Home » I taught China’s police cadets as Xi’s grip took hold – I hope they never meet my students in Taiwan

I taught China’s police cadets as Xi’s grip took hold – I hope they never meet my students in Taiwan

Near the end of my PPSUC stint, it transpired that Xi had become vexed by internet wags comparing him to Winnie the Pooh – so much so that a film about Pooh’s creator, A.A. Milne, called Goodbye Christopher Robin, which I’d been looking forward to seeing in Beijing, was banned.

China only accepts a quota of 30-odd foreign films a year, mostly goofy comedies and smash-bang action stuff, never anything controversial. Poor old Pooh, that portly, insurgent, honey-addicted rabble rouser didn’t cut it. Watch out Paddington, I thought, you’ll be next!

As for China’s own movies, gone were the exquisite art house films of the late 90s and early noughties, often directed by Beijing Olympic ceremony mastermind, Zhang Yimou, and starring his luminous muse, Gong Li. Now, these masterpieces of beauty and pathos have largely been eclipsed by violent, nationalist Wolf Warrior fare, which make Rambo look like, well, Winnie the Pooh.

With clampdowns on free speech in Hong Kong and the growing persecution of minorities, most starkly the Uyghur people in Xinjiang Province, in the north west of the country, Ellie and I started to worry Xi was steering his brave new dragon in a sinister direction.

Despite enjoying my time at PPSUC, I knew I would not stay a second year. I was fond of my students, my colleagues and the Chinese people as a whole – but Xi and his bully boys in Beijing were changing the China I once loved (right back to when I cycled across the country in my youth) and turning it into their own dictatorial fiefdom.

In the end, I left early for unexpected reasons after my father became ill. My bosses were once again kind, sympathetic that I needed to break the tail-end of my contract to be with my family. After Dad died a few months later, I looked at the map. My eyes fell on Taiwan.