It was a hero's homecoming in the finest Chinese tradition - on the mainland and on Taiwan. There were motorcades, eulogies, parades, sumptuous feasts, retinues to satisfy every request or whim.
The honored guest was Deputy Commissioner Hugh H. Mo of the New York City Police Department, the first Chinese-American to reach that rank.
For the Nationalist Government on Taiwan, the invitation was a way to pay homage to Mr. Mo's parents, who had firmly resisted the Communist takeover.
For the Communist Government in Peking, it was an opportunity to demonstrate concretely China's policy of reconciliation.
And for Shanghai-born Mr. Mo, who at the age of 9 months was forced to flee to Taiwan with his mother, the four-week trip this fall provided a new sense of identity and new insight into Chinese politics.
''Maybe the old generation can't sit down and break bread, but the ideological split doesn't involve me,'' Mr. Mo said. ''I'm very proud of my Chinese heritage and see the people in Taiwan and in China as one. I believe Chinese-Americans are in a unique position to bridge this ideological gap because we can be accepted by both sides.''
The story of Mr. Mo's family is part of a tragic chapter in Chinese history. His father, Mo Tze Shin, the director of the Shanghai Bureau of Criminal Investigation when the Communists came to power, was executed in 1951.
Mr. Mo's mother, Diana Chin Hsu, fled the country with her three youngest children, leaving the four older ones with their grandmother.
Mrs. Hsu, who lived in Asia and Europe after leaving China, gained prominence as an anti-Communist writer and the author of a best seller in Chinese, ''Mao Zedong Killed My Husband.'' She eventually brought her family to the United States.
Mr. Mo grew up on the Lower East Side, attended Stuyvesant High School, New York University and the Boston University School of Law. He served as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan and is now deputy commissioner for trials.
This year the Peking Public Security Bureau invited Mr. Mo, his American-born wife, their 3-year-old daughter and his mother to attend Liberation Day celebrations on Oct. 1.
Mr. Mo and his family accepted the offer as well as a standing invitation from the Nationalist Government to visit Taiwan, where Mrs. Hsu has close friends and relatives.
The lavish welcome given the Mos by the Nationalists was understandable. Nationalist leaders view Mr. Mo's father as a martyr. Cabinet ministers and the news media lionized him as a role model for Chinese. The entire Public Security Department was mobilized to honor him and his family during their one-week stay on the island.
But the overwhelming reception given him by the Peking Government came as a surprise to the Mos. The welcome, reflecting the changes in China in recent years, was an effort to show overseas Chinese the ''new reality'' in the country.
Closing a Painful Chapter
''They are asking us to let bygones be bygones,'' Mr. Mo said at the close of the visit. ''I learned how many other people have suffered during the war and the Cultural Revolution -even police officials - and agree there's no need to relive the past.''
The Communist Government went to all lengths to satisfy the Mos, showing them prisons and police stations, arranging family reunions, even helping them locate old family property.
The deputy commissioner was accorded the status of a visiting cabinet member and was received by the Prime Minister, the Ministers of Public Security and Overseas Chinese Affairs, the Mayor of Peking and senior officials around the country.
Mr. Mo, who speaks Mandarin fluently, was invited to address the National Public Security Officers' Training School and the Shanghai Police Academy. He spoke on crime and punishment in New York City, and was urged to return to share more of his expertise.
There were sentimental visits in Shanghai to the house where Mr. Mo was born and the prison where his father spent his last six months.
''Now the gates are wide open; it's like a dream,'' Mrs. Hsu marveled as the family was taken on a tour of the prison. The Mos attended a prison concert and art show.
The deputy commissioner talked freely with prisoners and remarked that conditions were ''better than the gulag generally portrayed in books on China.''
At Mrs. Hsu's request, her brother, a retired builder whom she had not seen in 40 years, was flown to Peking from the Xinjiang Autonomous Region.
There were meetings with members of the Chinese Writers Association and visits to the offices of the official New China News Agency, People's Daily and Fudan University in Shanghai, where she and her husband had been students.
Similar pains were taken for Mrs. Mo. Nine distant relatives were taken by bus from Taishan, her father's hometown, to Canton for a family reunion.
Babysitters stood by in every city to look after her daughter while she visited kindergartens, children's cultural centers and the All China Women's Federation, the national women's organization.
The Family Homestead
The highlight of the Mos' odyssey was a visit to the family's patriarchal homestead in the southern Guangxi Autonomous Region. The Mo family, rich landlords in a poor land, lost both property and lives during World War II, the Chinese civil war and the Cultural Revolution.
The authorities gently tried to dissuade Mr. Mo from making the journey to his father's birthplace, Ruoyun, a remote village not found on any map. Instead, they declared a school holiday for members of the Mo family in the area and took 48 of them to the county seat, Luzhai, for a reunion.
But the deputy commissioner and his mother were adamant; the pilgrimage must be made. It took two hours for them to travel by train from Guilin to Luzhai. It would normally have taken another three hours to hike to Ruo Yun since the mud road had been washed out, but the Chinese Army provided eight jeeps and a van for the journey.
Ruoyun is typical of the mud and thatch villages without electricity and running water found in China's mountainous areas.
''That's the door - but the rest of the house isn't there,'' Mrs. Hsu said, adding that things had changed since 1945, when she and her husband sought refuge from the Japanese.
A Bottle of Earth
''Dad must have been quite a guy to get out, just like Horatio Alger,'' Mr. Mo said as he dug up some earth in front of his father's house to put in a bottle on his desk at One Police Plaza in Manhattan.
Mr. Mo told local officials he hoped that when he returned he would be able to travel to his father's village on a simple, level road. They assured him it would be done.
On their last evening in Guilin, the Mos were feted in the local government guest house by Mayor Zhen Yi, who had been host to Vice President Bush the day before.
After the banquet, a police official led them to the site of the family's former property. It turned out to include the very guest house where they had dined.
Officials declared that Mr. Mo had the right to claim compensation for the Lu Zhai and Guilin properties, and any award could be turned over to less fortunate relatives.
''This journey back home is just beginning,'' said Mr. Mo, who planned to establish a foundation and possibly a scholarship for Ruo Yun.
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