Letter: On a train in China

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Sir: I am a Chinese writer. For two years, I have been eager to express my gratitude to your former Peking correspondent, Andrew Higgins. Having arrived in this country, I at last can do it without fear.

I met Mr Higgins in February 1990 at Changsha (my home town), on a train bound for Canton. During our journey, we talked about the situation post-Tiananmen Square. I was deeply impressed by Mr Higgins's warm concern about the future of China. The hurt hearts of the Chinese people could take comfort in this feeling.

It also gave me confidence to show him a manuscript of my novelette, 31st December, 1989, which dealt with psychological effects of the tragedy. As the manuscript had been refused by several Chinese literary magazines, I reluctantly asked if he could help to mail it from Hong Kong to one of my friends in Taiwan. He responsibly accepted this troublesome task without hesitation. In this way, Andrew Higgins helped me to enjoy my basic human right of free expression.

My 31st December, 1989 became the best-selected work of Unitas, the highest literary magazine in Taiwan, several months later. I also won the Unitas Literature Prize in 1990.

In my opinion, a journalist should not merely be a reporter. He should also take some responsibility for social progress. I respect what Andrew Higgins has done for people who need help. And it is certain that the Chinese will never forget people who have once helped them.

Yours faithfully,


London, N8

2 July