Saturday, December 29, 2007

Response to E-mail Correspondent Explaining Circumstances of My Being at University in China in the 1970s

The circumstances of my attending Fudan were that when Canada and China established diplomatic relations in 1970, our foreign minister at the time, Mitchell Sharp, and Premier Zhou Enlai signed an agreement to send 10 students to each other's universities every year. I was on that program. The current Chinese ambassador to Canada, Lu Shumin, was one of those who came to Canada. At the time Fudan had only 13 foreign students --- conditions were quite bad for us at the time compared to universities in the America and Europe due to crowded living condition. no heat or running hot water (or even fans in the heat of summer). rationing, poverty, xenophobic and "class struggle" politics etc. I had a very good experience anyway. The guys in my class were mostly already 30 years-old and took good care to protect me from political hassles. For example when I would listen to the Voice of America Jazz Hour at night, they would report that I was listening to "our nation's radio broadcasts late into the night using headphones to improve my Chinese language ability and general knowledge of China" We always had to consult before they made their reports to make sure that they did not get into trouble if I was up to something bad --- which I was all the time by the standards of that repressive time --- seems we got away with it in the end. I am told by someone who later got access to my file that I was perceived as a model foreigner by the president's office, albeit a bit dimwitted (bu congming was how this was evidently expressed in the file).

Now most of those classmates are in Beijing and evidently much richer than me, but I am not sure where all the money comes from.

But the class keeps in close contact even after all these years which is very much cherished by me.

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