China, which British Prime Minister Theresa May visited last week and with which the Vatican has reportedly signed a controversial deal, is a land of euphemisms. Underneath the glistening bright towers of economic growth, the vicious strangulating repression of the Communist regime lurks, and under Xi Jinping its reach has widened and its brutality intensified. Xi’s regime has perfected an ability to twist truth as it twists the necks of dissidents, and turn the rule of law into rule by laws that legalise barbaric torture. American scholar Perry Link once aptly described the ‘anaconda in the chandelier’ in China’.
One of the latest euphemisms is the peculiar term “residential surveillance at a designated location” (RSDL). It sounds mild compared to imprisonment; it sounds like you might simply be monitored at home, or held under some form of house arrest. In truth, it’s the very opposite – a licence to disappear people in the middle of the night, to an unknown location, to torture with impunity. Hotel rooms, the backs of restaurants, offices and empty apartments are transformed into secret torture chambers.