperson turned to one of these men and inclined slightly. “Welcome Comrade Chow, we await your instruction.”
A long monologue followed. It had been determined at highest levels party leaders were losing touch with the proletariat and setting a bad example to the people by their increasing pursuit of riches rather than considering the needs of the public generally. There would be an investigation of all who held positions of influence within the Party. Each one in the room would be expected to make a full disclosure of their assets and this would be audited to see it matched details already held against each one’s personal file. This would be a country wide investigation and each was to be alert to see their fellow members made a truthful disclosure. Penalties for holding back information would be severe resulting in loss of position, possible confiscation of assets and a period of re-education in principles of Communism. While it was not wrong for legitimate business interests to be conducted by party member’s families within China or abroad, it must be with the full knowledge of the party. Party leaders were not to benefit personally from business enterprise at the expense of the Chinese people and by virtue of their position.
Fear in the room could be felt as each sat silently listening to the monologue. Rumours of discussions at the highest levels had trickled down to the regions but they’d been dismissed. The general feeling was at the highest levels there were those who were possibly compromised and these would successfully resist any corrections in the way New China operated. Wealth from China’s opening to the world and its remarkable industrial success had trickled down to common people and a well-cared for middle class was developing. No one would want to disturb an outreach to the world and reverse these gains. However, it was true the great majority of people in rural areas hadn’t yet shared in this wealth, and it was among this disadvantaged group the revolution had found its original roots. There was simmering discontent at the increasing gap between cities and regions economically. As the group sat and listened they remembered as children the disruption and chaos of the Cultural Revolution. Their thoughts raced through how this new situation would impact them and their families, and measures they could put in place to protect themselves quickly.
At the end of Comrade Chow’s discourse, he asked if anyone present had any questions, or information they’d like to supply which could help he and his team in their investigation of this chapter of the party. There was silence, each glancing at his neighbour to see what their reaction was. Each was now a potential adversary to the other.
It was further revealed one of the visiting group would be calling on them individually the following week to view their reports and discuss these with them. They were once again instructed their reports should be comprehensive and complete and include the wealth of each member of their family including overseas interests.
Comrade Chow turned to the Chairperson of their local chapter, a relative or Wu’s and requested him to point out Wu. He responded unwillingly and beckoned to Wu to remain.
Comrade Chow and his visiting companions remained waving the Chairperson to leave. Wu sat at their invitation and they continued to study him for some time to gauge any hint of nervousness before any of them spoke. Finally, Chow smiled and glanced at the collection of papers in front of him.
“You and your family have been quite successful Comrade Wu. The reports show you’ve been a loyal member of the Communist Party from your childhood up, and your parents have a good record too. You are a good friend to Comrade Fong, the one ultimately responsible for the success of this investigation. You appear to have been most cooperative with the party in your children’s ventures overseas too. Good! You’ve been an excellent role model to your family and given them good advice in their service to China. Of course we’ll have to investigate the full extent of your children’s business interests. I see they’ve shared their success with you too Comrade Wu, you have a most impressive house in spite of your modest income from party responsibilities. It’s good when children honour their parents isn’t it? But we have one small problem needing clarification. You have a daughter called Wu Mei who I believe is gaining work experience in Australia after completing her studies. She made a recent visit to Singapore and worked with a man called Cheng. The Singapore Embassy continues to have him on their interest list in spite of the fact we’ve cleared him of any suspicion. Wu Mei knew that. Surprisingly our intelligence gathering found their routine phone tapping of Cheng’s and Wu Mei’s office phones was suddenly interrupted after your daughter returned to Australia. Of course your daughter’s cell phone still remains compromised but we are curious as to why this happened? Do you find this curious Comrade Wu? If you have any explanation we’d be happy to hear from you.
Wu’s shocked reaction was noted by the four men studying him and they noted it on their file.
“My daughter would never be involved in anything that could damage the interests of China!” Wu responded irritably and without any trace of fear. “She’d not be involved in any way with such a situation, and I’m sure she’d not have been aware her office phone system was compromised by our intelligence network unless the Embassy had discussed that with her. Was this bought to her attention?”
“No it wasn’t, and she has maintained regular contacts with both the Australian and Singapore Embassies. When will she be returning to China Comrade Wu? Perhaps we can clear this matter up with her personally when she returns? I hope it will be soon?”
“No, she has to finish her professional qualifications and has a contract to fulfil with the consulting firm she needs to complete before she can fully access those professional qualifications. I feel it will be beneficial to the oversight of my children’s inter-locked businesses which as you will already know have been of great use in transferring technology to China and making useful friends for our country. We work closely with our Embassies overseas. Is there anything further you’d like to discuss with me Comrade Chow? I’m sorry I can’t help you.”
Chow glanced at the other three. Each shook their head.
“Where are each of your children located now Comrade Wu?”
“My sons ae married, two are married to women from wealthy Chinese families abroad, and two as you know are married to party member’s daughters here in China. My two sons abroad are foreign residents and hold dual citizenship. They manage independent business enterprises in those parts of the world which distribute our products in America and Europe, our sons here travel to see business flows smoothly. Or family home serves all members of the family. I’ve been thinking of opening up business in Australia to serve the Southern Asia region.” Wu’s brain had been racing as he considered the questions. Was Wu Mei in trouble? He mentioned Australia in the hope this could be a way out for her if she was.
“Under current circumstances that would be a convenient option wouldn’t it Comrade Wu?” Wu could feel four pair of eyes boring into him to gauge his reaction to each question asked.
Comrade Chow turned to the other three men. “I don’t think we need Comrade Wu for any further questioning for now?” Each of them nodded their agreement.
Chow smiled and addressed Wu. It has been good to talk with you Comrade Wu we’ll talk again after you’ve provided us with the information we require. It will be a huge task for us to cover all the party chapters around the country and we’re anxious to draw this matter to a conclusion here with your assistance.”
The four men stood and bowed, then left the room.
Wu sat there processing what had happened. He’d seen this all happen before. Some had survived and some had been ruined. What would be his fate and that of his family?
His relative, the Chairperson returned looking around carefully. “What was that all about? Have you or any of your family members been in trouble. Remember your actions can affect all of your extended family and we will not be able to save you. You need to be truthful!”
“Don’t worry we haven’t done anything that will get you or us in any trouble. They’re just being thorough. I’m sure they’ll get to you too and I hope you haven’t done anything to embarrass us?” Wu roared with laughter, but he was not feeling sure of himself inside. Had Wu Mei done something which could bring the family down? Was their luxurious living style an embarrassment to the party?
Chow listening in through a door on the other side looked at his companions. “It sounds like Wu is in the clear, but we need to be observant.”
To be continued.
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