The Horse That Leaps Through Clouds: A Tale of Espionage, the Silk Road, and the Rise of Modern China
Eric Enno Tamm
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On July 6, 2006, writer Eric Enno Tamm boards that same train, intent on following in Mannerheim’s footsteps. Initially banned from China, Tamm devises a cover and retraces Mannerheim’s route across the Silk Road, discovering both eerie similarities and seismic differences between the Middle Kingdoms of a century ago and today.
Along the way, Tamm offers piercing insights into China’s past that raise troubling questions about its future. Can the Communist Party truly open China to the outside world yet keep Western ideas such as democracy and freedom at bay, just as Qing officials mistakenly believed? What can reform during the late Qing Dynasty teach us about the spectacular transformation of China today? As Confucius once wrote, “Study the past if you would divine the future,” and that is precisely what Tamm does in The Horse That Leaps Through Clouds.
boy as the Eleventh Panchen Lama in 1995. Chinese authorities immediately detained the child and his parents, and appointed their own sycophant as spiritual leader. Nobody has seen them since. “The Panchen Lama is in prison,” Tenzin explained. “He’s the youngest political prisoner in the world.” We made our way back to the monastery. Pilgrims were throwing cypress branches on a bonfire near the river, offering, as Tenzin explained, “food to the gods.” Pungent smoke hung over the lamasery. We
into broad categories—agriculture, forestry, manufacturing and so on—with each investment project assigned a number to facilitate easy selection. Some investments sounded strangely intriguing: Project No. 23 was titled “Eco-friendly, Non-residualtoxin Pure Chinese Medicine Pesticide Damp Powder Preparation” and No. 16 was “Grandparent-generation Beijing Duck Breeder Duck Ranch.” I could even invest US$9.88 million to help restore a sixty-metre-tall ancient Buddha statue and historic site. If you
outward reverence” that locals showed toward these sacred monuments. A century ago, the Registan was in a “semi-ruined” state with large cracks in building facades and collapsing minarets. At this rapid rate of destruction, the Baron lamented, Samarkand’s “magic glamour” would soon vanish. Mullahs were more than willing to profit from the destruction. “For a consideration,” he added, “many a mullah would, no doubt, be prepared, under cover of darkness, to pull down a slab of mosaic of lovely
“The Chinese don’t care about people. They care about money.” In truth, I had already confirmed that evangelicals were back in Kashgar. An official with the Mission Covenant Church of Sweden, who speaks Mandarin and regularly visits Xinjiang, told me that nearly every foreigner in Kashgar is a missionary. Some study or teach at the local college while others use businesses to front their religious work. Though foreign evangelism is officially illegal, they are tolerated, if at all, because they
defend Inner Mongolia, you need to defend Xinjiang. If you can’t defend Xinjiang, you can’t defend Peking.” He then held up his glass. Everyone rose to their feet. “To Mannerheim,” he said. Servers then dished out a noodle soup, followed by even more toasts and more speeches. Finally dessert arrived, plates of Xinjiang melons, grapes and cherry tomatoes. Director Wu made the eleventh and final toast. “I hope you will enjoy yourself,” he said, referring to a week-long tour to Kashgar that was to