My First Trip to China

Scholars, Diplomats and Journalists Reflect on their First Encounters with China


Edited by Kin-Ming Liu

ISBN : 978-988-16046-2-0

History Other Distributed Titles

November 2012

320 pages, 7.125″ x 7.125″

  • HK$180.00

Thirty leading China experts—ranging from Perry Link, Andrew Nathan and Jonathan Mirsky to W. J. F. Jenner, Lois Wheeler Snow and Morton Abramowitz—recount their first visits to China, recalling their initial observations and impressions. Most first traveled to China when it was still closed to the world, or was just beginning to open. Their subsequent opinions, writings and policies have shaped the Western relationship with China for more than a generation. This is essential reading for those who want to understand the evolution of Western attitudes toward modern China. At the same time, this collection provides a vivid, personal window onto a fascinating period in Chinese history.

Kin-Ming Liu is a China File Fellow at the Asia Society’s Center on US-China Relations. A former chairman of the Hong Kong Journalists Association, he has worked for Apple Daily and Hong Kong Economic Journal, and is currently with the South China Morning Post.

“To collect the stories of first encounters with China was a brilliant idea. Not only do we get the benefit of many fascinating insights (and hindsights) from a range of foreigners and overseas Chinese, but these deftly edited views from the outside make up one great story: the history of Communist China. More than a history of one damned thing happening after another, however, this is a history of perceptions, lies, myths and revelations, as much about China as her rulers wish it to be seen, as about those who chose to see China, more and sometimes less clearly, over the last half century.” —Ian Buruma, author of Bad Elements

“The opening of China to the world, and then of the world to China, is one of modern history’s most consequential stories. That story is told in a fresh, innovative fashion in this insightful collection of personal experiences related by a distinguished collection of historians, diplomats, journalists, political writers and others who ventured behind the Bamboo Curtain early on. Leading the way are disillusioned leftists stunned by the horrors of the Cultural Revolution and Mao’s Great Leap Forward that they discover. They gradually give way to knowing observers of a tumultuous society determined to become once again a world power. Their accounts form an impressionistic vision of epochal change taking place on the gallop.” —Jim Hoagland, contributing editor, The Washington Post

“This is a wistful and absorbing volume, and a fitting remembrance for all of us who once thought that China was going to be easy to study.” —Jonathan Spence, author of The Search for Modern China