Sidney Rittenberg: Use Your Head and Follow Your Heart
Sidney Rittenberg has known every Chinese leader: Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai, the notorious “Gang of Four,” Deng Xiaoping, and the present president and premier. The Army trained Sidney in Chinese Studies during World War II, and sent him to China.
He later joined the UN Relief Program, met and formed a friendship with Zhou Enlai, and in 1946 accepted the invitation to help train Chinese journalists working in English. He became a leading translator for the Works of Mao Zedong, and was the only American citizen accepted into the Chinese Communist Party, until he withdrew from the party during the Cultural Revolution.
In China, Sidney found Yulin, his dream girl and lifetime partner; she has been for 56 years the source of his happiness and the strength behind his achievements. 16 of Sidney’s 35 years in China were spent as a prisoner in solitary confinement on charges of being an American spy. He was freed in 1977 and eulogized by the post-Cultural Revolution Chinese government as a true friend of China.
His family became a myth and a legend, giving them easy entrée to China’s leaders — a great advantage for their consulting work. As consultants, Sidney and Yulin have helped clients like Intel, InFocus, Nextel, Levi Strauss, Hughes Aircraft, ARCO, Microsoft, and Teledesic, as well as CBS’ Dan Rather and Sidney’s close friends, Mike Wallace and the Reverend Billy Graham. Sidney has appeared on virtually every major TV and Radio interview program, he has been interviewed or revieweed by every major newspaper, and frequently gives seminars on the China business.
He has been a Distinguished Professor of Chinese History at the University of North Carolina, where an endowed chair has been announced in his honor, and is currently Visiting Professor of China Studies at Pacific Lutheran University. Sidney’s 35 years in China are chronicled in “The Man Who Stayed Behind,” co-authored with (then) senior Wall Street Journal writer, Amanda Bennett.