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World Civilizations Tour of China, 1991

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On May 14, 1991, ten Washington State University faculty members were sent on a tour of China to prepare them for teaching the new World Civilizations courses being developed at WSU, with funding from a generous grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The tour was led by history professor Tom Kennedy. We were going just a year after the massacre in Tienanmin Square, so there were few American tourists around. The Chinese housed us well and fed us lavishly (we essentially had two feasts a day for three weeks), but ordinary Chinese people were afraid to speak with us, though we were stared at constantly.

The growth of capitalism within the shell of the old Maoist structure was evident even then, but had achieved nothing like the frenetic pace it was to reach in the following decade.

All photos copyright Paul Brians except those labeled as being from commercial sources, not subject to international copyright. They were bought at a time when China had not yet signed the International Copyright Convention.

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