Huang Hua, China’s most important diplomat

An outstanding Chinese diplomat: Huang Hua (1913-2010)

Chinese diplomat Wang Rumei, who under his assumed name Huang Hua (“Yellow China”) served as Ambassador and Foreign Minister, died on November 24th, 2010 in Peking.

Born in Hopeh province on January 25th, 1913 as the son of a teacher, Huang Hua learned excellent English at Yenching University, which was formed in Peking out of the merger of four Christian colleges between the years 1915 and 1920.

There he developed a close relationship with China-born John Leighton Stuart (1876-1962), the American missionary who founded the institution. Stuart would serve as the last US Ambassador posted in the Republican capital Nanking before Mao Tse-tung (1893-1976) took over the country.

In late 1936, after joining the Communist Party of China (CPC), Huang accompanied American journalist Edgar Snow (1905-1972) to the area of Shensi Province controlled by Mao’s guerrillas at the time.

Acting as an interpreter, Huang helped Snow to conduct long interviews with their strongman, including Chow En-Lai (1898-1976) and Mao himself.

Hua remained there after Snow left and first worked as an assistant to Marshall Chu Teh (1886-1976) and later as secretary of Marshall Ye Jianying (1897-1986).

After the establishment of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in 1949; Huang’s English proficiency secured him a position in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He would soon be able to show his diplomat skills during the Korean War (1950-1953) armistice talks.

After getting involved in 1958 in initial contacts in Poland with the United States, which at the time recognized the Nationalist government in Taiwan as the sole representative of China, in 1961 Huang became the first Chinese Ambassador to Ghana.

Huang then served in Egypt, during a time in which he managed to be the sole senior representative of China abroad. But after returning home during the height of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), he was arrested along with his wife. Both were banished to labor reform at different locations in the countryside.

Luckily Huang was soon rehabilitated and in July 1971 secretly met US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger (born 1923) in Peking, leading to a groundbreaking visit by President Richard Nixon (1913-1994) to China in February 1972.

Following a short posting in Canada, Huang got appointed the PRC’s first Ambassador to the United Nations (UN), which China had joined the same year after taking the seat hold by the Nationalists under Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek (1887-1975) since the organization was established in 1945.

Huang also signed the Sino-Japanese Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan with Japanese Foreign Minister Sunao Sonoda (1913-1984) on August 12th, 1978, almost six years after both nations had established diplomatic relations on September 29th, 1972.

After Mao’s death in September 1976, Huang took over the position of Foreign Minister from disgraced Ch’iao Kuan-hua (1913-1983) for his association with the notorious Gang of Four.

In this capacity, he presided over the establishment of diplomatic ties between the PRC and the US on January 1st, 1979 and went with Chinese leader Teng Hsiao-ping (1904-1997) to Washington almost immediately afterwards.

Finally, in the early 1980s, Huang played a significant role in the talks with the United Kingdom over the status of its Crown colony Hong Kong, which was due to be returned to Chinese sovereignty after the expiry of their leases in June 1997.

While attending the state funeral of Soviet politician Leonid Brezhnev (1906-1982), Huang praised the deceased as «an outstanding champion of world peace» and expressed his hope for normalized relations between Peking and Moscow.

In a period when China and the Soviet Union were still aggressively competing for influence around the globe, Huang’s overly hasty actions led to his dismissal from office as soon as he returned home. It was an abrupt end to a brilliant career.


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