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Cablegate: Reading Pearl Buck in Zhenjiang

VZCZCXRO6216
PP RUEHCN RUEHGH
DE RUEHGH #0459 3020645
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 280645Z OCT 08
FM AMCONSUL SHANGHAI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7274
RHEHAAA/NSC WASHINGTON DC
INFO RUEHBJ/AMEMBASSY BEIJING PRIORITY 2226
RUEHCN/AMCONSUL CHENGDU PRIORITY 1496
RUEHGZ/AMCONSUL GUANGZHOU PRIORITY 1467
RUEHHK/AMCONSUL HONG KONG PRIORITY 1653
RUEHSH/AMCONSUL SHENYANG PRIORITY 1488
RUCPDOC/USDOC WASHDC PRIORITY 0228
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE USD FAS WASHINGTON DC
RUEHGH/AMCONSUL SHANGHAI 7867

UNCLAS SHANGHAI 000459

SIPDIS

NSC FOR LOI

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: SCUL KPAO OIIP PREL EAGR CH
SUBJECT: READING PEARL BUCK IN ZHENJIANG

REF: (06) SHANGHAI 7027

1. Summary: Zhenjiang, a city of one million at the junction
of the Yangtze River and the Grand Canal, proudly proclaims its
connection to Pearl S. Buck, author of "The Good Earth" and 1938
winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature. Once unwelcome in
China, Buck is now praised as a bridge between cultures.
Instead of seeing her as a reactionary, Chinese fans worry that
she doesn't get the attention she deserves in the United States.
On the eve of the 30th anniversary of the formal establishment
of U.S.-China relations, interest in this and other historical
links, including Buck's agronomist husband, opens the door to
renewed cultural connections. End summary

2. As Pearl Buck's childhood and early adult home town,
Zhenjiang is actively promoting the author's legacy, most
recently with a weekend-long conference October 18-19 in
commemoration of the 70th anniversary of Buck's Nobel Prize.
The Consul General was a featured speaker at the event, which
attracted 100 participants, including several Buck family
members from the United States and the board and executive staff
of the Pearl S. Buck International foundation in Pennsylvania.

3. The conference and related opening of a Pearl S. Buck museum
next to the restored family home is the latest signal of strong
interest in this U.S. connection after earlier decades when the
Chinese Government banned her books and denied her a visa. In
2002 the city celebrated the 110th anniversary of her birth,
three years renaming its public park "Pearl Square" and
unveiling a monument at the Zhenjiang No.2 high school where
Buck studied and later taught. The newly opened museum shows
Buck studying the Chinese classics and calls her a "daughter of
Zhenjiang".

4. Zhenjiang goes out of its way to make Consulate visitors
welcome, arranging for the CG and PAO to tour the house, museum,
and school, where they met with students who had traveled to the
United States last winter on a program funded by Pearl S. Buck
International. Vice-Mayor Chen Jianshe hosted a dinner for the
Consulate visitors, while FY-04 International Visitor Leadership
Program alum Xu Bisheng, an urban planning official, spoke with
enthusiasm of Chicago's urban planning and an upcoming meeting
in Zhenjiang of the Commerce Department-supported American
Planning Association.

5. Comment: Zhenjiang's fervor for its long-ago American
"daughter" points to possibilities for the upcoming celebrations
of the 30th anniversary of U.S.-China relations. One example
surfaced on the margins of the conference, where the son of the
author's first husband, agronomist John Lossing Buck, described
a surge in contacts from China about his father's research and
historical land survey data, recently re-discovered at Nanjing
Agricultural University. Conference speaker Amb. Chen Yonglong,
vice president of the Chinese People's Institute of Foreign
Affairs and former PRC ambassador to Israel and Jordan, linked
the anniversary to Pearl Buck in his remarks and encouraged the
pursuit of such connections as our countries commemorate 30
years of restored diplomatic relations.

CAMP

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