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CCAS Trips to China in the Early 1970s

Arrival In China

Primary School Girls
Brightly dressed primary school girls enjoying a day in the park in south China, summer 1971. Note oversized Mao badges.
Commune Field
Commune field, south China, summer 1971.

It was the afternoon of June 23, 1971. After a wait of twenty-two years, the first CCAS Friendship Delegation had arrived in Guangzhou, China, in the midst of the Cultural Revolution. Fifteen Americans, almost all in their twenties, had been studying China for years and dreaming that one day they could see China with their own eyes. To them, the U.S. table tennis team’s visit to China in April 1971 signaled something grander on the horizon. They waited anxiously in Hong Kong after turning in their application. Then the news came in. The excitement was beyond words: their application to visit China was approved. On Monday, June 7, they received their official invitation from the China Administration for Travel and Tourism, indicating that their month-long trip to China would begin on June 23. Their photographic equipment became the delegation’s other set of eyes to probe into the reality of China, providing a glimpse of activities and livelihood in the cities and communes, at school and in factories, and of people from many walks of life. Thanks to their color cameras, China and its people in the 1970s were no longer black and white. In an age dominated by uniformity and non-middle class cultural styles, they saw vibrant colors and artistic patterns joyfully decorating the shirts and skirts of schoolgirls. The farmland and mountains were not dire grey; they were painted in many shades of green accentuated by the light blue sky. Between reciting Mao quotations and performing rituals of loyalty, people carried on with their lives through day-to-day work.

People's Cafeteria
Entrance to "people's cafeteria," summer 1971.
Chaoyang Market
Showcase Chaoyang Market on Wangfujin St. in Beijing on July 14, 1971. Most of the slogans deal with the central importance of Marxism-Leninism on the ideological front. Note the traditional style, non-electrical scales.