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The Memoirs of Jin Luxian

Learning and Relearning 1916-1982

Luxian Jin

Publication Year: 2012

Jin Luxian is considered by many to be one of China’s most controversial religious figures. Educated by the Jesuits, he joined the Society of Jesus and was ordained priest in 1945 before continuing his studies in Europe. In 1951 he made the dangerous decision to return to the newly established People’s Republic of China. He became one of the many thousands of Roman Catholics who suffered persecution. Convicted of counter-revolutionary activities and treason, he was imprisoned for 27 years and only released in 1982. His subsequent decision to accept the government’s invitation to resume his prior role as head of the Shanghai Seminary and then assume the title of Bishop of Shanghai without Vatican approval shocked many Catholics. Now, some thirty years later, still serving as Bishop and regarded as one of the leading figures in the Chinese Catholic Church, Jin recounts formative experiences that provide essential insight into the faith and morality that sustained him through the turbulent years of the late 20th Century. In this volume of memoirs Jin recalls his childhood and education, his entry into the Society of Jesus and formation as a priest, his return to China and imprisonment and, finally, his release and return to Shanghai.

Published by: Hong Kong University Press, HKU

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. ix-xii

List of Illustrations

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pp. xiii-xiv

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pp. xv-xx

During my most recent visit with Bishop Jin Luxian I gave him several rare photographs of himself and other Jesuits in Shanghai before his arrest in 1955. I had not yet read his memoirs, and only after reading them did I realise why he was so moved by this gift; he had not seen images of these ‘old beloved friends’ since the 1950s, six decades ago. ...

Translator’s Note

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pp. xxi-xxii

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pp. 1-4

In 1933 when I was 17 years old I was given an introduction by friends to the aged patriot Ma Xiangbo,1 who was then 94 years of age. He was wearing a long black gown over which he had on a mandarin jacket and he was sitting straight up in a formal chair. I offered my respects and congratulated him on his great age. ...

Part I: Family

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1. Youth

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pp. 7-14

I was born in Shanghai’s Nanshi District1 on 20 June 1916. In 1916 World War One was raging in Europe, without any sign of a clear outcome between the two sides. China’s government declared war on Germany and Austria and, to assist the allies, many young people were sent to France to provide additional labour power in the support areas, ...

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2. Pudong

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pp. 15-18

I was born in Shanghai, but because of my family background, have always spoken with a Pudong accent. As soon as I open my mouth people know that I am from Pudong. I should explain that Shanghai is divided into two districts by the Huangpu River—the east bank is known as Pudong and the west as Puxi. ...

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3. Going to School

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pp. 19-20

At the age of six I went first to a girls’ school to do my basic education. There were two female teachers, one named Shou, the other Gu, who were both very patient. I remember one of my fellow students was a girl named Xu, who came from a wealthy family and was very well mannered. ...

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4. The Chinese Catholic Church in Those Days

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pp. 21-24

The Shanghai Catholic diocese was a missionary district of the province of Paris of the French Society of Jesus. In Shanghai the Jesuits set up many charitable and educational activities, including middle schools, universities and so on. Their main geographical area of activity was the French concession. ...

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5. St. Ignatius College (1926–32)

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pp. 25-28

In September 1926 I entered the elementary section of St. Ignatius College (later registered as Xuhui Middle School by the KMT1 Bureau of Education). The principal of the elementary school was Rev. Aloysius Tsang S.J. He was later dean of my high school and eventually Bishop of Shanghai when I returned to the city after my long stint in prison. ...

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6. Great-Uncle Jin Fushan

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pp. 29-30

At this time one of my great-uncles Jin Fushan appeared on the scene. He was similar to my own grandfather in that he had opened a joint-stock company supplying food to foreigners. The company was known as Tong Mao, or Dombay & Son in English. It was a large and prosperous concern. ...

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7. Two Elder Sisters

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pp. 31-34

My aunt was a nun in the Congregation of the Helpers of the Holy Souls and taught mathematics at Qiming Girls Middle School and Xuhui Girls Middle School. She had one favourite student named Lu Naying. After my father’s death my aunt very much wanted to help me, so she summoned Lu Naying and told her: “My favourite nephew is now an orphan. ...

Part II: Seminary Life

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8. Seminary of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (1932–35)

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pp. 37-42

In 1932 I graduated from St. Ignatius College in Xujiahui and took the entrance examination for Aurora University, matriculating the same year. The school arranged a retreat to practise the spiritual exercises of St. Ignatius before our graduation. Part of this involved a subject for meditation called ‘two opposing flags’ in which the forces of Lord Jesus battle those of the Devil. ...

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9. Seminary of the Sacred Heart of Mary (1935–37)

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pp. 43-46

In August 1935 I entered the Seminary of the Sacred Heart of Mary. At this time the various seminaries had become independent of the administration of Rev. Henry and had obtained their own rector, Rev. Felix Maumus. He was more kindly than Rev. Henry, as well as gifted in many areas. ...

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10. St. Ignatius College (1937–38)

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pp. 47-50

There were no newspapers to read at the seminary and at that time China had no wireless broadcasts to listen to. All correspondence was inspected by the foreign priests, so we were cut off from the world; our education was entirely circumscribed and our sole sources of information were visiting friends and relatives, ...

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11. Joining the Society of Jesus

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pp. 51-56

On completion of my examination, the rector of the seminary informed me that I would next be going to the Jesuit theological college to study theology. There I would be able to prepare for a master’s degree recognised by the Vatican educational authorities. ...

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12. Taking First Vows

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pp. 57-60

Two years passed and on 8 September 1940 I took my vows along with some others. Later on, when I was arrested on 8 September 1955, it was quite a coincidence. Was this a heavenly message? When I took my vows I told no one, so no one came to congratulate me. I immediately transferred to the Juvenate College. ...

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13. School of Philosophy (1941–42)

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pp. 61-70

At the end of August 1941, Rev. Henry sent me to Xianxian in Hebei Province to study philosophy for a third year. In Shanghai seminaries the course was only two years, while the Jesuits required three years, so I had to make up a year. According to the dispositions of the Society of Jesus at that time the school of philosophy was in Xianxian ...

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14. Studying Theology (1942–46)

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pp. 71-74

In late August I left Tianjin to return to Shanghai. At that time the Japanese army was guarding the main railway line and the trains from Beijing to Shanghai were not getting through. We got off at Pukou to cross the Yangtze, spent a night at Zhendan Middle School in Nanjing and then caught the Shanghai train. ...

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15. Subei (1946–47)

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pp. 75-84

In June 1946 I graduated and the following day Henry called me to him and said: “You have graduated. During the vacation I am sending you to Dongtai in Subei to relieve Rev. Klement. You will be acting parish priest. Return here at the end of August to go to Wuhu in Anhui Province.” ...

Part III: Life as an Overseas Student

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16. Travel to Europe

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pp. 87-92

In mid-June 1947 I received a letter from Rev. Lacretelle telling me that Bith had petitioned the superior general and that the latter had authorised me to travel to Europe. The letter instructed me to go to Shanghai to prepare to leave for my studies in France. ...

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17. Tertianship in France (1947–48)

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pp. 93-104

In the summer of 1947 it was only two years since the end of WWII and one could still see many sunken ships in the harbour, with only masts or funnels poking above the surface. No one had had time to salvage them. Walking through the streets one could see ruined walls and wreckage, ...

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18. Learning English

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pp. 105-112

After the tertianship was over, I went to Provincial Bith and applied to go to Ireland to learn English. He gave his permission. I intended to travel first to the Enghien College of Theology in Belgium. A Jesuit who had learned that I planned to go to Belgium approached me and told me that his aunt was returning to Belgium the following afternoon. ...

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19. Gregorian University

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pp. 113-116

After the holidays I returned to Paris, then took the train to Rome and reported to the Gregorian University of the Vatican. This university used to be called the Roman College and was founded by St. Ignatius. It is already some 400 years old. It is directed jointly by the Society of Jesus and the Vatican and is located at the centre of Rome at No. 4 Pilota Square, ...

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20. Two Eminent Persons

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pp. 117-120

Above I have talked of how the Pope appointed Mgr. Costantini as his first apostolic delegate to China in 1922. He lived in China for ten years during which time he worked so hard that he got ill and had to return to Europe for recuperation. When he left Shanghai the faithful gave him a ceremonial umbrella in recognition of his meritorious deeds. ...

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21. A Few of My College Friends

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pp. 121-126

I had thought that I needed to be able to read and comprehend German in order to do my research, so someone suggested that I go and study at the German College. I wrote a letter to the rector of that college, setting out my objective and after a few days he came to the university to tell me that I was welcome to go there during the Christmas vacation. ...

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22. Archbishop Paul Yu Bin

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pp. 127-130

On 8 December 1948 when I was still at the Gregorian University in Rome, my fellow students Wang Zhe and Gao Yupu told me that Archbishop Yu Bin had arrived in Rome and was staying at the KMT’s embassy to the Vatican. So we hurried over to Wu Jingxiong’s residence and Yu Bin came out to receive us. ...

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23. Necessary Measures inthe Society of Jesus: Visitor Burckhardt

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pp. 131-134

The Society of Jesus was about to take necessary measures. The superior general Janssens urgently called Rev. Burckhardt, the head of the Jesuit mission in Jing County, Hebei Province, back to Rome for consultations. ...

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24. Vacation in Switzerland, Austria and West Germany

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pp. 135-144

Another year had passed and once again it was vacation time. European universities have a particularly long summer vacation—about three and a half months. In order to pursue my German studies I obtained permission from the new provincial of Paris, Rev. Goussault, to travel first to Switzerland and then to Austria and Germany on vacation. ...

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25. My Second Year in Rome

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pp. 145-148

At the end of 1949 the new Jesuit house in Rome for Jesuit doctoral candidates was completed and named St. Charles Borromeo College. This was close to the Gregorian University and next door to the Church of St. Ignatius. The building was large, with three floors and three elevators. ...

Part IV: Returning Home

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26. Acting on Orders

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pp. 151-156

In May 1950 I received a letter from the Shanghai Jesuit father superior Lacretelle, requiring me to return to China after finishing my PhD. While those in China in fear of danger were being ordered to escape, I was being called from safety abroad to face danger at home, being yet again placed in a hopeless situation. ...

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27. Reporting to the Diocese

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pp. 157-160

I reached Shanghai station on 25 January and no one was there to meet me. I made my way alone to the seminary at Xujiahui to report to the then rector Yves Henry. Then I went to see the Jesuit father superior Rev. Lacretelle. He said to me: “So you’re back. I was just planning to write you a letter telling you not to return.” ...

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28. The Shanghai Diocese after 1949

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pp. 161-164

After I had returned to China and had a good look around, I realised that although the Shanghai diocese now had a Chinese bishop, nonetheless the power remained in the hands of the French. After Gong Pinmei had been ordained, he had first served as headmaster of the Sacred Heart Middle School in Songjiang ...

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29. Various Political Movements

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pp. 165-176

On the eve of the end of WWII, Stalin, Roosevelt and Churchill gathered for a summit meeting at Yalta and Roosevelt made a large concession to Stalin, allowing Eastern Europe to fall into the Soviet sphere of influence, so that when the war was over the anti-fascist political parties in Eastern Europe all fell into the hands of the communists ...

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30. Xuhui Seminary

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pp. 177-180

In August 1951 Archbishop Riberi was expelled from China. Just before leaving, he authorised Rev. Lacretelle’s application and appointed me new acting head of the Xuhui Regional Seminary. I took office on 16 July 1951 and put all my energy into the affairs of the seminary, a role I played as well as I could for four years, ...

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31. Anti-Imperialism Patriotic Movement

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pp. 181-186

The conflict between Gong and the government was coming to a climax. Gong and Lacretelle issued an order refusing communion to all who joined the Catholic Patriotic Association. This was a very severe measure, almost equivalent to excommunicating all the members of the CPA. ...

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32. The Four Roles

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pp. 187-198

After Rev. Lacretelle and the others had been arrested on 15 June, the Jesuit Visitor Rev. Burckhardt rode his bicycle to Xujiahui to see me. He told me that Lacretelle had been arrested and so he was approaching me to be acting father superior of the Jesuits in Shanghai. ...

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33. Gong Pinmei

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pp. 199-202

Many people ask me my view of Gong Pinmei, so I’ll take this opportunity to state it. He was a very good priest who greatly loved the Lord and strictly followed discipline. His father had served the Church all his life, working flat out, devoted to his duties and amassing a small fortune with which he bought land and became a property owner. ...

Part V: Life in Jail

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34. My First Sight of Prison (1955–60)

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pp. 205-224

The Feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary was 8 September 1955, which was also the anniversary of my first vows. At 9:30 in the evening, as I was reading in my room, the main gate of the seminary suddenly opened (the workers having been ordered in advance to prepare for this) and a group of plain clothes policemen burst in ...

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35. Public Trial and Sentencing (1960)

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pp. 225-228

The time had come: the government could enjoy the fruits of victory. In June 1960 I was given a haircut, issued with formal clothes and escorted by car to the court (I had already been in detention for four years and nine months, whereas Rev. Chen Zhemin who was put on trial with me had been first detained in 1951 and thus was in detention for nine years). ...

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36. Jail in Shanghai (1960–62)

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pp. 229-234

After the sentencing I was transferred under escort to Tilanqiao Prison. I had been confined in the detention centre for four years and nine months. I now spent two years and seven months at Tilanqiao. There was not much difference between the two places. The prisoners were all criminals, without name and known only by number ...

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37. Foreign Language Translator, Qincheng Prison (1963–67)

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pp. 235-246

In early 1963 I was transferred to Qincheng Prison in Beijing. It happened like this: early one day, the prison officer opened up my cell and said to me: “Bring all your belongings and come with me.” All I had was my bedding, some old clothes and the few books that Rong Dexian had sent me. ...

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38. The Fushun War Criminals Management Centre (1967–73)

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pp. 247-254

I’ll give you a simple description of the management centre. It had been built during the Japanese occupation of the north-east of our country, specifically for the imprisonment of Japanese military offenders. On the eve of the Japanese surrender, the Soviet Red Army had invaded the north-east and the camp had fallen into their hands. ...

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39. Return to Qincheng and Resumption of Translation Work (1973–75)

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pp. 255-258

In 1973 Deng Xiaoping returned to power, taking up the post of deputy premier of the State Council and chief of the general staff. He bravely set about reorganising government departments, with quick results. In the summer the deputy director of Qincheng Prison came to Fushun and said that they intended to re-establish ...

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40. The No. 4 Re-education through Labour Camp in Henan Province (1975–79)

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pp. 259-264

In 1975 class warfare broke out again in China. The senior leaders indicated that it was not a good idea to keep the translation team so close to the capital and said that we should be separated. The No. 13 Department of the Ministry of Public Security decided to break up the team. ...

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41. The End of the ‘Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution’

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pp. 265-268

In May 1979, the Public Security Ministry (PSM) sent two cadres to have a talk with me. One was named Wang Xiang and the other Li Jing. Wang spoke English and asked me several questions in that language. Then they went back to Beijing. Since Deng Xiaoping had again returned to power, the PSM needed to set up the translation team again. ...

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42. Hebei No. 1 Jail (1979–82)

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pp. 269-276

In May 1979, the Public Security Ministry (PSM) sent two cadres to have a talk with me. One was named Wang Xiang and the other Li Jing. Wang spoke English and asked me several questions in that language. Then they went back to Beijing. Since Deng Xiaoping had again returned to power, the PSM needed to set up the translation team again. ...

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43. Friends Come from Afar

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pp. 277-282

At this time I received an up-to-date German dictionary from Rong Dexian as a present. When I read it through I saw the name of my friend Georg Meistermann. I was glad to see that he had become a well-known abstract painter, but there was no address in the dictionary. ...

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44. My Return to Shanghai

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pp. 283-290

On 1 June 1980 I was still working for the Baoding Jing’an Translation Company. The policeman responsible for me said: “Tomorrow you will go to Beijing. There’s some translation business we need you to look into. Tonight you can stay at the PSM guesthouse in Xila Hutong.” ...

Index of Names

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pp. 291-296

E-ISBN-13: 9789882208735
Print-ISBN-13: 9789888139668

Page Count: 324
Illustrations: 12 b/w
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1