China and the International Situation
ITS IMPORTANCE CANNOT BE OVERESTIMATED
By KING-CHAU MUI, Chinese Consul-General in Honolulu
Delivered over the radio from Hilo, Hawaii, July 30, 1941
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VII, pp. 661-662.
IN a mere decade of history, the world has arrived at a point where aggression once more runs rampant, and international justice and order are totally disrupted by totalitarian powers who plunder upon the safety of every freedom-loving nation today. Within a decade, no less than 12 nations have been forced to capitulate to totalitarian demands, and one of the greatest proponents of liberty, equality, and fraternity has collapsed before the enemy.
At present the world is witnessing the death-gripping struggle of Britain and Russia towards the Atlantic and China on the Pacific. The nature of this struggle is so critical that America herself, the only great stronghold of freedom yet unattacked, is forced to declare a state of national emergency. What has transpired within the decade is threatening the total dismemberment of the international order which has taken civilization centuries to realize, and the World War to substantiate.
If the world had heeded the signs of the times ten years ago, in the fall of 1931, and had taken proper steps to crush the rise of a new wave of imperialism, much of the international conflict that followed might have been avoided. Japan's march into Manchuria, constituted the first signs of an attack on international justice and peace. That violation of the League of Nations covenant, the Washington Nine Power Treaty, and the Kellogg Peace Pact served as a prelude to similar disregard for international law by totalitarian nations. When, in 1937, Japan embarked upon her campaign for economic and political control of China, the stage was cleared for the swift succession of catastrophes which has startled the world.
Although China had the sympathy of the world at the very outset of the Sino-Japanese conflict, her relationship to the international situation was not widely comprehended until last September. The culmination of a treaty of alliance by Germany, Italy and Japan, and more recently, the Axis recognition of the Nanking puppet government, have finally made clear China's role in relation to the international situation. They have identified the Greater Europe and Greater Asia movements as one, and they have definitely aligned China with all nations opposing the spread of totalitarianism, and the destruction of world order.
China, in fighting her battle for the preservation of her country, has been aiding the cause of other freedom-loving countries in the world. By offering a strong and stubborn defense, China has been preventing her aggressor from affecting a quick conquest, allowing her to avail herself of the huge resources of China. By refusing to a truce or peace talk as proposed time and again by the invader, China has been holding the aggressive forces in check for use elsewhere in the Pacific. A conquered China, a submissive China, would allow the enemy a free hand for imperialistic plans in the Pacific. Moreover, it would afford a source of resources for the realization of such imperialistic plans.
The international situation today hooks up on two main fronts, that of Britain, and that of China. The world can no better afford the collapse of one, than that of the other. The attack on Russia constitutes a preparation for an invasion of Britain, and as such, is directed towards the European front. America, situated between these two fronts, with a wealth of resources, great manufacturing power, and rapidly expanding army, navy, and air forces, plays a strategic part in her program of aid to Britain, Russia, and China. The extent and nature of her assistance to both fronts will help much to determine the international situation in the future.
China, after four years of conflict against great odds, has certainly demonstrated to the world the will of her people to survive as a free nation. Under the leadership of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, the Chinese are united into one solid unit of resistance. It is a resistance that shall recognize no end but that of completely free China, and no order but that based on international good will—on mutual help, not selfish greed; on law and justice, not unscrupulous force. The wholesale migration of some fifty million civilians from the eastern provinces to the western hinterland, with headquarters at Chungking, is indicative of the determination of the people to perpetuate the Chinese republic. The vast industrial development of Free China, made possible only by the voluntary cooperation of the citizenry with the government, is a manifestation of the initiative and persistence which characterize modern China. Similarly, the rapid progress of the anti-illiteracy campaign, the growth of the New Life movement, and the extension of political privileges show the ability of the Chinese to prepare for the future.
With the cooperation of civilian and soldier, China today is fighting continuously along a front over 2,800 miles in length. Ever since the fall of Hankow, which marked the last phase of the Chinese strategy of withdrawal, the Japanese army has not been able to make any headway in the offensive. On the contrary, the Chinese scored a number of major victories which have caused the opposing forces to despair of further territorial gains. The creation and recognition of the puppet government at Nanking by Japan was not an expression of victory, but an admission of defeat in the attempt to make peace with the Chinese government.
In reality, the area of Chinese territory which is occupied by enemy forces today amounts to a little more than ten per cent of the whole country. Yet within that occupied territory, enemy control itself is only nominal. Guerrilla warfare, assassinations, and unwillingness to cooperate with the enemy or puppet authorities prove the underlying allegiance of the Chinese population to the leader, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. Of him, Owen Lattimore, well known authority on the Orient, has said: "His policies affect the whole world. He is a symbol of China's unity."
China today, with five million soldiers and an unlimited man power, presents an important militant factor on the Pacific front of the great international conflict. In addition to that, her role in the international outlook is to carry on her centuries-old tradition of human freedom and individual liberty for the welfare of humanity. Her cultural wealth of 4,000 years must be kept intact for civilization. Her progress in the program of nation-wide economic and social reconstruction forms a vast field of experimentation, with results invaluable to science and social welfare. Her development into a strong world power would mean the power of one-fifth of the world's population for the support of a just international order. In the words of Pearl Buck: "A huge population of plain people accustomed to self-government, used to responsibility for their lives, rooted in individualism and in the common life, there could scarcelybe material less fitted for Fascist domination. If the western democracies fail to comprehend, they will be the losers. What waste not to use this ally, what ignorance not to know even that it is there!"
Within her four years of warfare, China has received at various periods some form of assistance from friendly nations, especially Russia, Britain and the United States of America. When Britain herself became a target for totalitarian conquest, America opened her resources of food and munitions to her neighboring democracy. With the recent attack of the Axis powers on Russia, aid from both Britain and America has been extended the Soviet Union.
The development of mutual assistance among the nations threatened by the forces of oppression has been activated by one fundamental aim: the aim to extinguish for once and for all the power of the Berlin Pact combination, to make the world safe for human freedom and individual liberty. What is lacking in that program is the strength of a more closely-knit organization—a centralization of effort which would cover a vast plan for the pooling together of resources, especially economic and military. This organization, proposed as the A-B-C front of America, Britain, and China, and more recently enlarged with the addition of Russia, would make a coalition far more powerful than that of Germany, Italy, and Japan. It would be a coalition which would stretch from East to West, crushing the forces of tyranny that have sprung over the earth.
China, as part of this coalition, would continue her fight for the suppression of imperialistic aggression of the Pacific. After four years of warfare, she is confident of accomplishing a complete victory if adequate assistance were extended her. With the assurance of a speedy supply of heavy artillery and warplanes, without the necessity of armed forces from without, China herself would undertake the task of defeating totalitarianism on the Far Western front. On behalf of the Chinese people, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek has asserted: "If all nations friendly to us will do what in justice may be expected of them in supporting Chinese resistance, by supplying us with war materials and economic aid, China is prepared to undertake single-handed the task of putting down this enemy in behalf of all who would dwell in peace on the shores of the Pacific." His promise is the promise of restoration of peace and order for a large portion of the earth.
The makings of a world either brighter than ever in the outlook for security of peace, justice, and freedom, or a world totally darkened by terrorism, enslavement, and oppression, lies in the development of the international war front today. China, fighting on the Far Eastern border of this war front, is fighting with the strength of 400 million for the realization of a greater international order for the future. The outcome of her fight will have a crucial bearing on the whole international situation today and in the future.