In China, an invitation to tea in used to be a benign event. Now it may be risky.
Among Chinese dissidents – which typically includes journalists, artists, and free-thinkers – “to be invited for tea” has become a euphemism for being questioned by the police.
According to the BBC News:
The invitation comes from the authorities in the form of a phone call, and a knock on the door.
Those being invited range from celebrities who have expressed strong views on a topical issue to well-known dissidents and young people who get bold on the internet.
The questioning normally lasts a few hours – tea might or might not be drunk during the session. The security people will ask you about your activities and issue warnings to stop or face the consequences.
The book Encounters with the Police documents the experiences of 21 human rights activists and other people who were “invited to tea” as a form of police harassment. It’s written by Hua Ze, a journalist and documentary-maker, and Prof Xu Youyu, an outspoken political scholar. (More at the BBC)