Sunday, June 06, 2004

Obituary of William Hinton, author of Fanshen

When I did the search on The Guardian's website for the Tiananmen Square post, I found that I had missed this obituary (May 24th) of William Hinton, author of 'Fanshen', a classic account of the Chinese Communist party on the verge of control of China. In 1947 Hinton was sent by the UN to teach in a Guomindang (nationalist) controlled area but crossed over to Communist-run territory, where he took notes on his experiences of land reform and the civil war. When Hinton returned to the US, the notes were "impounded by the senate internal security committee". After a long legal battle to get them back, they were written up and eventually published in 1966.
According to the article, Hinton stayed a supporter of the regime through the murders and lynch mobs of the cultural revolution, although

... he was deeply disillusioned by the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989, which he observed on the spot, driving through the suburbs of Beijing to check on the advance of the army. His daughter by his first marriage, Carmelita Hinton, born and educated in China, later co-produced The Gate Of Heavenly Peace (1996) - a challenging film about the massacre.

The writer of the article, John Gittings, was The Guardian's China correspondent for years and has written several interesting books about China, including:

The Role of the Chinese Army Gittings, John, 1981 Greenwood Press,London

and Real China Gittings, John, 1996 Simon & Schuster

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