Doomed to Repeat It

Austin Ramzy wrote on Time China blog about a transcript of a February 1973 conversation between Chairman Mao and Henry .

Earlier this week the U.S. State Department released a new volume about U.S. foreign relations with China. It included a transcript of a February 1973 conversation between Chairman Mao and Henry Kissinger. Several media outlets (BBC, Bloomberg, and yes, Time.com, via AP) jumped on what seemed to be the most newsworthy aspect of the discussion. Mao offered to send 10 million Chinese to the U.S. “Let them go to your place,” Mao told the U.S. National Security Advisor. “They will create disasters. That way you can lessen our burdens.

There are a couple amazing things about this coverage. First off, the conversation is hardly news. The story appeared, though not the exact 10 million figure, in Kissinger’s 1982 memoir “Years of Upheaval,” and in an excerpt TIME ran upon the book’s release. It appeared again later, this time with the verbatim 10 million figure, in the 1999 book “The Kissinger Transcripts.”…

The odder part about all this is how the story was treated in some coverage, as if this was a potentially legitimate offer from a wild and crazy Mao. It was of course a joke.

February 16, 2008 8:23 PM
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