After 10 years living in France, I returned to China to sign some papers and I was locked up. For the next two years, I was systematically dehumanised, humiliated and brainwashed
The man on the phone said he worked for the oil company, “In accounting, actually”. His voice was unfamiliar to me. At first, I couldn’t make sense of what he was calling about. It was November 2016, and I had been on unpaid leave from the company since I left China and moved to France 10 years earlier. There was static on the line; I had a hard time hearing him.
“You must come back to Karamay to sign documents concerning your forthcoming retirement, Madame Haitiwaji,” he said. Karamay was the city in the western Chinese province of Xinjiang where I’d worked for the oil company for more than 20 years.
“In that case, I’d like to grant power of attorney,” I said. “A friend of mine in Karamay takes care of my administrative affairs. Why should I come back for some paperwork? Why go all that way for such a trifle? Why now?”
The man had no answers for me. He simply said he would call me back in two days after looking into the possibility of letting my friend act on my behalf.