Huang Hua, the former Foreign Secretary and Vice-Premier of China passed away on Friday at 97. I said my farewells to him last winter during a visit to Beijing, and wish I’d had more opportunities to get to know him, having had one wonderful evening with him during my first trip to Beijing in 2006 when his wife He Liliang and he welcomed me to their hutong for a roast duck dinner. Any conversation that ranges from the negotiations of the end of the Korean War to life in New York City in the early 1970s as the Chinese ambassador to the United Nations (where he served as president of the Security Council) is a dinner conversation that comes along but once in life. He was a true witness to history, having been with Mao from the very beginning, acting as China’s window to the west in his role as friend and translator to the journalist Edgar Snow who’s Red Star Over China is regarded as the book that brought the Communist Revolution to the attention of the western world. From his role in negotiating the Nixon-Mao talks to his influence over the massive reforms that led to the modern Chinese miracle, he will be remembered as a founding father of the Chinese state.
My condolences to his widow, my brother in law Huang Bin and my sister Deidre Nickerson and the rest of his family. A state funeral will be conducted next month and his obituary in the New York Times can be found here.