To view this PAPER PRESENTATION, search for the session title in the Browse by Titlelisting. (See the session title located immediately below ["In Session:"])
China and Inner Asia
In Session: Science and China's Foreign Relations, from 1945 to the Deng Era
2: Science Diplomacy, Propaganda, and Exchange: Scientists and China’s Foreign Affairs Infrastructure (1949-1972)
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
8:30am – 10:00am EDT
University of Oxford, United Kingdom
Between 1949 and the early 1970s, the People’s Republic of China lay outside of the diplomatic and international scientific mainstreams. As well as being excluded from most major science-related international organisations, the PRC also lacked formal diplomatic relations with many states, particularly those in Western Europe and North America. For all of these practical and logistical impediments – indeed, in part because of them – Chinese foreign policymakers and foreign affairs personnel not only worked closely with senior Chinese scientists to undertake a range of international outreach activities involving groups such as the World Federation of Scientific Workers and building on these scientists’ own personal and professional networks. This paper discusses the nature of CCP-supported science diplomacy prior to the PRC’s dramatic expansion of diplomatic relations, recognition, and representation starting in the 1970s. In particular, it explores the relationship between key members of China’s scientific elite, notably physicist Zhou Peiyuan, geologist Li Siguang, and meteorologist Zhu Kezhen and the PRC’s foreign affairs system, as well as the importance of diplomatic outposts such as China’s chargé d’affaires Office in London and ‘hub’ embassies in countries like Switzerland and Ghana. While China’s overseas foreign affairs infrastructure may have been comparatively limited during this period, the Chinese party-state nevertheless found ways to effectively utilise its existing resources to not only pursue scientific contacts within the socialist and developing worlds, but crucially in the West as well.