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Zouping, a “window” for American scholars to understand rural China

2021/5/14 16:53:46

In 1979, China and the US reached an agreement to exchange students and visiting scholars. To understand China better, American scholars believed that as China has long been an agricultural society, it is a must to understand the rural areas and farmers. Zouping, a county-level city under the administration of Binzhou city in East China’s Shandong province, was luckily selected as the“investigation site for rural China”.

  Site of the former "Foreign Guest Building" to receive American scholars in Zouping

On May 13, the “Tribute to the CPC’s 100th Anniversary: Exploring Red Heritages in Foreign Affairs” special of the “Shandong Stories on the Cloud” series came to Zouping, to explore the “window” on rural China which has been observed by American scholars for 20 years.

  Professor Guy Salvatore Alitto talks with a farmer in Zouping

Over the years, hundreds of American scholars have visited Zouping, as well as former US President Carter in 1997. The city is also regarded as the “second hometown” by Guy Salvatore Alitto, an American sinologist and tenured professor at the University of Chicago.

American scholars’ investigations in Zouping mainly focus on its organizational structure, changes in society, economic development, folk customs, etc. The results of the investigations have been introduced to the American people through articles and books published and lectures given by the scholars.

According to Yang Xueping, head of the Foreign Affairs Office of Zouping, Michel Oksenberg, an American political scientist, visited Zouping in 1989, and gave an influential speech to political circles of the US. He said that the Chinese farmers, workers, and the People's Liberation Army sincerely support the Communist Party of China, and that the Party’s ruling position is stable.

  Former President Carter visits Zouping No.1 Middle School

In July 1997, after the former US President Carter met with Chinese leaders in Beijing, he went straight to Zouping, visited villages and schools, and spent time chatting with farmers. He praised the progress made in rural China with deep feelings, and published an article "It's Wrong to Demonize China” in the “New York Times”, advocating that the two countries should maintain good relations.

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