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When the editor asked me along with other ex-editors to offer some thoughts on the occasion of The China Quarterly's 50th anniversary, I was at a loss. At the celebration which David Shambaugh held for the 35th anniversary in 1995, I wrote fairly extensively about the founding and early development of the journal (No.143, pp. 692–96) and did not have much to add. So I made the suggestion that I should reprise a special feature of the first China Quarterly. For that founding issue, I solicited a number of senior Sinologues to give their appraisal of the PRC on the occasion of its tenth anniversary. Could I, now senior, be given a similar opportunity to look back at the founding of the PRC on the occasion of its 60th anniversary? This article is the consequence of the editor's kind agreement.
Regarding the question of hanging the portraits of our leaders, the Central Authorities made a clear ruling as early as 29 March 1960… “In the organizations for ehe Party, the People's Liberation Army and the people's associations of various kinds, it is permitted to hang the portrait of Mao Tse-tung alone; it is also permitted to hang the portrait of Mao Tse-tung, Liu Shao-ch'i, Chou En-lai, Chu Te, Ch'en Yun, Lin Piao, Teng Hsiao-p'ing, seven persons. The manner of hanging these portraits is: if it is desirable to hang the seven portraits of Mao, Liu, Chou, Chu, Ch'en, Lin, Teng together, the portrait of Mao Tse-tung can be placed in the centre and the others on the two sides. It is also suitable to put the portrait of Mao Tse-tung in the first place and the others in order as indicated, and from left to right. According to our understanding there are now not a few units, especially the primary level units, which have not hung the portraits as described above. We are asking these units to inspect carefully the way in which these instructions have been carried out so that we may have a unified system according to the regulations of the Central Authorities.
The twentieth anniversary of the Chinese Communist regime, unlike the tenth, is an appropriate time for retrospection and appraisal. A decade ago, the revelation of statistical exaggeration during the Great Leap Forward underlined Mao's inability to discover a sure-fire method of economic development. With Soviet-style methods previously found wanting and mass mobilization now proved inadequate also, it was not clear where China would go next economically. Politically, Mao had just faced the first major challenge to his personal authority since the late 1930s. Would the leadership be able to close ranks or would there be further splits? In foreign policy, China had clearly adopted a more militant line. The crucial question, as Khrushchev flew to Peking for the tenth anniversary celebrations fresh from his meetings with Eisenhower, was how the Chinese leadership would react to their guest's advocacy of peaceful coexistence with the imperialist bloc.
China, China Studies and The China Quarterly: A Symposium of Editorial Reflections on the Occasion of the 35th Anniversary of The China Quarterly
In the beginning was Soviet Survey, published in London by the Paris-based Congress for Cultural Freedom (CCF). The Hundred Flowers episode sparked a special issue, the communes a special supplement. The editors of Soviet Survey persuaded Paris HQ that China had become interesting enough to merit its own journal. I had contributed to the Soviet Survey Hundred Flowers issue and in 1958 the CCF had commissioned me to prepare a documentary volume on the theme (The Hundred Flowers Campaign and the Chinese Intellectuals in the United States). In early 1959, Walter Laqueur, then Soviet Survey's principal editor, asked me to edit a new journal on China.
This is a report of a short trip made in November 1997 to investigate the workings of the Provincial People's Congresses (sheng renda: PPCs) in Shandong and Heilongjiang as part of a more general enquiry into the democratic possibilities of the mainland's renda (NPC) system in the light of democratization in Taiwan. The visit was somewhat zouma kanhua, but since the Heilongjiang PPC at least had never before had an English-speaking visitor, some of the observations are possibly worth wider currency.
When I was appointed editor of the CQ in 1959, my vision was that it should focus primarily on all aspects of the People's Republic of China (PRC) and on Chinese Communist Party (CCP) history, but that there should also be occasional articles on contemporary Taiwan and the overseas Chinese. That autumn, I did a quick tour of a few American campuses to try to drum up contributors; basically I needed social scientists. But even those universities with significant China programmes were peopled mainly by historians who were not doing research on the PRC. Benjamin Schwartz at Harvard, who had already published Chinese Communism and the Rise of Mao, did write articles from time to time on the current scene; at MIT, Lucian Pye was ensuring that political scientists should incorporate East Asia into analyses of comparative politics; at Berkeley, Franz Schurmann (a Yuan historian in an earlier incarnation) was engaged in what became Ideology and Organization in Communist China, S.H. Chen was interested in contemporary mainland literature, and Choh-ming Li (like Alexander Eckstein at Michigan) was studying the economy; at Columbia, C. Martin Wilbur was working on the documents captured when the Soviet embassy in Beijing was raided in the 1920s, but Doak Barnett would not get there till the end of 1960; the only real nest of social scientists examining Chinese behaviour on a daily basis that I found on that trip was located at RAND: Allen Whiting, A.M. Halpern and Alice Langley Hsieh, all working on Chinese foreign relations. The shock of the launch of the first sputnik in 1957 had already led the US government to allocate massive funds to academia for the training of specialists on Russia and China, but the first beneficiaries of the largesse did not start coming out of the pipeline until the late 1960s. With so few potential contributors available, I stopped reviewing China books in case I offended any of them! But the scarcity of talent was also an advantage, for Western and Asian China watchers – diplomats in Beijing, journalists in Hong Kong, businessmen travelling in and out – all subscribed, making the CQ the house magazine of a growing community.