Friday, May 20, 2011

Book Review for My Forty Years as a Diplomat by Feng-Shan Ho

My Forty Years as a Diplomat by Feng-Shan Ho

Feng-Shan Ho was appointed ambassador of the Republic of China by Chiang Kai-shek in the 1930's. As the title states his career spanned forty years and saw several governments in various countries come and go. His initial job was to establish relations with countries to help China in their “War of Resistance” against Japan and later in a race to get countries to recognize the Republic of China as the legitimate government of the Chinese people rather than Mao Zedong's communist regime.

While Ho's writing (translated by his son) is not written in a flow-able storyline it is a book worth reading for the wealth of information it provides. Ho recounts his work as Ambassador to Austria during Hitler's regime, the development of leadership in Middle Eastern companies and his efforts to keep them from sympathizing with Communist China. He describes the tactics of Communist China in their efforts to gain support throughout the world as well as the sad shrinking of the Republic of China until it is finally delegated to the island of Taiwan.

His work in Germany is probably most notable for his efforts to get as many Jews out of the country as was in his power. Many Jews were not accepted in the Allied countries but they could get a Visa to Shanghai and stay there until they were able to move on to Israel or the United States. Ho was instrumental in providing Visas to many Jews. Even after his government back home told him to desist and ultimately recalled him, he continued to hand out Visas. As his train was leaving Vienna, he passed Visas through the train car window to outstretched hands. It's interesting to note that some of these Jewish refugees stayed many years in China, receiving their education and employment there. In 2001 Ho was posthumously recognized in Israel as one of the Righteous Among the Nations.

One of the most interesting aspects of Ho's memoirs is his efforts to get Chang Kai-shek's China recognized and to prevent the People's Republic of China (communist) from making headway in countries around the world. His book exposes the double talk and hypocrisy of many political leaders-such as the ones in Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries and India as they said one thing to the Western countries and another to the Communists.

Also interesting is his description of the development of the Arab nations as they went from being poverty-stricken nomad countries living in a 2000 year old way of life to being the richest countries in the world at the expense of American and British engineers who harvested their oil for them.

One of the most provocative things he wrote about was the strategies of Communist China to get themselves recognized and consequently validated throughout the world:

I had long known of the seriousness of the Communist infiltration. Their ultimate objective was to establish diplomatic relations. I had already experienced the 'three-phased' strategy of the Communists when I was in Egypt. The first phase was to offer to buy goods, to entice with profit. The second was to apply for opening a trade fair, in order to exchange delegations and establish a permanent trade relationship. The third phase was to shift from commerce to politics, the final purpose being to request diplomatic recognition.....

...In seven years, the Communists launched fourteen infiltrative activities in Mexico. They sent to Mexico an economic delegation and a trade delegation, which started to trade and do business... They tried to infiltrate culturally by sending a circus troupe.(pg. 193)

Hmmm.. none of that has transpired in the U.S., has it?

Ho also describes how the Communists worked to infiltrate into the media, fine arts and performing arts (television, movies) of their targeted countries (including the US). Surprise, surprise.

While Ambassador Ho met with varying success in the Middle East, he did successfully counter Communists efforts in Mexico. A colleague had this to say about him:

Mexico is a large country in North America. She has a boundary of over a thousand miles with the United States. It is here that Ambassador Ho blocked the infiltration of the Chinese Communists.(pg. 208)

All in all, anyone interested in the history of the international political arena for the past eighty years from the viewpoint of someone from another culture and time (and who does not always paint a flattering picture of Western countries) would benefit greatly from reading this book. I personally think anyone who cares at all about the future welfare of our own country (which should be everyone) should read this book.

I received a complimentary copy of  this book as a member of the
Dorrance Publishing Book Review Team. Visit
to learn how you can become a member of the Book Review Team.


  1. I love your blog...the header is awesome.

    Thanks for following me...I have returned the favor.


  2. Elizabeth: Thanks for visiting and following!

  3. Once again you've made me want to go buy a book. This sounds like another great read. Fascinating.

  4. Travelwade: Thanks! You can borrow my copy. (I'm keeping this one;)


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