Here’s the messy inside story of how DC got Beijing to clean up its act for a while.
KEVIN AND JULIA Garratt had spent nearly all of their adult lives in China. A devout Christian couple in their fifties with an entrepreneurial streak, they operated a café called Peter’s Coffee House, a popular destination in the city of Dandong, according to TripAdvisor.
Dandong is a sprawling border town that sits just across the Yalu River from North Korea. For tourists and expats, the Garratts’ coffee shop—just a short walk from the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge—was a hub of Western conversation and comfort food. “After time in North Korea a decent cup of coffee was one of those things I was really looking forward to,” one Australian tourist wrote in early 2014. “Peter’s was a perfect place.”
The Garratts had come to China from Canada in the 1980s as English teachers. They lived in six different Chinese cities over the years, raising four children along the way, before settling in Dandong. From their perch near the border, they helped provide aid and food to North Korea, supporting an orphanage there and doing volunteer work around Dandong itself. The Garratts had a strong social network in the city, so it didn’t seem odd to either of them when they were invited out to dinner by Chinese acquaintances of a friend who wanted advice on how their daughter could apply to college in Canada.GARRETT M. GRAFF