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Rachel Lu

Nine Tips for “Drinking Tea” With Chinese Police

(Wikimedia Commons)

Back in September 2012, Tea Leaf Nation translated in part one Chinese journalist’s first person account of his “tea-drinking” session, a euphemism for police interrogation. Recently, Oiwan Lam of Global Voices translated the nine tips shared by social media activist Wu Gan, who is a regular “tea-drinker,” on the do’s and don’ts when being “honored” with such an occasion:

1. Don’t be afraid and don’t be angry. Try your best not to be provoked by violence or insult.

2. Only talk about yourself. Try your best not to provide information about others and play dumb. “I don’t recall,” “I forgot,” “I don’t know,” and “I don’t understand” are good excuses.

3. Tell the police that you believe in what you have done and that you are prepared to face the consequences.

4. Don’t take their questions personally. Ask them not to make what they are doing into a personal vendetta against you too.

5. Don’t humiliate or criticize them during or after the tea talk. Don’t humiliate them on the Internet after the fact, unless they humiliated you.

6. Don’t trust them and don’t assume that you’ll be able to persuade them to take your side. Don’t believe that there are things that they will not do.

7. If you don’t want to engage with them, you may consider signing the guarantee document. [This document certifies a citizen's promise to follow police instructions, which might stipulate that they may not blog about certain topics or discuss politics online. This document is not legally binding, so you do not have to abide by what you have signed.]

8. If you want to minimize risk, avoid getting involved in local incidents. Pay attention to other provinces as you are outside their jurisdiction. [Internal security police usually operate at the provincial level. The standard procedure for carrying out cross-border operations has to go through the local police unit, which requires a lot of paper work.]

9. They may try to put pressure on your friends, family, or employer. Try to tell your social circle about it and get their support for your cause.

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Rachel Lu

Rachel Lu is a co-founder of Tea Leaf Nation. Rachel traces her ancestry to Southern China. She spent much of her childhood memorizing Chinese poetry. After long stints in New York, New Haven and Cambridge, she has returned to China to bear witness to its great transformation. She is currently based in China.
  • http://twitter.com/mdteashop mdtea

    Why is it referred to as “drinking tea”?

    • http://www.facebook.com/macihenry Xiaoyuan Luo

      because in the process of interrogation, they will offer you tea or coffee. So gradually people began to call it “drinking tea”. Some even joked that the coffee in the Independent Commission Against Corruption (HK) is not as tasty as the tea in XX police office

      • http://twitter.com/mdteashop mdtea

        Ah, I see. Thanks!