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approved by the appropriate Chinese organization prior to the grantee's departure for China, and placements are negotiated with host institutions. Yet most researchers discover that the implementation of these carefully laid plans requires continuous negotiation with their host units. Some scholars adjust their project to fit available materials and resources. Proposals must be flexible enough to accommodate different opportunities.

The last edition of China Bound noted, "The most serene reports come from individuals who manage to combine a Taoist philosophy that everything will eventually work itself out with low-key but persistent negotiations with Chinese hosts."

Reports from more recent years suggest that that approach is still best. One researcher writes:

Working successfully in China seems to require the development of a kind of Zen-like mental balance that allows you to take in new and often challenging information without having it obscure your original vision. . . . If I ever encounter a similar situation, I hope I will be able to arrive more quickly to a state of resignation and not waste so much mental energy being mad.


Historians and other scholars in the humanities have benefited greatly from the opportunity to do research in China's vast archival and library collections. As Beatrice Bartlett, a leading expert on China's Ming-Qing archives, writes:

China's dazzling wealth of archives and plethora of archival organizations, preserving 30 million fascicles (juan) of materials at both the national and local levels, have attracted many foreign researchers. In addition to the three enormous chronologically-demarcated institutions for central-government holdings—the Number One in Beijing for Ming and Qing documents, the Number Two in Nanjing covering the Republic, and the central archives in Beijing for the post-1949 era —there are more than 2,000 local depositories. In theory, every county (xian) or district in China has its own archive; this should also be true for most townships (xiang) as well. Faced with this information, foreign scholars may be led to devise extensive research plans worthy of this latest manifestation of the fabled riches of the East. Nevertheless, researchers are well advised to proceed with caution. Direct inspection of a local archive is likely to yield considerable deviation from expectations.4


Beatrice Bartlett, "The Number Three Archives of China: The Liaoning Provincial Archives." China Exchange News, Fall-Winter 1991, pp. 2-6.

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