Photograph of Chinese dissident and memoirist Nien Cheng.

Nien Cheng

(1915 - 2009)

Born in Beijing in 1915, Nien Cheng studied at the London School of Economics in the 1930s, lived in Australia during World War II, and, following the death of her husband, became a special adviser to Shell Oil in China in 1957. Days after witnessing the beginning of the Cultural Revolution, she was arrested and charged with espionage. She was in prison for more than six years, learning after her release that the Red Guards had killed her only child for refusing to denounce her. Cheng published her memoir, Life and Death in Shanghai, in 1986.

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