Soviet Scientist in China. Mikhail A. Klochko. Hollis & Carter. 25s.
The conjunction of a Soviet scientist who went to China as an expert, defected to the West in 1961, and has now produced a book of his experiences in China during two visits whose total length was about one year, is ominous. The reality is as bad, though a discriminating reader will find much of interest in this book.
It is unfortunate that Klochko masquerades his impressions as facts; his political judgement is jejune and erratic where it is not merely incorrect. Of Liu Shao-chi he writes, ‘All sorts of rumours circulated about Liu Shao-chi. Many considered him to be the leader of the ‘pro-Russian clique’. . . everyone wondered at the dizzying speed of his political rise, for although he was supposed to be one of the ‘Party theoreticians’, he had never said anything strikingly original. It is doubtful in any case whether one has a chance to say anything original so long as Mao is alive, without jeopardizing, if not one’s
The most illuminating parts of the book are the passages about the selection of Russian experts for work in China and of their behaviour there. Little wonder that the Chinese have been bitter about some of their ‘foreign friends’ if Klochko’s descriptions are anything like the truth. M.R.