November 17, 1942
New York Herald Tribune, November 22, 1942.
The political testament of the Father of our Republic, Dr. Sun Yat-sen, began with the reminder to his followers, "The Revolution is not yet achieved". Even after the national revolution succeeded in overthrowing the War Lords and unified China in 1927, we have continued to characterize our Government as a Revolutionary Government.
Critics asked, now that you have established a Government of all China, why do you persist in calling yourselves a Revolutionary Government? What do you mean by Revolution?
The answer is that what we mean by Revolution is the attainment of all three of Dr. Sun's basic principles of national revolution: national independence, progressive realization of democracy and a rising level of living conditions for the masses. When victory comes at the end of this war, we shall have fully achieved national independence but will have far to go to attain our other two objectives. Hence our claim that ours is still a Revolutionary Government which means no more or less than that it is a government dedicated to attaining these other two objectives.
Insisting on national independence for all peoples, Dr. Sun's vision transcends the problem of China, and seeks equality for all peoples, East and West alike. China not only fights for her own independence, but also for the liberation of every oppressed nation. For us the Atlantic Charter and President Roosevelt's proclamation of the four freedoms for all peoples are cornerstones-of our fighting faith.
For many centuries Chinese society has been free of class distinctions such as are found even in advanced democracies. At the core of our political thought is our traditional maxim, "The people form the foundation of the country." We Chinese are instinctively democratic, and Dr. Sun's objective of universal suffrage evokes from all Chinese a ready and unhesitating response. But the processes and forms by which the will of the people is made manifest, and the complex machinery of modern democratic government cannot, I know to my cost, be created over-night, especially under the constant menace and attack of Japanese Militarism.
During the last years of his life Dr. Sun devoted much of his forward thinking to the economic reconstruction of China, and nothing, I believe, so marked his greatness as his insistence that the coming tremendous economic reconstruction of China should benefit not the privileged few but the entire nation.
The absence of a strong central government capable of directing economic development, the bondage of unequal treaties trying to keep China as a semi-colony for others, and above all the jealous machinations of Japan, all these greatly retard the economic reconstruction to which the national revolution of China is dedicated.
But the end of the present war will find China freed of her bondage, with a vigorous Government and a people ardent with desire to rebuild their country. I feel the force of this desire as a tidal wave which will not only absorb the energies of our people for a century but will also bring lasting benefits to the entire world.
But the bright promise of the future, which has done much to sustain us during our grim struggle with Japan, will cruelly vanish if after paying the price this second time we do not achieve the reality of world cooperation.
I hear that my American friends have confidence in the experience of men who have "come up the hard way." My long struggle as a soldier of the Chinese Revolution have forced me to realize the necessity of facing hard facts. There will be neither peace, nor hope, nor future for any of us unless we honestly aim at political, social and economic justice for all peoples of the world great and small. But I feel confident that we of the United Nations can achieve that aim only by starting at once to organize an international order embracing all peoples to enforce peace and justice among them. To make that start we must begin today and not tomorrow to apply these principles among ourselves ever at some sacrifice to the absolute powers of our individual countries. We should bear in mind one of the most inspiring utterances of the last World War, that of Edith Cavell:
"Standing at the brink of the grave, I feel that Patriotism alone is not enough."
We Chinese are not so blind as to believe that the new international order will usher in the millennium. But we do not look upon it as visionary. The idea of universal brotherhood is innate in the catholic nature of Chinese thought; it was the dominant concept of Dr. Sun Yat-sen, whom events have proved time and again to be not a visionary but one of the world's greatest realists.
Among our friends there has been recently some talk of China emerging as the leader of Asia, as if China wished the mantle of an unworthy Japan to fall on her shoulders. Having herself been a victim of exploitation, China has infinite sympathy for the submerged nations of Asia, and towards them China feels she has only responsibilities-not rights. We repudiate the idea of leadership of Asia because the "Fuehrer principle" has been synonymous for domination and exploitation, precisely as the "East Asia co-prosperity sphere" has stood for a race of mythical supermen lording over groveling subject races.
China has no desire to replace Western imperialism in Asia with an oriental imperialism or isolationism of its own or of any one else. We hold that we must advance from the narrow idea of exclusive alliances and regional blocs which in the end make for bigger and better wars, to effective organization of world unity. Unless real world cooperation replaces both isolationism and imperialism of whatever form in the new inter-dependent world of free nations, there will be no lasting security for you or for us.