When a Woman Comes…

Here’s where i learned something invaluable about Chinese women. Or maybe women in general. it’s difficult to know because most of the women I know are Chinese. If you really want to see them, tell them you’re busy, and there is no way you can possibly rearrange your schedule. They’ll turn up on your doorstep the next day fully expecting you to drop everything to accommodate them.

Her name was Celia. At 30, she was slightly older than most of the women I dated. We’d known each other for a couple of years, but only online. We had lots of mutual friends, but had never met face-to-face before. When she arrived I was teaching a class, so she had to wait at the school gate for me for over an hour.

When I first saw her, as well as being relieved she wasn’t a catfish, I was surprised. She was much slimmer and prettier than her photos suggested. They didn’t really do her justice. She wore a white dress with red shoes and had long, black hair, which all made her look a bit like a ghost from a Japanese horror film. Her demeanour just added to that image. There was something alluring and mysterious about her. I can’t lie, it was a weird set-up. I’d already arranged to meet Lily, a girl I met on Facebook, the following week, which was a public holiday in China, so I made it clear from the outset that Celia could only stay with me for four days. And so began perhaps the weirdest four days of my life.

She asked endless questions, to the extent that for much of the time it was like being in a psychiatrist’s chair. She would ask me something, then say, in an accusatory tone, “I asked you that question a year ago and you gave me a different answer!”

No matter how often I tried to explain that people’s views evolve and change over time so both my answers could be true. Plus, I couldn’t remember what I did last week, nevermind last year, it wouldn’t wash. It didn’t help that her questions were the kind that rarely even have a definitive answer; what makes you happy? How important do you think money is? Do you believe in love?

Her lines of enquiry were barbed with thorns and stumbling blocks. Intentionally, I think. I’m not self-important to think it was all geared toward tripping me up. I think it was more she just had a tendency to over-analyse everything.

She was a deep girl, and that was okay. In moderation. I can talk about UFOs, life after death, or the struggle for equality in modern society all night. But I also like to discuss less weighty topics like football and stand-up comedy. She seemed deeply wary of me, and rightly so you might think. But having someone I barely knew in my apartment scrutinising my every move and second-guessing me 24-hours a day made me uncomfortable. If she was that unsure about me, she could just leave.

On night three, the inevitable happened and I dry humped her to within an inch of her life. We didn’t have full sex because she was on her period and I once fainted after a particularly gruesome bout of period sex. Celia wasn’t very experienced. In fact, she told me she’d only ever had sex with one guy, and I had no reason to disbelieve her. The funny part is that the next morning I woke up to find her sitting on the edge of the bed, sobbing.

“What’s wrong, Celia?”

“I am so regret what we did last night,” she said in a weak, trembling voice.

“What do you mean?”

“The sex,” she said, bowing her head in shame.

This confused me. Had I missed something? “But we didn’t have sex…”

“Almost.”

“Almost means it didn’t happen,” I reasoned. “It’s like ‘almost’ getting struck by lightning. It’s only really worth worrying about if it actually happens. We just kissed and hugged.”

“Sex hug.”

“But still just a hug.”

I’ve known for a long time that Chinese girls have a tendency to be drama queens, but this was next level.

As the end of the four day nightmare approached, Celia made it clear she didn’t want to leave. I didn’t tell her I was going to meet someone else. I didn’t see the need to do that, so I just told her I was going to the train station. She kept asking me about ticket prices and train times, probably to try to ascertain where I was going, and would then do that thing where she asked me the same question two hours later to see if I would give the same answer as if it were some kind of police interrogation. It was exhausting. I don’t know what she expected me to do. You can’t just show up on someone’s doorstep without an invitation and expect them to cancel plans that had been in place for months on your behalf.

Eventually, she said she was making other arrangements, too. That was fine with me. By that point I just wanted her out of my hair. She came with me/followed me all the way to Guangzhou South Railway Station, where I made an excuse and escaped into the crowd before she could question me any more. I was free at last.

This is an edited extract from the book This is China: Misadventures in the Middle Kingdom Part 4 – The Return, out now on paperback and ebook.

This is China: Misadventures in the Middle Kingdom Part 2 – Hunan Province (Extract)

After fleeing recession-hit Britain in September 2007, I spent a year living and working as an English teacher in Beijing before meeting a girl and moving to Tianjin, northern China, which is very much like a Chinese Middlesbrough. If you’ve never heard of Middlesbrough, then you get my point. Needless to say, the girl promptly dumped me for another guy leaving me in a strange city in a foreign country with no friends and a job I hated. I taught in a primary school, and though they were sweet and adorable on the outside, on the inside those kids were the embodiment of evil. They almost broke me. I spiralled into a life of booze, solitude and borderline depression, punctuated only by the occasional bout of meaningless sex. I didn’t think I would survive another Tianjin winter, and overall the place didn’t leave a good impression on me, so I decided to run down my contract at my school and move somewhere else in China. Hopefully, somewhere warmer.

I didn’t want to teach kids anymore, so I found a job as a writing instructor at HMMC (Hunan Mass Media College) in Changsha, Hunan Province, which was about as close to journalism as I could get at the time. I didn’t know anything about Changsha. But by this time I’d learned not to jump into anything blind, so I did some research. Located on the Xiang River, Changsha is described as a ‘culturally important’ city, though not internationally recognized in the same way Beijing and Shanghai are, and has over 3,000 years of history. It was occupied by the Japanese for a short time during the Japanese-Sino war of 1937-45, and is the place where Mao Zedong (Chairman Mao, the revolutionary founding father of the PRC) went to school and converted to communism. These days, it is better known as both a commercial center and an entertainment hub, and is home of Hunan TV, one of the biggest channels in the country which pumps out endless variety and talent shows which the Chinese lap up.

Juliet, a girl I’d met whilst travelling in Shanghai two years earlier, came to meet me the day I arrived and brought a suitcase with her meaning, I assumed, she planned on staying for a while. That was fine by me. I hadn’t seen her for ages, and we had a lot of catching up to do. The very first night, things started getting hot and steamy. While we were kissing and fumbling on the sofa, she asked if I had a condom. I didn’t. But I remembered my contact from the college telling me there was a twenty four -hour supermarket nearby. I didn’t remember exactly where, but how hard could it be to find?

I grabbed a handful of money, ran out the door, down three flights of stairs, out of the apartment block and down the road. It took a while, but I eventually found the supermarket and stocked up on condoms and soft drinks. As I left, I was hit with a realization. I didn’t actually know where I lived. I was completely lost. I’d been so excited about the prospect of finally bedding Juliet that I’d left the apartment without my phone. I didn’t even know the name of my street. I’d only got off the plane about six hours earlier.

So I stumbled around for most of the night clutching a pack of unopened condoms and whimpering softly to myself. I tried to retrace my steps, but found that almost every building looked the same, especially in the dark. I eventually found my apartment again a few hours later but by then, Juliet was sound asleep and the moment had passed. I figured having waited over two years already, another day or two wouldn’t matter too much.

This is China: Misadventures in the Middle Kingdom Part 2 – Hunan Province is available now on paperback and ebook

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OMG it’s Chinese Valentine’s Day!

Most things in China are the same, but different. Therefore, they have the equivalent of Valentines Day, but it doesn’t come around on February 14th like its Western counterpart. Known as the Qixi Festival, it occurs instead on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, which makes it especially tricky to remember as the date keeps changing. This year it falls on August 25th, while in 2019 it fell on August 7th.

This shouldn’t be confused with either ‘Single’s Day’ on November 11th (11/11, geddit?) May 20th (an ‘unofficial’ Valentine’s Day known as 520 because the numbers sound like ‘I love you’ in Mandarin) which are both comparatively new festivals. The Chinese are crazy about festivals. An increasing number are celebrating February 14th, too. Personally, I feel most of these romantic festivals are spearheaded by Chinese girls, who do like to be spoiled.

Qixi, originally known as Qiqiao Festival, originated from the Han Dynasty. There are many variations, but the general tale tale is a love story between Zhinü a weaver girl,  and Niulang, the cowherd. Their love was forbidden, so they were banished to opposite sides of the Silver River (symbolizing the Milky Way). Once a year, on the 7th day of the 7th lunar month, a flock of magpies would form a bridge allowing the lovers to reunite the for one day. A more thorough telling can be found here

If you want to find out more about the nuances of Chinese culture, check out the author’s books.

This is China: Misadventures in the Middle Kingdom Part 2 – Hunan Province

British journalist Alex Coverdale has spent over a decade working as an English teacher in China. During that time he has travelled the length and breadth of the country, seeing things he never thought he would see and doing things he never thought he would do, from digging for dinosaur eggs in the Gobi desert to eating snakes in Hunan Province, and finding himself in a succession of awkward, often hilarious situations along the way.

He soon developed a deep affinity with China and its people, falling in love with the country’s unique culture, colourful history, and vibrant, infectious energy. Being in such a unique position, he wrote about his experiences in a book which quickly became a Number One Amazon Bestseller, but he never told the full story.

Until now.

This second instalment of This is China: Misadventures in the Middle Kingdom, covers the three-plus years the author spent in Hunan Province, central China, where he travelled in search of love and settled in the provincial capital of Changsha, known for its nightlife and entertainment industry. He found it, and lot’s more besides.

If you have any interest in China, teaching English abroad, or the dynamics of cross-cultural relationships, these books are for you because…

This is China.

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This is China: Misadventures in the Middle Kingdom part 2 – Hunan Province is available now on paperback and ebook.

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Go here to see a complete list of the author’s books.

Back and Badder than Ever!

It’s been a while.

In my defence, I’ve been busy. After several years away working in London, in March 2019 I moved back to China. And right back into a world of drama. Within three months I had two more broken relationships to add to my collection and was in love with someone else, a girl who was in a long-term relationship with one of my colleagues. Awkward. The amount of fallout over that was unimaginable and might well require a book of its own. 

My new job was as a IELTS instructor at a private college in Guangzhou. I’d travelled to Guangdong before, but never lived there. The main difference, apart from the weather, is that the locals all speak Cantonese, which immediately rendered my limited knowledge of Mandarin useless. Damn. Another difference was the people, who all seemed much more money motivated that the people I’d met in other parts of the country. That might be an unfair generalization, I’m just speaking from my personal experience.

Falling back into that lifestyle started me thinking. I wasn’t 100% happy with my #1 Amazon bestseller Yellow Fever: Love & Sex in China. There were a lot of stories and anecdotes I had to leave out, either because they didn’t fit the narrative or because I plain forgot. The only solution was to re-write it, including all the material I’d wish I’d included the first time. You don’t get many second chances in life, so when one comes along you should grab it by the balls. Or the vagina, as the case may be.

By the time I finished, it was an entirely different book, so I had no option but to change the title. Now it’s called This is China: Misadventures in the Middle Kingdom.

Another problem was, after eight months of editing, polishing, and re-writing, I had far too much material to possibly cram into one book. The only solution was to break it up into a series, so that’s what I did.

It worked out like this:

This is China: Misadventures in the Middle Kingdom

Part 1 – The North

Part 2 – Hunan Province

Part 3 – The Wilderness Years

Part 4 – The South

Parts 1 and 2 are available now on paperback and reduced-price ebook.

Part 3 is coming soon.

Hold on to your hats!

YELLOW FEVER EXTRACT – Cherry Pie

When I got back to Changsha I had a message from a student of mine called, Cherry Pie. This was a girl who never went home during the holidays in case the family that adopted her put her to work in the paddy fields. She heard I was leaving the school, and wanted to go out for dinner to say goodbye. No problem. I took her to a restaurant near my apartment, where we had a long talk. At the end of the night, when the last bus to the other side of town was due, I reminded her because I didn’t want her to miss it. She stayed in her seat, looking at me with puppy dog eyes.

She didn’t want to leave.

We went for a walk instead, and then there was only one place we could go. My apartment. We hugged, we kissed, she took off her dress and we got in bed.

And then she told me she was a virgin. the irony of her being called ‘Cherry’ wasn’t lost on me.

Some guys might be into that kind of thing, but it weirded me out. Just to be clear here, she was twenty years of age. I didn’t want to be the one to take the most precious thing she had from her, especially as I was leaving so soon. So for once in my life, I did the right thing. Or at least, what I thought was the best thing for all parties. I left her in bed, went out and got drunk.

All night I asked myself what the fuck I was doing with my life. There was a hot, naked girl in my bed at home, a virgin no less, and I’d chosen to go out drinking by myself rather than give her what she so obviously wanted. I was conflicted.

I half-hoped she’d be gone by the time I got back. But when I tiptoed in a few hours later, Cherry Pie was still there, still awake, and pretty upset with me. She didn’t understand why I’d gone out and left her. In her mind, she’d offered me the most valuable thing she had to give, and I refused. It was the ultimate rejection.

She only spoke to me once more after that night, a couple of years later. She asked me if I regretted my decision. I said yes, I most definitely did. Sometimes, there’s a price to pay for doing the right thing.

This is an extract from the #1 Amazon Bestseller Yellow Fever: Love & Sex in China, available on ebook and paperback now.

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Dating Chinese Women – The Phone Number Conundrum

When you’re out and about in China, don’t be surprised if girls come up to you and ask for your phone number. Guys do it, too. That’s a little disconcerting, but is a product of the general kudos that comes with having foreign ‘friends,’ especially in the smaller towns and cities where it’s more of a novelty.

Take it in your stride and don’t get too excited. The phone number thing can lead to all kinds of misunderstandings. In Western culture, if a girl comes up and asks for your number, or even better, gives you hers, you could be forgiven for thinking you’d be onto a winner. Otherwise, she wouldn’t give you her number, right?

Wrong.

It’s not that simple in China. Most things aren’t that simple in China. There are huge cultural differences.

Let’s, for example, say that you are out walking one afternoon, meet a woman, make a bit of small talk and exchange phone numbers. You might go home and send her a text message. The odds are, she won’t reply.

Yeah, she might be busy, so you leave it a day or two and text her again.

No reply.

If she is especially hot, or you are especially desperate, you might try one more time.

Still no reply.

It’s at this point that most Western guys give up, because in our culture if a girl doesn’t reply to your messages she isn’t interested.

Not necessarily so in China.

There, they value patience and persistence much more than western girls do. If you ask Chinese couples to tell you how they met, it’s not unusual to hear slightly creepy tales of overly possessive behaviour and what, to our Western minds, sound a lot like stalking. One girl I know told me that her then-boyfriend won her over by standing outside her dormitory every night and following her whenever she went out. In the end, she just gave in and ‘accepted’ his love, whereas most Western women probably would have called the police.

If you concede defeat the girl will conclude you didn’t really like her much anyway, otherwise you wouldn’t have given up so easily.

Get it?

Extracted from the book Dating Chinese Women: Tips, Tricks & Techniques. Available in ebook and paperback NOW

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Lisa, the Thai Bar Girl

The moment we walked into this bar, the girl he’d met before made a beeline for Chris, and one of her friends, who happened to be one of the hottest girls I’d ever seen (at least with beer goggles on) came over and started stroking my leg. She was in her early twenties, and had platinum dyed blonde hair. I called her Lisa because I couldn’t pronounce her real name. She didn’t seem to mind. As we swigged beer, with me paying for the drinks, obviously, she told me she was a member of the Shan ethnic minority, predominantly from Myanmar but also to be found in China (some historians believe they originally migrated from Yunnan province), Laos and, yes, Thailand. Especially Chiang Mai.

For the next two hours, Lisa was the perfect companion. She was attentive, charming, funny. She laughed at my jokes and went to the bar to get my beer whenever my bottle ran empty. She didn’t ask for any expensive cocktails. She did ask me to buy her a beer, but then she gave it to me anyway.

At some point, she asked me if I would like to take her home. I absolutely did, but I needed to check something first. I told her that I was wary of ladyboys. “You think I’m a guy?” she asked, plucked, shaped eyebrows arching in surprise. She looked a little offended, which made me feel bad.

“You can never be too careful,” I said. I’d seen some very impressive-looking dudes during my time in Thailand. My fears were allayed when Lisa took my hand and put it up her skirt. There was no penis. The only thing hiding in her underwear was a deliciously shaven pussy, and it was already wet.

When the bar closed at midnight, we went for a meal with some of her colleagues, a ladyboy and a lesbian. It was possibly the most bizarre supper I’ve ever had, but they were good people. They even offered to pay for my meal. When we finished, Lisa and I walked back to Zz House. The place was quiet, the communal area deserted. Thankfully, everyone was in bed. There was no shame in taking home a bar girl. It’s pretty much accepted, and I made no secret of my intentions that night. I just prefer being discreet.

My room was on the ground floor. We went inside, sat on the bed, talked for a while, then she took off her dress. Her body was flawless. Soft, silky, slender and smooth. I put on a condom and pulled her on top of me so I could penetrate her from the bottom. She had large, pert breasts for an Asian girl, and I wanted to take full advantage of them.

Unusually for a working girl, it seemed she genuinely enjoyed it. Especially when I put her on her hands and knees and did her from behind. Believe it or not, I’ve fucked a lot of girls, including a fair amount of hookers, and I can tell when the moans are real and when they are fake. It felt like we had a genuine bond, which fit in with what other working girls in Thailand I’d talked to said about picking and choosing their clients.

At one point, I opened up and told her about the Lucy situation, and she said, “What do you expect? We have a saying in Thailand. If you date a Chinese or Japanese girl, you have a baby.”

I could see her point.

The whole experience with Lisa was like the perfect one night stand, from meeting an attractive girl in a bar, buying her drinks and making small talk all evening, then taking her home and fucking her brains out.

When we finished, she asked if she could stay the night because she was tired. I’d already hidden my passport, credit card, and cash, just in case, so I agreed, and we curled up naked and sweaty in each other’s arms.

This is an extract from Thailand: 27 days of Sin, available now on ebook and paperback.

27 Days

 

Finding Women in China – Off the Beaten Track

If going to bars and clubs isn’t your thing, don’t worry about it. You will also find an abundance of single ladies in shopping malls, cafes, supermarkets, parks, museums, libraries and public attractions of all descriptions.

Chinese women have pre-conceived ideas of what a ‘gentleman’ is, and it’s easy to play up to that. Introduce yourself and pretend to be lost, or ask for directions. A nice trick is to ask her opinion on something. This gives the impression that you value her thoughts and ideas. You can expect to be rejected a lot, obviously. But this is a numbers game, so the more women you approach the higher your chances become. It’s like being a footballer. The more shots you attempt, the more goals you score.

Approach them in much the same way you would a western girl, but with one crucial difference:

You don’t need any fancy openers here.

You’re foreign, so she’s already interested in what you have to say. Just be non-threatening, smile a lot, and over polite. Preface whatever you say with, “Excuse me, miss. Do you speak any English?” The vast majority speak at least some, but you are also giving her a convenient ‘get out’ clause. If she isn’t interested she can just say “no” and you can both move on.

Taking part in extra-curricular activities is another good way to meet women. Join a gym, a social club, or a Chinese class and look out for cultural events and activities like dumpling making and tea ceremony classes. Chinese women are very proud of their culture and history, and would love to tell you more about it. Also, the male-female ratio at most of these events is heavily weighted in your favour. Bonus.

If that’s too much trouble, volunteer for English corners or English clubs. You won’t have to spend too long looking for them. As soon as the people who run them find out there is a new foreigner in town, they’ll be begging you to get involved. Many private schools run such events to attract new students, and it isn’t unheard of for teachers at different places to swap duties and appear at each other’s English corners just to meet new women.

Extracted from the book Dating Chinese Women: Tips, Tricks & Techniques. Available in ebook and paperback NOW!

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Meeting Anna – A Chinese Love Story

One afternoon I was having lunch with a student in the school canteen, when I spotted a girl in a pretty yellow dress. I watched her for a while from a distance. She was fascinating. She was quite tall, slim, and moved with the kind of graceful finesse you only ever see in dancers. I couldn’t take my eyes off her.

“What are you looking at?” asked the student I was with.

“That girl,” I replied, wistfully. “She’s beautiful.”

“Which one?” he said, craning his neck. “I don’t see her.”

“She’s right there, in a yellow dress.”

“That one?” he asked, standing up and unashamedly pointing a finger.

“Yes.”

“Not beautiful,” he said, sitting back down. “What’s wrong with you?”

The conventional Chinese idea of beauty is very different to the western idea. To be considered attractive to Chinese guys, girls have to fulfil certain criteria. They should have big eyes, a small nose, high cheekbones, narrow jaw, and fair skin, and there is quite a lot of pressure on girls to tick as many of those boxes as they can. During my time in China, I was faced with more than one girl crying on my shoulder because she thought her eyes were too small.

That said, at least the student knew what he was looking for in a girl. When he asked me to describe my idea of beauty, I had no answer. Instead I just nodded at the girl in the yellow dress and said, “She’s fit.”

“If you like her,” he said, “Go ask her phone number. With face like that, she’s definitely single.”

That was a damning verdict if I ever heard one. It had a lot to do with the language barrier. He was trying gamely to communicate in something other than his native language. But the Chinese in general can be quite abrupt and pragmatic when they want to be. There’s very little room for niceties. The challenge also put me in a bad position as I’d spent the past hour giving the kid a motivational speech about being brave and going after what he wanted in life. I’d left myself no other option but to pull myself together and strut over.

I caught the girl just as she was leaving. Stepping into my confident shoes I introduced myself and asked for her phone number. The girl looked shocked and bewildered. For one awful moment, I thought she was going to run for the door.

“Mine?” she said, looking around.

“Yes. Yours.”

“But I never talk to foreigner before.”

“Cool. I can be your first.”

Her English name was Anna, and she was from Inner Mongolia, studying at a university in Tianjin, a city just north of Beijing. She was in town visiting her friend, and my student had been right, she was single.

We exchanged a few messages over the next couple of days and she came back to Beijing the following weekend, this time to see me. We went for a curry at a restaurant on one of the top levels of the U Centre, a shiny new shopping mall in Wudaokou. It was the first time she’d ever tried Indian food. In fact, it was probably the first time she’d tried anything else other than Chinese food. Anna was blessed with a childlike innocence it was hard not to like, and her enthusiasm knew no bounds. When she looked at me, her eyes would widen and everything I said or did was, “Very interesting!”

At the end of the evening I walked her to her friend’s place where she was staying, thanked her for her time and turned to walk away. Then I heard her call my name and turned around.

“I miss you,” she said.

“You can’t miss me,” I replied, a little confused. “I haven’t even gone yet.”

“I want to see your apartment.”

I tried to do the right thing and dissuade her. Honest. I had plans to meet Phil and Dave, the other foreign teachers, at a nearby bar for a drink that night. But she was adamant. They say it’s the quiet ones you need to watch, and in this case ‘they’ were right. The moment we were through the door, she was tugging at my jeans.

I have a theory about this. I think Chinese society is so restrictive that a lot of people feel they have to rebel against it, though not in an overt way because that would draw attention to them, so they contain themselves until opportunities like this arise. Then, with all the pent-up tension and frustration, all hell breaks loose and they over-compensate. Within minutes, Anna had my cock in her mouth and was slurping at it greedily.

And that was when Phil and Dave decided to call.

I did what anyone else would probably have done, and let the phone ring. Fuck it.

“Aren’t you going to answer that?” asked Anna, through a mouth full of cock.

“It can wait.”

“Answer it.”

I answered it. Then proceeded to have a very awkward conversation with Phil and Dave about why I couldn’t meet them.

“Tell them what I doing to you,” Anna said, looking up at me.

“Are you sure?”

“Tell them.”

“I can’t come out because a girl I met in the canteen is giving me a blow job.”

“Fuck off!”

“Seriously.”

It soon became apparent that Anna wasn’t so innocent, after all. She loved sex, and had a penchant for doing it in public places. The more risqué the better. In the coming weeks we did it in at least two public parks and next to the lake at the Summer Palace, which I’m pretty sure is a crime punishable by death. She just undid my flies, hitched up her dress, and sat on me while I was relaxing on a bench.

One day, she asked me what the worst word in the English language was. I thought about it for a while, then decided ‘cunt’ was about as bad as it gets and told her what it meant. A few weeks later, she sent possibly the most disturbing text message I’ve ever received in my life.

MY HONEY, TODAY I AM NOT FEEL SO GOOD. MY CUNT IS BLEEDING.

Wow.

Extracted from the #1 Amazon Bestseller Yellow Fever: Love & Sex in China, out now on ebook and paperback.

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