Telling the Truth about People's China
This work is a discussion of the history of the construction and propagation over time (1949- 2002), by New Zealanders, of positive images of the People's Republic of China (PRC). This was done primarily through the New Zealand China Friendship Society. The thesis also looks at China-aligned communist parties, students who went on New Zealand University Students' Association study tours in the 1970s, and key interlocutors such as Rewi Alley. These other groups had cross-membership with the NZCFS but differing engagements with China. The images propagated by the New Zealanders altered over time in response to changes in the PRC, developments in New Zealand, and shifting characteristics amongst the people who were engaged in the practice of producing images of the PRC. The thesis looks at how these observers of the PRC, and the organisations which they are combined, are themselves created, and see themselves, in relation to their process of viewing the PRC. This idea of a shifting sense of China and the changing sense of self is explored using a range of ideas. These include ideology, subjectivity, concepts of truth and practices of truth-telling. The thesis is an attempt to provide a sympathetic reading of a wide range of material and trying to understand what the PRC has meant at different times, in different circumstances and to different people. Accounts of the PRC are examined contextually. This involves the re-reading of a range of texts that have 'written' the PRC for those New Zealanders who, in different circumstances, have themselves been sympathetic to projections of successes taking place in the PRC.