Translated from Hechaji.wordpress.com by Lorenzo Andolfatto; see the translator’s companion piece here.
After having taken part in a group visit to Chen Guangcheng, on the morning of September 28, 2011, the writer of this account was hecha-ed.
I will always remember those few days I spent in Dongshigucun, Shandong: I feel I stepped into an unreal place, where “the mountain is not a mountain, and water is not water.”
It was only after I came back, after I logged off from Weibo and Twitter, and spent the day idling around, getting crazy drunk in karaoke bars, after I stopped being chased around, with no friends in danger any more, and no foreign media to bother me on the phone, that I came back to earth, and realized that “the mountain was still a mountain, and the water was still water.”
Earlier today, a warm autumn morning: I was lying in my bed half-asleep when an unexpected phone call woke me up. Soon thereafter, still shaken by the call, I was then visited by three strangers, who came to find me in my slightly fancy rented room, for a mild interrogation. One was a local police officer, the other two were state police—China’s finest.
As I disentangled myself from the bedsheets, an image kept flashing in my mind: a pair of handcuffs and four high walls. I began to wonder: will I be able to avoid them? The policemen knocked at my door while I was still washing my face in the bathroom. I did not even have the time to dress properly.
We exchanged formal greetings at the doorstep, but once they were inside, our conversation took an unexpected turn:
“You at home?”
“Mm-hmm, I just woke up.”
“You stayed up ‘til late chasing tail uh?”
After this initial exchange, they introduced themselves.
State Police No. 1, the older, took out a small notebook, while State Police No. 2, the younger one, started making small talk.
They asked me why I went to Dongshigucun.
“Tourism,” I answered.
“Who did you go with?”
“The names are all online, I am pretty sure you know them already.”
“Why did you get involved with those well-known troublemakers?
“Which troublemakers? Who are you talking about precisely?”
“The fat one with the beard,” they answered.
I told them that the only thing I did was meet with another citizen, and that it was my right to do so, and that I did not break any law.
“There must be a mistake,” I said.
They didn’t say anything.
“And what feat did you want to accomplish by doing that?” they asked. “What do you think about this society?”
“I didn’t want to accomplish anything,” I answered. “And I think that this society is rotten to the core.”
They took notes of everything I said, diligently.
Then they asked about Liu Shasha.
“I don’t know her very well,” I said.
They asked me about Miaojiao, the Buddhist nun, for how long I had known her.
“I don’t know her that well either.”
They thought it better to ask me about the people I had been in contact with recently. They asked if I was friends with anybody from the local area.
“Did I do anything wrong?” I asked them.
“No,” they answered.
We talked about Shandong, they brought up “that blind man,” and the younger agent, this lad named Deng, asked me what was going on with him.
I made it clear that they were getting annoying. I did not know anything about them, where did they come from? Why were they looking for me?
“Everything is ok,” they said. “We do not want to know much, just tell us something more about yourself.” They inquired about my past, and wrote everything down on their notepads.
They lit up cigarettes, offered me one, but I refused. I told them I do not smoke in the morning.
I noticed the cigarettes they were smoking: cheap Baisha, eight kuai a packet.
“Weird,” I remarked. “Government employees like you smoking such low-quality cigarettes, quite a loss of face for the state.” They all laughed.
“It’s not us who eat and smoke well,” one of the officers said. “We are just cheap labor who must pass cigarettes around.”
I laughed as well. “Differential treatment, uh? It does not really bode well for the nation…” We shook hands and they left. They kept warning me: if you travel far from home, they said, you should inform the authorities. “Be careful with what you do,” they added in a friendly tone. “We are keeping an eye on you!”
The whole interrogation lasted for forty minutes or so. As they were leaving, I managed to snap a photo of their silhouettes from behind, and shared it at once on Weibo.
During the interrogation, they asked questions on how to bypass the Great Firewall, about QQ and its users.
Out of nowhere, State Police No.1 mentioned the name of a friend of mine, and told me he was a friend of his, and so the atmosphere loosened up a bit.
He asked for my QQ contact and my phone number. I told him I wanted his number too, and we agreed to catch up for drinks sometime in the future.
One cannot speak freely on this kind of blog. In this broken country of ours, it is dangerous to speak too carelessly about yourself, we all know it… As for what I just told you, consider it a contribution to these well-known “hecha” interrogations. I realize it’s not very well written, but it is true to the facts.
 Chen Guangcheng, known as the “barefoot lawyer,” is a Chinese civil rights activist who has worked on human rights issues in rural areas of the People’s Republic of China, and an advocate for women’s rights, land rights, and the welfare of the poor. In 2005, Chen gained international recognition for organizing a class-action lawsuit against authorities in Linyi, Shandong province, for the excessive enforcement of the one-child policy. As a result, he was placed under house arrest from September 2005 to March 2006, and eventually sentenced to four years and three months for “damaging property and organizing a mob to disturb traffic.”
 A reference to Tang dynasty Buddhist monk Qingyuan Xingsi, who described the three stages of knowledge that leads to the understanding of Chan/Zen as “ 看山是山，看水是水；看山不是山，看水不是水；看山還是山，看水還是水” ( “See that the mountain is a mountain, and that the water is water; see that the mountain is not a mountain, and that water is not water; see that the mountain is still a mountain, and that the water is still water”).
 A fellow activist, often mentioned in other hechaji accounts and very popular online.
 A Buddhist nun known for her political activism in the Shandong region.
 The blind man is Chen Guangcheng himself, who’s been blind from an early age.