Andrew Leonard: Chinese of a Certain Age...





[Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon.]

BEIJING -- It's open-mic night at an expat bar called Paddy O'Shea's located in the embassy district in central Beijing. While an American newly arrived to to the country warbles The Stylistics' "You Make Me Feel Brand New" to an appreciative audience, Dionysius, a half-Greek, half-Albanian expat is telling me of his adventures teaching English in China. Dionysius has been stunned to discover that some of the older Beijingers he meets are able to speak a few words of Albanian.

The linguistic surprise is a relic of the virulent Sino-Soviet split of the late early 1960s. Albania was the only European Communist bloc nation to side with the Chinese when Mao broke with his longtime allies....

In solidarity with their stout Balkan ally, China's leaders sent grain shipments, technical assistance, and apparently encouraged a program of language study....



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