Gao Peiqi was born in China in 1949 and arrived in Britain in 1992. He describes how at first he did not keep in touch with his family, for their safety, and how receiving letters from his mother later made him feel.
Listen to Mr Gao (in Mandarin, mp3, 642kb)
Read trascript in Mandarin (pdf, 75kb)
'At the beginning I completely lost touch with them. My family learnt about my whereabouts and what I had been doing through the radio broadcasting, television. That’s because in Shenzhen they could receive television broadcasts from Hong Kong, so when they watched TV programmes from Hong Kong, they started to realise that I had already arrived in Hong Kong, then from Hong Kong to the UK, through this channel.
'I knew, in that situation, that my home phone would be bugged, letters addressed to them would be held up, including parcels which were sent to them, destroyed by the Chinese Communist government. It is like a random check, these were viciously destroyed before being returned to me. Under these circumstances, I decided not to continue to bring more trouble to my family. So for a long time we did not have any normal contact…
'Things became better a few years later and continue to improve, until now… Later on, mainly through sending letters, I wrote to my family; my family wrote back. I was aware that we shouldn’t exchange any political opinions. I only talked about everyday life, how is my health, all the same.
'But when I read the letter [from my mother], it was like I saw her face. When I received a letter, I felt close to them and my heart was filled with warmth. I was alone in Britain, and it meant a lot to me that my family still cared about me. It gave me a lot of emotional support in this lonely environment.'
Copyright Evelyn Oldfield Unit