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TitleForeigners Under Mao: Western Lives in China, 1949-1976
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LanguageEnglish
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FOREIGNERS UNDER M
AO

Western Lives in China, 1949–1976
B E V E R L E Y H O O P E R

FOREIGNERS

UNDER
MAO

Western Lives in China, 1949–1976

W
estern Lives in C

hina,
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FOREIGNERS UNDER MAO

Foreigners under Mao: Western Lives in China, 1949–1976 is a pioneering study of the
Western community during the turbulent Mao era. Based largely on personal interviews,
memoirs, private letters, and archives, this book ‘gives a voice’ to the Westerners who
lived under Mao. It shows that China was not as closed to Western residents as has often
been portrayed.

The book examines the lives of six different groups of Westerners: ‘foreign comrades’
who made their home in Mao’s China, twenty-two former Korean War POWs who
controversially chose China ahead of repatriation, diplomats of Western countries that
recognized the People’s Republic, the few foreign correspondents permitted to work in
China, ‘foreign experts’, and language students. Each of these groups led distinct lives
under Mao, while sharing the experience of a highly politicized society and of of�cial
measures to isolate them from everyday China.

‘This book is enjoyable and engaging. The author introduces a small but dynamic
collection of enthusiastic international participants in post-1949 China showing
unquestioned loyalty to Mao’s ideals. Equally intriguing are the alternate stories of
diplomats and reporters existing far outside the mainstream of Chinese life and trusted by
neither the Chinese nor the international supporters.’

—Edgar A. Porter, Professor Emeritus, Ritsumeikan Asia Paci�c University; author
of The People’s Doctor: George Hatem and China’s Revolution

‘A well-written survey about the variety of Westerners who lived and worked in the
People’s Republic of China between 1949 and 1976. This is a welcome addition to the
“sojourner” literature about foreigners who lived in twentieth-century socialist countries.
The scholarship, which includes the review of memoirs, archival materials, and secondary
works, is impressive and comprehensive.’

—Stephen R. MacKinnon, Arizona State University; co-author of China Reporting:
An Oral History of American Journalism in the 1930s and 1940s

Beverley Hooper is emeritus professor of Chinese studies at the
University of Shef�eld in the UK. She is the author of Inside Peking,
Youth in China and China Stands Up: Ending the Western Presence
1948–1950.

China / History

Printed and bound in Hong Kong, China

Hooper_hc.indd 1 23/05/2016 8:21 AM

Page 2

Foreigners under Mao

Page 152

‘Our life and hard times’ 139

offi cials listened to it several times and one, who spoke English, insisted on knowing
what “begonias” were.’

Despite the occasional direct confrontation, everyday life for Peking’s correspond-
ents was generally less psychologically stressful than it was for their counterparts in
the Soviet Union, whose experiences were vividly portrayed in Whitman Bassow’s
book Th e Moscow Correspondents. ‘Th e Soviet Government held an array of weapons
to cow [sic] the most intrepid reporters, including fear, intimidation, and surveil-
lance.’44 Correspondents were trailed, sometimes day and night, regularly abused in
the media, and had to be on constant guard against sexual or fi nancial entrapment.
David Bonavia, whose Peking posting followed three years in Moscow, acknowledged
that the Chinese authorities mostly shunned the Russians’ methods. ‘Th is is not to
say that the journalist’s work is easier in China than in the Soviet Union. Any for-
eigner trying to investigate actual conditions in China may be met with a near-solid
wall of misleading platitudes or downright lies.’45

‘Zhou Enlai loved the people.’ Reuters’ Peter Griffi ths took this photo in Tiananmen Square on
4 April 1976. (Courtesy of Peter Griffi ths)

Page 153

Mao’s China was a striking example of Ulf Hannerz’s research fi nding that foreign
correspondents were likely to stick together more closely ‘in cities where there were
few of them’. Th is was particularly the case when ‘they were living under tough condi-
tions and perhaps in an adversarial or at least closely guarded relationship with the
host society and especially its government’.1

With a paucity of information at their disposal, Peking’s correspondents oft en
shared whatever was available, whether in the ‘informal three man press club’ in
the late 1950s, as Nossal described it (himself, Reuters’ Ronald Farquhar and AFP’s
Bernard Ullman), or later. Vergil Berger recalled the mid-1960s:

Th e other three Westerners and I—by then the German news agency DPA had
a representative in Peking—had a curious relationship which we studiously kept
completely secret from our employers in London, Paris, Hamburg, and Toronto.
We quite oft en shared or exchanged information, especially on stories which we
feared might be sensitive or get us into trouble with the authorities. Th ere was
some safety in numbers and we felt more secure if we all covered something
controversial. We would also sometimes check rumours with each other and try
jointly to evaluate how seriously to take them.2

Th is was also largely true of the expanded press corps of the mid-seventies. ‘Many of
us in the Western press community shared a lot,’ Reuters’ Jonathan Sharp recalled.
‘Rare was the day when I was not in contact with Western colleagues to share gossip,
titbits, discuss what the hell the latest People’s Daily editorial meant, and so on.’3

Th e tiny size of the Western correspondent community also prompted more
contact with correspondents from the Eastern bloc than was usually the case during
the Cold War era. In the mid-1960s, the four Westerners were outnumbered by fi ft een
correspondents from the Soviet Union and other communist countries.4 (Th ere were
also eight correspondents from Japan which, despite the lack of diplomatic relations,
signed an agreement in 1964 for an exchange of correspondents.) As Peking’s rela-
tions with Moscow became increasingly vitriolic, Reuters’ Adam Kellett-Long and
his wife Mary socialized regularly with Eastern bloc correspondents. ‘We were all in
the enemy camp, if you like. It was a very unusual situation.’5 Th ere were evenings

10
� e web of relationships

Page 304

Index 291

Wilson, Harold, 113
Winnington, Alan, 20, 24, 35, 38, 39, 125,

136, 141; criticism of other ‘foreign
comrades’, 29, 39; and Korean War
POWs, 51, 55, 56, 60, 64, 66

Winnington, Esther, 35, 39, 64
Winter, Robert (Bob), 17–18, 26–29, 33, 34,

38–39, 45, 60
Wolin, Richard, 189
women, 26; Chinese, 5, 11, 44, 51, 61, 62–64,

179–80, 189, 216, 217; Western, 12, 14,
15, 18, 32, 46, 51, 61, 62, 92, 115, 119,
209, 218–19, 229–31

Wong, Jan, 220
Wood, Frances, 199, 218–19, 233, 245
Wood, Shirley, 18
‘worker, peasant, soldier’ students, 174, 206,

209
World Bank, 241
World Peace Council, 196
World War II, 52, 114, 120
Wright, Elizabeth, 246
Writers’ Federation, 102
Wu De, 138
Wuhan, 73, 75, 92, 170; POWs in, 58, 60,

62, 68; University, 57, 58, 62–63, 68;
University of Technology, 63

wu hu si hai, 245
Wu Shiliang, 96, 97, 240

Xi’an, 26, 92, 170, 213, 233; Foreign
Languages Institute, 181–83

xifang ‘hong erdai’ (Western ‘second red
generation’), 245

Xinhua (New China News Agency), 24,
55, 125, 129, 130, 131, 132, 153, 241;
correspondents in Europe, 3, 126, 153;
correspondents in Hong Kong, 115,
149; foreign experts at, 15, 26, 125, 141,
149

Xinjiang, 104, 238
Xin Lihua, 74
Xinqiao Hotel, 63, 128–29, 149, 187–88, 204,

239
Xiong, Rose, 64, 252n54
Xi Shaoying, 24
Xue Ping, 149

Yale University, 18, 27
Yalu River, 55, 56
Yan’an, 25, 29, 92, 156, 202; foreigners at, 13,

14, 15, 17, 19, 20, 29, 31, 37, 38, 244
Yang, Gladys, 23, 27, 35, 36, 61, 69, 74;

contact with diplomats, 95–96;
contact with the West, 31, 33; Cultural
Revolution and, 41, 185–86; friend-
ships, 38–39, 61, 70, 95, 177; imprison-
ment, 43–44, 46, 235, 236; marriage, 18,
19; post-Mao era, 242, 245–46

Yang Xianyi, 18, 19, 27, 36, 61, 177, 236,
242, 245, 246; contact with diplomats,
95–96; imprisonment, 43, 45

Yang Ye, 35, 36
Yang Ying, 35, 36
Yang Zhi, 36
Yangzi, 69, 92
Yanjing University, 199, 239
Yao Wenyuan, 144
Ye, Ting-xing, 179, 209
Yeh, Marcelia Vance, 248n24
Yin Luoyi, 220
Ying, Esther Cheo. See Winnington, Esther
Ying, Julia. See Wu Shilian
Ying, Stephen. See Ying Ruocheng
Ying Da, 97
Ying Qianli, 96
Ying Ruocheng, 96–97, 240
Youde, Edward (Teddy), 81, 82, 96, 246
Youde, Pamela (née Fitt), 82, 84, 85, 88, 91,

97, 98
Young Communist League, 166
youyi binguan. See Friendship Hotel
Yu, Andrew, 97–98
Yu, Antoine, 97–98
Yu, Odilon, 97 –98
Yue Daiyun, 212
Yugoslavia, embassy of, 142
Yugoslav residents in China: students, 62,

141, 217

Zhang Chunqiao, 144
Zhang Hanzhi, 179
Zhang Jian, 205
Zhang Shizhao, 179
Zhao Ziyang, 245

Page 305

292 Index

Zheng Wang, 3
Zhou Enlai, 2, 67, 82, 108, 109, 110, 111, 126,

138, 139, 165, 179; Cultural Revolution
and, 43, 115, 186; death, 138, 139, 143,
233; and foreign comrades, 25, 29, 33,
165; and Yan’an, 13, 14

Zhou Sufei, 14, 34, 37

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