Chinese Nationalism Old and New
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 20 Nov 1958, p. 100-116

Jolliffe, Edward Bigelow, Speaker
Media Type:
Item Type:
The speaker's personal background in China and his return after 32 years. A description of his four-week visit, with some admitted personal bias, in at least two different directions. An attempt to explain "a little of China." A detailed description of the speaker's experiences and impressions of China and the Chinese people. A few examples of the diversity and depth of the upheaval in Chinese life. The old China and the new China. Capitalism, Communism, and Nationalism. The situation between China and Taiwan, or Formosa. Evidence of China's emergence into a great power. Some history. How the rulers of imperial China saw the West as a threat. Some of the speaker's personal observations and experiences when a school-boy in Szechwan. The dangers of extreme nationalism. The need to understand the other fellow's point of view. The dangers of dogmas and fanatics. The need for realistic and rational men.
Date of Original:
20 Nov 1958
Language of Item:
Copyright Statement:
The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
Empire Club of Canada
WWW address
Agency street/mail address

Fairmont Royal York Hotel

100 Front Street West, Floor H

Toronto, ON, M5J 1E3

Full Text
An Address by EDWARD BIGELOW JOLLIFFE, Q.C., Former Leader of the Opposition, Ontario Legislature
Thursday, November 20, 1958
CHAIRMAN: The President, Lt.-Col. Bruce Legge.

LT.-COL. LEGGE: When Mr. Edward Jolliffe consented to speak to us on Chinese Nationalism, I suggested that as a journalist he might like to make it more colourful by entitling his speech, 'Chinese Nationalism--Red and Blue'. But he thought that was too frivolous for our serious forum and we are pleased that he will speak to us on 'Chinese Nationalism--Old and New'.

While King George III was finding it impossible to bring his unruly American colonies into line by force, the great English conservative philosopher, Edmund Burke, took the then unpopular side and advocated compromise with the Colonies. In his famous speech on Conciliation with America in 1775 he said--'Magnanimity in politics is not seldom the truest wisdom; and a great empire and little minds go ill together'.

This attitude of generosity and open-mindedness to an opponent is sometimes found in domestic politics but is seldom evident in international affairs where all the passions of race, nationalism and patriotism are so easily aroused. Within The Empire Club of Canada we are concerned with all the problems that confront Canada and the Commonwealth, and there is no problem requiring truer wisdom than the emergence of the Communist Block of Nations of which China is certainly a senior partner. Yet, the most elusive aspect of dealing with the New China is the terrifying lack of critical Western observers in China. For example, there is normally only one English-speaking correspondent in Peking, and therefore we are most fortunate to have an expert on China, Edward Jolliffe, speak to us following his extensive tour of Communist China last summer. Mr. Jolliffe was born in Luchow, the son of United Church Missionaries, and the first seventeen years of his life were spent there. Mr. Jolliffe also had the advantage of being educated by his mother in their Chinese outpost and then at schools in Canada and China. He was further trained at Universities in three countries, West China Union University; Victoria University in Toronto; Christ Church College, Oxford; Gray's Inn, London, and Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He was a remarkable student and was designated the Rhodes Scholar for Ontario in 1931 and he was also awarded the coveted Arden scholarship at Gray's Inn in 1937. After this magnificent schooling he became a member of the English Bar in 1934, the Ontario Bar in 1936 and was created a King's Counsel in 1944.

But Mr. Jolliffe's activities were not narrowly restricted to the law and he was also a professional journalist and later a practising politician. The British Labour Party first attracted him to politics whilst a Rhodes scholar at Oxford and on his return to Canada he worked for the C.C.F. Party. Soon his remarkable talents were recognized and he became a boy wonder when he was chosen leader of the Provincial Party at the age of thirty-three. The next year he became the Leader of His Majesty's Loyal Opposition in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario, which responsibility he bore from 1943 to 1945, and from 1948 to 1951.

Our speaker has now ceased to be active in politics and, has become one of Canada's leading Labour lawyers. Nevertheless, the demands of an exacting practise do not overwhelm him, and he has attained a high reputation for his integrity as a writer and for his skill as a radio and television commentator. In all things Mr. E. B. Jolliffe, Q.C., is as courageous as he is brilliant, and The Empire Club of Canada is fortunate to hear him speak with his exceptional candour and authority on the subject which causes so much anxiety in the Western Alliance--'Chinese Nationalism--Old and New'.

MR. JOLLIFFE: It's quite true: I was born in China and spent most of my first seventeen years there. Naturally, I've never lost interest in a place with which, at one time or another, about 40 members of my family, or my family connection, have had strong personal ties, and where we had made many friends. When I returned to China this year after 32 years, it was not for any political or commercial purpose, but because of personal curiosity. I was prudent enough to take a corps of legal advisers, no less than four members of the Bar from the City of Toronto. We travelled together, most of the time, and they all did their best to keep me out of trouble and to protect me from being carried away by my pro-Chinese prejudices, or by Chinese hospitality.

The Chinese Law Association was most hospitable and I must say their officers and staff did everything possible to enable us to see anybody we wanted to see and go anywhere we wanted to go. When we needed an interpreter, we had an interpreter. If we didn't, it was easy to talk with people in many different walks of life, and we often did so in the privacy of their own homes. When we met, it was on the friendliest possible basis. However, sooner or later, being lawyers, we would revert to type and cross-examine, on their own experiences or their view of the new China. It's not easy to cross-examine a Chief Justice or a Prime Minister, but we tried and they all took it very well and with good humour. The only subject on which we never made the slightest progress towards common ground was that of Soviet aggression in Hungary. Among those we subjected to this treatment were peasants and workers, pedicab men, shopkeepers, leaders of agricultural co-ops and industrial co-ops, a few cabinet ministers and several old ladies sitting in front of their farm-houses, the Vice-President of Peking University and the President of what used to be well-known to Canadians as West China Union University, a man who was in prison for murder (when I asked him how many, he said: "Oh, four or five!") and an equally interesting character, the warden of the same prison.

We had lengthy discussions with at least a dozen judges, of whom several were women and a good many lawyers, one of China's leading novelists, the editors of several magazines (some of which are published in fifteen languages, both Asiatic and European), engineers, technicians and factory managers, radio and television people, the President of the Chungking Chamber of Commerce and an interesting collection of former capitalists who now work for the regime, some of them still very wealthy men. And, among many others: an Anglican bishop, several Protestant ministers and three Catholic priests. We talked also, of course, to foreigners who live in China for various reasons, diplomatic, commercial or political. With or without cross-examination, I did not get from any of these people, Chinese or foreign, any suggestion, or even a hint, that the present regime in Peking is temporary, or that it lacks popular support. All the evidence which came to my attention was the other way.

No one can pose as an expert witness on the strength of a four-week visit in China, and I do not do so. However, I did travel about five thousand miles through a dozen provinces and I suppose I am here as a witness of some kind, for whatever it may be worth. But I don't come before you today with any claim to be an impartial witness. I do have bias, in at least two different directions. On the one hand, as an unrepentant social democrat and nonconformist, my bias is against the gospel according to Lenin and Stalin, and I am well aware of the incalculable damage it has done to individualism and liberty, not only in communist countries but also in many western countries where, because of fear of communism in recent years, nonconformity too often has been crudely identified with treason. On the other hand, I am biased in favour of the Chinese people and China as a nation. I respect their ancient culture. I admire the qualities and capacity of the Chinese people, and I cannot but have sympathy for their tremendous struggle to achieve national salvation and to emerge at last from many long centuries of abject poverty and cruel oppression by foreign and native tyrants. With so much bias in various directions, I cannot speak in tones of lofty impartiality, and I may betray certain mixed sentiments. After all, I am, with no apologies, a Canadian citizen and a British subject. I am also a warm admirer of both the Americans and the Chinese. I have lived quite happily with both of them from time to time; not without moments of exasperation, from which, as like all Canadians inured to such hardships, one always recovers in due course. At the risk of being labelled pro-Chinese, and I'm advised it's a considerable risk in a world which seems to be infatuated with the wearing of labels, or pinning labels on other people, I shall attempt, perhaps rashly, to explain a little of China, and partly from the Chinese point of view. I do so because I doubt that the real significance of certain events in the East can be judged without some understanding of why the Chinese think and act as they do at the present time.

I cannot imagine any place, at any time, where you would get such an overpowering picture of history in the making, history at high speed. It's as though the whole of the Roman Empire in Julius Caesar's time had suddenly decided to go all out, at all costs, and overtake the United States of the twentieth century and to do it in one hectic generation, within the life-span of men who were born, as I was, under the last of the Manchu Emperors. At first you are sure this is impossible. Of course, at the leisurely pace of development on this continent, it is impossible. After a few weeks of seeing China's millions at work, and how they work, you are not so sure. The other impression you get, and this can be overpowering too, is that of how far they have to go. It's a land where you find the most modern, side by side with the most primitive conditions of life and work, where jet aircraft fly over peasant homes that look exactly as they did a thousand years ago, except that there's a radio in the corner and a picture of Mao Tse-tung on the wall. You may see steelworkers move from bamboo huts today into a modern brick apartment house tomorrow. You may look at a tremendous new blast-furnace and a few yards away a sweating team of coolies carry pipe and cement as they always have, by muscle-power. These contrasts and they are spectacular, dramatize the attempt to compress a millennium of progress into one generation.

Other Canadians have reported remarkable developments in China, not only in industry and agriculture, but in science and education and a flourishing theatre. I say little of those achievements, impressive though they may be, because there are other points I venture to make today. I have one distinct and startling impression I cannot fail to mention. For me this was quite unexpected. In 1934, little more than a decade after the end of the revolutionary wars in Russia, I spent several weeks in Moscow and Leningrad. In 1958 1 spent four weeks in China. To me it seems inescapable; in their first decade, the Chinese communists have made far more progress and had far more success that the Russians did in their first decade. Not only that; as of today the Chinese programme, both in its planning and in its workmanship, is proceeding more swiftly and efficiently and smoothly than anything I observed in Russia, except perhaps the Moscow subway trains, which are very good. Chinese success has many reasons. One of them is this; a highly intelligent and perceptive people are profiting by their keen study of Russian mistakes. If I were a Russian engineer at work in China today, I would often be embarrassed. If you'll pardon the expression, my face would be red. Chinese transportation, hotel service and the whole field of retail trade are superior. And so, it seems, are Chinese construction and workmanship. Speaking of trade, one sees foreign products, foreign cars, for example. I would be embarrassed too by the furious Chinese campaign against what they call the "evil of bureaucratism", and their determination to avoid the mistake of trying to re-build a nation from behind an office desk. I would be puzzled by Chinese successes, particularly in agriculture, where the U.S.S.R. has had so many failures. And if I were a Russian I would certainly be impressed by the Chinese genius for absorbing their opponents and putting them to work, converting sinners into pillars of the faith.

Wherever you go in China you meet people you would expect to be counter-revolutionaries. Instead of being liquidated they have been enlisted, in well-paid jobs, and they are enthusiastic, or even boastful, about the progress of the new China. They may not be communists but they are true nationalists, with a strong sense of national pride. They show nothing but contempt for Chiang Kai-shek, and they speak of him as an American pensioner. There is not one Chinese Revolution; there are many. The Chinese family and the whole structure of society have changed almost beyond recognition since my boyhood. There are new social and moral standards, with honesty, self-discipline, and stern Puritanism. Women have equality with men, in high office, in business and the professions, on the land and in coolie labour. Incidentally, those women have almost doubled China's labour power.

When I was born, a Chinese scholar or gentleman, with his long fingernails and an elaborate code of dignity and good manners, would never soil his hands in manly sport or manual labour, not even in a garden. Today physical fitness has become a cult. Outdoor games and P.T. periods are practised with religious fervour. Mao Tse-tung himself is said to have swum across the Yangtze River twice, to prove something, I'm not quite sure what. Tough physical labour is glorified and somewhat idealized now. Men with important jobs are pulled out from behind those desks and made to conquer the temptations of bureaucratism by a week or a month of hard work as harvest hands or dambuilders. Speaking of scholarship, which still rates very high in the Chinese scale of values, it was not long ago that the literary man had a monopoly in education, and even in the administration of the old Chinese Empire. Today the man of letters is being displaced in prestige and importance by the man of science or of applied science; the poet is yielding to the engineer. This autumn in primary schools Chinese children began to learn a new written language with a Roman alphabet and four accents to mark the tones. It's much more simple and efficient, but lacking the beauty and artistry of the ancient ideographs. This is one revolution I never expected to see; for centuries all educated Chinese have been devoted to their calligraphy. It was an art form as well as a written language. I mention only a few examples of the diversity and depth of the upheaval in Chinese life.

Many westerners have marvelled at the stability and cohesiveness of a social system which endured more than three thousand years without any fundamental change. Now we can marvel at its sudden transformation. The old China is receding swiftly into history, to take its place in the archives with the ancient civilizations of Egypt and Greece and Rome. And whether we like it or not, the new China is going to be a great power, a very great power. It will have not only a huge population, richly-endowed with resources spread over an acreage as large as ours. It will be, it is not yet but it will be, a highly-industrialized nation. What all this means to Canada and our own future is something to which we shall be obliged to give some very serious thought. With that in mind, I have a few words to say on Chinese nationalism, both old and new. In my view, it has determined the course of the Chinese Revolution.

Sometimes we forget that democratic and peaceful change in national life has been the exception rather than the rule. The British people haven't had a revolution since Oliver Cromwell. The British, and their heirs throughout most of the Commonwealth, have slowly learned the difficult and delicate art of accommodating their political system to irresistible social and economic change, and doing it by constitutional means. But the orderly pattern you see in Britain and perhaps in Scandinavia, is exceptional. Most people make their changes by force or the threat of force, and this is so whether you look at South America or North Africa or Central Europe. In south-east Asia there has been a brave attempt to transplant western democracy. But I'm sure you have noticed a trend toward something which is euphemistically called "guided democracy." In Burma, Pakistan and Thailand, as in Sudan a few days ago, the strong men are beginning to take over. It may be regrettable, but we have no right to be surprised. Democracy is not easily transplanted. It is hard to come by. The Chinese have transplanted something else. They call their revolution communist, and party members quote or paraphrase Marx; even more, the writings of Lenin and Mao Tse-tung, and after the first thirty minutes it becomes a little tiresome, like all over-done dogmas. They also tell you that China has an indestructible alliance with the Soviet Union. In fact, they are building a Communist state, with many Chinese variants, refinements and modifications. Private enterprise exists, but not as private enterprise is known in this country. Trade unions exist, but not as trade unionism is understood by workers in Canada. They recognize freedom of speech, freedom of the press and freedom of religion, but not as those terms are accepted here. They have elections at the national, provincial and municipal levels, but not elections such as we have, or usually have. They have several political parties other than the Communist Party, but they are not in opposition; they are all in coalition and their leaders are in the Government. And of course they denounce western imperialism even more fiercely than the Russians do. These are among the reasons the West regards Peking, I think mistakenly, as a branch office of Moscow. We have been led into the mistake by an over-simplification.

Generally we accept the notion that the all-important and basic contest today is the one between western capitalism and eastern communism; in other words, between the systems represented by Washington and Moscow. Much of the thinking and most of the propaganda on both sides would support that easy, clear-cut explanation of a divided world. It's too simple. It over-simplifies the rather complicated planet on which we live. We have been bombarded with so many slogans and epithets and clichés about the Cold War that we sometimes forget certain other factors exist, very real factors which would be important if communism had never been heard of. One of them is religion. Only the other day the coronation of a new pope was followed with intense interest by hundreds of millions of listeners, on every continent. For many people, particularly in Africa and Asia, the religious loyalty is still stronger than any other. Another factor, or problem, because it's a potent force in uniting men and dividing men, is that of racial distinction. With or without communism, it's a distinction with highly explosive potentialities on every continent. When we hear it said that all nations must now take either one side or the other, the communist side or our side, it's well to remember that there are many areas where men refuse to live on the same street or even in the same community with those of a different religion or a different race. We may think they are wrong, but the fact is that for them, these considerations seem to be more important than any other, regardless of what Mr. Dulles or Mr. Eisenhower or Mr. Khruschev or Mr. Nehru have to say about it.

There's another force which was very strong long before communism. It's still at work with enormous vitality. That is the force of nationalism. It has always been underestimated; it is still underestimated. It has had a part in all the great revolutions since 1776 and in the revolts which did not succeed. You could find it here in 1837; in Ireland for generations; in Scottish Home Rule and Welsh Home Rule and sometimes in Quebec, and in the Balkans and India and Burma and the Phillipines and now Cyprus and the Middle East and the whole Arab world, certainly in China. Many of these movements arose independently of Communism; not all the revolts are hatched in the Kremlin. Of course Moscow does like to back the popular choice and it usually pays off better than putting your money on dead horses. I need not mention any names.

There is a habit, at least on this continent, of interpreting every step taken by the Peking Government as another manifestation of communist policy, probably inspired from Moscow. This is a little naive, and entirely overlooks the realities. Take the case of Quemoy, a group of small islands a few thousand yards from the coast of China. These islands and a few others, as you know, are held by the forces of Chiang Kai-shek. On August 23, while I was in Shanghai, Communist shore batteries began a very heavy bombardment of the off-shore islands of which you have been hearing ever since. How was this interpreted? A British member of parliament, who happened to be in Peking a few days later, told me flatly: "These people started it!" Some western spokesmen gave the crisis an almost cosmic significance. They compared it with Munich and spoke with bated breath as though the fate of the whole free world hung in the balance. We were given to understand that unless these little islands were held, even at the cost of a nuclear war, all Asia and perhaps the whole world would fall prostrate in the path of aggressive communism. Apart from those extravagant pronouncements, which have been somewhat toned down since September, it's a fair question: Why did the Chinese Communists open up with their artillery and disturb a more or less peaceful world? I won't give you the answer which Premier Chou En-lai gave me. I won't give you my own answer. Instead I will cite the evidence of two witnesses, the first an American reporter in Formosa writing in praise of Chiang, and the other, one of Chiang Kai-shek's men, in Formosa.

The reporter was Mr. Harold H. Martin, in the Saturday Evening Post of September 6, which was printed in August so that Mr. Martin had to write his story before the bombardment began. It therefore has a certain candour which was a little lacking from Formosa after August 23. Mr. Martin said this: "For nearly ten years, with every offensive weapon they could command, the Nationalist Chinese have carried their own small, gnawing war against the Reds who drove them into exile in 1949. From here, we call it Formosa, the Chinese call it Taiwan, planes fly over the mainland on photographic missions, mapping future targets. Jet fighters, made in the U.S.A., challenge the Russian-built MIG's in their own skies. Old American destroyers and patrol boats, turned over to the Nationalist Navy, cruise freely in Red China's waters, fighting small, unpublicized engagements with Red warcraft and sealing off from the outside world all the Communist ports between Shanghai and Canton. On Matsu, which dominates the mouth of the Min River, closing the port of Foochow, and on Quemoy to the south, which bottles up Amoy, the Nationalists have built two tiny Gibraltars. Here, from gunpits dug into solid rock, the Nationalists, firing American howitzers and 155's, fight fierce artillery duels. Nationalist frogmen, based on the offshore islands, swim in by night to map Communist shore defences. Small guerilla forces stage hit-and-run raids along the China coast, taking a prisoner now and then and blowing up ammunition dumps. Chiang's spies on the mainland feed coded intelligence information by short-wave radio to Nationalist listening posts." And so on, and so on. That was written before August 23, and that, gentlemen, was the peaceful summer scene along the Chinese coast, so rudely disturbed by the bombardment which began on August 23.

My other quotation is from the official yearbook of the Chiang regime, published on Formosa, for 1957-58. At page 165 it says: "The islands off the south China coast, such as Quemoy, Matsu and Wuchiu are strategically important because they will serve as springboards for the Chinese armed forces in the coming counter-attack on the mainland." Now, after all this was so clearly explained by an American reporter and by an official publication on Formosa, is there any mystery about that bombardment? Perhaps Peking ought to have taken a complaint of aggression to the United Nations but this would have been a little difficult to arrange, because after nine years the United Nations, in its wisdom, does not recognize Peking as the government of six hundred million people, although it does recognize the Chiang government-in-exile. It's not necessary to quote Marx, or Lenin or Stalin or to theorize in a grandiose way about the ultimate aims of communism in order to understand the Quemoy crisis. The case is simple. China is becoming a great power and in no mood to accept harassment of its coastline from Formosa or any other source.

There is more to this than national pride. When any nation becomes strong, particularly after a revolution, it soon develops a sense of its historic role, the generals and the admirals acquire expanding horizons so that it takes a new and wider view of national security and it prepares to resist all interference in its own sphere of influence. For example in 1823, 135 years ago, the United States,, after a successful revolution, had become the strongest power in the western hemisphere, and assumed the leadership of this hemisphere. In that year, President James Monroe announced a policy which became known as "the Monroe doctrine" and which is still American policy. Monroe stated two principles in these words: "(1) The American continents, by the free and independent conditions which they have assumed and maintained are henceforth not to be considered as subjects for future colonization by any European powers: (2) We should consider any attempt on their part to extend their system to any portion of this hemisphere as dangerous to our peace and safety." The attitude expressed in the words of James Monroe, is exactly the attitude which will be taken by a powerful China in the Far East. The Peking Government has already demanded that the United States withdraw from the western Pacific. Of this you will hear a great deal more in future. It is not new, and it's not unusual for a great power to take that attitude, and it's not necessarily an expression of communism. In fact, it has been the demand of all Chinese nationalists for a hundred years, all except those now being propped up by foreign arms on Formosa.

I am old enough to remember when Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang were clamouring for the withdrawal of western gunboats and western troops and western special privileges in all the treaty ports along the coast and the Yangtze River; and Chiang too, like Sun Yat-sen and all the others, talked loudly about driving the western imperialists out of the East and back where they came from. Those who speak today as though all this were a recent communist development know not whereof they speak. In the west most people have forgotten the long record of western intervention in China; the Chinese have not forgotten. My own earliest memory, my very earliest memory, is that of being escorted from Chungking down the Yangtze River by a British gunboat, and my father lifting me up in the morning to see the British flag go by. That was in 1911, just before the fall of the Manchu dynasty. There are no foreign gunboats on the Yangtze River today, but there were many of them then, American, German, French, Japanese, as well as British. The story behind those gunboats will tell you a good deal about the Chinese Revolution and the direction it has taken.

Chinese civilization was born in the valleys of the Yangtze and the Yellow River, and there it flourished for several thousand years, isolated from the western culture which had its birthplace in the Mediterranean area. Buddhism came over from India, a few Jesuits from Italy after Marco Polo and a few traders to Canton by ship, but until recent times there was very little contact between East and West. The wild men who rode down from the north to found the Mongol and the Manchu dynasties were digested and almost absorbed by a superior civilization; they made no fundamental change. But in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries the expanding economies of the west, and how they expanded!, rolled out to the east. At long last, they met: the high-pressure area and the low-pressure area and in that meeting was made the tempest which is now rising to full strength. The immense glacial inertia of Asia has been destroyed forever, and more than a million people are on the move, believing for the first time that it is actually possible to improve their lot in life. It's a revolutionary idea, a product of the West, and today all Asia bears witness to the power of that idea.

The rulers of imperial China correctly saw the West as a threat to their way of life. They stubbornly resisted all intrusion, and all change. In their efforts to keep out the subversive influence of foreign traders, foreign missionaries, foreign diplomats, they went to war in 1839 and 1856 and 1895, and they even encouraged the Boxer uprising of 1900. In all these wars they suffered crushing defeat; their ancient culture could not match the gunpower of the West, or of Japan. By the unequal treaties, they were obliged to accept missionaries, envoys and traders. They lost control over their main ports, their customs duties, their post office; all to be administered by foreigners. Gunboats patrolled their rivers; foreign citizens were not subject to Chinese law. They lost Vladivostock to Russia, Hong Kong and Weihaiwei to the British, part of Indo-China to France, Formosa to Japan, Tsingtao and the Kiaochow peninsula to Germany and then Japan, Manchuria to Russia and then Japan. They even lost their shadowy sovereignty over Burma, annexed by Britain; and Korea, seized by Japan. It was absolutely inevitable that the humiliation and robbery of the Chinese people would give rise to intense nationalism and movements for national regeneration. This, above all else, has been the paramount concern of Chinese patriots for more than a century.

The old mandarins could learn nothing and forget nothing, but by 1898 the reformers and the modernists had gained so much influence with a young Emperor that he suddenly issued a series of sweeping decrees intended to transform China. In one of them he said, referring to the establishment of Peking University: "Let all take advantage of the opportunities for the new education . . . so that in time we may have many who will be competent to help us in the stupendous task of putting our country on a level with the strongest of the Western Powers." Those words, the words of the Emperor Kwang Hsu in 1898, long before communism came to China, state precisely a major objective of Mao Tse-tung's Government today. The Emperor failed; his advisers were executed, he was imprisoned, the Empress Dowager and the reactionaries seized power and the Empire drifted to its downfall and chaos. Dr. Sun Yat-sen and a few thousand Chinese leaders who had been educated in the West, tried to impose an imported western democracy on the Chinese people, who had never experienced anything of the kind. They failed: it was not possible to succeed, just as it would be impossible to impose, with any success, an imported communist political system on the people of this continent. Instead of democracy, the Chinese got 38 years of war-lords and civil war and an eight-year war with Japan as well.

When I was a school-boy in Szechwan I saw something of the civil wars; unforgettable. And I knew many students, in the middle-schools and university, very politically-minded students. They were deeply impressed by Dr. Sun Yat-sen's Three Principles, Nationalism, Democracy and Livelihood. Many of them were even more impressed by a little book called "Imperialism" by V. I. Lenin, written at Zurich in 1916. It seemed to them to explain everything; all of China's backwardness, chaos and despair were due to imperialist intervention and exploitation. It was that idea which inspired them to build the Chinese Communist party from half-a-dozen members in July, 1921, to what it is today. That idea, and the emancipation of the peasants from landlordism, and the exciting prospect of swift industrialization in a planned economy. Now they point out to me as a historical fact, that in four decades of incessant warfare and indescribable suffering for the masses of their people, only one group emerged with sufficient discipline, integrity, singleness of purpose, military power and popular support to bring order out of chaos. They say that, whether we like it or not, that group was the Chinese Communist party. After the defeat of Japan, Chiang Kai-shek's regime fell apart, his armies melted away and by 1949 he had been driven to Formosa, where he remains to this day. The result is that for the first time in more than a century, China and its people have enjoyed almost a full decade of relative peace, order and good government. Their soldiers fought in Korea and they have fought Chiang's men along thw coast, but peace and order throughout an area as large as Canada have released the enormous energies of a people whose capacity for hard work is second to none. Obviously, it's a welcome change after 38 years of warfare, welcome to both communists and non-communists, and it's equally obvious that for this reason, if for no other reason, the Government at Peking commands the solid support of an overwhelming majority. Another welcome change is that after more than a hundred years of humiliation and disaster, the Chinese now feel that their country is strong and successful. Nothing succeeds like success. And unless my eyes deceive me, their standard of living, austere though it is, has risen far in recent years.

What I have said is not in praise of nationalism. On the contrary, anything which tends to divide the world, as nationalism does, is to be deplored. In the long view it is a glorified form of parochialism which must be subordinated one day to the concept of one world, the end of irresponsible national sovereignty and the growth of international co-operation. Extreme nationalism is based on a sense of insecurity. On this side of the Pacific it is said that the Soviet Union and China are seeking to dominate the whole world, that their programme is one of conquest, and, as proof positive our friends point to Soviet tyranny in Eastern Europe, Soviet propaganda, Soviet puppets and Soviet parties engaged in subversive activities all around the world. On the other side of the Pacific you are told, with equal certainty, that the United States seeks to dominate the world and impose its system on all others. And, as proof positive, they point to American naval and air forces ringing the world on bases belonging to other people, American propaganda, and American puppets, like the one on Formosa. These dogmas are held with fanatic intensity on both sides. There has been very little attempt, on either side, to understand the other fellow's point of view or to make any objective analysis of the behaviour which flows from a sense of insecurity. Until the dogmas are placed in the proper perspective, and until the fanatics, on both sides, are over-ruled by realistic and rational men, the prospects for peaceful co-existence are not very encouraging.

THANKS OF THE MEETING were expressed by Dr. James A. Parish.

Powered by / Alimenté par VITA Toolkit

My favourites lets you save items you like, tag them and group them into collections for your own personal use. Viewing "My favourites" will open in a new tab. Login here or start a My favourites account.

Chinese Nationalism Old and New

The speaker's personal background in China and his return after 32 years. A description of his four-week visit, with some admitted personal bias, in at least two different directions. An attempt to explain "a little of China." A detailed description of the speaker's experiences and impressions of China and the Chinese people. A few examples of the diversity and depth of the upheaval in Chinese life. The old China and the new China. Capitalism, Communism, and Nationalism. The situation between China and Taiwan, or Formosa. Evidence of China's emergence into a great power. Some history. How the rulers of imperial China saw the West as a threat. Some of the speaker's personal observations and experiences when a school-boy in Szechwan. The dangers of extreme nationalism. The need to understand the other fellow's point of view. The dangers of dogmas and fanatics. The need for realistic and rational men.