U.S. diplomat denounced by Mao is finally laid to rest in China

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On Aug. 2, 1949, with the Communists about to seize power in Beijing, the United States recalled its ambassador to China, John Leighton Stuart, a respected missionary, educator and diplomat.

Mao Zedong, the insurgent Communist leader who would take power two months later, quickly denounced Stuart as a symbol of failed American imperialism. Stuart's departure effectively ended diplomatic ties between the United States and China for a quarter century.

Stuart died in Washington in 1962. He had written in his will that he hoped his remains would some day be buried in China, where he had been born the son of Christian missionaries in 1876 and had helped found a prominent university, but where he was no longer welcome.

For decades, the answer from Beijing seemed to be no.

But on Monday, 46 years after his death and after years of sensitive negotiations about the political implications of such a burial, Stuart's ashes were laid to rest at a cemetery near the eastern city of Hangzhou, about two hours south of Shanghai.

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