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Lovell, Julia (2015)
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Languages: English
Types: Article
Subjects: hca
This article focuses on the inner workings of Mao-era China’s ‘Foreign Affairs’ system (waishi xitong): the complex, comprehensive web of bureaucracy woven after 1949 to monitor and control Chinese contact with the outside world. It explores one of the channels along which the People’s Republic between 1949 and 1976 tried to project international, soft-power messages beyond conventional diplomatic channels: the inviting of so-called ‘foreign guests’ (waibin) on carefully planned tours around China, often with all or at least some expenses paid. Earlier accounts of this hospitality have evoked a machine of perfect control, carefully judged to manipulate visitors and rehearsed to ensure flawless performances by Chinese hosts. Using memoirs and Chinese archival documents, the article discusses the attitude of top-level leaders to such visits, the way in which trips were prepared and planned, and the successes and weaknesses of the system. It argues that the PRC’s hosting programme had a domestic as well as an international purpose. Although foreigners were the official target (and indeed, Maoist China’s ‘techniques of hospitality’ garnered some rich international political dividends) the government also used the preparation for and execution of hosting duties to underscore at home the triumph of the revolution.
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