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Foreign Policy and Scientific Exchange: Scientists in the People’s Republic of China’s Cold War Foreign Relations

Gordon Barrett

This project analyses the roles of scientists and international scientific gatherings in the early foreign relations of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). It focuses on how these activities related to ‘People’s Diplomacy’ and formed an integral part of China’s Cold War transnational relations. These were enacted by a small group of eminent, prominent, and trusted scientists who were entrusted with representing the PRC in international scientific organisations and events, as well as engaging in peace activism. Most notable among these figures were geologist Li Siguang and theoretical physicist Zhou Peiyuan, who maintained networks of friendships and professional contacts throughout Western Europe and North America. Specifically, it will look at Chinese scientists’ involvement in activities where science and activism overlapped, such as in the World Federation of Scientific Workers, attendance at the early Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs, as well as the PRC’s initiatives to bring foreign scientists to China such as the 1964 ‘Peking Science Symposium’.

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