- The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 25 Jan 1945, p. 243-255
- Ming, Dr. Yui, Speaker
- Media Type
- Item Type
- China trading space for time since September 18, 1931 when the Japanese attacked Mukden. Today, not much space left and time presses on. A humourous illustration of the Chinese conception of time and of progress in a story told by the late Dr. William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury. Something in the make-up of the Chinese mind which refuses to be overwhelmed by the presence of brute force, and to judge contemporary events in the light of a longer historical perspective. The position of the Chinese Army as a fighting force in the current struggle. The speaker's witnessing of Chinese soldiers fighting. The two active fronts in the China theatre today. The enemy's campaign. Loss of territory over the last nine months. Chinese successes. The need for the Chinese army to now hold every inch of territory "like a bulldog." Reasons for China's military setbacks. Military conditions and supplies for the Chinese, and the Japanese. Communism as another source of disunity arising in China. The Communist party in China, and its army. Conflicts between the National Government and the Communist armies. Negotiations between the National Government and the Communist party. The hope for unity and democracy. The political situation in China. Dr. Sun Yat-sen's outline of the progressive introduction of self-government in three stages. China's economic ills. China's position in Asia similar to that of France in Europe. The speaker's belief that China will become a democracy.
- Date of Original
- 25 Jan 1945
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- Full Text
- CHINA'S POSITION IN THIS STRUGGLE
AN ADDRESS BY DR. YUI MING DIRECTOR OF THE CHINESE MINISTRY OF INFORMATION IN CANADA
Chairman: The First Vice-President, Mr. F. L. Clouse
Thursday, January 25, 1945
MR. CLOUSE: Since the inception of this Club, the platform has been devoted to the dissemination of knowledge and information pertaining to the world at large and of general interest to all. Last week we had the pleasure of hearing from a French Army officer, scholar and diplomat on the conduct of the War by the French Nation. Today we are to learn, from a very eminent authority, the story of the struggle of the Chinese Nation in resisting the Japanese invader.
Dr. Yui Ming is Director of the Chinese Ministry of Information in Canada. Essentially his work is to interpret China to the Canadian public and through his re ports inform the Chinese Government regarding public opinion in Canada particularly with reference to his own country.
Dr. Yui has been in the service of the Chinese Government for the past fifteen years. He started in 1929 as a Secretary to Dr. Sun Fo, the Minister of Railways. In 1930, he joined the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Previous to coming to Canada, he was in San Francisco directing the activities of the Chinese Ministry of Information on the Pacific Coast of the United States. In 1931-32 and again in 1937 during the historic battles of Shanghai, he was Director of the Shanghai Office of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. In 1936 he was sent on a mission to Siam as Counsellor of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to relieve tension between the Siamese Government and the Chinese residents over the anti-Chinese regulations promulgated by the Siamese" Government. In 1938 he was sent to Moscow on a special mission and became Charge d'Affaires of the Chinese Embassy, when negotiations for the greatest quantity of military supplies ever sent to China was successfully completed.
Dr. Yui has been intensely interested in the early establishment of Constitutional Government and the protection of civil liberties in China. He translated into English the first draft of the Constitution which was promulgated by the National Government in 1936.
From 1939 and throughout the Battle of Britain, he was Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy in London, where,, in those critical days, he shared the trials and tribulations of the British people, enhancing his already deep admiration of the country where he received his education.
Dr. Yui is a graduate of Cornell University and the Law School of Sooshow University, China. He is a member of the Shanghai Bar. He studied the common law at the Harvard Law School, and received the degree of Doctor of Philosophy from Balliol College, Oxford University.
It is a great pleasure to present to you Dr. Yui Ming, who will address us on "China's Position in This Struggle."
DR. YUI MING : Mr. Chairman and Members of the Empire Club of Canada: Since September 18. 1931, when the Japanese attacked Mukden, China has been trading space for time. Today there is not much space left and time presses on:
Chinese conception of time and of progress is humourously illustrated in a story told by the late Dr. William Temple, Archbishop of Canterbury, about a fellow countryman of mine who was called upon to speak before a conference of students in America. "When I took my degree at the University," he said, "I was, like everybody else at that time of life, exceedingly foolish. And the day after I took it, I made a journey from Shanghai, where my University was, into the interior of China, which occupied sixteen days. A month or two back," the speaker went on, "I repeated that journey in eighteen hours; but if I am a fool when I get into the aeroplane, I shall still be a fool when I get out of it; and why do you call it progress to distribute my folly about the earth more rapidly?"
The Japanese militarists--like the Germans in Europe--have spread not mere folly but death and destruction with amazing speed and skill wherever they went.
However, there is something in the make-up of the Chinese mind which refuses to be overwhelmed by the presence of brute force and I think that there is also a certain maturity of mind which enables him to judge contemporary events in the light of a longer historical perspective.
He sees Europe overrun, Rommel knocking at the gates of the Suez, the Japs reaching into India and threatening Australia, the whole coast of China blockaded, her important lines of communications held by the enemy, one inhabited place after the other taken and sacked by the enemy, still he thinks with a mind and heart which urges him to fight on and that victory is not far off.
I saw England in her greatest hour of peril. After Dunkirk and during the Battle of Britain I spent a great deal of time visiting the shelters in London. The London County Council had asked me to describe the struggle of the Chinese people to the residents of the underground shelters. It was part of the city's program to enable the occupants to pass away their long weary nights more cheerfully. The faces which I saw in London during these visits were grim and serious but never sullen. There is such a thing as mustering the soul of a nation to combat evil and win over brute force.
This is the spirit which has enabled the Chinese people to carry on the war so long and which should be re-estimate of China's position in membered in making an this struggle.
The Japanese have never been able to understand this. For many years their military intelligence officers roamed disguised, far into the interior of China. They even established a university in Shanghai to train their experts on China. When in 1937 these experts were called upon to answer the questions: "Will China fight," and "If she fought, how long could she fight?" years of study of the Chinese language, piles of statistics and information on China did not produce the right answers for the Japanese. A Japanese, I've always said, can read the Chinese language but he cannot understand the soul of the Chinese people. They are even more baffled by imponderables.'
Today our Allies are probing the same questions. Our Allies have taken the risk of China being able to hold out while Hitler is being defeated in Europe. The Japanese took the risk of concentrating large forces in China and penetrating into the interior with the object of knocking China out of the war before help can reach her from India and before the Allies land on the China coast.
What is the position of the Chinese Army as a fighting force in this struggle?
I have seen Chinese soldiers fight in Shanghai on two occasions. In the first battle of Shanghai the Chinese held the Japanese forces for thirty days and in the second battle of Shanghai they held for four months. Some of the Chinese troops who fought in. Shanghai in 1937 had marched all the way from Canton, a thousand miles away, and when they arrived in November they were fighting without shoes on the frozen ground. Similarly troops from other provinces joined the battle of Shanghai. There the Chinese army was badly mauled; there were casualties as high as ninety percent but the units kept on fighting.
I can tell you that the same spirit of sacrifice has been maintained up to the present time. In the defence of the City of Hengyang between June 12th and August 8th, 1944, the Tenth Army, consisting of 17,000 troops, fought to the last man and held the enemy for forty-seven days. The Commander who was suffering from dysentery was captured and taken to the Japanese headquarters. The Japanese had estimated that only an army of 50,000 men could have withstood their attack for so long. After two months' detention. the Chinese Commander was able to escape with the aid of guerillas. The defence of Henyang marks the longest siege of any city in the whole China war and shows that the stoic resistance of China's fighting men has been maintained even in the latest campaigns.
There are actually two active fronts in the China theatre today, one in the south and the other in western Yunnan and north Burma.
About nine months ago the enemy started a most vigorous campaign, bringing in tanks, heavy artillery and motorized vehicles to bear on the area along the Peiping Hankow and the Hankow-Canton railways with the object of establishing a continental route between Korea and Malaya. It will be remembered that the strategic cities of Hankow and Canton had fallen into enemy hands in 1938 but the enemy had never been able to utilize the whole length of the railways.
During the past nine months we have lost more territory to the enemy than was lost since 1938 and the enemy has succeeded in sweeping across these two communication lines, virtually splitting China in two. This must be called a military failure on our part.
The more favourable side of this picture however is that our troops have succeeded in destroying the bridges, tunnels and road beds and have removed the ties along the railways so that it would take the enemy at least one year to rebuild the railways, Meanwhile we have placed at least 400.000 troops behind the enemy lines so it would be highly improbable that the enemy could ever make use of the entire length of the railway.
Another military reverse is the fact that along the areas recently occupied by the enemy are situated the air fields which were built at great cost of material and labour and from which the United States 14th Air Force had been operating. Chinese military headquarters directing operations in the south and east of China are also located in this area. At one time the enemy boldly penetrated into the Province of Kweichow, threatening Kunming which is the important clearing center for supplies coming from India and even Chungking was at one time in danger.
Thus space. which had been on our side, had shrunk to the minimum. Now the Chinese army must hold every inch of territory like a bulldog.
You have probably heard it said that the reverses in recent months were not due to the lack of supplies for the Chinese army. From the beginning of the war until May, 1944, the Chinese ground troops fighting in the east and south of China have received a total of fifty anti-tank guns; sixty artillery pieces and thirty million rounds of rifle and machine-gun ammunition. According to our military spokesman this would last one modern division one week of active combat. I think it is fairer to say that there were many reasons for our military setbacks and that the lack of necessary equipment was an important one. You cannot push a tank back with a bayonet.
One American correspondent who came back from the southern front described the fighting thus: "The Japs were there in force and they were mobile, ahorse, afoot and truck-fed. They could marshal] superiority in numbers at any point they chose. The Chinese were exhausted. Their guns were worn out, their tanks were old, their machine guns and rifles had been reduced in number for lack of replacement and were practically worn out."
On the other hand, Chinese troops fighting on the North Burma front who are better equipped have been able to clear the enemy out of this area. The news has been very good. British and Indian troops are marching on to Mandalay and the Chinese troops fighting from both ends of the road have made a junction. Engineers and workers building the road from both ends are in sight of each other and already a large American convoy of much needed equipment has reached Myitkyina. Running parallel to the road are oil pipe-lines which are bringing in vital fuel from Calcutta into China. Portions of the pipe-line have already been in operation and have enabled the American super-fortresses to range all over the Eastern skies, bombing Tokyo, Formosa, Java.
On the road near Mandalay, Allied planes are roaring like thunder into China. Here, British, American, Indian, Burmese and Chinese have struggled together for a common cause. If Kipling were alive he would say that East ceases to be East and West ceases to be West and that we are fighting for one world.
I believe that the darkest hour in our military history is just around the corner. We are greatly pressed for time and space. On the one hand we must hold the enemy in the south; on the other, we must push supplies in to replace worn-out equipment and drive the enemy out,
We must think of Japan not as an Island Empire, but a Continental Empire and that the core of her fighting forces are stationed in China. Our High Command expects bitter fighting in Malaya, Indo-China, and in China, and if that is true, the role of the Chinese army is important. Recent changes at Chungking in the Ministry of War and the Ministry of Conscription indicate that the Chinese Government is accepting the responsibility of its recent military failures and are taking steps to improve the treatment of officers and men in the services.
I have described the development of the Chinese army under one national command, how provincial armies and commanders formerly more or less independent of the National Government have buried their differences and joined the national struggle. Provincialism-a traditional source of disunity in China-has practically died out; but another source of disunity has arisen in the form of Communism.
The political differences between the Government and the Communists are of long standing and more complicated than mere differences between political parties. The Communist party in China maintains an independent army, preaches an ideology which is alien to the established traditions of Chinese society, makes its own laws, issues its own currency and postage. It is virtually "a sovereign state within a sovereign state".
The National Government has been accused of hoarding supplies and immobilizing an army to blockade the Communists. The troops of the National Government have been meeting all the major frontal attacks launched by the Japanese army since 1937, and with only a mere trickle of supplies coming in from outside there's really not much hoarding to speak of, The army in southern Shensi, which is so irritating to the Communists, has been there facing Japanese troops across the Yellow River since 1938, Withdrawal of this army would open the route over which every conquering army has marched into Chungking and Chengtu since the dawn of Chinese history.
At the risk of over-simplification, we may say that, in general, Chungking demands unity while Yenan demands democracy. Chungking says that unity of command in war must come first while democracy will come after the war. Yenan says that democracy is the best means to achieve unity.
For the last several months negotiations have been going on between the National Government and the Communist party. The terms which the Government has offered and which the Communist representative is bringing back to Yenan are not yet revealed. There seems now a greater hope for both unity and democracy. At this juncture in history the maintenance of national unity outweighs any and every other consideration. However, I repeat, there seems now a greater hope for both unity and democracy.
Let us turn to the problem of democracy, China has never claimed to be a full-fledged democracy, Democracy is a plant of slow growth, China has just begun to initiate democracy to no less than 450,000,000 people.
Democracy, like knowledge, cannot be thrust down the throats of the people. Neither can it be denied those who wish to have it. The Chinese people will be able to see to it that what they have fought for in the struggle will not be denied them. I have this faith in the Chinese people.
Dr. Sun Yat-sen, Father of the Chinese Republic, after his bitter experience in introducing constitutional government in China, outlined the progressive introduction of self-government in three stages. First is the period of unification by military force and the consolidation of the army under one national government; then there is the stage of political tutelage in which the Kuomintang party would rule in trust; this period was to end with the calling of the People's Congress and the adoption of the Constitution and election of the President.
Chungking has announced that, instead of waiting until after the war, it favours the convocation of the People's Congress in 1945. This move is significant in two respects. In the first place, it answers the wishes of those who have advocated the immediate introduction of constitutional government to insure democracy in China. This step will also provide a solution for Communist controversy. The Communist party will be able under constitutional government to play a role as a legitimate political party in opposition. The People's Congress is to be composed of about 1640 delegates of whom 1200 will be elected directly by the people. The National Government will nominate 240 delegates, while 200 members of the Kuomintang Party will sit at the First People's Congress.
Of the 1200 delegates directly elected by the people, 665 will be elected according to a regional representation basis, that is, according to the size of population of the various provinces; 380 will be elected according to an occupational representation basis; and 155 will be elected according to a special representation basis, that is, according to the number of delegates to be elected from special electoral units according to law, namely, from the Northeast, Mongolia, Tibet, Overseas Chinese, and the army. The major function of the First People's Congress is to enact a constitution and to decide upon a date for its promulgation and enforcement.
Thus China will soon complete the first two stages of her revolution which began many years ago. This revolution aims to transform a country of semi-colonial status into a great power, a geographical conglomeration of provinces into a national state, a medieval agrarian society into a modern industrial nation, an autarchy of twenty centuries into a democracy. The revolution is still going on and it will be going on for decades to come. We are solving at the same time the problems of the Renaissance, the Reformation and Industrial Revolution in one century. It will not be completed until the people are able to enjoy the blessings of a government of the people, by the people and for the people.
The source of many of China's ills is economic. She is suffering from inflation as well as invasion with all the attendant evils. The economic front which we have to face is no less serious than the military. Inflation in China is caused by the scarcity of goods and the abundance of paper money.
However, efforts are being made to double or treble the production of war supplies inside China this coming year. The establishment of a War Production Board as a result of the Mission of Mr. Donald Nelson, has already shown encouraging results. The whole governmental machinery at Chungking has been geared to increasing war production. New machines and strategic metals not available inside China must be sent in.
Even before the war, China had to import rice and other necessities from areas now under enemy occupation: We have been fortunate that during the war years, we have been favoured with good harvests. The farmers have long known how to utilize the soil to obtain high yields. It is in the field of industrial goods that we experience the greatest shortages. This is due to fact that China does not have the industrial basis so necessary to carry on modern warfare. Those factory installations which have been moved to the interior are being utilized to the fullest extent, Factories, dug several miles into the mountain caves to avoid enemy attack, are producing cloth and supplies for the armed forces and civilian needs. Still there are many shortages.
The National Budget last year was fixed at fifty billions, Chinese dollars. At the official rate this was about two and one-third billions, Canadian dollars. The rapid rise in cost and new items of expenditures such as the building of air fields and communication projects increased the actual expenditures at the end of the year to seventy-three billions.
Previous to the war 70 percent of the Government's revenue was derived from indirect taxes; customs and taxes on consumption goods. Enemy occupation has cut off 70 percent of those taxes. In recent years direct taxation of income, inheritance, excess profit and land tax in kind cover 40 to 50 percent of expenditures. The Government is now taking measures to increase direct taxes and narrow down the gap between revenues and expenditures.
The general price index in many parts of China as of June, 1944, is more than four hundred times the prewar level. This has caused considerable hardship on those having fixed salaries and has wiped out those who had savings. One favourable sign, however, is that during the last six months the general index numbers of prices have remained steady and almost stable, With the opening of the Burma Road a downward trend is expected.
I asked Sir Frederick Leith-Ross, head of the British Economic Mission to China in 1935, what he thought about the inflation in China. After a moment of reflection, he said that he thought that it was a marvel to him how the Chinese had been able to carryon so well as it was. He then, referred to the economic situation in Greece and thought that this was one of the consequences of war and invasion.
Well, after what I have said about the military, political and economic difficulties of my country, can you wonder that many who go to China without good philosophical armour would be quickly disillusioned?
If I were a physician diagnosing the case of China, I would say that she has been weakened by ills of long standing. She has absorbed many body wounds in the severest ordeal of battle and is a bit shakened up, but she's still on her feet. Her heart is good, lungs strong, vitals intact. Like a good patient, she has taken time to think and examine her failures. She is mustering strength for the battle ahead, fully conscious of the responsibilities which must inevitably fall upon her. Will she be able to rise to the occasion? I think we can expect her position to improve in every respect in the coming year.
China's position in Asia is a great deal like that of France in Europe. Before France was liberated, there was a great deal of dissatisfaction with the Government in power. Today the French army is making an important contribution to victory, and provisions are being made to equip a strong French army. A strong French army means security for you and for Europe. A strong Chinese army will mean early, victory in Asia and security for the world. I am quite sure that given the tools, the Chinese Government, army and people will be able to play the role expected of her and make important contributions to the Allied cause.
Furthermore, we believe that it is necessary to our freedom and security that the militarists of Japan be completely disarmed and discredited and that China be in a position--with the help of our Allies--to keep Japan from endangering the peace of the world again.
The position of China in this struggle must be looked at not only from the point of view of merely defeating Japan, but also in keeping the peace. The forces in China, which are working for a politically unified, a strong and democratic China, should be supported by her Allies. There is no question in my mind of China becoming a democracy. We must understand that the majority of the Chinese people, long before our Allies joined in this struggle, have been fighting against militarism and feudalism inside China, as well as militarism and fascism in Japan. The establishment of a democratic government along the lines of Dr. Sun Yat-Sen's three principals, national independence, political democracy and a decent livelihood for all, has been one of our major aims in this struggle.