It took Xu Hongci four attempts before he finally escaped the labour camps. He then travelled the length of China into Mongolia – only to be arrested and sentenced to two years in a Mongolian prison for illegally entering the country. After serving his sentence, Xu Hongci met and married a Mongolian nurse, started a family and, after Mao’s death, returned to China where he died in 2008.
Erling Hoh is a Swedish-Chinese journalist who came across a Chinese copy of Xu Hongci’s memoir in a Hong Kong library. After tracking down Xu Hongci’s Chinese publisher and, eventually, his wife and children, he obtained the original manuscript that contained much richer content than the original Chinese edition.