Tales Of [Comparatively] Ancient China
Inspired by the current American tour of incipient Chinese leader Xi Jinping, the New York Times looks back to the start of the current era in US/China relations, Nixon and Kissinger’s 70s visits with Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai.
Ji Chaozhu was there for most of these events, a lead translator for the Chinese side and later diplomat.
Ji was brought up in New York during the 40s, and his family’s doings in America figured in the Owen Lattimore story. Ji’s father edited a Chinese language newspaper in New York, and one McCarthy charge against Lattimore was defending the senior Ji against Communist allegations [He was, but that’s for another day].
Older brother Ji Chaoding was a Columbia economics PhD who worked for Chiang Kai Shek’s government in New York and Chungking in the forties, and joined China’s delegation to the founding conference of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund. One perjury charge growing out of Lattimore’s McCarran Committee testimony was about whether Lattimore knew or should have known Ji Chaoding was a Communist.
Ji Chaozhu’s memoir isn’t exactly hard hitting, mostly being a chronicle of meetings and translation, sometimes for the Greats.
The best part is his discription of his father’s role in the film “30 Seconds Over Tokyo,” playing a kindly Chinese doctor patching up crash-landed veterans of the Doolittle Raid. The film was written by future Hollywood Ten-er Dalton Trumbo, and presents China’s anti-Japanese resistance as an incredibly bourgeois affair, with resistance leaders in suits and ties. Plucky resistance children bring tears and throat lumps to the downed fliers with a Chinese version of “The Star Spangled Banner.”
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