But that just goes with the territory when reporting on today's China and its many contradictions.
Jonathan was invited on the base by an Internet addiction expert, Tao Ran. "He was surprisingly open-minded and progressive. He was happy to show off the rehab center, and clearly eager to gain more international exposure for his research," says Jonathan.
But the rehab center was located smack-dab inside the base , which has strict rules about visitorsâ€“ rules that were apparently bent at least a little for Jonathan's visit.
Dr. Tao's nervous assistant emphasized to Jonathan and Monitor news assistant Zhang Yajun that absolutely no photos were to be taken outside the rehab building itself.
Later, she fretted about a short walk to another building across the base to view Internet addicts participating in team-building exercises.
"She did not want me seen by soldiers or officials on the base, so I was told to pull my hat down and wrap my scarf around my face," says Jonathan.
The assistant first peeped outside to make sure no one was marching past, then gave the "all clear" sign, and Tao, Jonathan, and Yajun scurried across to the other building.
"But I couldn't help wondering if the face-covering might backfire. What if passing PLA soldiers mistook me for a bespectacled Uighur terrorist? Happily, though, the operation was successful," he says.
â€“ David Clark Scott