In his latest book Passport to Peking: A Very British Mission to Mao’s China, journalist and author Patrick Wright tells the story of the British delegations that took up Prime Minister En-lai’s invitation to ‘come and see’ the New China on the fifth anniversary of the communist victory in 1954. Here, Wright answers a few questions I had about this intense era of diplomacy – when it ended and how it went wrong.
By David A. Steinberg
London essentially determined Burmese independence, although the cry for an independent Burma by the Burmese was long, loud, and clear. Following World War II, there were thousands of Burmese with arms who might have made retention of British control very tenuous. Winston Churchill said he was not about to see the dissolution of the British Empire, but the Labour Party won the postwar elections. India was bound to become independent, and Burma would certainly follow. England was exhausted by the war; holding onto their colonies in the face of rising nationalism seemed impossible. Inevitable independence, then, should be gracefully granted. What kind of independence, and whether independent Burma would be divided between Burma Proper and a separate minority area was unclear. Some in England wanted to try Aung San as a traitor because he backed the Japanese before and during most of the war,
By Patrick Wright
On 1 October 1954, Sir Hugh Casson, the urbane professor of interior design who had been director of architecture at the Festival of Britain, found himself standing by the Tiananmen Gate in the ancient and still walled city of Peking. In China to present a statement of friendship signed by nearly 700 British scientists and artists, he was watching a parade that the reporter James Cameron reckoned to be “the greatest show on earth”.
Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom is a Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine. His new book, China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know, covers everything form Confucius and Mao to Internet censorship. Yesterday we posted a China quiz. Below are the answers. For more China questions check out another quiz by Wasserstrom that appeared on The China Beat.
Jeffrey N. Wasserstrom is a Professor of History at the University of California, Irvine. His new book, China in the 21st Century: What Everyone Needs to Know, covers everything form Confucius and Mao to Internet censorship. In the post below Wasserstrom poses some questions about China that you can find the answers to in his book. See if you can answer them in the comments. We will post the answers tomorrow. For more China questions check out another quiz by Wasserstrom that appeared on The China Beat.
An excerpt from Shameful Flight: The Last Years of the British Empire in India.