“Ending the Peace Corps program in China is not smart”

Thanks to Alana deJoseph for referencing this article. Author Lex Rieffel is a RPCV, India 1965-67


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  • Lex: Permit me to disagree, Has it occurred to you that it might have been the Chinese who discreetly asked Washington to discontinue the PC program? You know perfectly well, how sensitive Asians are about ” face.” The Chinese, more
    even than Indians, Iranians, and others.

    Were there some back channel hints that the Chinese thought that PCV’s were ONLY sent to third world countries?
    In the Xi Jin Ping era, any sign of backwardness is defacto foribidden. Is it possible that the Chinese saw the
    Peace Corps as some sort of symbol that they needed the U.S. assistance? Did you notice how many weeks
    the Chinese refused Washington’s offer of help from CDC and Anthony Fauci for lab and diagnostic help?

    Having served as the Country Director in Afghanistan ( 1966-68) I was made aware early on about such
    sensitivities by the host government. Every PCV learned that Afghans saw them as ” rich”, far better
    educated, and so forth, and that only in learning Farsi, that they, the Afghans, were naturally superior to
    the PCV’s, period.That was surely true of me. My Dari was minimal until well into my two years of service,
    The fact that I knew English, French and my native German did help me a lot with Cabinet ministers and
    such, but not with school principals, workmen, vendors, and places to stay overnight., My wife even told
    Afghans that SHE had to learn Dari to converse with the cook to avoid cinfusion, and indeed there was a
    true friendship between them toward the end of our time.

    I suspect that PC/W is very happy that they did not have to recall PCV’s because of infectious diseases.
    It happened elsewhere ( Ebola, SARS??) and entailed a lot of controversy.

    Walter P. Blass

  • Walter, I thought of your comment when I read this in Peter Hesseler’s article: “The Peace Corps Breaks Ties with China” https://peacecorpsworldwide.org/peter-hessler-writesthe-peace-corps-breaks-ties-with-china/

    “Chinese hard-liners also celebrated. In Guanchazhe, a conservative publication, a columnist named Pan Gongyu published a commentary, “Farewell, Peace Corps in China, We Won’t See You Off.” ”

    Also, after the decision to “graduate” and close the Peace Corps program in China, PCVs were evacuated from the China and later from Mongolia because of problems caused by the coronavirus.

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