“China-As a Chinese Sees It,” George Dsang July, 1947
In the article, “China’s Liberals Get Their Chance,” which appeared in a recent issue of The Christian Century, Dr. Frank W. Price seems to the writer to take an unjustifiably optimistic view of the real situation. Miss Chen Shang-ling of West Virginia University, spoke last month on “What I Want Americans Most to Know About China.” Her title would suggest that Americans have not been hearing the whole story about the country. The recent helpful material—”Marshall On Democracy,” published in Christianity and Crisis, seems to throw light on the confusing problems of China. In this article, that which James C. Baker says about “the Libel of Labels” is true not only of his own country, but likewise of China. There the intelligentsia and illiterate people alike are guilty of tagging persons with whom they do not agree with labels such as “red,” “radicals,” “modernist,” “troublemaker,” and “communist.” Not many years ago a student might be arrested by an uneducated soldier or a local Pao-chang (a petty district official) simply because he happened to be carrying a red-covered book while walking on the street. The book might be a Confucian Classic, or a Romantic Novel. Where that sort of thing can happen one must be careful to avoid being labeled.
Why is the Chinese Communist Party growing stronger? Why are large numbers of young men and women going communistic? I find the answer in James C. Baker’s article. The trend toward communism will never be stopped, as John Dewey has pointed out, without the establishment of freedom of speech. “Those who talked democracy were communists.” Mr. Chang Lan, leader of the Democratic League, was condemned with this statement. One young man was called “a communist” by a missionary, because this young fellow was critical of some leaders of the government. “Shooting off the mouth is an easy way in which to dissipate force,” John Dewey adds. This “Libel of Labels,” a favorite government method of attack against communists, has driven many thousands to communism. While we have been shouting our condemnation of the communist poison coming from Russia, we have, by our misguided policies, been most effectively producing communists inside China.
Why did we fail to prevent young people from attending the communist university in past years? Simply because we had no policy but the negative one of “prevention.” Looking at the facts as they exist now, how can a young man or woman with keen interests of reforming the country live there? Why not? Because the old picture of disappointment and intolerance would not allow him to develop his ideals. Then, where can he express his potential creativity? And where is the only place that he can find opposition to corruptions and feudal-bureaucracy? The Chinese Communist Party may not satisfy all his ideals; but it is the only haven in which young people can take refuge.
As I see it, the solution of the civil war must come from the liberals; but not the liberals who are defending their own party, or are intolerant to the communists. China may have a number of so-called liberals who are liberal only when you do not speak of another party. Such liberals, far from breaking the barriers between the two parties, can only strengthen them. The real liberals are those who put the welfare of the people first, who can see the strength and weakness of both the Nationalists and the Communists. Only by bringing the two parties into unselfish cooperation can a new China emerge.
What attitude shall we Christians take to this fierce struggle between the Right and the Left? Shall we, as my father instructed me, join the conservative forces? Or shall we go to the other extreme as many have done? The criterion of our choice is that we must be Christian. The ultimate goal of the Christian’s search is truth, and a Christian is one who stands for nothing but truth. A Christian cannot believe that repression, or force, or atomic bombs can foster the growth of truth.
Propaganda, that evil instrument of the modern world which blinds men’s eyes, creates a fear-psychology, and makes us all insane, cannot win against a new movement. The more you spread propaganda that the communists are wrong in many certain ways, the more advisable it is that you suggest reform to the communists. Communism, therefore, grows faster. On the other hand, the more we spread propaganda that we, the people in the name of democracy, are “wonderful,” then, the less we are able to discover our own mistakes; it is, therefore, that we are less mature. Furthermore, the study of abnormal psychology reveals that this generation tends to seek something unusual for its satisfaction.
They have more interest in things that are prohibited. If you say: “Liquor is not allowed,” that is quite enough to interest many individuals to try it. That is why the current propaganda instead has driven people to take the opposite position. Poor propagandists, what profits have you made!
“Repression is the seed of revolution,” said Woodrow Wilson. I say that repression is also the effective means of forcing people to rebel. Those who think that supporting of the group with airplanes, surplus goods, and if necessary, with atomic bombs; and those who believe that military force could sweep the communists in China, both are blindly putting China on the verge of chaos.
“Terrorism, murder, restraints of social thinking, discrimination against progressive elements, and the “Libel of Labels” make us aware that these can only produce evil results. Who dares to lock the doors of human hearts to true living? Confucius said: “By doing a lot of evil deeds the consequence is definitely death.”
Un-democratic methods cannot achieve democracy. Excommunication only results in excommunicating oneself from reality. As a matter of fact, the one party denomination of the government, the corruption of the bureaucracy, the bloodshed of our people, the murdering of liberal intellectuals, the struggle to live under inflationary conditions, the decline of public morale—all this suffering should inevitably make us realize the truth. Suppose these things were to happen in Western countries; how would your reaction differ from that of our good obedient citizens?
Those who, instead of strenuously working for the cooperation of two parties, are working for the interests of one particular party, are foolish friends of China, not wise at all—because that would only widen the gulf. It is wrong for us to support any division or civil war in any country.
Every Chinese is desperately in need of peace. Peace is far better than “surplus goods” or any relief. Are we aware of the importance of the strike of the students of seventeen universities for peace (reported on May 19th)? What is the significance of the incident when sixty students were injured (reported on May 26th) in Nanking and Shanghai? Does that mean: ”Any one who demands peace is a communist”? A Chinese retired general was sailing on his way to America a few months ago. He told us: “I began to fight when I was only 21 years of age. I fought for thirty years in China . . . everything was destroyed there. Now the reconstruction of the country is up to you young people.” Even Caesar himself now would cease war; and Pilate would wash his hands again. Shall we not create compromise, peace?
China needs conservatives who will maintain the prestige of the nation, and curb the extremists from not rushing society into mad chaos? China also needs progressives who would pursue the reformation and progress of society and counteract the slowness of conservatives. When these two groups can be brought together into a harmonious compromise, what a beautiful picture of China these three elements would make! It is always the harmonious compromise which puts the radical ideals and conservative potentiality into action.
“Welcome to the Ambassador of Peace,” cried every Chinese. “General Marshall will bring us peace!” Thousands and thousands of students and citizens kneeled down before the gate of the Government (February, 1946) when they ardently prayed for the success of the Political Consultative Conference, which was organized by all the delegates of all the parties in China. “Look at the new hope of the P.C.C. resolutions!” People celebrated the cooperation of all the representatives.
“Tragedy! Doom! The National Assembly was opened without having the participation of the Democratic League and the Communist Party” (Ta Kung Pao News Paper). The departure of General Marshall and the end of the Peace Negotiations put every Chinese in despair. An African said: ‘ ‘Why should the Chinese use the non-Chinese weapons to kill Chinese?” Is that not suicidal foolishness?
Christians stand for the Kingdom of God which is above the State. The very vital attitude which the Christians seek to achieve is objectivity. We must be more objective. We must try to judge any truth from God’s point of view. New understanding comes immediately from cessation of prejudice or favoritism to either party. It is only Christians in China who can see the new light, who are able to work as pioneers for a new synthesis.
Only Christians outside of China without political motives can act as real ambassadors of peace. To unite the two extremes in China, as well as everywhere else, is a new task for Christians. If we are willing to start the career, then God, the Creator of the World, will enable us to see the good and bad of both the Right and the Left, and reconcile them for the building of the new world. Then a voice will say: “Ye are the salt of the earth, the light of the world.”