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Mao’s Pleasure

Leslie Wilson, 5 October 1995

The Private Life of Chairman Mao 
by Li Zhisui, translated by Tai Hung-Chao.
Chatto, 682 pp., £20, November 1994, 0 7011 4018 6
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... In 1949, when many of China’s citizens were running from the newly-victorious Communists, Dr Li Zhisui returned to his homeland. He had been making good money as a ship’s doctor with the Australian Oriental Company, and he could have stayed there or joined his wife in Hong Kong. But since Australia only admitted white people to citizenship, and in Hong Kong he could have become only the ‘disenfranchised subject of a foreign king’, he decided to take part in the reconstruction of his own country: this, he writes, was more important to him than making money ...

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