China's Government


By CLARE BOOTHE LUCE, Congresswoman from Connecticut

Delivered at a meeting in celebration of China's Independence Day, Trenton, N. J., October 9, 1945

Vital Speeches of the Day, Vol. XII, pp. 94-96.

TONIGHT, on this great Double Tenth, many many eloquent tributes have been paid to our valiant ally, China. Her long resistance to Japan, before we entered the war is our historical debt to her, for it saved us immeasurable costs in blood and materials. But that service to us, tremendous as it was, is only one great episode in the history of mutual aid between China and America. It is that mutuality of aid and obligations between our two great nations that we must all try to emphasize tonight.

For over 80 years America has played a notable part in helping China to be and stay a free nation. Way back in 1861, when the freedom and unity of our own Nation was in grave jeopardy, we had still the strength and wisdom to strike shrewd diplomatic blows for China's freedom. Anson Burlingame, whom Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Seward had sent as minister to China, found that nation weakened by opium wars and by corruption in high imperial places, and almost defenseless before internal dissension and the truculent trade and territorial demands of European powers. Other western diplomats suggested that the outright partition of China would be the wisest, as well as, to them, the most profitable, solution.

But Burlingame, with a courage and vision worthy of Mr. Lincoln, wrought a miracle of diplomacy over the more cynical and experienced diplomats of other then far greater powers. His views of justice and good will prevailed. He stated, and Seward, John Hay, and Elihu Root in time, established, the great principles of the Open Door for China: noninterference in its internal affairs by foreign nations, guaranties of Chinese sovereignty and territorial integrity, and equality of interest, obligation and cultural and economic exchange between China and western powers.

After 80 years Burlingame's policy endures, not only as a great doctrine, but a great challenge still to America. Have Americans the vision, the good will, the intelligence to walk with China in united friendship and respect toward the great common goals of progress and freedom? There is no time in history when America's answer to that challenge, that question, is more crucial to the future of both nations than in this very year.

For the first time since China became a republic she has an even chance of becoming a great modern nation. That will not be easy. Her postwar problems are vast. Eight years of war have intensified the poverty of a nation which was, even before those years, terribly poor compared to our western democracies. Uncounted millions of Chinese have been killed and maimed; perhaps 30,000,000 more are homeless. China's railways, mines, industries, roads, factories, dams, power plants, communications and agriculture are all in chaos. To gain the most elementary economic stability, she still needs much help from us. And this we owe her, for at last she has a chance.

That chance must, of course, be predicated on the assumption that China and Soviet Russia will stay at peace with one another; that the present pact between Soviet Russia and China will be honorably observed to the letter by both parties. But surely, after the lessons of the past decade any other assumption is incomprehensible.

But China has notable assets, too. She has a government and a leader which have surmounted every hazard ever offered to a struggling nation: revolution, civil war and foreign war, domestic and foreign intrigue, inflation, disease, and famine. China's leader, Chiang Kai-shek, has remained longer at the helm of the ship of state under incomparably greater difficulties than any other world statesman. He has stood the greatest test of statesmanship by bringing peace tohis people and guaranties from Soviet Russia and the other great allies of territorial and domestic sovereignty.

And this Chinese leader has presented his nation and the world with another great challenge—greater than any voiced by any other world leader. On V-J Day, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek delivered this message to the Chinese people:

"I am," said the generalissimo, "deeply moved when I think of the teachings of Jesus Christ that we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us and love our enemies. My fellow countrymen know that to 'remember not evil against others' and 'do good to all men' are the highest virtues taught by our own sages. We have always said that the violent militarism of Japan is our enemy, not the people of Japan. Although the armed forces of the enemy have been defeated, and must be made to observe strictly all the terms of surrender, yet we should not for a moment think of revenge * * * upon the innocent people of Japan * * *. Permanent world peace can be established only upon the basis of democratic freedom and equality and the brotherly cooperation of all races and nations."

We westerners have talked much in times past of our spiritual superiority to the Chinese—without reflecting whether such superiority existed. Yet it remained for a Chinese leader—among all the leaders of the world on V-J day, unmistakably to strike the most clear and profound Christian note.

No nation has fought so long, nor endured a tenth so much as China at the hands of the Japanese. Perhaps no other people, except the Jews of Europe, have suffered individually so terribly, and could be less criticized for overlooking the Christian doctrine of forgiveness. Under these circumstances, surely all men who believe that the truest expression of religion is the love of one's fellow man must thrill to these words of Chiang. Surely, if he means it, as he must, he ranks with the Lincoln who could say "with malice toward none and charity toward all." So let us accept his text and examine how Chiang may be expected to apply it, not only to his foreign enemies, the Japanese, but to his domestic enemies, the Chinese Communists.

It is certainly not for us to direct any nation as to its forms of government or the solutions of its internal problems—certainly not that of China, the longest standing of all our global allies, the oldest and most sophisticated people in the world.

And yet, as Americans we have a duty to the world to set forth our opinion on those forms of government which we have found in the past serve best to meet the demands of a common peace and prosperity. We can justifiably place our own experience at the disposal of China, which like America, claims to love democracy.

Democracy to us in America means many things. But basically I think it means the civil rights of man—his right to say what he thinks, think what he chooses, to worship as his conscience dictates, to assemble with like-minded people peaceably. It means, as Lincoln said, "That the Government is the instrument of the people and can be changed by the people at their will, through the free exercise of their ballot." It means, furthermore, that majority rule carries with it no right forcibly to liquidate the rights or convictions of the minority.

With its blood and its aid and its share in victory, America has surely won the right to speak frankly to her friends. Are we not justified in admitting that these basic civil rights and freedoms have never existed throughout China, and particularly not during the terrible decade of the war for national existence? But is not America also justified in believing that China has postponed the realization of demo-

cratic freedoms only because war made postponement necessary, and that with the blossoming of peace, these basic rights will speedily be granted to the people of China? "Do good to all men" can have no other meaning in a true democracy.

China during the war was a house politically divided. The problem of political unity in China today stands before all others, even the tremendous economic ones which face her. But lasting unity and true peace in China can come only through the basic precepts of democratic freedom.

It goes without question that no nation can exist if two independent governments share its sovereignty, or if two independent political armies stand marshalled face to face along the line of a shaky truce. There must be a basic solution. A China half Communist, half Kuomintang, and both halves armed, cannot endure. From that truth, other truths follow: China is too vast and numerous a nation, its communications too inadequate, its local customs too varied, to permit, short of tyranny, of one enormously centralized government organ controlling every detail of national life down to the remotest village. We Americans learned that lesson 170 years ago—we wanted unity, and yet our regional variety made impossible that integration of every State and every conviction, into one rigid, central framework. We sought and found a solution that has endured to this day—a Federal Union.

Within our Federal Union, the most diverse elements live at peace. The customs and laws of South Carolina or Nevada are different from those of Connecticut or Maryland, yet there is no doubt that we are one united people. Our Federal Union has been granted certain basic powers-national defense, foreign affairs, finance, interstate commerce, but other powers are reserved to the States, and sometimes further subdivided from States to municipality and county. Each State chooses its own governors, makes its own criminal and civil laws, creates its own educational system, permits and regulates the political franchise to individuals as it sees fit. By this system of unity in variety, we have become a great Nation.

China is even greater in numbers than America, and far behind us in communications and unity. It cannot wisely be controlled in toto from Chunking or Nanking or Peking, by one man or even a group of men, however patriotic Its customs are too disparate, its distance too great for governors of provinces to be selected by one central government, for universities in each province to be the creation of one central government, for its local tax laws and police administration to be the creation of one central government. It needs a central government to provide for its national defense, to direct its foreign affairs, to lay the foundations of national industrial reconstruction, to regulate its commerce, to collect taxes for these projects, and to do all those things without which no sovereign power can exist. But by attempting to do all, it will turn the clock of democracy backward, either to communism or fascism, but in any case, to dictatorship.

There are certain areas in China which we all know are now dominated by the Communist Party. There are certain areas—much larger—controlled by the central government of Chiang Kai-shek; others where Moslem militarists are in control; still others where the people are ethnically and racially non-Chinese. All of these areas must make of their political armies one single force subordinated to a central government. But none of these armies will lay down their arms if they feel that their political convictions and beliefs, indeed, their very lives, are at the mercy of other revengeful political parties—if they believe that all they havegained in local reforms or local self-government, during the war is to be wiped out by dictatorial edicts from far away.

It is the opinion of many thoughtful Chinese and Americans that only federal union offers a real solution for China's problems. A federal union, in which each political party should be allowed to organize and govern provinces they now clearly possess and hold, and the citizens of which are loyal to it. Each party must participate in one central government on a basis of representation; and to that one government all armies in China must be subordinate. Further, the federal government should, as it does in America, guarantee that every province should have a representative form of government as soon as possible; and to every person in any province, no matter what his political creed, the right to speak his mind and think his thoughts. Kuomintang papers must be allowed to publish in Communist areas, and Communist papers in Kuomintang areas. The federal government should allow no terrorist police of any party to operate anywhere in any province. If Chiang Kai-shek thus does unto the common men of China, who honestly believe in Chinese communism, exactly what he would have them do unto the common men of his political party, we need have small fear for the democratic future of China.

I say incalculable forces for peace and happiness have been tapped if 450,000,000 Chinese even partially follow this advice of their leader, if he follows it himself, and if we will follow it, too: "Do unto others."

And follow it we must—Americans, Chinese, and every. body. The atomic bomb alone has made any other course impossible. The splitting of the atom, which has found the ultimate secret of material destruction, has also destroyed the supremacy of all material values. What remains, in anatomic age, alone indestructible, is mind and spirit. The Golden Rule of all religions, "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you," has become the political law of survival for governments, for nations, for all mankind. To follow that law is what we and the Chinese, who owe one another so much in the past, owe the world in the future.