Approaching the end of his eight-year stay in Beijing, BBC correspondent Michael Bristow decided he wanted to write about the country’s modern history. To assist him he asked for the help of his language teacher, who was born just two years after the communist party came to power in 1949.
The changing fortunes of his teacher’s life have mirrored the ups and downs of his country, which has moved from communist poverty to capitalist wealth in just a single generation. It came as a surprise though, to learn that the teacher was also a cross-dresser.
Hear how Michael, author of China in Drag: Travels with a Cross-dresser, gradually realised that the teacher’s story is the story of modern China.
Michael Bristow is now Asia/Pacific Editor for the BBC World Service in London. He appears on radio and TV, commenting on developments in the world's fastest-changing region. For five years he was a BBC correspondent in Beijing, covering everything from earthquakes to the Olympics. Apart from his family, China is his great passion, an interest that began while at university in Newcastle. He’s spent much of his adult life trying to learn Mandarin; a task he imagines might take many more years.