【明報專訊】Liaison visits were an important feature of border policing in the mid-1990s with the looming handover of the sovereignty of Hong Kong to China. It was our turn to visit the People's Liberation Army (PLA) in Shenzhen and they always proved very sociable and liberal with their alcohol of choice, maotai (茅台), virtually tasteless but probably 100 proof. They delighted in trying to get expatriate officers inebriated (灌醉) in drinking contests with toasts to anything that occurred to them. In order to preserve my liver, I enlisted the help of a large, South African PTU officer with the constitution of a bull (健壯如牛), to join our delegation. After the business of intelligence sharing on illegal immigration issues and plans for possible joint operations, we sat down for lunch and the usual round of toasts. With my Afrikaans officer cheerfully slugging cups of maotai in response to raucous toasts, it occurred to me that our hosts never seemed to get the worse for wear.