Illustration by Tim Marrs In August 2013, Josh Cheng, a Chinese businessman, was reading the newly published memoir of Li Rui, a senior Chinese Communist Party official, when he got an idea. In the book, which was banned in mainland China because it criticized the party, Li Rui revealed that he had maintained a diary since the 1930s, when he first joined the Chinese revolution.Cheng had secured his copy in Hong Kong. As a one-time secretary to Party chairman Mao Zedong, Li’s personal diaries were sure to offer an invaluable perspective on critical events in modern Chinese history. Li intimated that he planned to entrust the diaries to his daughter, Li Nanyang, so she could find a place for them to be studied after he died. “It’s hard to remember the details of what transpired when I worked at the Central Organization Department,” Li Rui wrote.” But I’ve kept a diary almost every day. After I die, my daughter, Nanyang, will sort it out.” When Cheng, a graduate of Stanford University, read thiSubscribe or login to read the rest. Subscribers get full access to: Exclusive longform investigative journalism, Q&As, news and analysis, and data on Chinese business elites and corporations. We publish China scoops you won't find anywhere else. A weekly curated reading list on China from David Barboza, Pulitzer Prize-winning former Shanghai correspondent for The New York Times. A daily roundup of China finance, business and economics headlines. We offer discounts for groups, institutions and students. Go to our Subscriptions page for details.