Review by Trevor Clark
(Nigeria 1949-59, Hong Kong 1960-77 (seconded WPHC 1972-77))
David Wong's fiction is founded in deep research. The Evergreen Teahouse takes us
from the Korean War to the Joint Declaration, following the fortunes from boyhood of
two sons: one of a businessman who tried to be a good Confucian - deracinated by
America, this one becomes an establishment pillar, whose less public life brings a sticky
end; the other of a disabled veteran of the Long March who tried to be a good Party
Secretary - that one plays a backroom part in China's outpost in Hong Kong, and ends,
unsullied, in diplomatic banishment as Party Secretary in his remote hometown. The British characters are a national serviceman turned journalist, a lawyer who shakes the
pagoda tree, and a self-indulgent government PRO. These gwailos make friendship with
a senior Chinese cadet who, accepting The Queen's shilling, promotes British policy
wherever it places ordinary inhabitants' welfare first. UK diplomats and senior HK
administrators are shadows - denigration of their ways is voiced by Britons.
Assumptions of naive students, torn between loyalty to "China" as a concept and
"Western" innovation, are poignant. This portrayal of human relationships should
encourage reading of the surrounding history.