Roderick MacFarquhar

Roderick MacFarquhar

Roderick Lemonde MacFarquhar (born December 2, 1930) is a Harvard University professor and China specialist, British politician, newspaper and television journalist and academic orientalist. He served briefly as a Member of Parliament.

Family and early life

MacFarquhar was the son of Sir Alexander MacFarquhar, a member of the Indian Civil Service and later a senior diplomat at the United Nations where he eventually became Under Secretary for Personnel.

He was born in Lahore, Pakistan and educated at the leading Scottish public school, Fettes College.

Academic and journalistic career

After spending part of his national service from 1949 to 1950 in Egypt and Jordan as a Second Lieutenant in the Royal Tank Regiment, he went up to Keble College, Oxford to read Philosophy, Politics and Economics, obtaining a BA in 1953. He then went on to obtain a Master's degree from Harvard University in Far Eastern Regional Studies in 1955.

He worked as a journalist on the staff of the "Daily Telegraph" and "Sunday Telegraph" from 1955 to 1961 specialising in China, and also reported for BBC television "Panorama" from 1963 to 1964. He was editor of "China Quarterly" from 1959 to 1968, and a non-resident Fellow of St Antony's College, Oxford from 1965 to 1968. In 1969 he was a Senior Research Fellow at Columbia University in New York City, and in 1971 he returned to England to hold a similar fellowship at the Royal Institute of International Affairs. He was also the founding co-presenter of BBC World Service "24 Hours" in 1971.

Political career

In the 1966 general election, MacFarquhar fought the Ealing South constituency for the Labour Party but failed to dislodge the sitting Conservative MP. Two years later, he was Labour candidate who attempted to retain the Meriden seat in a by-election; he was on the wrong end of a 18.4% swing at the height of the Wilson government's unpopularity.

Following the defeat of George Brown in 1970 and favourable boundary changes, MacFarquhar was selected to fight the Belper constituency, and at the February 1974 general election succeeded in winning the seat from its sitting Conservative MP Geoffrey Stewart-Smith. Although he won, there was an estimated swing of 4% to the Conservatives had the same boundaries applied in the previous election.

MacFarquhar proved a moderate figure, in line with Brown's views. He abstained on a vote to remove the disqualification of left-wing Labour councillors in Clay Cross who had broken council housing laws enacted by the previous Conservative government. However there were exceptions: he also abstained on a vote to increase the Civil list payments on February 26, 1975. He acted as Parliamentary Private Secretary (PPS) to David Ennals, a minister of the state at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, and retained the job when Ennals was promoted to be Secretary of State for Social Services. He was made a member of the Select Committee on Science and Technology.

After Parliament

In 1978 MacFarquhar resigned his office as PPS after voting against the Government. In that year, he became a Governor of the School of Oriental and African Studies, a University of London constituent body. The post gave him a job which he could do if he lost his seat. In the 1979 general election, MacFarquhar did indeed lose by 800 votes, and returned to academia and broadcasting (returning to "24 Hours" for a year).

He remained involved in politics and his moderate beliefs made him increasingly uncomfortable in the Labour Party: on October 22, 1981 he announced that he had joined the Social Democratic Party. He fought the South Derbyshire seat, which contained most of then-abolished Belper, for the SDP in the 1983 general election, and nearly succeeded in beating the Labour candidate, although the seat was easily won by the Conservatives.

ubsequent academic career

In 1981 he was awarded a PhD by the University of London. He was a Fellow of the Woodrow Wilson Centre in Washington D.C. in 1980-81 and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 1986. He was also a Leverhulme Research Fellow from 1980 until 1983 and a Walter Channing Cabot Fellow at Harvard in 1993-1994. He is currently the Leroy B. Williams Professor of History and Political Science at Harvard University, and has written many books and articles on modern Chinese subjects. He is considered the West's preeminent scholar of Chinese politics from the founding of the People's Republic through the Cultural Revolution.


He is the author of:
*1960 "The Hundred Flowers Campaign and the Chinese Intellectuals"
*1961 "The Sino-Soviet Dispute"
*1966 "China under Mao"
*1972 "Sino-American Relations: 1949-1971"
*1972 "The Forbidden City"
*1974-1997 "The Origins of the Cultural Revolution" (3 volumes)

and has been joint editor and contributor to:
*1987, 1991 "The Cambridge History of China", vol. 14 and 15
*1989 "The Secret Speeches of Chairman Mao"
*1991 "Perspectives on Modern China: Four Anniversaries"
*1993, 1997 "The Politics of China: 1949-1989" and revised edition
*1999 "The Paradox of China's Post-Mao Reforms"
*2004 "The Politics of China"
*2006 "Mao's Last Revolution" (with Michael Schoenhals)

External links

* [ Home page] at Harvard.

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