Seymour and Audrey Ronning Topping describe their 1971 interview with China’s premier Zhou En-Lai. It was the first interview that he gave to American correspondents in decades. Audrey Ronning Topping met premier Zhou through her father Chester Ronning, Canada’s first ambassador to China who was a close friend of premier Zhou. When Audrey met Zhou in 1971, he said that China’s greatest challenge in the future will be pollution.
The interview also included premier Zhou’s articulation of China’s fundamental policy toward Taiwan. He enunciated for the first time to a Western audience that China’s intentions were peaceful, and that China hoped to attract Taiwan back to the mainland by peaceful means. Party Secretary Hu Jintao has firmly re-set China’s policy and practices toward Taiwan back to this original compass heading established by China’s founding leaders. Thus, premier Zhou’s policy is still being pursued by Beijing’s leaders today.