POLITICAL FREEDOM AND ECONOMIC JUSTICE
By DR. T. V. SOONG, Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs
Delivered at Alumni Luncheon, Yale University, June 9, 1942
Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. VIII, pp. 604-605.
INCREDIBLE years ago, when I came to America for a western education, I entered what many of you considered as the wrong university. Already in those Harvard days, I confess I had a tender spot for Yale, a feeling which was strong enough to transcend even the football seasons of the Percy Haughton days. All American universities aim to foster democracy, yet during my time it was in Yale, far more than in any other institution, that Chinese students entered fully and without any inhibitions of nationality or race into the social life and extra-curriculum activities of the university, and became thereby an integral part of you. Now, after more than a quarter of a century, you have resolved this complex of guilty admiration for Yale by making me one of you, for which I am profoundly grateful.
There are many reasons why we Chinese feel indebted to Yale. You have contributed an illustrious roster of names to the modernization of China, including Yung Wing, the first Chinese student ever to graduate from an American university; Jeme Tien-yu, the great railroad builder; the three Wangs, two of them later to become Ministers for Foreign Affairs; Jimmy Yen, leader of the mass education movement; and Y. S. Tsao, late president of Tsing Hua University.
Then there is also your Yale-in-China, a unique institution without parallel anywhere which, transplanted into China, has fully retained the bulldog grit for which Yale is justly known. With its buildings and facilities bombed or burned, Yale-in-China holds together, in defiance of aggression, young men who will be among the leaders of tomorrow.
These relations between your institution and my country have been one significant strand in the larger pattern of relations, ever increasingly important and intimate, between the United States and China. America, under your great President, is the hope of all the submerged nations; China, many believe, is on the way to becoming the leader of the East. Now, at this crucial moment in the history of the world, the bonds between our two nations, already strong,
have become even closer. We are Allies, and through us the fate of the East is inextricably bound to that of the West.
As Allies against common enemies, there should be between us and among all of the United Nations, a growing appreciation of what each country's war aims are. In the few remaining moments allotted to me today, I should like to name the broad objectives for which my country believes that it is fighting.
The first is political freedom for Asia. The World War of 1914, while it did not succeed fully in liberating all the nations in Europe, scarcely even touched Asia. Modern inventions have annihilated distances and multiplied contacts between nations, and the world can no longer exist peaceably half free, half enslaved, any more than, as Lincoln said, a single nation can. China is fighting for her national independence; she aspires equally for the freedom of all Asiatic nations. There are, of course, here and there certain nations which may not be ready as yet for complete self-government, but that should not furnish the excuse for colonial exploitation; the United States in the Philippines has furnished a notable example of disinterested temporary guardianship.
Our second objective is economic justice. Political and economic justice go together; without the one the other cannot flourish. Asia is tired of being regarded only in terms of markets and concessions, or as a source of rubber, tin and oil, or as furnishing human chattels to work the raw materials. The Atlantic Charter, first enunciated by Roosevelt and Churchill and later adopted by all the United Nations, may prove to be the Magna Carta of economic justice, which must be made a living reality.
We now know that political freedom and economic justice are by themselves illusory and fleeting except in an atmosphere of international security. It may have taken our tribal ancestors uncounted ages before police and law courts were invented to keep order among individuals; difficult it may well be, but why must we regard as hopeless policeand law courts among nations to dispense justice and enforce law and order as with individuals. My people have been most loyal supporters of the defunct League of Nations, to whose tribunals we brought our case when our national life was endangered. Past failures have not dimmed our hopes that an effective world instrument to dispense and enforce justice will arise from the terrors and sufferings and sacrifices of this war, and for such an international government, China, with all other liberty-loving nations, will gladly cede such of its sovereign powers as may be required.
When I relate the aspirations of my people you will say that these are aspirations shared in a large measure by the people of the United States. Indeed, there is a fundamental identity of beliefs and interests between our two countrieswhich should make us loyal collaborators in creating the post-war world. I know that in the outward forms and processes of democracy China has much to learn but, apart from transitional and superficial differences, there is the same underlying instinctive appreciation and faith in democracy among the Chinese as among you.
One more word. A month from now it will be fully five years since the fateful clash at the Marco Polo Bridge that marked the outbreak of total warfare waged against China by Japan. Every month of this war has increased the almost unbearable strain on our people and army, but I feel I am justified in assuring you that we shall endure and prevail, and live to cooperate with you in fashioning the brave new world of the future.