tirsdag 22. juni 2021


The United Nations had just transferred China’s seat at the global body from Taipei to Beijing, a momentous step. Yet what first struck many of these new arrivals were the colors. On clothing, in shop fronts, and on neon signs, they saw a world that seemed physically and even morally jarring compared with the monochrome uniformity of home. For the first time in their lives, the group of mostly middle-aged men saw pornographic theaters, prostitutes, strip clubs, and sex stores with lurid “items that made you sick,” one of them wrote in a memoir.

It was all a long way from Mao’s China. This was the New York City of Shaft and Jesus Christ Superstar. The world’s first electronic stock exchange, Nasdaq, had opened in February, and the newly topped-out Twin Towers of the World Trade Center dominated the city’s skyline. Crime raged in the streets below as the murder rate once again set a record; the mob boss Joseph Colombo had been shot in the head just a few months before the delegation’s arrival.

Chinese diplomats knew they were out of place. “To Americans, the arrival of the Chinese delegation seemed like the sudden appearance of aliens,” another wrote.