Understanding China – an essay on SACU’s 50th Anniversary

Jenny Clegg is a Vice-president of SACU. She was a Senior Lecturer in International Studies, and a China Specialist at the University of Central Lancashire and is the author of ‘China’s Global Strategy ; Towards a Multipolar World’ published by Pluto Press. She talks here about SACU’s place in the increasing of understanding on China. SACU was launched in May 1965 with the basic aims to spread knowledge of China in Britain, dispel misconceptions and counter misrepresentations. In his inaugural speech, Joseph Needham, SACU’s founding chairperson, highlighted the problems of ‘whopping lies’ – racial stereotypes such as “All Chinese are […]

SACU tour in 1973

Early SACU Tours

There was a time in the 1960s and 1970s when travel to China by Westerners was very limited. At this pivotal stage of its modern development, SACU offered one of the only ways of going on a tour to China. Strange to say now, participants needed to pass an interview before being to considered to go on the tour, so it was a rare opportunity. Neil Taylor, a founder member of SACU and an expert on tourism, relates his experiences. It is hard to realise quite what a commitment joining a SACU tour involved in the early 1970s when it […]

SACU’s Foundation

To mark SACU’s golden anniversary this article by Rob Stallard looks back to the events leading up to its foundation using some previously unpublished documents. SACU’s formation on 15th May 1965 was a significant national event, receiving attention from the national press and the support of a veritable who’s who of eminent people. Bishops; MPs; professors; artists; writers; trade union leaders all lent their names to support the new society. It may come as a surprise to learn that early SACU meetings took place in a House of Commons committee room. Previous organisations SACU followed in the footsteps of a […]

Background to the formation of SACU in 1965

This article by Derek Bryan, SACU’s First Secretary, recounts the events leading up to the formation of SACU in 1965 and was written to mark its tenth anniversary in 1975. In the busy confusion of the new premises in Camden Town in 1975, it requires an effort of memory to think back to the days in the spring of 1965 when SACU was coming into being, and to the years at Warren Street that followed. When the society was founded, in May 1965, Britain was still in the first year of Harold Wilson’s premiership, but the People’s Republic of China was already […]

History of China UK Friendship Societies before SACU

Before SACU was set up in 1965, there had been a series of organisations concerned to develop closer understanding between the British and Chinese peoples. Jenny Clegg surveys the history of the UK friendship societies with China. The UK-China friendship organisations established throughout this century have each had their own characteristics, yet a common thread can be discerned. These ‘people’s organisations’ opposed British government interventionism and hostile policies, and at critical moments were capable of rousing broad support. Operating as centres for information about the China issue, they worked closely with other organisations – trade unions, peace groups, women’s groups, co-operative […]