Ladies and Gentlemen,
The time has come to publicly reveal some events that took place over the last Summer, with the folks at Raoul's China Saloon. It is a long and sordid tale of woe.
It started last May. We usually have an annual forum party here in Suzhou, and all members are invited, and it's been a gloriously good time both times we've done it.
About the time we started discussing and planning it, I got some e-mail from a member of an organization we'll call the FG; their name sounds a lot like "Fahlin' Gawng". This group is a well-known cult, originating in China, that apparently practices subversive breathing exercises and expounds upon a lot of dopey, misguided, shallow crap that they claim is somehow connected to Buddhism. The whole thing is written and directed by a nasty, bitter little man from Jilin Province now holed up in a townhouse in New York City. This group is highly illegal in China and its members are avidly hunted by the authorities. Anyway, this member was polite enough and simply asked about a reference to them in our Forum Rules. Coincidentally, at the very same time a young man from New Zealand that we'll call "Squat" joined our forum.
Squat made some nice, enthusiastic posts and showed definite interest in our party. One of our more big-hearted members and my dearest friend, whom we'll call "Bob" here, had been offering free lodging for the party and Squat accepted a bedroom.
Party time arrived. Squat spent a lot of time with all of us and seemed nice enough if a bit on the ascetic side. A non-drinking vegetarian who made rather startling assertions about Buddhism- definitely odd for our group, but nothing too extreme and he was well accepted by all concerned. We all had a good time.
Party time left and Squat was still camped in Bob's bedroom. He cooked and cleaned, but he paid no rent...and showed no signs of leaving. He didn't take a job or even look for one. He was ostensibly here to study Chinese, but that wasn't happening, either. He bought a computer printer and borrowed Bob's laptop a lot. He bought a bike and took long solo trips to parts unknown. And he was affable and harmless.
Or so we thought.
After Squat had occupied Bob's spare room for over two months, while at work one day Bob was called into his school's office. He was told that the police had encountered some kind of inconsistency in his address, and he needed to go down to the police station to clear it up.
So Bob went down to the station. There he was asked about how well he knew Squat, what Squat was doing...and about the FG. Bob replied to these questions as truthfully as he could.
Next, Bob, Squat, and a bevy of police met Bob's landlord at Bob's apartment. Bob heard the cops asking Squat about posting FG info all over town, and Squat was admitting to doing so. The police then searched the house and found piles of FG propaganda (in Chinese, which Squat doesn't read) on paper and CDs. More was found on Bob's laptop.
It turns out that Squat was using Bob's apartment as a covert base for the FG. He was printing the CD-based materials out in large amounts, riding them into Suzhou on his bike, and plastering them all over town. Being a Canadian and a gentleman, Bob had never snooped in Squat's room and had no idea this was happening. The police took away the printed materials, the CDs, Bob's laptop, and Squat. As they led him away, Squat turned to Bob and, loudly in front of the police, asked Bob to contact another member, saying they would "know what to do".
It turned out that when he first arrived, Squat gave another member an "emergency contact" that turned out to be the e-mail address of a senior FG leader in Australia. Fortunately, this address was never used and e-mail they got FROM that address was ignored.
At this point, Bob is fine. He's also lucky. The local police saw the truth in his story and believed him...it most definitely did NOT have to turn out that way. He could also have been charged, imprisoned, deported...any number of nasty things. The same is true for all of us who spent time with Squat and had him in our homes, but it's most true in Bob's case by far. Anyway, Bob seems to be entirely in the clear now. Squat is still in a Chinese jail somewhere and the PSB still has Bob's laptop; both are awaiting trial.
TO SQUAT: You came here and used our forum event, and our good natures, to pursue highly illegal activites. You deceived us all and you put all of us, especially Bob, in danger that we didn't need or deserve...and you knew in advance that you were going to do so. It is our sincere wish that you remain in a Chinese prison for a long, long time. Furthermore, I personally hope that your cellmates are acquiring an intimate perspective on your nether regions that you would have never imagined possible. (Bob adds that he'd be content if you just got 6 months, preferably washing underwear for the other prisoners, and hopes you come to realize just how stupid and nasty you really were- and pursue meaningful goals such as forming human bonds with other people, and building an actual life.
Bob is Canadian and nicer than I am.)
TO THE FG: FU. You've turned passive neutrals into active enemies. You like to talk about "Truthfulness, Compassion, Forbearance", but your boy showed us NONE of those things...all under your instruction. Please know that we have all cooperated fully with the local police regarding your organization, such as we could, and that it's now open season on exposing your tactics to the world. You messed with the wrong bunch of expats.
TO EXPATS IN CHINA: I know that circumstances often tend to make us help and support one another here. And this is, on the surface, a good thing. Sadly, the truth is that we have to be careful of our fellows here and not trust them any further than we really know them. Please be careful and please ask hard questions. Please temper generosity with common sense. And please be aware of lunatic groups like the FG...yes, they really are out there!
TO THOSE WHO RUN WEB SITES/FORUMS IN CHINA: Be careful! Keep a close eye on your events and how your site is being used. All may not be as it seems.
TO THE WORLD: The FG likes to scream that they are innocent victims of an oppressive regime. It's impossible to glean much truth from this whole affair, but I can tell you one thing for sure: The FG has no qualms about creating a few innocent victims of their own if it suits their purposes. Treat this organization as you would a coiled snake, and don't take anything they tell you for granted.
Will we have a forum party in Suzhou next May? Hope so. Unfortunately, there are no more free bedrooms unless we've known you a long, long time. And you're going to eat lamb sticks and chug tequila if you want in the door.
Raoul's China Saloonhttp://raoulschinasaloon.com