CHINA, THE DEMOCRATIC FRONT IN THE FAR EAST
AN ADDRESS BY
REVEREND JAMES G. ENDICOTT, M.A.
Chairman: The President, Mr. C. R. Sanderson.
Thursday, November 13, 1941
MR. C. R. SANDERSON: Gentlemen, in the fall of 1929, this country tumbled over night into an economic depression. We then tended to forget that Great Britain had been enduring an economic depression since 1921, and obsessed with our own troubles we forgot that she was still dragging on the bottom of that depression. There is a kind of analogy here. A little over two years ago Canada entered the present war, and we tended to forget that China had been in a war since 1931. Obsessed by our own war, we now perhaps tend to forget that China is putting up just as magnificent a fight on the part of Democracy as is being put up anywhere in the world. (Applause.)
The Empire Club of Canada is very fortunate today in having Mr. James Endicott come and talk to us about China. His long experience there for nearly twenty years, and his close and intimate contacts with the Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek, enable him to bring us a story that will not only be interesting but also will be of permanent value in our understanding of China at this time. It is my privilege to present Mr. James Endicott, who will talk to us on "China, Our Far Eastern Democratic Front". Mr. Endicott. (Applause.)
REVEREND JAMES G. ENDICOTT: Mr. President and Gentlemen of The Empire Club: I have recently returned from the most bombed and blasted city in the world. Chungking, the wartime capital of China. Chungking is a city of about 500,000 people; it covers an area of about one-third of Toronto, and, up to the time I left, there had been a total of more than 7,000 bombers over that area. Eight out of ten business men have had their houses and places of business destroyed. You might not realize this from pictures of the city, because they keep on building them up again. For example, when I was leaving, I went to say goodbye to a friend who is the manager of the large Holstein Dairy. He had some offices standing in the midst of a large ruined area and I was congratulating him that his place of business seemed to have escaped the general destruction. "Oh", he said casually, "this is the third time I have put this place up". So Chungking can stand in your imagination as a symbol of how heroically and at what great sacrifice the Chinese people have held the democratic front in the Far East.
It may surprise some of you to hear me asking you to take China seriously as a democracy, and you may hear or read disturbing reports of certain influences, both within and without the government, that seem to cast doubt on this assertion. I am fully aware of some of the difficulties and dangers. In fact, I am quite sure that I know, personally, most of the men who are creating these difficulties. Nevertheless, I am convinced after living for years in the country, that China is headed for democracy, as we understand it, and that even in the midst of war, a war for which she was unprepared, she has been able to make substantial progress towards the democratic way of life.
Te begin with, by her past traditions and history, China is profoundly biased towards progress in democracy. Even during the hundreds of years of rule by emperors, she had an educational system which, by principle and practice, was essentially democratic. The officials of the whole land were chosen by examinations based on a regular curriculum and any poor boy in the whole land could aspire to get that education and become an administrator. Moreover, there was no "old school tie" tradition, and nobody asked any questions as to how or where you got your education.
Chinese school texts are full of inspirational stories of how poor boys gleaned an education by the sweat of their brow. There is a story of one who tended his father's pigs, who drove them out beside a school house every day and fed them there and listened to the teacher inside. Evidently the teacher had somewhat of a loud speaker voice, so he picked up his education in that way and he learned to write in wet sand with a stick and eventually became one of the great administrators of China.
Now, the content of that education was not so good. It remained unchanged for nearly five hundred years. In fact, I told a select audience in Montreal this week that China in her weakness and inability to cope with modern conditions is a horrible example of what happens to you when you remain a conservative-too long.
In Chinese society there is a fundamentally democratic institution called the "Tea Shop". For example: If Mr. Jones and Mr. Brown have a quarrel, Mr. Jones will ask Mr. Brown to drink tea this afternoon. Each side understands the procedure quite well. They will invite their friends and relatives to come to the Tea Shop to spend the afternoon, and they will occupy stalls on opposite sides. After they have been mellowed with a little tea, one side gets up and states the argument, and then the other side gets up and replies, and all the friends and neighbours in the Tea Shop sit around, having a good afternoon's entertainment and listening to relatives and friends of both sides discussing their case. Then some able man, probably sitting in the back, noted for his fair-mindedness and wisdom, will be asked to get up and decide the case. He will get up and say that this side has some rights, and that side is not too far off on this point, and they generally work out a compromise solution. Everybody says that is the way they ought to settle it, and Mr. Brown and Mr. Jones are on the spot, and they are looked down on if they won't accept that solution.
Is it any wonder the Chinese have a proverb that nobody except a stubborn pig-headed fool would ever take his case to a lawyer? Moreover, if he does go to law, he meets those conditions that King Solomon spoke of, where "A wicked man taketh a gift out of the bosom, to pervert the ways of judgment".
That institution, Gentlemen, is a fundamentally democratic institution and works all through Chinese society. If I had time this afternoon I could give a picture in detail of how fundamentally, in their institutions, traditions, and points of view in life, the Chinese are a democrats people, and headed for democracy, not only in social life but in their government as well. But the hope I have of Democracy in China is based not so much on history and tradition as on the qualities of soul and character that have come out of the common people in this struggle. They have risen to meet each crisis in a magnificent way. We, of the British Empire, feel that at Dunkirk we saw all those qualities that sanctify the human spirit when it is facing disaster. Well, the Chinese have gone through not one Dunkirk, but a whole series of Dunkirks, and each time have risen to meet them and shown that they are capable of taking their destiny in their own hands and moulding it for a future of freedom and justice. (Applause.)
You know the story of the eight hundred farmer boys and coolies who took over the steel and concrete warehouse (that's what you call it here, a "go-down", we would call it in the East) on the right wing of the Chinese line, backed up against the British concession, and held it through the most intense artillery fire, and through the most wicked aerial bombing, until the Chinese had plenty of time to reform their line again and again.
Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek sent two messages saying, "Come down; you have done nobly; come out'. They refused to surrender and the whole Chinese nation and the press of the country proclaimed them as the "800 doomed heroes". They have shown what China is capable of. One day a little Chinese girl scout, Lily Yang, was watching and noticed that they didn't have a flag of the country on the warehouse. She put a flag on her person, wormed her way through the Japanese line, swam the river, and took in the flag. She said, "Boys, if you are going to fight like this, you ought to have a flag above you". She put the flag on a stick, climbed up on the warehouse roof and fastened it there. She said, "Now I feel better. You can fight like heroes for your flag". And she swam across the river and went back home. Madam Chiang Kai-Shek heard about it and brought her back to free China and sent her around making recruiting speeches and selling the war to certain types of isolationists in the free part of China, 1500 miles from the war front. At that time we had people with somewhat of the mentality of the people in Chicago who read The Tribune. (I thought of those conditions in West China when I came through Chicago this time, and a young man who flew across the Atlantic was busy telling the people of Chicago that Hitler can't.)
I wonder whether you know the story of the pickpocket squad. In a certain city of China, after the Japanese got through the north, the Chief of Police stayed on the job. He worked with the Japanese by day and the guerilla troops by night. He called in the pickpockets of that town. They have a kind of Guild, in the nature of a closed shop. Each man has his own area and thev are told where to work. The Chief of Police said, "Boys, I know what you are capable of. I want you to stick around the Japanese camps and the railway sidings, or any place they are storing goods, and every clay I want you to bring a quota of field telephones, field radio equipment, revolvers, ammunition, and so on. If you don't produce the quota, you are going to get into trouble with me". Every day the pickpockets produced the required quota for the guerilla troops of North China.
There is the story of old mother Chao, a seventy year old lady who organized the first guerrilla troops in North China. She is called the "Mother of the Guerrillas". She led the farm boys and girls out, taught them how to cut down telephone wires and string them across the highways, to set Japanese trucks on fire, and to take rails off the so-called occupied railways, and carry them away so the Japanese couldn't find them. Later she had a much better idea for using these rails. The Chinese smuggled them back to Free China and the Chine e High Command was able to build nearly six hundred miles of needed railways from rails taken off the Japanese-occupied railways by Chinese guerrillas.
So, I say, with this picture in mind, it is the qualities of heroism and character in the common people in China that have inspired me to believe in the inevitable growth and establishment of democracy in that great country.
You know, in honour of Mother Chao and guerrillas, the Chinese have written a song, called "The Guerrilla Song". One of the great things about this war is that they have learned to sing in it. When I was a boy in China, if you had fifty people trying to sing a tune, you would get fifty tunes, all wrong. That has all changed and the Chinese have learned that music is something to inspire the human spirit. Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek has something unique in his armies. He has a singing officer in every battalion, whose job it is to teach the boys to sing the new war songs, born out of this struggle. This is the "Guerrilla Song of China"-it might be called the "modern Marseillaise" of the Chinese people in their great struggle for their own national integrity.
"We are all good shots and true,
Every bullet lays low an enemy.
We are all of us mobile troops,
Who fears that high peak or deep stream?
In the forest's leafy depths,
We have built our comrades' camping grounds;
On the mountain's highest range,
Countless trusty brothers guard.
Nothing to eat? Nothing to wear?
From routed foe we take our share.
We've no shot! We've no shell!
Our foes supply us well.
We were born and bred right here,
Every inch of the soil is our very own,
And whoever tries to steal it,
We will fight him to the end".
My small daughter tells me it is perfectly ridiculous to think of singing over the radio. I am a little embarrassed by this thing, but I am not speaking to the radio, I am speaking to you, and I am going to sing this in Chinese in order that you will get some idea of the spirit, the resoluteness of these people in their struggle for freedom. This is how it goes in Chinese: (Song sung in Chinese.) (Applause.)
I submit, Gentlemen, the people who formerly had no music and who, in the stress and strain and agony of a great struggle, can produce not one, but many songs like that, cannot be defeated.
One of the greatest influences for democracy in China today is, of course, that remarkable woman, Madame Chiang Kai-Shek. Right at the beginning of the war she called a women's conference and organized the womanhood of China for war work. The representatives at this conference were a thoroughly democratic group. They were chosen, not by reason of caste or social position, but entirely from those who had already done significant work in education, science, or social service. In all her women's work, Madame Chiang has tried to keep a balance of one-third from the ruling political party, one-third Christians and one-third Communists, and it is a tribute to her remarkable personality that they work together co-operatively and well. The People's Political Council in China, which is really the modern parliament of China, is unique in having fifteen women representatives. As far as I know that is a greater number of women than you will find on the national bodies of any other country.
Madame Chiang Kai-Shek has been rather broken-hearted because of our betrayal of democracy, not only in Europe but also in Asia, due to the policy of appeasement. The results of this policy ought to lie heavily on our consciences because of its disastrous consequences in the Far East and because of the catastrophic results which have fallen on the heads of the Chinese. Those of us who fought in the last war and were wearing poppies the other day in memory of the boys who lie buried in Flanders Fields, had hoped for some sort of new world order. And Madame Chiang Kai-Shek had proclaimed to her people that the League of Nations was the modern Magna Charta for weak and unprotected people. Now, the first serious challenge to the new order was the invasion of Manchuria and the League of Nations sent a scholarly and wise man, Lord Lytton, and he produced a report, a masterpiece of political insight, economic wisdom, and workable proposals, for a solution of that conflict. He found two nations warring in the bosom of a single continent, just as Lord Durham found here two nations warring in the bosom of a single state, and his report could have done as much for the Far East as Durham's report did for our country in its early history, but the League of Nations stood by and did nothing. I am told that our Canadian representative was one of the men who voted to do nothing about it.
I tell you, since the war the Chinese have suffered even more severely by our policy of appeasement. One of my most terrible duties when I was serving under Madame Chiang, was to lead a relief squad to the leading cities, the first time they were bombed. The first time is the worst, because morale is shattered, agencies break down, the people are stunned. We try to get in and bolster them up and say a word of comfort and bring relief from the central government. I can remember flying over the great city of Luchow, after a bombardment. When we got up above the blazing inferno with our Chinese pilot, the rush of hot air was so great that it shot us up about six hundred feet higher. We had to do a loop and come down in the river. In that bombing, a number of Japanese aeroplanes came down. When they were examined, it was found that these Japanese aeroplanes were equipped with good modern American aeroplane engines. If the Japanese had not been able to obtain those excellent engines, they could not have flown that far to destroy the interior cities of China from the air. They have destroyed from the air about eight out of ten of these cities.
Madam Chiang Kai-Shek once had charge of the Air Force in China and she knows all about aeroplanes. She is inquisitive and she investigated a lot of these Japanese aeroplanes and she found that they were armed with British machine guns. She took down the serial numbers and sent them back to friends in England and said, "Can't you do something?" One of the numbers was A52016 Lewis Auto Gun, made by the Birmingham Small Arms Factory, and I am rather suspicious that they were being sold to Japan at a time when we were being told we would have to sacrifice Czecho-Slovakia because we didn't have enough guns to talk to Hitler in the only language he understood. Is it any wonder that the Chinese Ambassador to Great Britain, Mr Quo Tai Chi, now Minister of Foreign Affairs, stood on the streets of London during the terrible bombings last year and remarked to a newspaper correspondent, "The skies over London are darkened today with the chickens coming home to roost"?
In the spring of 1940, before the fall of France, Sir Stafford Cripps was the personal guest of Chiang KaiShek in Chungking. He made a great impression on the Chinese by his assurance that the British policy of appeasement was about to end. He told them that the British change slowly, and that not even the removal of several pairs of British trousers at Tientsin convinced London at first, but they were now on the way to change. It is an interesting sidelight on the character of Chiang Kai-Shek, who might be described as a moderate conservative,--by background and sympathy,--that he wants to meet and know the leaders of the Left, and Sir Stafford Cripps greatly impressed the Chinese because of the story of his having given up a law practice in London, worth £35,000 a year, because his socialist and Christian convictions had made him feel it was wrong for a man to make so much money.
Now, we are all watching with interest these days the Japanese efforts to extricate themselves from their unprofitable aggression in China. The Chinese, as Chiang Kai-Shek prophesied five years ago, have lost nearly every battle but are winning the war. Now, what is the way out for Japan? The only way out is for every Japanese soldier to leave Chinese soil, having learned the much needed lesson that aggression does not pay and brings disaster to those who practice it.
I cannot do better at this point than to quote from Mr. Churchill's great speech at the Lord Mayor's Banquet on Monday
"Meanwhile, how can we watch without emotion the wonderful defence of their native soil and of their freedom and independence, which has been maintained singlehanded for five long years by the Chinese people under the leadership of that great Asiatic hero and commander, General Chiang Kai-Shek?
"It would be a disaster of the first magnitude to world civilization, if the noble resistance to invasion and exploitation which has been made by the whole Chinese race were not to result in the liberation of their hearths and homes. That, I feel, is the sentiment deep in all of our hearts". (Applause.)
One of my best personal friends in China is the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, General Chang Chun. I have been trying to persuade him to write a book called "On the Eve of the Sino-Japanese Conflict". He could show beyond all doubt that the Chinese have always met the Japanese reasonably and with a willingness to compromise. They were prepared to enter into any form of reasonable commercial treaty or economic understanding to safeguard the supply of Chinese raw materials needed by Japanese industry. And he told me on the day that I left that I can assure the Western Democracies that China is still prepared to negotiate on that basis. She is willing to let bygones be bygones and start afresh on the day that the last Japanese soldier leaves Chinese soil. That is a noble and reasonable position.
In spite of their sufferings and disillusionment, the Chinese have not lost faith in the re-establishment of a new international order. Chiang Kai-Shek has repeatedly broadcast to the world that he is fighting not only for China but for the establishment of that order in the Far East.
I have good reason for believing that he will refuse to negotiate a settlement of any kind directly with Japan, but will ask for a Pacific round-table conference at which the United States, Canada, Australia, Russia, the Netherlands, and Great Britain, as well as China and Japan will be represented. We can reasonably hope that any treaties resulting from such a conference will now be regarded as sacred obligations and I hope that, when the time comes, the British and Americans will take their full share of responsibility and will not, like the Priest and Levite, pass by on the other side.
Yon can count on Chiang Kai-Shek to lay an enduring foundation for democracy in China. He will bind up the wounds of the Far East, with malice towards none and charity for all. He has learned through these long bitter years of war, .
"To suffer woes which Hope thinks infinite; To forgive wrongs darker than death or night; To defy power which seems omnipotent;
To love, and bear; to hope till Hope creates From its own wreck the thing it contemplates; Neither to change, nor falter, nor repent". He will not falter nor fail and if we give him the tools he'll finish the job for us in the Far East.
I would like to see us Canadians give him a present of a few hundred modern Hurricanes with good Canadian pilots, and if we did, we wouldn't have to worry about the defence of Singapore. I hope we do do something like this because he and his people deserve it. If blood be the price of freedom and national integrity, God knows China has paid in full. (Applause-prolonged.)
MR. C. R. SANDERSON: Mr. Endicott, I am speaking for everyone when I say that today you have told us some things which are good for our minds, and you have also told us some things which are good for our souls. A couple of days ago we were saying "Lest We Forget" as a kind of re-consecration. When we repeat that phrase, we should be pledging ourselves not only lest we forget the sacrifices that have been made, but also lest we forget the mistakes that have been made. It is good that we should have driven home to us that, in this struggle for the preservation of democracy, in this struggle for the reestablishment of security, in this struggle for the restoration of happiness, it is not only democracy for me, for you; it is not only security for me, for you; it is not only restored happiness for me, for you-it is also Democracy, Security, and Happiness for the other fellow as well.
Mr. Endicott, you have given us things to ponder on. We are grateful to you for giving your time, your thought, your experience, your knowledge, and your inspiration, both to this audience and the audience which is listening to us on the air. We are truly grateful, Sir. (Applause.)