Tips from “So Rock!” on How To Drink That Cup of Tea

After a break of far too long, I’ve recently started studying Chinese again with a friend. At first I couldn’t remember how to write ANY characters (literally) but it really is just a case of keeping up with it regularly. For Chinese practice, we decided to read an article taken from Vol 101 of a magazine published in China called 《我爱摇滚乐》in Chinese (literally translated as “I Love Rock Music”) and the English name of the magazine is “So Rock!”.

It’s a cool magazine, I first read about it last year when they published a bold cover for the anniversary of Tiananmen:

As the Danwei article tells us:

Under the silhouette of a tank on the t-shirt is the line “So you’ve got a tank?” (你不就有辆坦克吗), although the characters for “tank” have been blurred out. On the tank, covered up by the So Rock logo (but visible on another photo inside the magazine), is the word “POWER.”

Stories inside this issue include:

  • A profile of Pete Seeger, the American folk singer known for protest songs;
  • The conclusion to The Story of the American Civil Rights Movement;
  • A reprint of Lu Xun’s essay, “In Memory of Miss Liu Hezhen,” which is often used as a veiled reference to government-sanctioned killing


The front and back covers of  Vol 101 were also quite provocative, here they are scanned:

So I already knew that So Rock! had an “irreverent attitude” but I wasn’t quite expecting the article we’d chosen to read to be so smart and hilarious. The title of the article 《如何喝好那杯茶》translates as “How to Drink That Cup of Tea” and refers to the common practice of Public Security officials in China of inviting dissidents or activists to “drink tea” when they want to question them about political activities or give them a warning. The whole tone of the article is very dry and sarcastic, much like my favourite blogposts we’ve translated and put up on High Peaks Pure Earth.

The article starts by saying:

“If, one day, you’ve published something un-harmonious on the internet and the Cops invite you to drink tea, what are you supposed to do? Here are some tips based on experience on the way to act, hope it comes in handy for you.”

Instead of writing the Chinese word for harmonious, the author has used the well-known homonym, the river crab. It’s also really fun how they write “Cops” every time in English! Amongst the straight-faced joking around, there is actually some really sound legal advice in the text, tip #1 says:

First express your refusal. If: A, no public security legal case has been registered; B, no criminal case has been registered; C, no other type of case has been registered; D, what you are doing at that moment is not a criminal offence, then they cannot issue summons to ordinary citizens, either on paper or verbally. If they do so, they are illegally using their authority to harass people with their indecent behaviour.

The next few tips continue in the same vein…saying how the Cops will try to get you in trouble with your work, get your boss involved, your family, the boss of your boss… Anyway, it’s clear that eventually you’ll be drinking tea with them irrespective of the legal proceedings.

Tip #6 starts to get fun:

If they don’t give you anything in writing, and don’t let your colleagues also listen in to your tea-drinking session, and don’t inform your family, tell them that they are being illegal, let them know that you are someone who understands the law and, by not refusing to go with them, you were making sure that they “saved face”. Also, calmly tell them that that their illegal way of doing things doesn’t surprise you at all, there are Cops who are doing way more illegal things.

The key seems to be to keep calm at all times and, if anything, be over-polite and completely obliging and deny any wrong-doing…deny that you are “under Ai Weiwei’s influence”! By tip #15, full irony is kicking in:

They may be very familiar with your various private activities and want to use that to intimidate you. Tell them, “You know things that you should not know”, this in itself is a shameless act, since it’s private, people who know other people’s private activities should keep it secret, this is ethical. Tell them you had a one-night stand and want to tell them about it, ask if they agree to hearing about it.

The author is keen to point out that nothing should be divulged and certainly not any key information, this is how to get round it, tip #19:

On another note, they might ask you questions that stray very far off-topic, such as your QQ number or the names of your parents, when they asked me these kinds of questions, I asked them back, “Do you also want to know when exactly I get my period every month?”, they politely stopped asking me random questions then.

I can just imagine a Chinese rock chick giving the PSB a hard time! The final tip, tip #20, is quite philosophical:

From now on, it seems that dealing with the Cops is perhaps going to become the normal state of things, everybody needs to slowly adapt and get along with them, we need to become people who can take good care of ourselves.

So there we have it, sound advice! Might be useful for bloggers, rockers, dissidents alike… Oh and the magazine came with a free CD made up of 9 tracks from Chinese bands, so rock on!

4 thoughts on “Tips from “So Rock!” on How To Drink That Cup of Tea

  1. Pingback: China Digital Times (CDT) Tips on Drinking Tea with Police «

  2. 阿佳啦 贡康桑!

    “你不就有辆坦克么” 则T恤就是我08年设计的 哈哈 在这里看见这图片真高兴!

    这照片主人 应该是买我T恤的朋友 猪TT同学

  3. 08年我做的 还做了杨佳的“谁是匕首” 还有三鹿奶粉“我敢喝奶”江蛤蟆的“你们呀你们幼稚”(这件还给王力雄大叔送了一件 哈哈 给阿佳唯色也送过

    在没做了 09年我进去了 10年10月才放出了 哈哈

    我是在阿佳唯色博客看见你链接的 很高兴认识你

    (我爱摇滚乐 那上面女孩 就是我网友 买的我那T恤)

    你留个邮箱给我 我可以发一些 08年我做的关于TIBET的T恤

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