In 1980, a story circulated in Shanghai about Dr. Chen Renbing 1 (1919–1990) and was recalled by Jane Foster, wife of a visiting American scholar:
In the afternoon, one of John’s old friends, a teacher of sociology 2 turned up. He stayed over 3 hours, telling us the tale of his life. John had last seen him in Penang in 1940 when John was enroute from Rangoon to Hong Kong. Chen was an activist in support of the left and Democratic League in those days—a fourth generation Christian. His father was a minister of the Swedish-American church.
In 1947, his first wife and two daughters left China for the United States and he had not seen them since. This man had an MA from the University of Southern California and Ph.D. from the University of Michigan. In 1957, he was labeled a ‘Capitalist Roader’ (He was personally named by Mao Zedong as being an anti-Communist party “Rightist” and was vilified and punished, or “capped” 3 ) and has done no teaching since. At first he had been dean at St. John’s University and later professor at Fudan. Chen lost his rank and salary and for 9 years worked in a carpenter’s shop at Fudan. Since last June he has been allowed to teach again but still is not “uncapped.” His father, younger brother and self were all declared “Rightists.” Another brother, a doctor, was beaten to death during the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), had seven ribs broken and his death was not revealed till 5 years after the fact. Another brother, a physicist, was put to hard physical labor and died as a result.
Chen and wife divorced and he married again in 1964 and has a 17-year old son. He also has a step-daughter by wife’s first marriage. Next week, he starts teaching again at Fudan. During the years, there has 2been a tremendous amount of ostracism. But it seems the “capped” have stuck together and given each other moral support. For years, he lived on 57 4 yuan a month, reduced from 220 yuan but now is getting some of his pay back. This is one of the most horrendous stories I have heard. 5