Philosophy & Ideas

Pierre Ryckmans and the Heavenly Kingdom

Almost exactly forty years ago (November 1978), a special issue of this magazine was edited by Simon Leys, the well-known alias of the late Pierre Ryckmans (1935–2014). It featured a red cover with a snippet of Mao Zedong’s very own calligraphy in black. The meaning in English of that snippet was: “By verification of the facts, get at the truth; strive to eliminate all empty talk.” It was fired at the deeply corrupted world of China “scholarship” in 1978 and remains apt now, as we ponder the rise of China to a level of wealth, power and strategic ambition it…

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