Passport to Peking: A Very British Mission to Mao's China by Patrick Wright

By Patrick Wright

In 1954, eighteen years sooner than Nixon's momentous stopover at to China, rankings of ecu delegations trigger for Beijing, based on best Minister Chou En-Lai's invitation to "come and spot" the recent China and to have fun the 5th anniversary of the Communist victory. during this delightfully eclectic book--part comedy, half travelogue, and half cultural history--Patrick Wright tells the tale of the awesome Britons who made this trip, together with former major Minister Clement Attlee; dapper and self-important thinker A. J. Ayer; the intense younger artist-reporter Paul Hogarth; poet and novelist Rex Warner (a former Marxist who had simply married a Rothschild); and the infuriatingly self-obsessed Stanley Spencer, who emerges because the not likely hero of the tale. utilizing a number of formerly unpublished letters and diaries, Wright captures the impressions--both wrong and really insightful--of the delegates as they wandered at the back of the bamboo curtain. choked with comedian aspect, this ebook can be a learn of China because it has loomed within the British brain: as either the primitive orient of early western philosophy and the eye-catching web site of innovative transformation.

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16 Extending westward from the wall of the Tartar City and bordering the Mongolian Market and the Imperial Carriage Sheds, the British embassy compound at 1 Hsing Kuo Lu was itself a monument to the troubled history of contact between China and the British empire. To begin with, the Chinese emperors had refused the thought of a Western presence in their lands. 17 Perhaps the most famous example of this lofty indifference was provided by Emperor Ch’en Lung in a letter written in 1793 in response to Lord Macartney’s mission, sent to China by William Pitt with the aim of creating an embassy in Peking: ‘I have perused your Memorial.

Here, the impeccably tailored First Secretary of the British legation stands tall among his international guests. These include a Swiss businessman whose wife, a former cocotte, displayed ‘her opulent charms so generously that it made you a little nervous’, and a Guatemalan Minister, whose frilled shirt and dazzlingly displayed orders serve only to embarrass the underdressed chargé d’affaires from Montenegro. The French military attaché is also present: his exotically scented and latecoming spouse proves more than a match for the ageing and therefore no longer quite so melodramatic Russian princess, who wears black silk from ankle to neck and has no tolerance for English writings about her lost homeland.

Spencer is reminded of Purgatory. ’ [September 15] casson: ‘Next morning we complete our Chinese visa forms— fifty questions, the final one of which states “Please now write your autobiography”—and embark upon our first Russian aeroplane, twin-engined, tricycle-undercarriage, sturdy, Turkey-carpeted and well kept. No reading lamps or safety straps. The stewardess, pale, and dressed in a blue-serge coat and skirt, welcomes us gravely aboard and hands round tea in glasses. ’ 20 In the Spirit of Geneva Minsk spencer: ‘an unexpected landing at Minsk ‘because of a “storm over Moscow” that sounded very dramatic to me’.

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