China Hands: The Globe and Mail in Peking


363 pages
Contains Illustrations
ISBN 0-7710-8436-6




Edited by Charles Taylor

Madeleine J. Bailey was the College Librarian in the Learning Resources Centre at Mount Royal College in Calgary.


This book tells as much about the correspondents as it does about the Chinese. Charles Taylor is himself one of the eleven journalists who staffed the Peking Bureau from 1959 to 1984. Articles originally published in the Globe and Mail are threaded together by Taylor’s commentary, which includes biographical details of each correspondent and the political climate of his time in China.

The 25 years covered by the book was a period of dramatic change in China, ranging from the rigidity of the Mao regime to the moderate West-looking policies of the eighties. In between, we read of the rift with Moscow, Ping-Pong Diplomacy, Nixon’s visit, the Cultural Revolution, the deaths of Mao and Chou Enlai, the Gang of Four, the Democracy Movement, and Deng Xiaoping.

Despite the public face presented to Western visitors, each correspondent relates unique stories of his Chinese contacts. In many accounts their feelings about what they saw show clearly between the lines. All were obviously deeply affected by their stint in China. Many returned to write their own books.

China Hands is valuable as an anthology of their most interesting, moving, and at times shocking experiences. While each chapter is discrete, the whole presents a vivid picture of a teeming society. Common to each report are the themes of geographical expense, hard work, commitment, and, overall, humanity. Filled with fascinating photographs, the book leaves one with a clear portrait of a little-known nation, and a sense that much is left yet to learn.


“China Hands: The Globe and Mail in Peking,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 24, 2024,