Author(s): Bruce Kohn
When New Zealand signed the world's first country-to-country free trade agreement with China in 2008, it was Victor Percival whom Prime Minister Helen Clark termed "The man who started it all". This is his story. Setting out in 1956 in defiance of Western governments, including his own to find out for himself the reality of his belief to develop a relationship between the Chinese people and the West. Over more than half a century, Percival experienced the turmoil of revolution, the unyielding hardship of Maoist policies and the transformation of China from industrial backwater to economic and military powerhouse and its openings to the West.
Bruce Kohn is a veteran political and foreign correspondent whose postings for the New Zealand Press Association news agency took in London and Western Europe 1966-70, Washington DC and the Americas 1970-75 and Hong Kong and East Asia 1977-81, before becoming economics and business editor of Wellington's Evening Post newspaper. Currently a public affairs consultant in the New Zealand capital, Wellington, he is coauthor of a book on the late New Zealand Prime Minister Norman Kirk, Hunter on the Hill. Extensive travel in China during years of transition from China under Mao to the assumption of power by Deng Xiaoping gave him a rare insight into the complexities of Chinese politics and the adjustments required of the Chinese people, overseas governments and international traders to the New China.