The 17th Bi-annual Edgar Snow Memorial Symposium

Beijing and Tianjin, China, October 11-14, 2016


In 1936 China’s territory was divided in the hands of warlords, Nationalists, Japanese invaders, and criminal societies known as Green Gangs. On April 12, 1927, those gangs had struck at the urban leaders of the Communist Party in the “Shanghai Massacre”. Those who were not killed retreated into the countryside, where they organized peasant armies. In 1934 these armies began an escape to the north and west, known as the Long March. One of these groups, led by Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai traversed over 5,500 miles to a small village in northern Shaanxi called Bao’an. In June of 1936 a young journalist from Kansas City named Edgar Snow reached this village and spent four months doing interviews which would introduce this guerilla army and its leaders to the outside world. This is the 80th anniversary of Edgar Snow’s arrival in Bao’an, celebrated in China with national telecasts, festivals, and official pomp and ceremony. And Bao’an’s county seat Yan’an becomes a sister city of Kansas City.

Edgar Snow’s interpreter for those interviews was Huang Hua, who became the Foreign Minister of China after the death of Zhou En Lai. Together with Mary Clark Dimond they started the People’s Friendship Association and the Edgar Snow Memorial Foundation with Bi-annual symposiums. The 16th Biannual Symposium in 2014, in Kansas City, was a grand affair. This year’s symposium, themed around the 80th Anniversary of Edgar Snow’s arrival in Bao’an, will be a grand part of the national celebration.

Hosted by our counterpart organization, the People’s Friendship Association, and the Edgar Snow Center at Beijing University, we will visit a major hospital, prominent artists, an ecologically friendly industrial park, the Tianjin Conservatory, and gather with UMKC alumni. Those arriving two days early can join a group led by Colin McKenzie, senior curator of Chinese Art at the Nelson-Atkins Museum, exploring contemporary art and visiting a prominent artist in his studio.

Those who have not been to China can join a group visiting the Forbidden City, the Great Wall, and other major sites. After the symposium we will be flying to our sister city of Xi’an to see the terra cotta warriors and other sites, taking the bullet train for two days visit to Yan’an and Bao’an hosted by a prominent citizen, taking a private bus ride to a UN World Heritage site, the banking capital of the last dynasty Pingyao, the estate of a prominent imperial banker, the hanging monasteries on one of China’s four sacred mountains, another World Heritage site, the Yungang Grottoes with 262 caves containing over 50,000 Buddhas, the walled City of Datong, and much more.

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Complete Symposium schedule and details coming soon.

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