The good news: A minor incident in Shenzhen (you'll read about that... three blog posts from now. I'm still catching up.) did not result in my passport being blacklisted by the Chinese government. And my stay in Taiwan (four posts from now) was wonderful and rewarding.
The bad news: For whatever reason - it's possible that my recent multiple entries into China, combined with my application for a double-entry 90-day visa, set off some flags - the consular authorities in Manila decided to limit my visa to 30 days. This happens to be precisely the sort of short-term visa I had come to the Philippines to avoid, canceling my flight to Hong Kong and rebooking a more expensive route to Manila and then Shanghai.
They did give me a double-entry, which is useful, and means that I can leave the country after 29 days and return five minutes later to secure another 30 days of use. What makes this annoying is that there are no borders less than a 12-hour train ride from Beijing (or 5 days walking); what makes it slightly nerve-wracking is that after two months I will be facing the problem of securing a visa for the next leg of my stay, from March through May. Fortunately, I know someone who knows someone, who, for a fee...
And if that doesn't work out, I can always go to Ulaanbaatar and get a new visa there.
It's all rather indefinite, and above all expensive - which, despite my modest cash reserves, might mean the early demise of my new grand plan for a summer internship in Zambia. But we'll see. For now, 前进，前进，前进！(That's the "marchons" of the Chinese national anthem.) I'm pretty sure things will work themselves out.
("Conveyed, my humble best wishes.")