In 1948 Xiong left China to study in the United States,
obtaining a masters degree in social science at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland.
He returned to China in 1949, the year in which Communist armies wiped out
the remaining significant Nationalist resistance,
and Mao proclaimed the founding of the People’s Republic.

MAO'S MAN SPIED ON KAI-SHEK

Xiong facilitated the secret visit to China in 1971 of Henry Kissinger,
as well as the official visit of President Nixon the following year.
The visits ended China's international isolation and constituted
its first steps in rejoining the global community.

Xiong Xianghui (Apr 1919-Sep 2005)
Obituary, The Times, Sep 28, 2005

The long career of the Chinese intelligence operative and diplomat Xiong Xianghui testified to the importance of the often anonymous "man behind the scenes" in the unfolding of decisive political events. A secret member of the Chinese Communist Party from the age of 17, he worked as an aide de camp to one of Chiang Kai-shek's best generals during the 1930s and 1940s, in which role he kept the party informed of Chiang's plans to suppress it. On at least one occasion, his prompt action appears to have saved Chairman Mao and other senior party figures from the threat of capture and probable execution.

More than 20 years later, Xiong also played an important role in facilitating the secret visit to China in 1971 of Henry Kissinger, as well as the official visit of President Nixon the following year. The visits were genuine landmarks: though conducted amid the chaos of the Cultural Revolution, they ended China's international isolation and constituted its first steps in rejoining the global community.

Xiong was born in Fengyang county, Anhui province, in south China. His father was an eminent judge. Xiong shared with many bright youths of his generation a sense of China's vulnerability in the face of aggressive foreign powers, and a determination to remedy its domestic weakness, disorder and disunity.

Communism, represented in China by a party formed in 1921 and tempered by survival in the rural fastnesses of south China before being forced on to the Long March to the north, seemed to many the best hope of national salvation. Chiang Kai-shek's Nationalist Government was reluctant to fight the Japanese invader in the mid-1930s. The Communist Party, led by Mao Zedong and now safely ensconced in its remote Yanan headquarters, made national resistance its main rallying cry.

In 1936 Xiong enrolled at Qinghua University, in Beijing. He became a secret member of the Communist Party the same year. Zhou Enlai, then in charge of the party's intelligence work, instructed Xiong to enrol in the Nationalist First Army, commanded by Hu Zongnan. The latter was impressed by the young Xiong's enthusiasm and ardour for China's cause, which by the close of the 1930s looked desperate in the face of Japan's rapid conquest of all the country's main cities in the south and east. Xiong quickly became Hu's confidant and later his personal secretary. This was of immense strategic value to the Communist Party. Chiang Kai-shek and his intelligence chief, Dai Li, trusted Hu completely. They were happy to share information with him of a kind that they often denied to other generals in the field. Even more important, Hu, commander of the Eighth War Area based in Xian, was given the task of keeping Communist forces bottled up in their headquarters, just over 100 miles to the north. For the best part of ten years, Xiong kept the party informed of Hu's military plans, especially in so far as they concerned Chiang's attempts to destroy his bitter rivals for mastery of China.

His role proved telling on two particular occasions. In the first, in 1943, Xiong advised Communist Party leaders that Chiang had ordered Hu in a telegram to attack Yanan like a "bolt of lightning". The central party apparatus safely evacuated the area. In 1947, by which time civil war between the Nationalists and Communists had defied US mediation attempts and was escalating, Hu's forces attacked and briefly occupied Yanan. Mao, Zhou and other leaders, tipped off by Xiong, again evacuated the area shortly beforehand.

In 1948 Xiong left China to study in the United States, obtaining a masters degree in social science at Case Western Reserve in Cleveland. He returned to China in 1949, the year in which Communist armies wiped out the remaining significant Nationalist resistance, and Mao proclaimed the founding of the People’s Republic.

Xiong's long experience of intelligence, now made public by a grateful party leadership, equipped him well for diplomatic work on behalf of the new regime, which was at first firmly in the Soviet camp in world affairs. He became head of the Foreign Ministry Information Department, and was in 1962 appointed chargé d'affaires to the United Kingdom. He was summoned back to Beijing in 1967, when the Cultural Revolution was at its height. Xiong appears to have left Britain before August that year, when Chinese diplomats suddenly charged out of their embassy building in Portland Place and attacked the policemen guarding them. It was an attempt to provoke an incident of the kind that might distract attention from the fact that a few weeks earlier, Red Guards had ransacked the British mission in Beijing and manhandled its diplomats.

In the late 1960s China was in tumult. Mao and Zhou were both ailing physically, and a barely concealed succession struggle was under way. An early beneficiary appeared to be Lin Biao, the military chief (later disgraced after his death in an air accident), on whom Mao called to restore order after the nationwide chaos wrought by the Red Guards. From Beijing's perspective, the international situation was equally adverse. In 1969 Nixon assumed office at the head of a Republican administration and the Soviet Union massed troops along the border with China, where there were frequent clashes with heavy loss of life. Mao and Zhou, their long partnership under strain amid the chaos, agreed that a small group of trusted senior generals should meet to analyse the international balance of power and make recommendations accordingly. The group consisted of Chen Yi, Xu Xiangqian, Nie Rongzhen and Ye Jianying. With Zhou's approval, Xiong Xianghui was appointed assistant to the group.

After several meetings, often held in the strictest secrecy, the generals concluded that China should take a proactive stance on the diplomatic front, taking advantage of the intense rivalry between Washington and Moscow. To remain passive, they felt, would be dangerous, especially in the face of the growing capacity of the Soviet Union to engage in military adventures beyond its border. The United States seemed to pose less of threat: it was trying to disengage from its extremely costly adventure in Vietnam. Mao and Zhou decided to "normalise" relations with the United States.

Xiong was closely involved in the choreographed steps that followed. The first was the secret visit to Beijing in July 1971 (just over two months after a US table tennis delegation had visited China and was received by Zhou) of Kissinger, Nixon's Assistant for National Security Affairs. A few days later, China announced that Nixon would visit China "at an appropriate date". The US President did so in February 1972, holding talks in Beijing with both Mao and Zhou, at which Xiong was present.

Between the Kissinger and Nixon visits, Xiong made another major contribution to Chinese diplomacy: he was a member of the People's Republic's first delegation to the United Nations in 1971 after Beijing’s assumption of the seat in the world body formerly occupied by the Chinese Nationalist government in Taiwan.

The rapprochement with the US (followed by that with Japan and most of Western Europe) paved the way for China's incorporation into the global capitalist system. Its consequences were profound and constitute one of Mao's most lasting and important legacies. However, the chairman did not much like the idea at the time. There were profound ideological reasons for this reluctance, but equally unwelcome was that Beijing's move was dictated by strategic weakness — a factor rarely acknowledged in official Chinese accounts, including those of Xiong himself.

Real history of Korean War (heroic MacArthur deserves credit for saving S Korea from communist domination). Seoul Times, Oct 18, 2005. Go to MACARTHUR, JFK, KOREA & VIETNAM

Xiong Xianghui man behind Mao (helped behind scenes before and after Mao's triumph in 1949). The Times, Sep 28, 2005

CANADA'S RED TRUDEAU

Stalin the ghost who haunts China

Jackie Jura
~ an independent researcher monitoring local, national and international events ~

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