Interview: Author Murong Xuecun (慕容雪村) on his Undercover Role Investigating a Chinese Pyramid Scheme

Murong Xuecun has gained a name for himself through his unflattering vignettes of gambling, drinking, whoring and corruption in contemporary China. His best-seller, Leave me Alone: A Novel of Chengdu (成都,今夜请将我遗忘), prompted the authorities to convene a conference solely to critique the novel for sullying the Sichuan city’s image.

But in a change of tack away from fiction writing, early this year the author decided to experience—first hand—just how a “direct selling” operation in Jiangxi’s Shangrao recruits and gains control over its members. His revelations hit the stands as the cover story for Southern Metropolis Weekly’s April 19 edition: “Murong Xuecun—Undercover 23 Days in a Pyramid Selling Organization” (慕容雪村卧底传销23天之一).

Read my interview with Murong Xuecun about how he did it, and why.


  1. “the omnipresent sex industry, bribery of officials, ruthless exploitation of migrant workers.”

    When I read this line, I burst out laughing. I’m in the states and live in the San Francisco Bay area. That line could have been about the US.

    The US has its share of illegal migrant workers too. The US has a HUGE sex industry and we are always reading about some politician who got caught doing something wrong.

    But, since China has almost five times the number of people, these types of problems are probably five times higher than the US–maybe.

    In fact, the US had the KING of the pyramid schemes–Bernie Madoff and he wasn’t alone. After Bernie got caught a slew of others floated to the top of the oil slick.

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