February 26, 2023 at 1:00:00 AM
When the PRC came to New York:
The extraordinary foreign affairs group China sent to New York in 1971 and what became of them
Presenter / Panelists
Mark Sidel Doyle-Bascom Professor of Law and Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Jan Berris Vice President, National Committee on United States-China Relations
In the fall of 1971, Zhou Enlai selected an extraordinary group of Chinese foreign affairs officials to send to New York to open China’s Mission to the United Nations after the PRC regained its UN seat that November. The group that lived and worked in New York in the years that followed were arguably the most outstanding collection of foreign affairs officials that China has ever gathered in one place outside China. In these early years they managed major aspects of China’s relations with the United States government and people-to-people relations as well as China’s representation in the UN.
They came from a variety of Chinese institutions (not just the Foreign Ministry). They included, beginning a couple of years after 1971, five children sent to study in New York on a special program approved by Mao Zedong, two of whom are well-known in China today.
The years from 1971 to after Mao’s death in 1976 were tremendously eventful for this small group. One was murdered in their original hotel. They had to decipher and try to manage the conflicts over the PRC and Taiwan that fiercely, sometimes violently, split Chinese communities in the US. They had to figure out Andy Warhol, and what to do about interviews with Jiang Qing on instructions from Beijing (when Jiang Qing was still a major political figure in China). They had to very quickly figure out the complexities of New York real estate for a growing band of diplomats. Professor Sidel will review a number of these events and what became of key figures in this group.
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