Liang Zhaotao at Liberation
During 1948, Yang Chengzhi, Liang Zhaotao, and the other anthropology faculty oversaw the matriculation of the first anthropology undergraduate class at Zhongda in the fall. Thirty-odd students were enrolled, with one graduate student admitted to the program awarding a master's degree in anthropology. The end of that first year was the summer of 1949, however, and when these first-year students were dismissed for the year it was already clear that the Chinese civil war would overtake them long before their graduation day.
Liang had joined the department at the level of assistant professor after his journeys to the West during the war against Japan and after two years as a lecturer in the Sociology Department. He looked forward to a career dedicated to anthropology and its nurturance in China—a China that was becoming ever more likely to undergo rapid social change in the near future. Liang welcomed the forces of revolution that were sweeping China, heading southward. For years Liang had maintained secret connections with underground revolutionaries of many stripes, and he was confident that the New China being established behind Red Army lines would provide a prominent place for a refurbished and progressive anthropology. His well-to-do brother's constant appeals for Liang to join him in Hong Kong fell on deaf ears; Liang considered it his patriotic duty to remain in Guangzhou. He was still there when the city was liberated in October 1949.
Soon thereafter all anthropology classes were canceled. Act I—Western Anthropology in China—was over. A Soviet act was to follow.