The Man on Mao's Right: From Harvard Yard to Tiananmen Square, My Life Inside China's Foreign Ministry
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No other narrative from within the corridors of power has offered as frank and intimate an account of the making of the modern Chinese nation as Ji Chaozhu’s The Man on Mao’s Right. Having served Chairman Mao Zedong and the Communist leadership for two decades, and having become a key figure in China’s foreign policy, Ji now provides an honest, detailed account of the personalities and events that shaped today’s People’s Republic.
The youngest son of a prosperous government official, nine-year-old Ji and his family fled Japanese invaders in the late 1930s, escaping to America. Warmly received by his new country, Ji returned its embrace as he came of age in New York’s East Village and then attended Harvard University. But in 1950, after years of enjoying a life of relative ease while his countrymen suffered through war and civil strife, Ji felt driven by patriotism to volunteer to serve China in its conflict with his adoptive country in the Korean War.
Ji’s mastery of the English language and American culture launched his improbable career, eventually winning him the role of English interpreter for China’s two top leaders: Premier Zhou Enlai and Party Chairman Mao Zedong. With a unique blend of Chinese insight and American candor, Ji paints insightful portraits of the architects of modern China: the urbane, practical, and avuncular Zhou, the conscience of the People’s Republic; and the messianic, charismatic Mao, student of China’s ancient past–his country’s stern father figure.
In Ji’s memoir, he is an eyewitness to modern Chinese history, including the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, the Nixon summit, and numerous momentous events in Tiananmen Square. As he becomes caught up in political squabbles among radical factions, Ji’s past and charges against him of “incorrect” thinking subject him to scrutiny and suspicion. He is repeatedly sent to a collective farm to be “reeducated” by the peasants.
After the Mao years, Ji moves on to hold top diplomatic posts in the United States and the United Kingdom and then serves as under secretary-general of the United Nations. Today, he says, “The Chinese know America better than the Americans know China. The risk is that we misperceive each other.” This highly accessible insider’s chronicle of a struggling people within a developing powerhouse nation is also Ji Chaozhu’s dramatic personal story, certain to fascinate and enlighten Western readers.
A riveting biography and unique historical record, The Man on Mao’s Right recounts the heartfelt struggle of a man who loved two powerful nations that were at odds with each other. Ji Chaozhu played an important role in paving the way for what is destined to be known as the Chinese Century.
Praise for The Man on Mao’s Right
"Brave, beautifully written testimony . A true "fly-on-the-wall" account of the momentous changes in Chinese society and international relations over the last century."
“It is a relief to read an account by an urbane and often witty insider who neither idolizes nor demonizes China's top leaders . . . . Highly recommended." —Library Journal, starred review
moment’s significance, and later wrote, “Nothing China’s leaders do publicly is without purpose.” The Chinese news agency released the picture and it ran in newspapers worldwide. The message to the Chinese people couldn’t have been clearer. Chairman Mao was showing an interest in Sino-U.S. relations. Unfortunately, as Henry Kissinger, Nixon’s national security adviser later joked, our “crude Occidental minds completely missed the point.” This photo, more than any other, raised my public profile
bosses assured me that I had nothing to worry about, but it was another six months before I was officially recalled to the Foreign Ministry and all my duties as vice director of the International Department were restored. Meanwhile, I continued to spend some of my time at the cadre school, where, to my surprise, Nancy Tang showed up. I saw her hoeing in a field. As soon as she noticed me, she turned away. She was working at the edge of the field, next to a large truck whose engine was idling.
Country, on West Twelfth Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues. Chaoding and Harriet had arranged for Chin to be enrolled with the very young children, and I was enrolled with other children around my “new” age of seven. I was a leaf floating down the stream, making nothing of the gibberish being spoken over my head as Chaoding guided us through the introductions and the registration. After being shunted here and there, beamed at and petted like a foundling puppy, I was taken to a seat at a
learn its lesson…. We must be vigilant, and must not allow a bureaucratic work-style to develop. We must not form an aristocracy divorced from the people.” In February 1957, Mao raised the stakes. In a major speech to a large audience that included scientists, writers, and even representatives of small opposition groups, he declared, “Let a hundred flowers blossom, let a hundred schools of thought contend.” It would be a few months before the speech was published, but recordings were sent around
“rightist” and was punished left behind family members who would then also be condemned. In addition to losing face, they would be ostracized. Hounded to the margins of society, some were forced into remote villages, where they lived in unheated, unsanitary quarters, subsisting on meager diets, robbed of their health. This happened to a number of high-ranking officials after they were purged from the Party. Some of China’s greatest thinkers and leaders died alone and in squalor. In this