Jaime FlorCruz, an activist student leader in the Philippines, arrived in China in 1971 to take a look at the Maoist “New China”, and the next day, Martial Law was declared in Manila. Jaime was stuck – if he returned he would probably be executed. So he stayed in China, a stateless castaway working on people’s communes and learning the language, until the death of Chairman Mao ushered in dramatic changes, including an opportunity for him to become one of the Class of ‘77 – the first intake of students into prestigious Peking University after a decade of chaos. His classmates included many of the people who have remade China over the decades since, including the current premier Li Keqiang, former high-flyer and now imprisoned Bo Xilai and various other people destined over the coming years to be entrepreneurs, dissidents and scientists. This was the core of the new elite and Jaime was at the center of it. After graduating, he went on to become one of the most visible foreign correspondents based in China, serving as bureau chief for both TIME magazine and CNN. But the story of how he established himself in China is a unique reflection of the momentous changes that have shaken this country in the past five decades.