Joan Chase Engst

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Joan Chase Engst (Hinton)

Chinese: 寒春
Also Known As: "Joanie"
Birthdate: (88)
Birthplace: Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States
Death: June 8, 2010 (88)
Beijing, Beijing, China
Immediate Family:

Daughter of Sebastian Hinton and Carmelita Hinton
Wife of Erwin "Sid" Engst
Mother of Private; Private and Private
Sister of Jean Hinton Rosner and William H. Hinton

Managed by: Johann Sebastian Paetsch
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Joan Chase Engst

She was one of the Los Alamos main Atomic physicists that created the first atomic bomb along with Oppenheimer and they were promised by the US government that it would never be used against human life.. That it was so horrible that it would just be used as a deterent end all wars forever. But it was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. So she left the Country forever.

She played the violin and rode horses very well.

Joan Hinton From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Joan Hinton (Chinese name: 寒春, Pinyin: Hán Chūn; 20 October 1921 – 8 June 2010)[1] was a nuclear physicist and one of the few women scientists who worked for the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos. She lived in the People's Republic of China after 1949, where she and her husband Erwin (Sid) Engst participated in China’s efforts at developing a socialist economy, working extensively in agriculture. She lived on a dairy farm north of Beijing before her death on June 8, 2010.

Family background

Her father, Sebastian Hinton, was a lawyer (who also was the inventor of the jungle gym[2]); her mother, Carmelita Hinton, was an educator and the founder of The Putney School, an independent progressive school in Vermont. Her sister, Jean Hinton Rosner (1917–2002), was a civil rights and peace activist. Joan Hinton's great-grandfather was the mathematician George Boole; Ethel Lilian Voynich, a great-aunt, was the author of The Gadfly, a novel later read by millions of Soviet and Chinese readers.

Nuclear scientist

Joan Hinton studied physics at Bennington College and the University of Wisconsin.[3] She observed the Trinity test at Alamogordo and wrote about it:

“It was like being at the bottom of an ocean of light. We were bathed in it from all directions. The light withdrew into the bomb as if the bomb sucked it up. Then it turned purple and blue and went up and up and up. We were still talking in whispers when the cloud reached the level where it was struck by the rising sunlight so it cleared out the natural clouds. We saw a cloud that was dark and red at the bottom and daylight at the top. Then suddenly the sound reached us. It was very sharp and rumbled and all the mountains were rumbling with it. We suddenly started talking out loud and felt exposed to the whole world.”

Joan Hinton was shocked when the US government, three weeks later, dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. She left the Manhattan Project and lobbied the government in Washington to internationalize nuclear power.

Moving to China

Her brother William H. Hinton (1919–2004), a sociologist, had travelled to China for the first time in 1937 and observed the land reform in the communist-occupied areas. (He would thirty years later publish Fanshen about his findings, a book that became very successful in the US.) In March 1948, Joan Hinton travelled to Shanghai, worked for Soong Ching-ling, the widow of President Sun Yat-sen, and tried to establish contacts with the Chinese communists. She witnessed the communists gaining control of Beijing in 1949 and moved to Yan'an, where she married Erwin Engst, who had been working in China since 1946. They worked at a farm near Xi'an and moved to Beijing to work as translators and editors at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in 1966.

During the Cold War, some Americans considered her to have betrayed the United States, as a nuclear physicist who went to China and took part in its revolution. However, what most Americans did not realize, according to Hinton, is that she and her husband were working in agriculture on a tiny commune in a remote part of China, without electricity or even radios.[4] On August 29 (or in June, according to another source), 1966, Joan Hinton, Erwin Engst and two other Americans living in China—Bertha Sneck (Shǐ Kè 史克, who had previously been married to Joan’s brother William) and Ann Tomkins (Tāngpǔjīnsēn 汤普金森)—signed a poster put up at the Foreign Experts Bureau in Beijing with the following text:

Which monsters and freaks are pulling the strings so foreigners get this kind of treatment? Foreigners working in China, no matter what class background they have, no matter what their attitude is toward the revolution, they all get the “five nots and two haves”: the five nots—first: no physical labour, second: no thought reform, third: no chances of contacts with workers and peasants, fourth: no participation in class struggle, fifth: no participation in production struggle; the two haves—first: they have an exceptionally high living standard, second: they have all kinds of specialization. What kind of concept is that? This is Khrushchevism, this is revisionist thinking, this is class exploitation! [...] We demand: [...] Seventh: the same living standard and the same level of Chinese staff; eighth: no specialization any more. Long live the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution!

A copy of the poster was shown to Mao Zedong, who issued a directive that “revolutionary foreign experts and their children should be treated the same as the Chinese.” In 1972, Joan Hinton and Erwin Engst started working in agriculture again at the Beijing Red Star Commune.

In June 1987, William Hinton went to the town of Dazhai in Shanxi province to observe the changes brought about by the reform policies, and in August 1987, Joan Hinton stayed at Dazhai as well.

In a 1996 interview with CNN, after nearly 50 years in China, she stated “[we] never intended to stay in China so long, but were too caught up to leave.”[4] Hinton described the changes she and her husband had witnessed in China since the beginning of the economic reforms of Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s. They stated they “have watched their socialist dream fall apart” as much of China embraced capitalism. A 2004 MSNBC interviews noted her critical assessment of economic change as “betrayals of the socialist cause.”[5] She noted what she describes as a rise of exploitation in Chinese society.

Hinton lived alone following the death of her husband in 2003. Her three children moved to the United States, with Hinton noting that “They probably would have stayed if China were still socialist.” Hinton retained her American citizenship, which she considered “convenient for travel.” [5] Her son, Yang Heping (Fred Engst) moved back to Beijing in 2007 as a professor at the University of International Business and Economics.[6]

In her 2005 essay “The Second Superpower”,[7] Hinton stated, “There are two opposing superpowers in the world today: the U.S. on one side, and world public opinion on the other. The first thrives on war. The second demands peace and social justice.”

She remained active in the small community of expats in Beijing, protesting against the war in Iraq.

References 1 Jump up 
^ Grimes, William (June 11, 2010). "Joan Hinton, Physicist Who Chose China Over Atom Bomb, Is Dead at 88". The New York Times. Retrieved June 12, 2010. 2 Jump up 
^ Hinton's original patents for the "climbing structure" are U.S. Patent 1,471,465 filed July 22, 1920; U.S. Patent 1,488,244 filed October 1, 1920; U.S. Patent 1,488,245 filed October 1, 1920; and U.S. Patent 1,488,246 filed October 24, 1921. 3 Jump up 
^ Ruth H. Howes: Their Day in the Sun: Women of the Manhattan Project>[1] 4 ^ Jump up to: 
a b Andrea Koppel: Leftist Americans in China grieve shift to capitalism (CNN, October 1st, 1996)—with photo of Sid Engst and Hinton 5 ^ Jump up to: 
a b Catherine Rampell: The atom spy that got away American defector to Maoist China not happy with 56 years of progress (NBC, August 13th, 2004) 6 Jump up 
^ "Yang, Heping's page in the faculty pages" . Retrieved: 14 October 2014. 7 Jump up 
^ Joan Hinton: The Second Superpower (Beijing International Peace Vigil)

links

in English • Joan Hinton: From a Farm in Sian: Letter to Anna Louise Strong (January 12, 1963) • Joan Hinton: The Second Superpower (Beijing International Peace Vigil) • Rafal T. Prinke: The Booles and Related Families • Li Jing: Beijing issues ‘green cards’ to foreigners (China Daily, August 23, 2004) • Hu Hang: Chinese "Green Card" (CCTV-9, Rediscovering China, June 24, 2005)—with photo of Joan Hinton • Rob Gifford: Portraits of a Changing China—American Maoist Joan Hinton (National Public Radio, September 3, 2002) • Caroline L. Herzenberg: Hyde Park Women in the Manhattan Project (Hyde Park Historical Society 2004) • Charles W. Hayford, "Joan Hinton (1921-2010)," The China Beat (July 15, 2010)[2] • Staunch Proletarian Internationalists and Anti-imperialist Fighters (International Network for Philippine Studies, August 1, 2002) • Robert F. Tinker: Science Standards: Promises and Dangers. In: Hands On!, (Cambridge: MA, TERC), v. 16, no.1 (Spring 1993) pp. 2, 17–19. • Seth Faison: History's Fellow Travelers Cling to Mao's Road (New York Times, August 28, 1996) • Andrea Koppel: Leftist Americans in China grieve shift to capitalism (CNN, October 1, 1996)—with photo of Sid Engst and Hinton • Catherine Rampell: The atom spy that got away American defector to Maoist China not happy with 56 years of progress (NBC, August 13, 2004) • Brauchli, Marcus. ‘To foreigners who sought a new life, China’s market reforms are a betrayal.’ Wall Street Journal. 11 Sept. 1999. • Rare blood donated to save American friend (China Daily, October 23, 2003) • The Blonde Atomic Traitress Gerry Kennedy tells the story of Joan and William Hinton. Broadcast on BBC Radio 4, May 14, 2007

in Chinese

• Zhōngguó nóngjīyuàn nóngjī shìyànzhàn jiǎnjiè 中国农机院农机试验站简介 (an introduction to Joan Hinton’s farm; Chinese Academy of Agricultural Mechanization Sciences) • Měi nǚ hédàn zhuānjiā Zhōngguó yǎng niú 57 nián cháng gěi zǒnglǐ dì zhǐtiáo 美女核弹专家中国养牛57年 常给总理递纸条 ) (An American woman nuclear bomb expert has been raising cattle in China for 57 years; she often writes to the prime minister; China Radio International, October 3, 2005 • Nà shì wǒ de gēgē Hán Dīng 那是我的哥哥韩丁 (That’s my brother Bill Hinton; Haidian dang’anguan) • Yáng Zhènníng 杨振宁: Yáng Zhènníng yǎn zhōng de tóngchuāng hǎoyǒu Dèng Jiàxiān 杨振宁眼中的同窗好友邓稼先 (Deng Jiaxian in the eyes of his good friend Yang Zhenning; October 13, 2004) • Yáng Zǎo Hán Chūn duì Zhōngguó rǔyè zhī gòngxiàn 阳早寒春对中国乳业之贡献 (Erwin Engst and Joan Hinton’s contributions to the Chinese dairy industry; Beijing Youth Daily, January 2004) • Lǐ Yán 李言: Yī shēng gān wéi Zhōngguó niú 一生甘为中国牛 (Guangming Daily, May 26, 2004) • Cānjiā "wéngé" de wàiguórén 参加“文革”的外国人 (Foreigners who participated in the "Cultural Revolution"; Hanwang, March 14, 2002) Literature[edit] • Juliet de Lima-Sison (ed.), Dao-yuan Chou: Silage Choppers & Snake Spirits. The Lives & Struggles of Two Americans in Modern China. Ibon Books, Quezon 2009, ISBN 971-0483-37-4. • Samuel A. Goudsmit Papers, 1921–1979, Box 41 Folder 13, on Joan Hinton, 1949–1978 (American Institute of Physics, Center for History of Physics; College Park, MD 20740).[3] • Ellis M. Zacharias: The Atom Spy Who Got Away (Real, 7/1953)

http://alchetron.com/Joan-Hinton-1018352-W

Death obituary, The Washington Post, 11 Jun 2010, Joan Hinton, 88 "Worked on Manhattan Project, Became Mao Devotee" by Matt Schudel

Joan Hinton, a onetime prep school student and ski instructor who worked on the Manhattan Project to build an atomic bomb during World War II, then moved to China and spent the rest of her life, as a devoted follwer of Mao Zedong, died June 8 at a hospital in Beijing. Her son said she had an abdominal aneurysm. She was 88.

In 1948, Ms. Hinton took the dramatic step of following her brother to China just as the country was in the throes of the Communist revolution led by Mao. Ms. Hinton, who witnessed the first atomic bomb explosion, in 1945, was upset when nuclear energy was used to annihilate much of the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki during the waning days of World War II. She renounced the violent use of atomic energy and moved to China, where she thought an ideal socialist state would emerge base on Mao's teachings.

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/5653644/#.WFm4BXeZPdQ

The Atom Spy that got away American defector to Maoist China not happy with 56 years of progress.

BEIJING — In 1952, a very pregnant Joan Hinton resurfaced on the U.S. radar. The youngest and only female physicist to have helped develop “the gadget” at Los Alamos, Hinton was giving a toast at a peace conference in Beijing. In her toast, she expressed regret for “helping build a bicycle when I didn’t have control of where it was going to go.”

It was this antiwar appearance that aroused McCarthyist suspicion of her activities in China. Disillusioned by America’s “unnecessary” nuclear attacks on Japan, Churchill’s “terrible iron curtain speech,” and unsuccessful lobbying for civilian control of nuclear energy, she had defected to China four years earlier to join Mao Zedong’s revolution. 'The Atom Spy that Got Away' 

“I had wanted to see why millets and rifles beat the Japanese in China,” she said. “And I didn’t want to spend my life killing people.” Magazines soon emblazoned her trench coat-clad caricature with the title, “The Atom Spy that Got Away,” circulating stories of nuclear espionage. Hinton, silver-haired and frail at 82, still laughs at the accusations.

Catherine Rampell  /  NBC News Joan Hinton at home in her apartment on the state-run dairy farm in China she's been running for more than 20 years.

She described her homes when she first arrived in China as cave-dwellings that lacked nails, electricity or regular mail service, let alone a nuclear reactor. Invoking Mao’s famous “paper tiger” epithet for America, she doubts China felt threatened enough to have even begun nuclear research at the time.  

Yet, after 56 years in China, Hinton is still quoting Mao. His likeness is ubiquitous in her home, a small apartment on the state-owned dairy farm she’s been running for 20 years. Hinton’s effusive and wistful memories of the “thirty years” under Chairman Mao is rare in China these days. Though his mugshot still beams from the southern wall of the Forbidden City, the government has officially departed from his doctrine, tactfully disowning the more radical movements inaugurated by Mao.

Most of the Mao memorabilia available on the streets of Beijing is consumed by tourists, not Chinese, who have largely outgrown Maoism.

Still a devotee of Mao —  all these years later 
Hinton is one of his few loyalists. She denounces all of Mao’s successors as “capitalist roaders.” She blasts all of the economic reforms beginning in 1978 and culminating with China’s entry into the World Trade Organization — and its recent bid for market economy status — as betrayals of the socialist cause.

She has few specific policy change requests, but she yearns for the days when everyone “would do the most they could. Everyone developed to their full capacity. Everyone was busy. … Everybody had a job. People weren’t exploiting each other.”

Hinton lauded the Great Leap Forward, the economic development plan from 1958 to 1960, during which a reported 30 million starved to death, as “wonderful” and “exciting.” “Every time I hear that [statistic], it gets higher. Sure, there were pockets of starvation. … But on the whole it was great. ... You can look around and still see projects started in the Great Leap Forward, like dams and factories,” said Hinton.

“If you don’t threaten people, and they have security, and they know they are developing society,” she said, “people are not lazy.”

Praise for the widely denounced Cultural Revolution 
Hinton gushes fervent praise for the Cultural Revolution, Mao’s mass mobilization of Chinese youth to criticize party officials, intellectuals and bourgeois values, from 1966 to 1976. “Mao wanted everybody to take part, to pay attention to national affairs,” said Hinton. “Here they discovered 29 renegades, which was terrific.”

Since Mao’s death in 1976, the party has renounced the Cultural Revolution, recounted in most history books as chaotic and violent. State censors even force domestic publications to lowercase and enclose in quotation marks any allusion to the “so-called ‘cultural revolution.’ ”

Hilton attributed any bloodshed from the Cultural Revolution or Great Leap Forward, and any imprisonment of her friends, to the “capitalist roaders and imperialists,” including Mao's “terrible wife,” Jiang Qing, who was given a suspended death sentence in 1981. Lenin takes a distant second to Mao in Hinton's eyes, and she has little respect for the North Korean brand of communism.

“They’re not Mao’s communists,” she said, glancing at a muted BBC broadcast on the giant television in her home. “They have this idea that you have to praise the leader. Mao wouldn’t allow roads or places to be named after Central Committee members when he was in power.”

Hinton is even more disdainful of the Chinese leaders who followed Mao. “Deng Xiaoping [Mao’s immediate successor] would rather have just a few people get rich rather than 98 percent of the country getting rich, like under Mao.” “Today there’s still plenty to do — it’s still a backward country — but people aren’t being mobilized.”

Hinton insisted that there was also more freedom of expression under Mao, at least in the form of weekly “self-criticisms” mandated on a farm she tended. But, she said, the more she carps about today’s policies, the more today’s party “listens” to her; at last year’s annual meeting of the “foreign experts,” she was seated beside Premier Wen Jiabao.

By contrast, the closest she ever got to a formal introduction to Mao was an anonymous handshake and a stroke of his sleeve. 

Content to live out her days in China 
Hinton now lives alone with a few admiring housekeepers, about 300 cows and the Internet to keep her company. Her husband, Sid Engst, who came to China in 1946, died last year, and her three children have moved to the United States.

“They probably would have stayed if China were still socialist,” Hinton griped. Hinton herself is still an American citizen, which is “convenient for travel.”

Despite the few model rockets that pepper her desk, a wooden board propped on a pile of bricks that she said most Chinese visitors often poke fun at, she doesn’t keep up with physics. At least not the kind that leaves her looking up at a “terrible purple cloud” in a “sea of light.”

She did, however, design the milking system for the dairy farm, whose produce was once sent to Kraft but is now all domestically consumed.

“In some ways, what I do on the farm is as difficult as my work at Los Alamos,” she said. “There we were all working together. I had other people.”

“And here,” in the People’s Republic of China, “here I’m working alone.”

Joan Hinton, Physicist Who Chose China Over Atom Bomb, Is Dead at 88

By WILLIAM GRIMESJUNE 11, 2010 Joan Hinton, a physicist who worked on the Manhattan Project, which developed the atom bomb, but spent most of her life as a committed Maoist working on dairy farms in China, died on Tuesday in Beijing. She was 88. The cause has not yet been determined, but she had an abdominal aneurysm, her son Bill Engst said.

Ms. Hinton was recruited for the Manhattan Project in February 1944 while still a graduate student in physics at the University of Wisconsin. At the secret laboratory at Los Alamos, N.M., where she worked with Enrico Fermi, she was assigned to a team that built two reactors for testing enriched uranium and plutonium.

When the first atom bomb was detonated near Alamogordo, N.M., on July 16, 1945, she and a colleague, riding a motorcycle, dodged Army jeep patrols and hid near a small hill about 25 miles from the blast point to witness the event. “We first felt the heat on our faces, then we saw what looked like a sea of light,” she told The South China Morning Post in 2008. “It was gradually sucked into an awful purple glow that went up and up into a mushroom cloud. It looked beautiful as it lit up the morning sun.”

Ms. Hinton thought that the bomb would be used for a demonstration explosion to force a Japanese surrender. After the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, she became an outspoken peace activist. She sent the mayors of every major city in the United States a small glass case filled with glassified desert sand and a note asking whether they wanted their cities to suffer the same fate.

In 1948, alarmed at the emerging cold war, she gave up physics and left the United States for China, then in the throes of a Communist revolution she wholeheartedly admired. “I did not want to spend my life figuring out how to kill people,” she told National Public Radio in 2002. “I wanted to figure out how to let people have a better life, not a worse life.”

In China she met her future husband, Erwin Engst, a Cornell-trained dairy-cattle expert, who went on to work on dairy farms as a breeder while she designed and built machinery. During the Cultural Revolution, they were editors and translators in Beijing. Ms. Hinton applied her scientific talents to perfecting a continuous-flow automatic milk pasteurizer and other machines. For the past 40 years, she worked on a dairy farm and an agricultural station outside Beijing, tending a herd of about 200 cows.

Joan Chase Hinton was born on Oct. 20, 1921, in Chicago. Her father, Sebastian Hinton, was a patent lawyer who invented the jungle gym in 1920. Her mother, Carmelita Chase Hinton, founded the Putney School, a progressive coeducational secondary school in Putney, Vt., which Joan attended and where she excelled as a skier, qualifying for the United States Olympic Team that would have competed in the 1940 games had they not been canceled.

After earning a bachelor’s degree in natural science from Bennington College in 1942, she enrolled at the University of Wisconsin, where she earned a doctorate in physics in 1944.

At Los Alamos, teams were assigned to theoretical and practical work. Ms. Hinton, assigned to practical work, piled beryllium blocks around the core of the site’s first reactor and constructed electronic circuits for the counters. According to Ruth H. Howes and Caroline L. Herzenberg, the authors of “Their Day in the Sun: Women of the Manhattan Project,” she then helped design and construct the control rods for a second reactor.

In her spare time, she played violin in a string quartet whose members included the physicists Edward Teller and Otto Frisch.

After the war she studied with Mr. Fermi as a fellow at the Institute for Nuclear Studies at the University of Chicago and then left for China, where she met and married Mr. Engst, who had been in the country since 1946 teaching agriculture and dairy-herd management.

Mr. Engst died in 2003. In addition to her son Bill, of Marlboro, N.J., she is survived by another son, Fred Engst of Beijing; a daughter, Karen Engst of Pau, France; and four grandchildren.

During the McCarthy era, Ms. Hinton’s name surfaced as a possible spy and spiller of nuclear secrets after she spoke at a peace conference in Beijing. Rear Adm. Ellis M. Zacharias denounced her in a 1953 article for Real magazine titled “The Atom Spy Who Got Away.”

An illustration depicted her as a furtive blonde in a trench coat, taking notes as she observed a nuclear test. There was never any evidence to show that Ms. Hinton passed secrets or did any work as a physicist in China.

She and her husband remained true believers in the Maoist cause.

“It would have been terrific if Mao had lived,” Ms. Hinton told The Weekend Australian in 2008 during a trip to Japan. “Of course I was 100 percent behind everything that happened in the Cultural Revolution — it was a terrific experience.”


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Joan_Hinton

Joan Hinton (Chinese name: 寒春, Pinyin: Hán Chūn; 20 October 1921 – 8 June 2010) was a nuclear physicist and one of the few women who worked for the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos. She lived in the People's Republic of China after 1949, where she and her husband Erwin Engst participated in China’s efforts at developing a socialist economy, working extensively in agriculture. She lived on a dairy farm north of Beijing before her death on June 8, 2010.


Family background


Her father, Sebastian Hinton, was a lawyer (who also was the inventor of the jungle gym); her mother, Carmelita Hinton, was an educator and the founder of The Putney School, an independent progressive school in Vermont. Her sister, Jean Hinton Rosner (1917–2002), was a civil rights and peace activist. Joan Hinton's great-grandfather was the mathematician George Boole; Ethel Lilian Voynich, a great-aunt, was the author of The Gadfly, a novel later read by millions of Soviet and Chinese readers.


Nuclear scientist


Joan Hinton studied physics at Bennington College and the University of Wisconsin. She observed the Trinity test at Alamogordo and wrote about it:

“It was like being at the bottom of an ocean of light. We were bathed in it from all directions. The light withdrew into the bomb as if the bomb sucked it up. Then it turned purple and blue and went up and up and up. We were still talking in whispers when the cloud reached the level where it was struck by the rising sunlight so it cleared out the natural clouds. We saw a cloud that was dark and red at the bottom and daylight at the top. Then suddenly the sound reached us. It was very sharp and rumbled and all the mountains were rumbling with it. We suddenly started talking out loud and felt exposed to the whole world.” 

Joan Hinton was shocked when the US government, three weeks later, dropped nuclear bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. She left the Manhattan Project and lobbied the government in Washington to internationalise nuclear power.


Moving to China


Her brother William H. Hinton (1919–2004), a sociologist, had travelled to China for the first time in 1937 and observed the land reform in the communist-occupied areas. (He would thirty years later publish Fanshen about his findings, a book that became very successful in the US.)


In March 1948, Joan Hinton travelled to Shanghai, worked for Soong Qingling, the widow of President Sun Yat-sen, and tried to establish contacts with the Chinese communists. She witnessed the communists gaining control of Beijing in 1949 and moved to Yan'an, where she married Erwin Engst, who had been working in China since 1946. They worked at a farm near Xi'an and moved to Beijing to work as translators and editors at the beginning of the Cultural Revolution in 1966.


During the Cold War, some Americans considered her to have betrayed the United States, as a nuclear physicist who went to China and took part in its revolution. However, what most Americans did not realize, according to Hinton, is that she and her husband were working in agriculture on a tiny commune in a remote part of China, without electricity or even radios.


On August 29 (or in June, according to another source), 1966, Joan Hinton, Erwin Engst and two other Americans living in China—Bertha Sneck (Shǐ Kè 史克, who had previously been married to Joan’s brother William) and Ann Tomkins (Tāngpǔjīnsēn 汤普金森)—signed a poster put up at the Foreign Experts Bureau in Beijing with the following text:

Which monsters and freaks are pulling the strings so foreigners get this kind of treatment? Foreigners working in China, no matter what class background they have, no matter what their attitude is toward the revolution, they all get the “five nots and two haves”: the five nots—first: no physical labour, second: no thought reform, third: no chances of contacts with workers and peasants, fourth: no participation in class struggle, fifth: no participation in production struggle; the two haves—first: they have an exceptionally high living standard, second: they have all kinds of specialisation. What kind of concept is that? This is Khrushchevism, this is revisionist thinking, this is class exploitation! [...] We demand: [...] Seventh: the same living standard and the same level of Chinese staff; eighth: no specialisation any more. Long live the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution! 

A copy of the poster was shown to Mao Zedong, who issued a directive that “revolutionary foreign experts and their children should be treated the same as the Chinese.”


In 1972, Joan Hinton and Erwin Engst started working in agriculture again at the Beijing Red Star Commune.


In June 1987, William Hinton went to the town of Dazhai in Shanxi province to observe the changes brought about by the reform policies, and in August 1987, Joan Hinton stayed at Dazhai as well.


In a 1996 interview with CNN, after nearly 50 years in China, she stated “[we] never intended to stay in China so long, but were too caught up to leave.” Hinton described the changes she and her husband had witnessed in China since the beginning of the economic reforms of Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s. They stated they “have watched their socialist dream fall apart” as much of China embraced capitalism. A 2004 MSNBC interviews noted her critical assessment of economic change as “betrayals of the socialist cause.” She noted what she describes as a rise of exploitation in Chinese society.


Hinton lived alone following the death of her husband in 2003. Her three children moved to the United States, with Hinton noting that “They probably would have stayed if China were still socialist.” Hinton retained her American citizenship, which she considered “convenient for travel.” Her son, Yang Heping (Fred Ernst) moved back to Beijing in 2007 as a professor at the University of International Business and Economics.


In her 2005 essay “The Second Superpower”, Hinton stated, “There are two opposing superpowers in the world today: the U.S. on one side, and world public opinion on the other. The first thrives on war. The second demands peace and social justice.”


She remained active in the small community of expats in Beijing, protesting against the war in Iraq.

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Joan Chase Engst's Timeline

1921
October 20, 1921
Chicago, Cook County, Illinois, United States
2010
June 8, 2010
Age 88
Beijing, Beijing, China