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Created: Aug 13, 2019
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A young doctor visited China in 1959 and now his d

A young doctor visited China in 1959 and now his diagnosis is coming to pass in Hong Kong

Sixty years ago, a young Melbourne doctor did what very few Westerners did at the time. He went to China.To get more chinese world news daily, you can visit shine news official website.

An adventurous soul, John Hamilton spent five years overseas, punctuating his world travels with spells as a ship's doctor.

In February 1959, as he listened to Richie Benaud's XI slug it out with Peter May's England side in the fifth and final Test at the MCG, Dr Hamilton wrote his regular weekly letter to his parents back in Dandenong, Victoria.

His observations of China, made two years into Chairman Mao's economically disastrous Great Leap Forward, were astonishingly prescient. Not just of the rise of China, but how its advance would go hand in hand with a particular brand of authoritarianism.

With Hong Kong now on a bloody precipice 22 years after it was handed back to the Chinese by the British, and with Xi Jinping's retaliation to protesters seemingly imminent, the Melbourne doctor's assessment from all those years ago is acute.Now for some impressions of the Chinese People's Republic, as it is called," Dr Hamilton wrote as he sailed from Qingdao to Hong Kong on the British cargo ship the MV Glenartney on February 14, 1959.

He'd spent about three days in Qingdao, or Tsing-Tao as he spelled it, after a week or so in Shanghai and other Chinese port cities.

"The biggest impression is one of rapid industrialisation," he wrote. "There is no-one not working — no beggars seen etc (particularly as this is a crime). Everyone wearing the same dress: blue serge buttoned up to a high collar. No distinction made between male or female in dress or in work."Everyone is subjected to continuous propaganda over loudspeakers installed everywhere. This is of the two main forms: (1) how they will crush the imperialists by economic means; (2) how 'great and bountiful' China was about to (become) in the next 12 years and pass the imperialists in production."

Dr Hamilton, my late father-in-law, was a seasoned traveller by the time he visited China, having worked in New York, Trinidad and Britain in between extensive ventures through Asia, Europe and parts of Africa.

Communist China made quite the impact on 28-year-old Dr Hamilton. As he always did, he took photographs of what he saw. Not all of them survive.He lost a roll of slide film when he was temporarily detained by an official who thought he was spying on warships in Shanghai.

"All their posters depict either imagined scenes of the future or of stimulus to greater production, or the squashing, shooting or hanging of the Imperialist, particularly ones wearing a hat marked US," he wrote."When we reached each port we were each personally checked then all herded into the lounge — Chinese crew and all — and then a thorough search of the ship made lasting several hours.

"The same occurred on leaving. Only those with sailor cards, as I have, were allowed ashore and although one could walk the streets one could only shop at the Seaman's Club set up by their government.

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