An Indian Civilizational Perspective

20 years Lost in China

One reads numerous remarkable stories of human defiance and fight for survival. This one caught my eye! Here these two guys in solitary confinement and psychologically tortured, perfected skills of mind so they could remain sane and thinking. They were in Chinese prisons for 20 years!

Downey and Fecteau were held separately, but did their best to maintain contact, using a system of distinctive coughs to indicate where they were inside the prison complex, and drawing baseball scores in the dust of the exercise yard.

In the outside world, diplomatic relations between China and the US were slowly thawing. In 1971, Henry Kissinger made his secret visit to Beijing and on December 9 of that year, Fecteau was suddenly released.

Downey would remain in prison for another 15 months, before he too was set free, the year after Richard Nixon’s visit to China. The trigger for the releases was Nixon’s admission of what the US Government had denied for so long: that the two men were indeed CIA agents, captured on a spying mission inside China.

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