In 1936, Kansas City native and journalist Edgar Snow went to China with one mission: show people back home China’s communist revolution through a non-western perspective.
His determination to interview Mao Zedong lead him through battle lines on a long trek to reach a Red Army base. At a time when many were skeptical of communism, Snow published his book, Red Star Over China, which took a sympathetic approach to the country’s revolution.
His legacy of understanding could be felt throughout the 18th Edgar Snow Symposium gala banquet at the Intercontinental Hotel on Oct. 5. The Symposium aims to keep the relationship between the U.S. and China strong, and this message was emphasized throughout the gala. The event featured speakers from both the U.S. and China, including UMKC Chancellor C. Mauli Agrawal and UM President Mun Choi.
“I’m proud of the work we do to advance the work of Mr. Snow,” Agrawal said during his speech.
The night was a celebration of years of friendship between the two nations, looking at the past 80 years of their relationship.
The night’s guest of honor, retired U.S. Ambassador Nicolas Platt, showed the audience homemade footage of President Nixon’s trip to China, an event he took part in. Platt said he was fascinated that the Chinese people, although their government was viewed as terrifying by many in the U.S., lived lives as ordinary as people back home.
When it came to present day, there was no denying the tense relationship between the two countries. Speakers at the event stated that, while both the U.S. and China want to grow, they don’t want their growth to come at the cost of the development of other countries. Attendees of the Symposium believe these differences can be worked through.
“Considering the trade war and some of the conflicts between China and the United States, I believe this symposium appears far more important,” stated English Department Lecturer Liu Xiao Feng. “Because we know that the friendship stands out of all the conflict.”
There was also much talk about the future of U.S.-China relations, with many of the speakers stating the key to good relations rests in the hands of today’s university students. Both UMKC and Mizzou play a role in this, having a partnership with the Edgar Snow Foundation.
“We’re not just here to celebrate the past, we’re here to envision the future,” said Honors College Dean James McKusick. “The future is bright.”
One of the clips from Platt’s China footage showed the Chinese and U.S. swim teams walking to meet each other. The U.S. team was slouched and walking haphazardly, a stark contrast to the Chinese team, who marched with uniform precision. Yet when they met, the two teams fit well together, and broad smiles could be made out through the grainy footage.