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    The uses of foreigners in Mao-era China: ‘Techniques of Hospitality’ and international image-building in the People’s Republic, 1949-1976

    Lovell, Julia (2015) The uses of foreigners in Mao-era China: ‘Techniques of Hospitality’ and international image-building in the People’s Republic, 1949-1976. Transactions of the Royal Historical Society 25 , pp. 135-158. ISSN 0080-4401.

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    Abstract

    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.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Article
    School: Birkbeck Schools and Departments > School of Social Sciences, History and Philosophy > History, Classics and Archaeology
    Depositing User: Julia Lovell
    Date Deposited: 22 Dec 2015 12:07
    Last Modified: 11 Oct 2016 11:59
    URI: http://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/13758

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