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On the Simon Cheng case: This is a classic.

In all principal cities of the Eastern Bloc you had these honey-pots for foreign dignitaries. A relict of that you can find in Beijing, Maggie's Bar in Ritan Park (originally at Workers Stadium). The only bar that was never closed during decades of anti-vice campaigns. Mirrored walls with hidden cameras, foreign (Mongolian) prostitutes who take their clients to bugged apartments.

You can't begin to imagine who and how many got trapped by Maggie's.

The equivalent in Shanghai was Manhattan Bar, just behind Shanghai Foreign Affairs Bureau, which has now been closed as it outlived its purpose.

Simon Cheng of course had been under individual observation and I would say the Consulate has miserably failed in training its staff about the Moscow Rules, another proof that the West has completely unlearned how to deal with dogmatic communists, while China re-learned Stalin since 2013. That is something that even old China-hands, stuck in their experience, have not realised.

There are manuals in place, that everyone in the "China-sensitive" space should follow when traveling to China. To start with never, never ever bringing your own smart phone or laptop to China. If you go for a confidential meeting, no mobile phones or laptops should be anywhere near you. Mind lip-reading. Trust absolutely no-one. Hold your tongue.

If it feels like they are out there trying to get you, then it is probably because they are out there trying to get you.

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