Chinapol creator Richard Baum dead at 72

Richard Baum

China watcher Richard Baum, perhaps most well known for creating the listserv Chinapol in 1999 — a precursor to the many China blogs and newsletters and news groups we see today — passed away at age 72 on Friday of cancer.

Via Taipei Times:

In 1967, then still a graduate student, Baum leapt to prominence when he managed to gain access to classified Chinese Communist Party (CCP) documents gathered by Taiwanese intelligence.

Using those documents, Baum demonstrated how Mao Zedong’s (毛澤東) focus on class struggle was clashing with the aspirations of his opponents within the CCP, namely Liu Shaoqi (劉少奇) and Deng Xiaoping (鄧小平), whose main aims were to root out official corruption.

Baum also wrote and edited eight books on Chinese politics, including Burying Mao and China Watcher: Confessions of a Peking Tom. His legacy lives strong.

Today more than 1,000 academics, journalists, activists and government officials from as many as 26 countries use Chinapol to exchange views and information about the political, social and economic aspects of China.

Among them are several academics and journalists who specialize in Taiwan.

As the forum’s moderator, the ever-watchful Baum became famous for issuing “yellow cards” whenever the large egos that come with academia and journalism led to sometime vicious online tirades, or whenever segues threatened to become interminable.

(Renowned China watcher Richard Baum dies at 72)

    One Response to “Chinapol creator Richard Baum dead at 72”

    1. t_co

      Condolences to his family and friends. However, his legacy is pretty mixed–he deliberately encouraged the formation of a critical outlook on China among US China hands through biased moderation on Chinapol. As such, part of the blame for the current polarized discourse in the US and in China on each other can be laid squarely at his feet.


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