Doing time in China

I’m not sure if it’s fitting or unseemly that I should be posting this today, April 20th, but here we are. A couple years back I remember reading about a foreigner who spent seven months in a Chinese jail. Other than a passing, “man that sucks,” I didn’t think much more about it. I certainly didn’t think it was anyone I *knew* (however loose I can use that term).

It wasn’t until I stumbled across a recent The Shape of Things to Come podcast, dubbed “Fear and Loathing in China“, that I put the pieces together and realized the subject of the podcast and the original Danwei article is someone I’ve known (in a virtual sense) nearly since I arrived in China.

You can listen to the full podcast below. Though long-time China blogsphere residents will no doubt be able to sort out who “Marvin Moses” is, lets leave the identity out of the comments.

download link

Further Reading

There are no shortage of foreigners incarcerated (or previously incarcerated) in China, here’s a bit of additional reading on the topic:

  • New Zealander Danny Cancian, who spent 5 years in a Chinese prison for manslaughter when a restaurant fight turned ugly.
  • Australian Carl Mather, who was convicted of assault in January of this year after attempting to resist four people who barged into his Chinese apartment, while he carried his three-year-old daughter in his arms.
  • Lockie Campbell, the subject of National Geographic’s Locked-Up Abroad: My Dad the Smuggler, who was pinched with a toddler’s weight in hash and served 12 years for it.
  • This unknown New Zealander, on death row after being arrested in Shenzhen in 2009.
  • American “Lionel Carver”, though not quite the Oz-like quality of the above articles, the story of this expat’s experience is a good reminder for any foreigners pushing the legality of their stay in China.


  1. Would it be possible to upload it in a medium that allows for skipping forward? Not sure if I’m doing something wrong, but it’s not working for me.

    • Profile photo of Ryan McLaughlin

      It’s streaming, so it may just be a problem of streaming it and jumping around. You can just download the podcast at the link just below the player (or try the player at the source link).

  2. I’ve only managed to hear 20 mins of it so far (darn kids and family duties), but it’s a very interesting interview so far. I also quite easily guessed the persons real name and it doesn’t make it less interesting I might add.

    Good stuff.

  3. Very interesting interview. .. but this guy is incorrigible. He comes across as very articulate and intelligent. . but to be imprisoned a 2nd time for the same crime as he was imprisoned in China for. . . is just plain stupid. Talk about testing your luck.

  4. Wow I remember being in China reading his blog… Listening to him reminds me of how exciting and reckless and free I felt back then. But over time I grew up and became less reckless and more responsible and I guess I got worried… I saw so many failed, fucked up expats and I didn’t want to end up like them. I have so many stories from that time in China, but today there’s no stories in my present life to tell. I was in China poor, no direction but it was the most exciting time of my life… Three years ago I came back to the States with nothing but my stories and since then I worked hard and got lucky and now am living the American Dream. Successful financially, the dream home in a dream community with dream job… but even so, always in the back of my mind I dream of China. I would give it all up and return, but I doubt it would ever be the same.

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