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1965. A young diplomat is appointed to the French Embassy in Beijing, opened the previous year when relations were resumed between the two countries. It's her first post. At the time China is a closed world from which foreigners are totally isolated.

To day the author invites us to read the diary kept during her stay, daily sketches portraying a city, recapturing the atmosphere, evoking a universe which escapes, yet imprisons the outsider. It covers two periods. The first is apparently calm, although unforeseeable events are in preparation. Then in 1966 the Cultural Revolution exploded. Its noisy agitation and violence made no difference to the foreigner's isolation. Quite the opposite. An unusual and original account.

A career diplomat, Annie Le Cage has visited many countries in Asia, America and Australia. She now lives in Paris.

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