Growing up a Foreigner During Mao's Cultural Revolution

Paul Crook, a journalist with BBC World, talks to the program about his experiences growing up in China during the Cultural Revolution, with his Communist parents, David and Isabel Crook, who moved there in 1940:

In the autumn of 1967, I joined a bunch of foreign kids and went to a commune just outside Beijing, where we harvested sweet potatoes and pears.

It was a very happy time, but then when I came home three weeks later my brothers said, ‘You’ll never guess what has happened, they’ve arrested a spy at the university among the foreigners, can you guess who it is?’

I thought of a few relatively dodgy characters. But it turned out to be my father.

It was a bit of a joke because we thought, he believes in all this, supports the revolution, how could he be a spy?

We thought my father would be released within a few days, in a few weeks.

We had all been educated to think that things were getting better all the time, but sometimes there would be mistakes.

One of the slogans at that time was: ‘You should trust the Masses, and trust the Party!’

A biography of Paul Crook’s father, David, is available for free online.


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