This article examines the Hong Kong writer Gu Cangwu 古蒼梧 (1945–) and his grass roots activism during the Cold War, namely, his appropriation of the University of Iowa’s International Writing Program (IWP). At the IWP from 1970 to 1971, Gu grew critical of US foreign policy, coedited a newsletter produced in the IWP offices, participated in political demonstrations, and published correspondence in Hong Kong in support of the Baodiao movement. The author argues that Gu’s activities co-opted a Cold War institution to promote collective political action among the Chinese diaspora and, importantly, among audiences back in Hong Kong, amplified political resistance against both the United States and the United Kingdom. An examination of Gu’s writings, including his correspondence, poems, and 2012 faux memoir Jiu jian 舊箋 (Old Letters), in relation to Kuan-hsing Chen’s model of “Asia as meth od” and minjian society, establishes how Gu’s political awakening in the United States and the overall student-led Baodiao movement enlarges Chen’s conceptual framework. Rather than arising out of indigenous practices, the transpacific movement began overseas among the Chinese diaspora and, in the eyes of Gu, led to genuine political change in Hong Kong.
- Gu Cangwu
- Hong Kong
- Baodiao movement
- International Writing Program