When young American scholar Ezra Vogel winded up his stay in Japan, where he had been studying Japanese and doing post-doctoral research on modern Japanese society, and returned to Harvard University in 1960, he didn’t foresee that six decades later, his expanded research would see him become part of a new chapter.
After his return to the U.S., Vogel began to research Chinese history, society and economy, learn Chinese and interact with the Chinese.
His thoughts on China from those days are now part of a project commemorating 40 years of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and the U.S. on January 1, 2019. 40 on 40: An Interview Series Commemorating the 40th Anniversary of China-U.S. Diplomatic Normalization was compiled by Shanghai-based Fudan University’s Center for American Studies and Shanghai Institute of American Studies with ThePaper.cn, a digital media. It presents insights from 40 experts on the bilateral relationship, often described as the most important bilateral relationship in the world.
The pool of experts comprises 20 from each country, with such renowned names as former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and Chinese Ambassador to the U.S. Cui Tiankai. In December 2019, the interviews were published as 40 on 40: Four Decades of Evolving Sino-American Relation by New World Press, a subsidiary of China International Publishing Group, in Chinese. The English version is in the pipeline. “Reviewing milestones and crises, the experience gained in the past can become lessons for the development of China-U.S. relations,” Li Chunkai, President of New World Press, told Beijing Review. “We hope the book can present rational insights to readers in different fields to understand Sino-U.S. relations correctly.”
Vogel, in addition to his research on China, served as a national intelligence officer for East Asia at the National Intelligence Council in Washington and played a positive role in promoting communication between the two countries in academic and diplomatic fields.
When Richard Nixon took office as the U.S. president in 1969, Vogel wrote a letter with other scholars, suggesting the president increase exchanges with China. Besides academic activities, he hoped that the two countries could become friends with mutual understanding for world peace.
Ten years later, Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping paid a historic visit to the U.S. and Vogel attended some of his meetings. “We believed this was a very important visit,” Vogel says during the interview. “It signaled the normalization of our bilateral relations… We did not have official relations until then,” adding that after the establishment of the diplomatic relations, more contacts and exchanges in business, academic and diplomatic fields began to grow.