Letter from China

Prospect Magazine

Letter from China

/ / Leave a comment

A visit from the Culture Investigation Bureau

There’s a Chinese artist in the news, who’s under investigation for economic crimes. Forgive me for not naming him but this column is emailed over the Great Firewall of China and it’s tiresome when you lose your internet connection. He has a beard and recently scattered some seeds in London. My Chinese wife has never heard of him.

In my previous career as an illegal magazine publisher in China (there’s no such thing as a legal one) I was investigated for economic crimes on a regular basis. No matter how naughty we had been with content, advertising or distribution, it was always the money that they came after.

One of many visits—the term “raids” is closer, but still doesn’t do it justice—was from the Culture Investigation Bureau, one of many that might investigate an outspoken artist. The name makes you think they’d be hunting the Chinese Elgin Marbles, or at

You need to be logged in to see this part of the content. Please either subscribe or Login to access.

Leave a comment


Mark Kitto

Mark Kitto
Mark Kitto lives in Moganshan, a mountain resort near Shanghai 

Share this

Most Read

Prospect Buzz

  • Prospect's masterful crossword setter Didymus gets a shout-out in the Guardian
  • The Telegraph reports on Nigel Farage's article on Lords reform
  • Prospect writer Mark Kitto is profiled in the New York Times

Prospect Reads

  • Do China’s youth care about politics? asks Alec Ash
  • Joanna Biggs on Facebook and feminism
  • Boris Berezosky was a brilliant man, says Keith Gessen—but he nearly destroyed Russia