Thursday, January 29, 2015

Chowin' down with Chou

On August 9, 1971, The New York Times carried a piece by James 'Scotty' Reston--who was part of preceded the Nixon-Kissinger entourage visiting that visited China [in early 1972], opening it to the West for the first time since the Communists had taken power there in 1949--entitled; An Evening With the Premier of China.

During dinner, which included the proletarian hors d'ouevre of prawns, green beans, cold duck and chicken, and delicious morsels of fish, the talk turned to China Hands Owen Lattimore, John Carter Vincent, John Paton Davies Stewart Service and John K. Fairbank. About whom, Chou En Lai said, Take good wishes to them...If they want to visit China we will welcome them. Which invitation, when John Carter Vincent was made aware of it, thrilled him, according to China Scapegoat: The Diplomatic Ordeal of John Carter Vincent.

The author of that book, Gary May, goes on to say that Vincent leapt at the opportunity and sent this to Chou;
Dear and Esteemed Friend,

Your message sent to us through Mr. Reston brought us great pleasure. Our first inclination was to accept your invitation at once ....
But Vincent and his wife had a previously planned trip to Europe, so he asked to make the trip to China in the early autumn of the next year if it is convenient then. ...I look forward very much to seeing you and China again.

Which is a rather amazing response by Vincent, who had been at great pains to deny that he had any connection to the Chinese Communists when pressed several times, two decades earlier, during his ordeal at the hands of the McCarthyites. We can forgive the objective observer for concluding that, maybe the McCarthyites might have been on to something when trying to get to the facts about Who lost China, during congressional hearings all those years ago.

The ones that are usually described in terms such as, having knowingly made up facts and destroyed the reputations of people who were not involved in communist conspiracies.

[Addendum] We should add that Mr. Vincent died before he could take that trip to visit a man he claimed to have barely known. However, his good friend and colleague John Stewart Service did take advantage of Chou En-Lai's invitation. Quickly too, he went to China at the end of September 1971 and stayed for six weeks. No doubt talking of the good ol' days with the comrades.

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