The other Sunday, I watched the Beijing police beating a group of pensioners. Some retired professors were trying to protest about electricity transformers for the new Olympic Park being sited just outside their block of flats, but the authorities here cannot tolerate even geriatric dissent.
Founded in 1946, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) has been in power ever since the Federation of Malaya achieved independence in 1957.
With his baggy black T-shirt, earnest round face and mid-length hair, my friend looks like exactly what he is: a geeky, techno-savvy, new-generation Chinese journalist-cum-blogger-cum-podcaster.
Strolling around my new neighbourhood in Beijing, a long-time haunt of foreigners, I was confronted by a sign in Russian and English reading: "Welcome to Alien's Street." In fact, I felt alienated only once in my initial week in China, and that was when I went to Ikea.