- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 8 Oct 1942, p. 65-79
- Shun, The Honourable Dr. Liu Shih, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- The thirty-first anniversary of the founding of the Republic of China in two days on October 10. A review of the Revolution. The basis for the inclination of the Chinese toward the democratic way of life. Prospects for China to win her fight for democracy. An examination of the judgment of Dr. Hu Shigh, former Ambassador to Washington, as expressed in a learned lecture delivered at a university in the U.S. on the subject of "Historical Foundations for a Democratic China." Three historical factors to which Dr. Hu Shih attributes the development of Chinese democracy: the abolition by the statesmen of the second century B.C. of the law of primogeniture and their adoption of the system of equal division of the property left by a deceased father to his sons; the adoption of the examination system, traceable to as early a period as the custom of equal division of estates of inheritance; the censorial institution. A long and fruitful background of philosophical ideas. Confucius, Mencius, and other philosopher-teachers who kept on enlarging on the democratic idea of the State and of society. The basis of China's political freedom as laid down by Dr. Sun Yat Sen in his "Three Principles of the People." Setbacks for the Chinese Republic: an historical review. Dr. Sun Yat Sen's programme for the gradual adoption of constitutionalism. The role played by the Japanese in China's political chaos. The dual nature of China's momentous struggle: carrying on the resistance to Japanese aggression while taking important steps toward the creation of constitutional government. The role played by China in the present global war, and the contributions made by her to the common cause of the United Nations. The Chinese people forging ahead and enduring their trials and tribulations with indescribable fortitude and calm. Every prospect for China to win her fight for democracy. Difficulties of winning the war. The suffering endured by China and her people. The speaker's belief that the total effort of all of us in defence of the common cause is increasing with the march of time.
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- 8 Oct 1942
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- THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY IN CHINA
AN ADDRESS BY THE HONOURABLE DR. LIU SHIH SHUN, MINISTER PLENIPOTENTIARY OF THE REPUBLIC OF CHINA
Chairman The President, John C. M. MacBeth, Esq., B.A., K.C.
Thursday, October 8, 1942
MR. JOHN C. M. MACBETH: Gentlemen of The Empire Club: Rapid transit and the radio have done more in the last twenty years than has been done in two centuries before to bring the ends of the earth together in knowledge, appreciation, and understanding. Most of us, as children, only a few years ago knew China as a far distant country to which Christian missionaries were sent. All of us now know China as one of the great powers of the world, one of the United Nations in a struggle against aggression, a nation which bore the terrific onslaught of a barbarous enemy five years before our own nation had entered the struggle. But how few of us know anything of the moral philosophy of that great country, or of its religious leaders, one of whom, Confucius, about 550 B.C., when asked as to the source of true goodness replied, "Do not use your eyes, your ears, your power of speech, or your faculty of movement, without obeying the inner law of self-control."
Our guest today is a gentleman from China. After graduating from college in Peiping, he went to the United States where he obtained his B.A. degree from Johns Hopkins, his M.A. from Harvard, and his Ph.D. from Columbia. Then he returned to Peiping, where he became a member of the staff of his Alma Mater. His abilities in the field of economics and politics were immediately recognized and his services were requisitioned by the Government in 1927. For some years he was able to continue his teaching along with his Government service, and from 1928 to 1936 he was a professor at the National Central University, but latterly he has devoted all his time to government service.
The people in Canada are honoured by the presence among us of this gentleman, and The Empire Club of Canada is privileged to have as its guest today the Hon. Dr. Liu Shih Shun, Envoy Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the Republic of China, whose subject will be, "The Fight for Democracy in China." Dr. Liu Shih Shun. (Applause.)
Hon. DR. Liu SHIN SHUN: Mr. Chairman, Your Worship, Distinguished Guests, Members of The Empire Club of Canada: I feel greatly honoured today in being given the opportunity of meeting and addressing this very distinguished gathering. The kind words which the Chairman has said about myself and my country have touched me very deeply. I thank you for your kindness and friendship thus shown to me.
On October 10th, that is, in two days, the Chinese people will commemorate the thirty-first anniversary of the founding of their Republic. It was on that day thirty-one years ago that the Chinese Revolution broke out and resulted in the successful overthrow of the Manchu monarchical regime.
The aim of the Revolution was twofold: First, to create a modern democracy in China and, secondly, to regain her liberty and equality in the family of nations. No sooner, however, had our Revolutionary Fathers succeeded in bringing about the republican form of government than they were confronted with pernicious forces of various kinds, which have been incessantly at work to prevent the aim of the Revolution from being fully attained. One of the most nefarious and persistent of these forces has been Japanese aggression. For this reason, our battle for democracy at home is at yet unconcluded and unwon, and our struggle against Japanese aggression has virtually become part and parcel of the Revolutionary War which broke out thirty-one years ago. For the same reason, Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek, made it clear in his statement of December 16, 1937, that "the present struggle of resistance is an indispensable transition in the National Revolution", and that "in order to seek external independence and internal existence, emancipate the entire people, and consummate the reconstruction of a. new country, China cannot avoid this difficult struggle."
That the Chinese Revolution would in time be thwarted by Japanese aggression was foreseen by Dr. Sun Yat Sen, our late leader. In his book on The International Development o f China, written twenty-one years ago, Dr. Sun declared: "The Japanese militarists still think that war is the most profitable national pursuit, and their General Staff keeps on planning a war once in a decade." But, Dr. Sun went on, "since China is awake now, the next aggression from Japan will surely be met by a resolute resistance from the Chinese people." To the end of his life Dr. Sun remained fully convinced, and continued to remind his followers, that the Revolution had not yet achieved success and that they should still work hard.
As Dr. Sun had foretold it, subsequent events moved rapidly until the relations between China and Japan reached their crisis in 1937, which was some twelve years after Dr. Sun's death. Throughout the period of approximately three decades between the birth of the Chinese Republic and the present stage of the Sino-Japanese hostilities, the Chinese people have been engaged in a struggle, on the one hand, to bring about democracy within their own confines and, on the other, to free themSelves as well as the democratic world from the clutches of a hideous aggressor. In unravelling the two phases of is important episode of human endeavour, we shall find of only that they are intimately correlated but that they have not infrequently made simultaneous progress.
"What basis, if any," you may ask, "is there for the inclinations of the Chinese toward the democratic way of life? What prospect is there for China to win her fight for democracy."
In answering the first question, I can do no better than refer to the balanced judgment expressed by Dr. Hu Shih, our former Ambassador at Washington. In a learned lecture delivered sometime ago at a university in the United States, on the subject of "Historical Foundations for a Democratic China", Dr. Hu Shih attributes the development of Chinese democracy to three historical factors.
The first of these factors consists in the abolition by the statesmen of the second century B.C. of the law of primogeniture and their adoption of the system of equal division of the property left by a deceased father to his sons. This system had the effect of bringing about the total absence of large land holdings and the creation of a social structure in which there are practically no class distinctions nor even any enduring differences between the rich and the poor.
The second factor, according to Dr. Hu Shih, is the adoption of the examination system, which is traceable to as early a period as the custom of equal division of estates of inheritance. From the beginning of the 17th century to the beginning of the 20th century, for a period of 1300 years, the main system for the selecting of men for government service was by competitive examination open to all, irrespective of creed, family connections or financial standing. Throughout the centuries there has grown up a deep-rooted tradition that officials are not born of any special class but should be selected through some form of open and competitive examination.
The third factor to which Dr. Hu Shih draws attention is the censorial institution. This institution dates back to very ancient times, and China's long history abounds in instances of statesmen who openly and courageously condemned and opposed what they regarded as ruinous policies of government. Not a few of these out spoken advisers were either put to death or subjected to bodily torture. But they left behind them the tradition of exalting the tolerance of frank censure as the highest virtue of the ruler. In fact, the censorial system was in a sense an embodiment of the freedom of speech and may be regarded as the early Chinese counterpart of the modern parliament.
Summing up, Dr. Hu Shih said: "These three historical factors-a democratized and classless social structure, a traditional belief in the selection of office holders through an objective competitive examination, and a long history of encouragement of outspoken censorial control of the government-these are the heritages of my people from the political development throughout the long centuries. They are the historical factors which alone can explain the Chinese Revolution, the overthrow of the monarchy, the establishment of a republican form of government, and the constitutional development of the last thirty years and of the years to come."
There is no doubt that these social and political institutions have grown out of a long and fruitful background of philosophical ideas. Before the Republican era, China underwent ten centuries of feudalism and two milleniums of monarchism. It is noteworthy that even during the feudal and monarchial ages, Chinese philosophers taught the doctrines of political and economic democracy and the ideal of universal brotherhood.
The first and foremost of these teachers was Confucius, who said: 'When the great way prevails, the world is a common state. Officials are selected according to their wisdom and ability, and mutual confidence and peace reign . . . . The old are able to enjoy their old age; the young are able to employ their talent; juniors are free to grow up; helpless widows, lonely orphans and the crippled and deformed are provided for. Men have occupations and women have homes. Although not to be thrown away, wealth is not to be kept as personal property. While not to be idle, labour is not to be used for personal advantage. Under such a scheme of society, selfish plans cease to exist and banditry and rebellion cannot rise. As a result, there is no need to shut one's outer gate at night. This is the age of the great commonwealth."
Following Confucius was a long train of sages and philosophers who kept on enlarging on the democratic idea of the State and of society. Among them was Mencius, who is well known as the most outspoken advocate of the right of the common people to rebel against tyrannical government. Closely associated with this theory is the important doctrine that the subordinate has the sacred duty of criticizing and opposing the wrong-doing of his superior. This idea was responsible not only for the development of the censorial institution but also for the worthy example set by hundreds of historic personages in voicing their determined and fearless opposition to the misdeeds of despotic rulers and their high-handed ministers.
From this cursory review it may have been seen that Chinese history is saturated with the spirit of democracy both in philosophical ideas and in institutional life. In spite of this, however, the form of government in China remained monarchial for centuries, until Dr. Sun Yat Sen and his followers initiated their attempt, which was the very first of its kind on the entire Asiatic continent, to overthrow despotism and bring about democracy. The attempt was crowned with instant success, resulting in the establishment of the Chinese Republic in 1912.
The basis of China's political freedom was laid down by Dr. Sun Yat Sen in his Three Principles of the People. Of these three principles, that of Democracy forms the cornerstone of the political system now in operation in China. In his analysis of political democracy, Dr. Sun makes the important distinction between "sovereignty" and "ability", which is a unique contribution to political science. Dr. Sun holds that sovereignty, that is, the control of public policy, should be vested in the people, while public administration should be left in the hands of those who are able efficiently to perform their duties. "The government of a republic," says Dr. Sun, "must be built upon the rights of the people, but the administration of public affairs must be entrusted to experts."
According to Dr. Sun, the rights of the people are four in number, namely, election, recall, initiative and referendum. On the other hand, the government exercises five administrative powers: the legislative, executive, judicial, examination and control powers. All public functionaries are to be chosen by competitive examination and none of them are to remain in office if they are found to be unfit by the control or supervisory authorities. All the five departments of government are independent of one another and a system of checks and balances is thus maintained. In the opinion of Dr. Sun, this scheme of government has the advantage of combining the merits of the old Chinese imperial policy and those of the constitutions of western countries.
As I stated at the beginning of my address, no sooner was the Chinese Republic born than it suffered a number of setbacks which prevented it from reaching its maturity. The very first President of the Republic, Yuan Shih-kai, who succeeded to Dr. Sun's provisional regime, set to work, shortly after his assumption of office, to undo what the Revolutionists had striven to accomplish. He sought to realize his vicious plan first by making his Parliament a mere sham, then by the outright dissolution of the legislature, and finally by placing himself on the throne as Emperor of China. The farce of Yuan Shih-kai was short-lived, and it ended in his ignominious defeat and death.
The next man to foment trouble in the political arena in Peiping (then Peking) was Chang Hsun, an avowed militarist. His deep-seated belief in the monarchical form of government prompted him to revive the throne and bring back to it the deposed Manchu Emperor, known as Henry Puyi, who happens to be the present puppet ruler of the so-called "Manchukuo". This hastily staged drama did not last more than twelve days, at the end of which it turned into a total fiasco.
Thereafter the country fell a prey successively to partisan intrigues and factional strife at the Capital and to the oppressive rule of warlords in the Provinces. Soon the situation deteriorated so hopelessly that Republican China, which had been the fond hope of the Revolutionists, became the scene of one internecine war after another. For years, tumult and turmoil reigned supreme, until in 1926 the Nationalist Army, led by Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek, commenced its spectacular march northward from Canton and within two years succeeded in freeing the country from the misrule of the warlords and in bringing about complete unification.
Realizing the lack of political training on the part of his compatriots, Dr. Sun Yat Sen had laid down a programme for the gradual adoption of constitutionalism. According to this program, which is embodied in the Outline of Reconstruction, drawn up by Dr. Sun, there should be three periods, the period of military operations, the period of political tutelage and the period of constitutionalism. The period of military operations was concluded in 1928 when the Nationalist Army entered the gates of Peiping soon after the establishment of the Nationalist Government in Nanking. The second period began in 1929, but shortly before it was scheduled to come to an end, was interrupted by the Marco Polo Bridge incident precipitated by Japan.
It must be remembered that this was by no means the first time that militarist and aggressive Japan had baulked at China's attempt to establish constitutional government. Deplorable as was the state of internal disorder in China during the first half of her Republican era, it was nevertheless not the worst enemy of her struggle to effect real democracy. For it was the Japanese who were primarily responsible for much of the political chaos that existed in China long before they embarked upon their ambitious programme of invasion and conquest.
Convinced that the subjugation of China would be the first step toward world domination and that a weak and disunited China would tend to further her malicious design, Japan left no stone unturned to stir up dissension and civil strife. Whenever the opportunity presented itself, she did her level best to play off one faction against another, so as to reap from the resultant feud whatever benefit she could.
Thus Japan's hand was seen in Yuan Shih-kai's abortive attempt to revive the monarchy. Prior to his ascension to the throne, the Japanese Government had availed itself of the war then raging in Europe to bring up the notorious Twenty-one Demands, the acceptance of which was said by some to be the price paid by Yuan Shih-kai for Japan's support of his monarchical scheme.
The part played by Japan in Chang Haun's Restoration is well known. The mere fact that asylum was accorded by the Japanese Legation in Peiping to Chang's followers after his defeat is ample evidence.
In nearly all the subsequent civil wars in China, Japan had an important share. Her loans and her military supplies, not infrequently to both parties to the dispute, contributed to the recurrence of the suicidal fratricides.
In 1928 Japan despatched an armed force to Tsinan, in Shantung Province, to block the northward advance of the victorious Nationalist Army along the Tientsin-Pukow Railway. It was during this infamous incident that Japan went so far as to murder in cold blood one of the high Chinese diplomats and his entourage in Tsinan. Although these brutal acts did not stop the Nationalist Army from reaching Peiping by another route, Japan did what she could to dissuade the warlord in Manchuria, General Chang Tsoling, from accepting the Nationalist regime. This again ended in failure; but, for his stubbornness, the General had to pay with his own life, which was lost in a train explosion artfully arranged by the Japanese.
On September 18th, 1931, the Japanese invaded Manchuria. Thereafter, despite almost daily provocations, the Chinese Government resorted to every possible means to keep the peace. Genralissimo Chiang Kai-shek exercised such inimitable forbearance that, even on the eve of the Marco Polo Bridge Incident, which took place on July 7, 1937, he declared, "While there is the slightest hope for peace we will not abandon, it; so long as we have not reached the limit of endurance we will not talk lightly of sacrifice." But, bent on her programme of conquest, Japan deliberately precipitated the fateful Incident. At that ominous moment, the die was cast and the Rubicon had to be crossed. As the Generalissimo said in the same declaration from which I have just quoted, "When the last stage is unavoidably reached, we have no choice but to sacrifice and fight to the bitter end. Once war has begun there will be no compromise."
In this war of resistance in which we are engaged, therefore, we are trying not merely to rid ourselves of a ruthless invader and an implacable enemy of world freedom, but also to remove the most serious obstacle to the fulfillment of the aim of our Revolution. From the very beginning the Japanese have conspired to keep China in the condition of utter powerlessness and of a house divided against itself, so as to smash the hopes for a united and democratic China. This wicked plan has now culminated in the most ghastly assault on China and on the free world. In this sense, the Chinese war of resistance is but a continuation of the Revolutionary War, and on its successful outcome depends the deliverance of China from Japanese domination as well as the consummation of Chinese democracy.
The dual nature of our momentous struggle is substantiated by the fact that, at the same time that we are carrying on our resistance to Japanese aggression, we are taking important steps toward the creation of constitutional government. On May 5th, 1936, the Chinese Government made public the Draft Constitution; and had it not been for the Japanese invasion of China and the outbreak of hostilities in the summer of 1937, the People's Convention would have met in November that year and the Chinese people would now be blessed with a Constitution. In spite of the war that intervened, the Chinese Government has in the last few years adopted a number of additional measures looking toward the introduction of full-fledged constitutionalism, such as, notably, the establishment of the People's Political Council, which is a semi-legislative and semi-advisory body, the initiation of the new county system, and the decision to call the People's Convention at the conclusion of war to ratify the Constitution.
The role played by China in the present global war is clear to all, and the contributions made by her to the common cause of the United Nations are universally recognized. We still recall that, at the outbreak of the conflict, Japan proved to her own satisfaction that she could beat China to her knees in no time. Today, Japan's self-deceiving boast has long fallen to the ground. Not only are China's knees still unbent, but she has fully demonstrated her ability to continue to stand on her feet for an indefinite period of time to come.
But, being poorly equipped, the Chinese have from the very outset had to fight a grossly unequal war against a cruel, treacherous and ruthless foe. As a result, a vast portion of their territory has been occupied; millions of people, both civilian and military, have lost their lives; tens of millions of men, women and children have been rendered homeless and destitute; cities, towns and villages have been bombed and shattered; institutions of learning and works of art have been pillaged and destroyed; churches and hospitals have been wrecked; industrial plants and factories have been razed to the ground. In a word, havoc and devastation at their very worst have been and still are the lot of the whole of China.
And yet, surprising as it may seem, the Chinese people are forging ahead and enduring their trials and tribulations with indescribable fortitude and calm. The experience they have gained from many years of relentless strife has convinced them that their final victory is inevitable. Especially since the entry of Canada, the United States, Great Britain and all our other allies into the war, the faith of the Chinese in the ultimate vindication of their cause' has been immeasurably strengthened. So, here is the answer to the second question which I posed at the beginning, "There is every prospect for China to win her fight for democracy".
But the longer the war lasts, the more difficult becomes the task confronting China and the greater her need for allied assistance. It is no secret that, in spite of her power of resistance, the lack of adequate equipment has prevented her from launching a large-scale counteroffensive against the enemy. There can be no doubt that, given the required aid, she will be able to drive out the invader and restore law and justice in her part of the world. The dramatic successes recently scored by China and made possible in part by the assistance from the United States planes and air force prove that the price is well worth paying.
The Chinese believe that our war, like the peace to follow, is indivisible. To them the European front and the Far Eastern front are of equal importance. The neglect of one would be detrimental to our success on the other. Moreover, with Japan's occupation of the regions in the southwestern Pacific, China has become the most convenient base for the United Nations' counter-attack on the Island Empire. Hence, the vital importance of rushing aid to China.
In this connection, I hope that I can be forgiven if I quote from a recent article written by an American university professor who, after recounting the tremendous losses in human life suffered by China, said, "When we stop to thing about it, we all recognize that China is the largest nation engaged in this war, that she has been in it the longest, that she has suffered by far the most. The trouble is that we do not often think about it; and yet, this most significant and undebatable fact must never be forgotten-to date, this has been China's war more than anyone else's."
While it is true that the Chinese have suffered in this war more than any of the peoples of the United Nations, we believe that the total effort of all of us in defence of the common cause is increasing with the march of time. And there is every reason that it should. For we are all engaged in a stupendous struggle between freedom and slavery, between democracy and tyranny, between good and evil, and between light and darkness. Were we not to emerge victorious from this struggle, the progress of world civilization would receive a fatal blow, the sufferings of mankind would know no bounds, and the untold sacrifices endured in the fight for democracy the world over and at all times would have been in vain. Let there be no illusions, therefore, about the collective responsibility of the United Nations, and let them, one and all, discharge their sacred obligations with renewed fervour, vigour and determination.
In closing, let me read to you a striking passage from the unforgettable speech by the preacher in the famous novel and cinema, Mrs. Miniver
"Why, in all conscience, should these be the ones to suffer? Children, old people, a young girl at the height of her loveliness? are these our fighters? Why should they be sacrificed? . . . Because this is not only a war of soldiers in uniform. It is a war of the people--of all the people--and it must be fought not only on the battlefield, but in the cities and in the. villages, in the factories and on the farms, in the home and in the heart of every man, woman and child who loves freedom . . . . This is the People's War! It is our war! We are the fighters! Fight it then! Fight it with all that is in us And may God defend the right!"
Thank you. (Applause-prolonged.)
MR. JOHN C. M. MACBETH: Gentlemen, it is the custom of this Club that the Chairman shall thank the speaker. Custom makes cowards of us all. I am going to depart from that custom today and ask Bishop White to thank the Speaker. Bishop White has known China really longer than the speaker has. Bishop White arrived in China in 1897. The speaker arrived in China in 1900. I am told that the only difference between their arrivals was that the Bishop arrived with a shilling in his pocket and the speaker didn't even have a pocket.
Bishop White, will you please do the honour of thanking the speaker.
BISHOP WHITE: Mr. President and Gentlemen: It is a great honour to express our thanks to the speaker for this very scholarly and informative and interesting address that we have heard today because these are days when we are beginning to be greatly interested in China. I say "beginning to be" because we have not been formerly. We are grateful to Mr. Liu Shih Shun for coming and speaking as he has today and I am sure our hearts are stirred and we want to do what we can in meeting that need over there.
Dr. Liu I may say, is truly characteristic of the young China today, and when he was speaking I thought back 45 years, to those early days, where we had to live where I was placed just as the Chinese did. We had to wear Chinese clothes. My head was tonsored just as the Chinese tonsored theirs. I had to grow a queue but I had to have a false one braided in at first. Otherwise, I couldn't have lived there. We would have been mobbed because they didn't know anything about Western clothes, they hadn't seen them in the interior of China where I was.
Here is one thing that stands out today. Thinking back to the early days, we wondered year after year whether China would ever awake. We felt she wasn't conscious of the rest of the world, she didn't know about it, and we thought the old China with all its glory had departed. Then, you know, the nations began to lop off a piece here and there. Dr. Liu knows more than most people about the whole question of extraterritoriality. He has written a great book on that. Still that has gone. As I think of it today, China has awakened, and Dr. Liu has stood before us today and given in faultless English this great presentation. We feel he speaks for China today and he typifies in himself this New China.
I came this morning from a class that I had at the University the first year Honour Class in one of the Departments. They are taking up Chinese studies with me and this was the second lecture I had given them. The eyes of those young people simply bulged-they didn't want to break up that class. They didn't know anything about the culture of China, what lay behind it, and we are trying to give them that. I think we all ought to be grateful to the University for setting up a Department of Chinese Studies because now it is for us to awaken. China has awakened from her side and she now is coming forward and taking her part but we don't know much about China. Here is our neighbour across the Pacific, and we are going to walk hand in hand as we are now in this fight against aggression, and after that, the Reconstruction. Those are the two great objectives in China today. Opposition, resistance to the aggressor that is coming in upon the Fatherland of China, and at the same time, they are building up. They are not neglecting education and the training of the youth of China to meet these problems that they will have to face, and so they are going about it in the right place.
And so we here have the same problem-resistance to the aggressor, but let us when we think of our reconstruction problems, think of that other wider reconstruction problem across the Pacific and working forward, going forward, hand in hand with this sister nation in this body of the United Nations, let us press forward to make a better world.
So, Mr. President, I am grateful for this privilege and I do with all my heart express on your behalf to Dr. Liu our thanks for coming today and giving us this great word of his. (Applause.)