Organized Panel Session
In the 1960s the PRC oriented its foreign policy toward the radical left and sought to forge anti-capitalist, anti-colonial, and anti-imperialist coalitions across national boundaries. Not only did Chinese individuals and organizations cultivate internationalist connections with decolonizing and socialist nations, but radicals in those revolutionary nodes also actively conjoined their struggles with China's construction of socialist modernity. Focusing on the bi-directional, if not multi-directional, efforts at revolutionary solidarity, this panel examines one particular mode of transnational interconnection—knowledge transference—in four case studies: the transfer to China of Soviet agricultural theories, the publicization in China of international admiration for its revolutionary endeavors, China’s role in the creation of an anti-imperialist media platform in the global South, and the injection of a Sinified discourse of Afro-Asian solidarity into Chinese and African American public spheres. Collectively, these cases demonstrate how radical internationalist ideas became localized to institute transformations at macro and micro levels. Scientists, journalists, returnees, and political activists used a range of transnational information and political communication tools to translate foreign, lofty ideas into domestic, concrete actions. Yet dilemmas and tensions arose in attempts to build transnational unity. While positioning itself as the leader in the global revolutionary struggle in the 1960s, the Chinese state restricted the horizons of transnational activism and required internationalist initiatives to serve its political goals. And in the late 1970s, the PRC’s shift toward pragmatic and moderate foreign policy marked the end of an era of transnational solidarity based on radical leftism.