What do the officers want Chiu to do in "Saboteur"? Why might this be important to the police?

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The police officers want Chiu to sign a false confession admitting that he is a saboteur. The forced confession is one of many tactics the police use to exert control over anyone who might oppose them. It also reveals their disregard for the truth and the extent of their corruption.

The story takes place in China following the Cultural Revolution and the rise of the Communist Party. The Communist platform emphasizes that everyone is equal, which poses a threat to those in positions of power and privilege, such as law enforcement. The police want to send a message that they are still in charge. Because Chiu is a university professor and Communist Party member, he is an ideal target.

A police officer throws tea on Chiu and his wife for no apparent reason, yet Chiu is arrested for calling out the senseless attack. By intimidating others at the cafe, the police collect many witness statements indicating that Chiu instigated the conflict and is solely to blame. When Chiu’s student attempts to secure his release, he, too, is arrested as a co-conspirator.

The police deny Chiu medical care and keep him in jail until he finally submits and signs the confession. While Chiu initially believed in the principles of equality and justice, his harsh treatment at the hands of the police leaves him disillusioned. When he is released, he eats and drinks at multiple establishments to deliberately spread his hepatitis infection. The author demonstrates how an oppressed person often responds by victimizing others.

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