About The Diaries

Fu wrote in his diary every day, reflecting on roles, activities, relationships and his own feelings. He wrote in his native language, Chinese, using the old-style method of writing traditional characters without punctuation. To write, Fu used thin wooden dip-pens that took a fine Esterbrook (or generic German-made) steel nib. Dots marked in red ink were used as markers between characters to emphasize points, rather like underlining. Fu did not write (as we might do today) in a bound journal. His entries were made out on single sheets of thick, medium grey paper, measuring 13 × 18 cm. Each sheet was personalized with his name embossed in red block-letters on the top right-hand corner of the page, and at the end of each year, the leaves were bound with cord and tied into binders, either of embossed leather, or cloth-covered cardboard.

As a young revolutionary, Fu had worked closely with Dr. Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of China’s Republic. Later he became a leading diplomat under General Chiang Kai-shek’s National Government. He held important government positions, including a long stint as Chiang’s Ambassador to Soviet Russia from 1943-1949. An account of that period can be listened to here in ‘Fu Bingchang’s Diaries’, Document, a Radio 4 special on ‘The Big Freeze’ Cold War series.

Educated in Hong Kong, Fu was a man of international culture. He loved languages and was fluent in Chinese, English, French, and in later life, Russian. Fu lived his life during some of China’s most difficult and heroic periods, straddling the divide between East and West through the vicissitudes of the anti-Japanese War, the Second World War, China’s Civil War, the emergence of the Cold War, and finally, National rule in Taiwan. Fu’s diaries cover all these periods, and his keen observations, from a Chinese perspective, throughout these troubled times are heart-felt and candid with doses of wit and humour along the way. Today, Fu is also recognised for his contribution to photography. A talented photographer with an eye for beauty and form, his photograph entitled, ‘Woman in a Swimsuit Sitting on a Rock’ was recently included by Paul Lowe (2017) in his magnificent volume, 1001 Photographs: You Must See Before You Die. More about Fu’s photographic career and talents can be found here at the ‘Historical Photographs of China’ project, established in 2006, and based at the University of Bristol.


A Note on Transliteration

The Republic of China uses the Wade-Giles system as the standard way of Romanization of Mandarin Chinese. In mainland China today, Hanyu Pinyin is the official Romanization system for Standard Chinese. In the introductions to the diaries, transliterations from Chinese are mostly in Hanyu Pinyin. The only exceptions are a few limited cases where names in Wade-Giles may be more familiar to some Western readers. In particular, Wade-Giles is used for names such as Chiang Kai-shek, Chiang Ching-kuo, and Taipei, as readers may have become more accustomed to this traditional style of transliteration of these names.


Diary Introductions

Introduction to the Moscow years

Summary of 1943 – 1949

Introduction to the Taiwan years

Summary of 1958

Summary of 1959

Summary of 1960

Summary of 1961

Summary of 1962

Summary of 1964

Summary of 1965


A List of Major Gaps in Fu Bingchang’s Diaries 1939-1965

Click the ‣ to expand the section.


1939  1 Jan-10 Nov.

1940  20 Feb-20 Mar; 20 Apr-31 Dec.

1941  2-31 Dec.

1943  None

1944  None

1945  None

1946  None

1947  None

1948  None

1949  17 Mar-31 Dec.

1950  Diary notes only

1951  7 Mar-30 Apr; 16 May–Jun14; 20 Jun-21 Dec.

1952  22 Mar-31 Dec.

1953  1 Jan-31 Aug; 27-30 Sept; 8-14 Oct; 7 Nov-31 Dec.

1954  Whole year

1955  1 Jan-21 Aug; 28 Aug-16 Oct; 29 Oct-4 Nov; 9-13 Nov; 15-16 Nov.

1956  14 Feb-31 Dec.

1957  1 Jan-20 Apr; 19 Jun-31 Dec.

1958  1 Jan-21 Sept.

1959  None

1960  None

1961  None

1962  None

1963  None

1964  4-10 Dec.

1965  15-29 Jul.


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