I entered the People's Republic of China at 10:37 am on July 16, 1973, as a declared CIA officer, known to high-level Chinese. My position was a result of an unusual agreement between Henry Kissinger and Chinese officials to place an intelligence officer in each nation's capital.
"Are you American?" a Chinese border guard asked me. "Are you with USLO (the United States Liaison Office)?"
"Yes," I answered.
At Lo-wu, waiting to transfer to a Chinese train that would take me to Guangzhou, I tried my Chinese on a lady attendant in the waiting room.
"Where's the bathroom?" I asked. Were my tones right? Would I ever be able to make myself understood in this foreign language that I had been studying on and off for twenty years? The answer came back swiftly, "Straight ahead. To your left." I was on my way.
My excitement was not confined to the personal satisfaction of seeing if I could communicate. As a professional, I felt a substantial sense of accomplishment at being among the few selected to represent the United States at its first mission in communist China. When a few of my USLO colleagues had walked across the border several months earlier, they became the first American officials to cross into China on permanent assignment in twenty-three years.
When I crossed the Lo-wu bridge, I became the first CIA officer to enter China legally since 1949. I was entering communist China freely on my way to become the first CIA chief in Peking. I took my first steps mindful of my place in the tumultuous and often acrimonious history that linked the United States and the People's Republic of China. Just four months earlier, my Yale classmate and CIA colleague Jack Downey had crossed the same bridge in the other direction, headed for freedom after spending more than twenty years in Chinese prisons. Downey's release had been facilitated by President Nixon's public admission in January 1973, made at the behest of Chinese Premier Chou En-lai, that Downey and fellow American Richard Fecteau were, in fact, CIA officers. Was I replacing him as the CIA representative in Peking?
Pub date: 06/15/05
Price: $16.50/21.95 Canada
5 1/2 x 8 1/4
8 pp b/w photo insert
Carton Quantity: 24
Asian Studies, Biography, History
Selling Territory: W