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New Left Review I/194, July-August 1992

Liu Binyan

The Future of China

Could you begin by telling us something about your background and life in China?

I was born in 1925 in northeast China and grew up in Harbin, a city greatly influenced by Russian culture. My father had lived in Russia for many years, and on his return to China became a Russian interpreter in a railway office. This Russian-oriented family background was a formative influence in my early life. I began to develop a serious interest in Marxism at the age of fourteen through a reading group organized by Communists. I participated in the underground resistance movement against Japan when I was eighteen, and subsequently became a Communist Party member in 1944. I worked as a journalist from 1951, but was condemned as an anti-Party/socialist rightist in 1957 for advocating freedom of the press and the right to criticize, and for exposing in my writings the dark side of society. After being expelled from the Party, I became a pariah, living a simple, modest existence for twentytwo years without any political rights. I was officially rehabilitated in 1979 and began writing again in much the same spirit for the People’s Daily and some major literary journals. I was expelled from the Party for the second time, and for the same reasons, in 1987. As a persecuted person in 1957 I was absolutely isolated, but thirty years later, after being purged again, I attracted popular sympathy and support—what a contrast! I have been visiting the United States since 1988 and am currently working at Princeton University. My recent publications in English are Autobiography—A Higher Kind of Loyalty, Tell the World, and China’s Crisis, China’s Hope. It is my wish to return to China sooner rather than later.

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