Defectors: By Mutual Consent

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Communist China and the American defectors it wooed after the Korean War seem to have sadly disappointed each other. Of the 21 defectors, a dozen came back to the U.S., five took up residence in other parts of the world, and one died in China. Last week Clarence S. ("Skippy") Adams, 37, a slender Negro from Memphis who was captured in North Korea in late 1950, became the 18th turncoat to forsake the Communists. That leaves only two still in Red China, and Adams believes that one of them is about to leave. Said Adams, after arriving in San Francisco with his Chinese wife and their two children: "I think that they were as happy to get rid of me as I was to leave."

Constant Indoctrination. Things were not always that way. A Tennessee boy who had never been out of the state until he joined the Army at 18, Adams, after his defection, went to People's University in Peking for two years and Wuhan University for five, learning Mandarin and other Chinese languages. He met and married Liu Lin-feng, a teacher of Russian and the daughter of a deceased war lord, was given a job as a translator for the Foreign Languages Press at about $85 a month. He lived well by Chinese standards in a three-room apartment, had access to Western publications (including TIME) because of his work. Despite constant indoctrination at every stage of his life in China, the great promise of China began to dim: "In China, the people are not free of mind. They don't dare conflict with the official view."

First, Adams discovered the emptiness of one of the promises that had lured him to China: racial equality. On two occasions, he got into scuffles over racial slurs. He also began to be stifled by the indoctrination and the joylessness of Red Chinese life. "The Chinese have no sense of humor," says Adams. "When you go to the movies there, you don't go to be entertained; you go to study." Starved for recreation, he began visiting Peking's African embassies "to hear music, to dance and to talk freely." The Chinese did not like it, urged him to break off contact with the Africans. When he asked to leave China, they quickly agreed.

A Rest from Polemics. Eighteen months ago Adams taped two broadcasts urging Negro U.S. soldiers in Viet Nam to put down their arms and return home to fight for racial equality, but he insists that "I never considered myself a Communist." Now, he wisely has little to say about the war except that "we have to find some way to solve it." After visiting his mother in Memphis, he hopes to get a job teaching Mandarin, lead "a quiet life" with his family. As for civil rights or antiwar demonstrations, he says that he wants no part of them. After more than 15 years with the Chinese Communists, Clarence Adams feels that he needs a rest from polemics.