The Kims, père et fils.
If the quickest way to get some insight into a phenomenon is to look at its most extreme manifestations, the student of modern totalitarianism can do no better than to curl up for half an hour with a copy of the Pyongyang Times, an English-language weekly newspaper published in North Korea. Take the occasion when... Read More
Teaching Eng. Lit. in China.
Everybody knows the frustration of having to explain a joke. Teaching the literature of one's country to foreign students is something like explaining jokes for a living. This has been my living for the past few months, as resident "Foreign Expert" in the English department of a teachers' college in North China. My course is... Read More
Chou: the Story of Zhou Enlai, 1898-1976, by Dick Wilson
Father is somewhat irresponsible, given to childish enthusiasms, extravagant habits and disgraceful infidelities. He is not really very mature. It is Mother who holds the family together. She controls the household finances as best she can, keeps the children fed and clothed, and pacifies the neighbours. Sometimes she argues with Father; but when his mind... Read More
Pouring cold water on mid-1980s enthusiasm for China.
When you go to China they give you a banquet. The format of these functions is always the same, whether you are President of the United States or the export manager of Nuts & Washers, Ltd — though of course there are differences of scale. Smiling officials usher you to the seat of honour. The... Read More
An attack on the TV series The Heart of the Dragon.
The Heart of the Dragon — Channel 4's series on life in China, has attracted much attention. But, as one who has lived in the People's Republic in close contact with ordinary Chinese, I feel qualified to say that the creators of this series have been taken for a ride. I am sure the filmmakers... Read More
Dateline: Beijing, China, May 1, 2001. The Chinese government today issued the following important declaration: To the governments of Thailand, United Korea, Vietnam, Japan, Indonesia, the Philippines, and other East Asian nations: (1) Whereas the People's Republic of China is currently experiencing a severe temporary shortage of the necessary means of reproduction, namely young women... Read More
The difficulty of economic reform in China.
I have a friend in China — let us call him Wu Ming — who is a schoolteacher. His salary is £20 a month. He lives in a bare concrete dormitory with other single men and eats canteen food (which is awful). Wu Ming's hobby is electronics. He's quite a wizard — once I needed... Read More
Stones of the Wall, by Dai Houying
To Get Rich is Glorious, by Orville Schell
Since 1978 China has been settling down into an easy-going style of traditional oriental despotism, a re-tread of the old imperial order. For 30 years before that date, however, the country was a laboratory for experiments in chiliastic socialism. All the experiments were failures, of course; each one left behind a desert of abandoned marriages,... Read More
Strategy for Survival, by Chiao Chiao Hsieh
An acquaintance of mine arrived in Taiwan (alias the "republic of China") in 1971, the week after Nixon announced his intention to visit Peking. The air was thick with anxiety. Those who had somewhere to go were preparing to leave, considering that, with the collapse of American support and the anticipated expulsion from the U.N.,... Read More
The Soong Dynasty, by Sterling Seagrave
There were once three sisters. The first loved money; the second loved her country; the third loved power. What a great idea for a novel! Let's see … First sister marries a banker and becomes immensely rich. Second sister elopes with a middle-aged revolutionary. Marvellous! You can imagine the publisher reaching for his cheque-book already.... Read More
Letter to the Editor
As a long-time subscriber to your newsweekly I wish to bring to your attention an unfortunate skew in your coverage of world events, namely your overemphasis on Europe and your under-reporting of the Far East. Such an observation may seem curious since your newsweekly clearly contains the best and most comprehensive western coverage of the... Read More
An account of my marriage.
On Thursday we went to the Civil Affairs Office. Like most substantial buildings in Manchuria, this one dated from the Japanese occupation. It had certainly not seen a coat of paint since Liberation. Running round all the interior walls was a sort of dado of black grime reaching to shoulder height, where generations of citizens... Read More
Chinese Intellectuals in Crisis, by Hao Chang
The last twenty years of the Ch'ing dynasty (1644-1911) were not a happy time for Chinese intellectuals. It was bad enough to find oneself living at the wrong end of a dynastic cycle, when the measured tones of ancient rationalism were being drowned out by the rising din of institutional collapse; but for that circumstance... Read More
The Chinese Democratic Party gives a press conference.
The Chinese Democratic Party presented itself to the world on the afternoon of 8 May at a restaurant in New York's Chinatown. The world was represented by: a Japanese reporter somewhat the worse for drink, who kept falling asleep, two people from the New York Tribune (one of the Revd Mr Moon's enterprises), someone from... Read More
Shanghai, by Harriet Sergeant
Just how naughty was old Shanghai? All of us have, mouldering away somewhere in that recess of the imagination labelled POST-COLONIAL GUILT, some picture of infant prostitutes dying in gutters while slitty-eyed gangsters swill champagne with European nobs. Was it really like that? Or did the Commies make it all up? Harriet Sergeant has looked... Read More
Hungry Ghosts, by Jasper Becker
The greatest human calamity of our century — greater than the Holocaust, greater than World War Two itself — was the famine that swept China in the "three bad years" 1959-61. At least thirty million died. For a long time the Chinese authorities and their shills in the West denied that there had been a... Read More
With the release of the Cox Commission report, the growing national hysteria regarding relations with China has reached troubling, even alarming, proportions. Growing international hostility between America and China rather than apparent Chinese spying in America is the far greater threat to our national security. The basic conclusions of the Cox Report are certainly correct:... Read More
China's colonial problem in Eastern Turkestan.
Western reporting on China's problems with her minorities tends to concentrate on Tibet. The spectacle of a picturesque and eccentric culture (the Younghusband expedition of 1904 found that the Tibetan official they were dealing with bore the title "Grand Metaphysician") being stomped into the dust by a brutish and amoral despotism naturally arouses our sympathy.... Read More
I am going to ask what Churchill would have called some naughty questions and offer some impertinent answers. I apologize in advance for the extreme political incorrectness of what follows. In the hope of persuading the reader that I raise these issues with no pleasure at all, I shall preface them with some personal notes.... Read More
Colors of the Mountain, by Da Chen
Another memoir about growing up in Communist China? There are enough of these now to form a well-established genre, from Tung Chi-ping's The Thought Revolution (1967) and Ken Ling's Red Guard (1972) through Liang Heng's Son of the Revolution (1983) to Jung Chang's Wild Swans (1991) with many, many others in between and since. Surely... Read More
And we could help.
Macao, Portugal's 400-year-old colony across the Pearl River estuary from Hong Hong, returned to Chinese sovereignty at midnight on December 19th-20th last. Considering that the place is tiny — eight miles from end to end, pop. 450,000 — and has no discernible economy — gambling and prostitution are the staples — and that the Portuguese... Read More
The March 18 elections in Taiwan.
————————— In the minds of Chinese people, the modern history of their country is marked off by "incidents," most of them unknown to the general Western public. Each incident is remembered by the digits of the month and day on which it occurred. The grandaddy of all these milestones is "Five Four": May 4th 1919,... Read More
Hegemon, by Steven Mosher
Steven Mosher is a hero to those of us who hate and fear the current Chinese government. He has the honor of having been persona non grata in the People's Republic for twenty years — longer, I think, than any other American scholar. Mosher was the first social scientist from this country invited to do... Read More
One of the members of my Human Biodiversity e-mail group recently posted a small historical gem: a letter to the London Times, dated June 5th 1873, from the great 19th-century English biologist
The China Threat, by Bill Gertz
In the middle 1930s, as Hitler consolidated his power in Germany and began re-arming that country in earnest, the facts of the situation were duly reported back to the British foreign secretary, Sir John Simon. However, Sir John, as one of his underlings later remarked, did not want to know "uncomfortable things." Still less did... Read More