Letter from Mao Zedong to Clement Attlee set to fetch £100,000 at auction
A historic letter from the Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong asking the British Labour politician Clement Attlee to provide support for China is expected to fetch more than £100,000 when it comes to auction later this month.
The letter, signed by Mao and dated from November 1, 1937, before Mr Attlee became prime minister, is one of the very first communications between the Communist leader and any Western politician.
Written from Yan'an, a remote part of north-western China where the Communists had set up headquarters following the full-scale Japanese invasion of the country, it calls for urgent assistance from the British in the war against Japanese imperialism.
After stating his solidarity and goodwill towards the British people, Mao said: "We would ask you especially to lend the support of your Party to any measures of practical assistance to China that may be organised in Great Britain.
"We believe that the British people, when they know the truth about Japanese aggression in China, will rise in support of the Chinese people, will organise practical assistance on their behalf, and will compel their own Government to adopt a policy of active resistance to a danger that ultimately threatens them no less than ourselves.
"Long live the Peace Front of the Democratic Nations against Fascism and Imperialist War."
The letter is only the second signed by Mao to appear on the international auction market in recent decades, and is expected to fetch between £100,000 and £150,000 when it comes to auction at Sotheby's in London on December 15.
Gabriel Heaton, Sotheby's specialist in books and manuscripts, said: "This attempt to elicit British support against Japan is an extraordinarily early instance of Mao engaging in international diplomacy, and is an exceptionally rare example of Mao's signature.
"This is only the second document signed by Mao to appear on the international auction market in recent decades."