History

Mao’s Last Collector

It was an informal send-off for Dr Stephen FitzGerald, Australia’s first ambassador to China, and appropriately enough the venue was a Chinese restaurant in Sydney, what British left-wing historian Eric Hobsbawm describes as one of the world’s great export products. A number of academics and writers, some wearing Mao jackets and clutching the Little Red Book, were present along with representatives from Canberra and a few reporters including me representing the Sydney Morning Herald. When “God Save the Queen”, still the national anthem, was played, the intellectuals stayed resolutely in their seats, but they leapt to their feet at the…

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