CHINA MISPERCEIVED: American Illusions and Chinese Reality by Steven W. Mosher

CHINA MISPERCEIVED: American Illusions and Chinese Reality

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Along with two books critical of the Chinese Communist regime (Broken Earth, 1983, and Journey to the Forbidden China, 1985), Mosher is best known for having been expelled from China for misconduct in 1983 and having been denied his Stanford Ph.D. as a result. Here, the much-maligned Sinologist turns on other Sinologists in a somewhat pedantic effort to expose the foibles of their Chins reportage over the last decades. American perceptions of Chins are prone to dramatic change, says Mosher, who begins his study by looking at claimed misperceptions fostered by Nixon's historic visit in 1972. Nixon, Mosher argues, ignored Chinese evils and lauded China without discrimination, perhaps in the interest of dÉtente. Mosher then turns back to the 30's and 40's, when scholars and reporters lionized the Communists, who were seen as ""saving China"" from the corruption of Chiang Kai-shek. The mood shifted, he says, from ""infatuation"" to ""hostility"" in 1949, when Communism came to be viewed as a serious threat. And slightly predating the Nixon-shift were the opinions of a radical group of Marxist Sinologists and others who saw Mae as having created the ideal society, to be emulated by the hopelessly rotten, imperialistic West, then embroiled in the immoral Vietnam War (Mosher pinpoints Tom Hayden as one such radical). Finally the ""Age of Benevolence"" in American perceptions is seen to have ended abruptly with the 1989 events in Tiananmen Square: ""Paradigms Lost!"" proclaims Mosher, who believes that a more realistic appraisal of China is finally possible today. Intelligently observant, but the grinding of an axe sounds throughout as Mosher's history redeems his own anti-Communist views, and as he high-handedly dismisses other China scholars (to him, John K. Fairbank is a ""Maoist,"" while Edgar Snow ""comes across in his early books as a sentimental radical, all too ready to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with fellow proponents of socialism"").

Pub Date: Nov. 14th, 1990
Publisher: Basic Books