The Man on Mao's Right
From Harvard Yard to Tiananmen Square, My Life Inside China's Foreign Ministry
No other narrative from within the corridors of power has offered as frank and intimate an account of the making of the modern Chinese nation as Ji Chaozhu's The Man on Mao's Right. Having served Chairman Mao Zedong and the Communist leadership for two decades, and having become a key figure in China's foreign policy, Ji now provides an honest, detailed account of the personalities and events that shaped today's People's Republic.
The youngest son of a prosperous government official, nine-year-old Ji and his family fled Japanese invaders in the late 1930s, escaping to America. Warmly received by his new country, Ji returned its embrace as he came of age in New York's East Village and then attended Harvard University. But in 1950, after years of enjoying a life of relative ease while his countrymen suffered through war and civil strife, Ji felt driven by patriotism to volunteer to serve China in its conflict with his adoptive country in the Korean War.
Ji's mastery of the English language and American culture launched his improbable career, eventually winning him the role of English interpreter for China's two top leaders: Premier Zhou Enlai and Party Chairman Mao Zedong. With a unique blend of Chinese insight and American candor, Ji paints insightful portraits of the architects of modern China: the urbane, practical, and avuncular Zhou, the conscience of the People's Republic; and the messianic, charismatic Mao, student of China's ancient past—his country's stern father figure.
Ji is an eyewitness to modern Chinese history, including the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, the Nixon summit, and numerous momentous events in Tiananmen Square. As he became caught up in political squabbles among radical factions, Ji's past and charges against him of "incorrect" thinking subjected him to scrutiny and suspicion. He was repeatedly sent to a collective farm to be "reeducated" by the peasants.
After the Mao years, Ji moved on to hold top diplomatic posts in the United States and the United Kingdom and then served as under-secretary-general of the United Nations. Today, he says, "The Chinese know America better than the Americans know China. The risk is that we misperceive each other." This highly accessible insider's chronicle of a struggling people within a developing powerhouse nation is also Ji Chaozhu's dramatic personal story, certain to fascinate and enlighten Western audiences.