The Press

The following is the translation of The Press by Zhu Huaxiang (朱华祥).  This book is one of the eight books that were 'banned' by the General Administration of Press and Publications.  The Press is a novel about the lives of certain newspapers workers in a hypothetical place known as Oriental City.


In the evening, Niu Wenguang went to his regular gambling den.  Perhaps he was in a bad mood, or perhaps he was just unlucky.  In less than three hours, he had lost 8,000 RMB.  He did not gamble big, but the game of nine-and-a-half points goes very fast.  Before Niu Wenguang even realized it, the money was gone.

As he walked out of the gambling den, he looked back and wondered how he could have lost so quickly?  Perhaps someone was cheating?  He had not looked at this gambling den closely before.  Tonight, he took a close look and he thought that the boss was awesome.  This place was located in a residential district.  Next to private residences, there was a two-story house.  In front, there was an Internet cafe called "Infernal Affairs."  The gamblers were regular customers who walked through the Internet cafe and went through a small door in the rear to enter a residential apartment with four bedrooms and three living rooms.  That was the gambling den.  It was normal for people to come and go from an Internet cafe, and so the local residents did not find this suspicious.  By using the Internet cafe as cover, this gambling den had survived through many crime sweeps.

"Great!  You made me lost so much money.  So I'm not going to take mercy on you."  Like many gamblers, Niu Wenguang only remembers when he loses but not when he wins.  Today, he remembered that he lost.  He came out of the gambling den and he proceeded directly to the district police station to file a report.  He identified to the police chief that he was a reporter and he had just completed an undercover investigation.  Everything was sound and logical.  That night, Niu Wenguang took more than ten police officers to raid the gambling den.  The police station chief  handed 8,000 RMB right there and then, and said that he hoped to see a good report.

Niu Wenguang was very delighted.  He was pleased by the sight of the people with their hands on their heads at the gambling den.  With a sense of special power, he wrote a 2,000-word news report titled <Our reporter conducted the undercover investigation, the police took quick action and a secret gambling den hidden in the civilian sector has been busted>.  He felt no sense of shame when he wrote that.  He even believed that it was his original intention to conduct an undercover investigation.  Of course, he did not mention that he lost 8,000 RMB at first.

At the editorial meeting, Chen Yuan praised the news report, and gave it a grade of "A" during the evaluation.  At the Oriental City Commercial News, an "A" report collects 300 RMB in award money.  More unexpectedly, he received a telephone call from a stranger, who claimed to have a news tip for him.  When he reached the meeting place -- the Diao Coffee House -- he found out that the other party was the owner of a gambling den.  Many days later, Niu Wenguang can still recall that conversation with boss Zhao.

Boss Zhao asked: "Did the punks at 'Infernal Affairs' really not know that you were a reporter?"

Niu Wenguang shook his head.  He was observing boss Zhao.

"Then they don't know how to use their eyes.  Brother, I've been watching you for a long time."

"Why?" Niu Wenguang asked.

"You wrote many current affairs stories.  This shows that you are close to the government officials."

Niu Wenguang thought that this person knew something about journalism.  "You know what current affairs news is?  That is not bad."

"I also know that you have a good relationship with the police.  To cut a long conversation short, I want you to work part-time for my company."

"Part-time?  What kind of part-time work?"

Boss Zhao smiled: "Let me put it straight.  I also operate a gambling den.  I've fixed the public security people.  But I have been thinking about how I can make sure the reporters won't expose me.  If you people expose me, the public security bureau could not protect me even if they want to.  Therefore I want you to work for me to help me fix the reporters."

Niu Wenguang did not understand: "You want me to fix myself?"

"No.  Not you.  You have to fix the reporters in Oriental City who are on this beat, so that they won't write or publish."

"How am I supposed to fix other people?  That is impossible."  Niu Wenguang refused.

"Use money.  You use money to do what other people think is impossible."  Boss Zhao said with a great deal of self-assurance.

Niu Wenguang picks up a few "red envelops" every month.  Most of them are handed out at press conferences, because people want the reporters to write about the topic.  But this boss Zhao wants the exact opposite.  He wants the reports to be suppressed.  "How much money do you have?"

"I will give you 10,000 RMB as part-time wages.  For every suppressed report, the fees will be determined separately."

Niu Wenguang's face was flushed red.  He was excited.  In an instant, he had done the profit-loss calculation.  If this is handled properly, he will not incur any loss.  The 120,000 RMB part-time annual income is already six times his salary at the Oriental City Commercial News.  "But nobody can be sure that this will work all the time."  He was paving his way out.

"Nothing is ever certain in this world.  You only have to try.  If something couldn't be stopped, I won't blame you.  But I can find out whether you tried your best."

Niu Wenguang went from being excited to being worried.  Boss Zhao is an underworld crime figure.  If things don't work out, he might kill Niu.  But then he thought, "Why am I afraid of him?  I'm someone in mainstream society.  I know so many government officials involved in politics and law.  I will destroy him before he gets a chance."  After thinking about that, he smiled and said: "Let's seal the deal.  But if you want to suppress a report, it must be done when the reporter is gathering news.  You cannot wait and tell me only after the reporter had been there.  You must let me know before or during the news gathering.  It is easier to communicate then.  If you discover that it was an undercover investigation, you must also contact me in a timely manner.  I know the directors at the news departments of all the newspapers.  It is not a big problem suppressing reports.  But I cannot handle television stations.  I don't have the connections."

Boss Zhao looked at him with appreciation: "Brother, that is straight talk.  I'm right about you.  You are an insider, and you get right to the point.  We are not afraid of the television stations.  We can detect them whether they come openly or secretly.  We are afraid of the newspapers.  Who isn't afraid of black letters printed on white paper?"  When he finished saying that, he ended over a paper bag to Niu Wenguang and said: "This is the pre-payment of three months of part-time work."

Niu Wenguang took the packet and weighed it in his hand.  He thought happily: "I'm rich!"