The bourne supremacy, p.8
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       The Bourne Supremacy, p.8

         Part #2 of Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum
 
Page 8

 

  'I understand that. Since we're not on tape - and on the chance that we still are-' The undersecretary glanced disapprovingly at Reilly, who shook his head and shrugged. 'May I be permitted to know who the target is?

  'You may, and I want you to commit this name to memory, Mr Undersecretary. He's a Chinese minister of state, Sheng Chou Yang. '

  McAllister flushed, angrily. 'I don't have to commit it, and I think you know that. He was a fixture in the People's Republic's economics group and we were both assigned to the trade conferences in Peking in the late seventies. I read up on him, analyzed him. Sheng was my counterpart and I could do no less - a fact I suspect you also know. '

  'Oh? The grey-haired ambassador arched his dark eyebrows, and dismissed the rebuke. 'And what did your reading tell you? What did you learn about him?

  'He was considered very bright, very ambitious - but then his rise in Peking's hierarchy tells us that. He was spotted by scouts sent out from the Central Committee some years ago at the Fudan University in Shanghai. Initially because he took to the English language so fluently and had a firm, even sophisticated, grasp of Western economics. '

  'What else?

  'He was considered promising material, and after in-depth indoctrination was sent to the London School of Economics for graduate study. It took. '

  'How do you mean?

  'Sheng's an avowed Marxist where the centralized state is concerned, but he has a healthy respect for capitalistic profits. '

  'I see,' said Havilland. Then he accepts the failure of the Soviet system?

  'He's ascribed that failure to the Russian penchant for corruption and mindless conformity in the higher ranks, and alcohol in the lower ones. To his credit he's stamped out a fair share of those abuses in the industrial centres. '

  'Sounds like he was trained at IBM. '

  'He's been responsible for many of the PRC's new trade policies. He's made China a lot of money. ' Again the undersecretary leaned forward in his chair, his eyes intense, his expression bewildered - stunned was perhaps more accurate. 'My God, why would anyone in the West want Sheng dead? It's absurd! He's our economic ally, a politically stabilizing factor in the largest nation on earth that's ideologically opposed to us! Through him and men like him we've reached accommodations. Without him, whatever the course, there's the risk of disaster. I'm a professional China analyst, Mr Ambassador, and, I repeat, what you suggest is absurd. A man of your accomplishments should recognize that before any of us. ' The ageing diplomat looked hard at his accuser, and when he spoke he did so slowly, choosing his words carefully. 'A few moments ago we were at ground zero. A former foreign service officer named David Webb became Jason Bourne for a purpose. Conversely, Sheng Chou Yang is not the man you know, not the man you studied as your counterpart. He became that man for a purpose. '

  'What are you talking about? shot back McAllister defensively. 'Everything I've said about him is on record -records, official - most top secret and eyes-only. '

  'Eves-only? the former ambassador asked wearily. 'Ears-only, tongues only - wagging as busily as tails wag tigers. Because an official stamp is placed on recorded observations

  and observed by men who have no idea where those records came from - they are there, and that's enough. No, Mr Undersecretary, it's not enough, it never is. '

  'You obviously have information I don't have,' said the State Department man coldly. 'If it is information and not disinformation. The man I described - the man I knew - is Sheng Chou Yang. '

  'Just as the David Webb we described to you was Jason Bourne?. . . No, please, don't be angry, I'm not playing games. It's important that you understand. Sheng is not the man you knew. He never was. '

  'Then whom did I know? Who was the man at those conferences?5

  'He's a traitor, Mr Undersecretary. Sheng Chou Yang is a traitor to his country, and when his treachery is exposed - as it surely will be - Peking will hold the Free World responsible. The consequences of that inevitable error are unthinkable. However, there's no doubt as to his purpose. '

  ''Sheng. . . a traitor1! I don't believe you! He's worshipped in Peking! One day he'll be chairman!'

  Then China will be ruled by a Nationalist zealot whose ideological roots are in Taiwan. '

  'You're crazy - you're absolutely crazy] Wait a minute, you said he had a purpose - "no doubt as to his purpose", you said. '

  'He and his people intend to take over Hong Kong. He's mounting a hidden economic blitzkrieg, putting all trade, all of the territory's financial institutions under the control of a "neutral" commission, a clearing house approved by Peking which means approved by him. The instrument of record will be the British treaty that expires in 1997, his commission a supposedly reasonable prelude to annexation and control. It will happen when the road is clear for Sheng, when there are no more obstacles in his path. When his word is the only word that counts in economic matters. It could be in a month, or two months. Or next week. '

  'You think Peking has agreed to this?' protested McAllister. 'You're wrong! It's - it's just crazy! The People's Republic will never substantively touch Hong Kong! It brokers sixty percent of its entire economy through the territory. The China Accords guarantee fifty years of a Free Economic Zone status and Sheng is a signator, the most vital one!'

  'But Sheng is not Sheng - not as you know him. '

  Then who the hell is he?

  'Prepare yourself, Mr Undersecretary. Sheng Chou Yang is the first son of a Shanghai industrialist who made his fortune in the corrupt world of the old China, Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang. When it was obvious that Mao's revolution would succeed, the family fled, as so many of the landlords and warlords did, with whatever they could transfer. The old man is now one of the most powerful taipans in Hong Kong - but which one, we don't know. The colony will become his and the family's mandate, courtesy of a minister in Peking, his most treasured son. It's the ultimate irony, the patriarch's final vengeance - Hong Kong will be controlled by the very men who corrupted Nationalist China. For years they bled their country without conscience, profiting from the labours of a starving, disenfranchized people, paving the way for Mao's revolution. And if that sounds like Communist bilge, I'm afraid for the most part it's embarrassingly accurate. Now a handful of zealots, boardroom thugs led by a maniac, want back what no international court in history would ever grant them. ' Havilland paused, then spat out the single word, 'Maniacs!'

  'But if you don't know who this taipan is, how do you know it's true, any of it?'

  The sources are maximum-classified,' interrupted Reilly, 'but they've been confirmed. The story was first picked up in Taiwan. Our original informer was a member of the Nationalist cabinet who thought it a disastrous course that could only lead to a bloodbath for the entire Far East. He pleaded with us to stop it. He was found dead the next morning, three bullets in his head and his throat cut - in Chinese that means a traitor. Since then five other people have been murdered, their bodies similarly mutilated. It's true. The conspiracy is alive and well and coming from Hong Kong. '

  'It's insane!'

 
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