[Skip to Navigation]
December 14, 1984

The Breaking of a Profession

Author Affiliations

From the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Medicine.

JAMA. 1984;252(22):3160-3164. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03350220066034

THE SUDDEN opening of China to foreign visitors following the pingpong event of 1971 created an entire new school of China watchers. Thousands became instant authorities following their 21-day travel immersion. Most of us could base our knowledge only on what we saw and heard in our three-week period, and we new China watchers were filled with briefings by Responsible Members of revolutionary committees. It was not a matter of brainwashing or misled thinking; the messages given in the briefings were in part propaganda, but they were equally an accurate report on what policies were operational in China. The American who returned home and reported that there was an intense spirit of "serve the peasant," "serve the peasant, workers, and soldiers," and "go down to the countryside and help the poor peasant" was not misled.

The strength of Mao Zedong's messages was multiplied by the effectiveness of the communist system.