GENERAL ARTICLES

China Pays in Blood

"We have never felt the price too high if it stopped an enemy," says China’s Foreign Minister

R. T. ELSON May 1 1942
GENERAL ARTICLES

China Pays in Blood

"We have never felt the price too high if it stopped an enemy," says China’s Foreign Minister

R. T. ELSON May 1 1942

China Pays in Blood

"We have never felt the price too high if it stopped an enemy," says China’s Foreign Minister

R. T. ELSON

CHINA has been fighting this war longest of all the United Nations. China firmly believes World War II started when the Japanese raped Manchuria. What is left of the “free world” now agrees this is true. Furthermore, the Free World now realizes that China is a primary factor in the victory or defeat of democracy.

There is a man in Washington through whose hands pass all the vital communications that bind China to the United Nations—a man who reports only to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. He works in an oak-panelled office in a building of rather faded grandeur, the former chancery of the French Embassy.

You do not often hear his name even in Washington, although he is one of the six most important men in this city of important men. He cuts no figure at fashionable parties; he shies from publicity, but his door is always open to those who have business with him—providing that business is his business: winning the war.

His name is Soong—Dr. T. V. Soong. He is China’s Foreign Minister, and he is a member of one of China’s most honored families. Actually Dr. Soong is more than a foreign minister. He is a combination of Supply Minister Howe and External Affairs’ Norman Robertson—of Donald Nelson and Secretary of State Cordell Hull. Supply concerns him quite as much as diplomacy, because he is a realist who knows that a foreign minister who can supply guns, tanks and planes need not worry about foreign relations.

His recent mission to Canada, accompanied by his military and ordnance experts, and his careful inspection of our Canadian factories, emphasized the very practical side of his job. He returned greatly impressed by the tremendous speed of Canadian war production after seeing that factories which a year ago existed only on blueprints are now in full production. Particularly did he seem to be impressed ” by his visit to Research Enterprises Ltd., where new techniques have been so quickly developed. War weapons made in Canada are already on their way to China in large quantities, and these will help the Chinese armies to hold at bay more than one million Japanese soldiers.

It took some weeks to arrange an interview with Dr. Soong. When the appointed time arrived the first question put to him was: What ambitions has China in the postwar era?

Dr. Soong said abruptly, but not unkindly: “You do not use words exactly, do you? What do you mean by ambitions? We have no ambitions.” “Well,” I countered, “what are you fighting for?” “Our war aims—not ambitions—as you put it— our war aims are supremely simple,” he answered. “They are first of all to defeat the Japanese and rid ourselves forever from this menace to our national life.

“Our war aims are to be a member of the family of nations; to be able to live and breathe freely; to live without the ever-menacing presence of a foe and enemy.

“There is no ambition here. For we have no ambition. There is only determination and desire

for a national life free from outside interference.

That is not ambition. That is simple justice.

“It goes without saying we must see Japan

defeated and disarmed. You cannot live as China

has lived under the shadow of a menacing neighbor

without wanting to see that threat permanently

removed.”

Well then, what about those ever-recurring rumors that China might seek peace in her dis-

appointment at the showing made by the United

Nations, in what the New York Times with searing

words has described as the “fiasco of the defense

of the Pacific?”

Dr. Soong does not betray emotion, physically. But there is in the clarity of his words and the sharpness of his thought the ability to express a viewpoint directly and with the force of emotion.

“There is no truth whatever in such rumors,” he said. “There is not even the remote possibility of China ever making peace. It wouldn’t be in accord with the realities of the fight we are now up against.

“What use would there be in making peace? To make peace with the Japanese means to surrender.

“How would you make peace?

“Accept enslavement under the slogan, ‘Asia for the Asiatics,’ which as Japan uses it means Asia for the Japanese?

“No! That was France’s fatal error. The French people thought they could fight this war by the same old rules, the old game. So they said:

Why not make peace? Perhaps we will lose Alsace or Lorraine and pay heavy reparations and then again in twentyfive years it will be our turn. And so they thought it would be easier to make peace.

“Look at France today.

“There is a new spirit abroad. It

DR. T. V. SOONG, interviewed in this article, bears one of the most famous names in China. His brothers are bankers; one sister married China’s great liberator, the late Sun Yat-sen, another is the wife of Finance Minister H. H. Kung, and a third is Madam Chiang Kai-shek.

Dr. Soong is China’s Foreign Minister, her Lend-Lease administrator and Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek’s personal representative in Washington, where he lives with his wife and three young daughters. For a financier and diplomat he has an amazing technical knowledge of armament; his interest in modern weapons rises in proportion to their ability to kill Japanese.

Born in Shanghai in 1894, he was educated in the U. S. at Harvard and Columbia.

is fight or be conquered. From 1931 onward the

Japanese have sought permanently to enslave the

Chinese people. Manchuria—and don’t use that

word Manchukuo—Manchuria was only the first

step. Read the Tanaka memorial and you have

their plans in detail. But they have failed in China

and they will fail in China !”

A few days before I talked with Dr. Soong I heard Dr. Owen Lattimore, the brilliant young

professor who left Johns-Hopkins University to

become political adviser to Generalissimo Chiang

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Kai-shek, startle a Washington audience. Answering a questioner who asked why the Japanese had struck southward at the colonial empires of Britain, the United States and the Dutch in the Far East, he had replied: "They are following the line of least resistance.”

Those words came to mind as Dr. Soong passed on to the next question: What is the secret of

Chinese resistance?

"This is a war of peoples,” he said, "if you wish to keep free you must be willing to pay a price in blood.

"People wonder why China has been able to stop the invader without planes, without tanks and without modern arms and all the apparatus of modern war. There is no secret. We have been willing to pay a price in blood.

"Japan has lost 1,250,000 men in China.

"But do you know what price China has paid to halt those Japanese? We have lost more than 3,000,000 Chinese soldiers. That is a staggering price. I doubt if the world really realizes what that means. But we have never hesitated. We never stopped and questioned ourselves: Is it worth while?

"We paid without question—in blood!”

Dr. Soong turned and looked out of the window, paused for a moment and then said:

"You know—and this goes for all of the United Nations—neither you nor I can expect to win this war bloodlessly. It is only when we are willing and ready to pay the price in blood that we can win.

"In China we do not stop to ask where are the planes, or how many

machine guns are available. Our men do not raise their hands when they are surrounded and say, ‘We have done our best, we have done enough !’ No, they keep on with the fight. It has cost us three Chinese to kill one Japanese, but we have never felt the price was too high if it stopped an enemy.

"Sometimes men talk glibly about a ‘scorched earth’ policy. But few really know what it means.

"Do you know what it means to destroy your property, your home, and leave the earth burning so that the enemy may not use it?

"Property, yes, life itself must be sacrificed if the enemy is to be beaten.

"Ask yourself: Am I willing to

pay the price of blood?

"If you are, you need have no doubt about victory.

"China has been proven willing to pay that price. China does not doubt of victory.”

But surely China hoped for something-help in major quantity now that she was allied with the United Nations. That, Dr. Soong acknowledged, was obvious enough. Part of his job is to see that the supplies are kept rolling and that China gets more arms with which to fight.

Of the arms he seeks, which come first? First on Dr. Soong’s list are airplanes.

"This is an air war. We have begged for planes because we have seen what can be done with only a few planes. Airplanes will enable us to destroy the Japanese. Yes, we want tanks, cannon and machine guns, but most of all planes—fighters to destroy enemy bombers and

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bombers to destroy the enemy himself.”

As we talked, the news was already arriving of the ruin of Singapore and the crumbling defenses of the Dutch East Indies, battered down by the superior force of Japanese air power —news that lent force to every word spoken by Dr. Soong.

Yet in the face of this bad news there was no trace of doubt, no evidence of dismay in his discussion of the shifting strategy of the southwest Pacific. When I suggested the supply routes would be closed if all of Burma fell, Dr. Soong did not deny it.

But other supply routes would be opened.

This new route would be through India, where the Generalissimo went on his recent visit. And it is India which the United Nations hope to make the supply base for the Far Eastern and Middle Eastern fronts— India with its teaming man power and the vast reserves of fighting men waiting to be armed.

"When we built the Burma road,” said Dr. Soong, "we conquered mountains almost with our bare hands and without much help from outside. It is not going to be so difficult by contrast to do what we did in Burma with the world’s help. We are not fighting alone now.”

China is not fighting alone now because the Chinese have proven that faith and determination are greater weapons than tanks, guns and planes.

China has been willing to pay the price of blood for a victory that she thinks means life itself for her people in this generation and generations yet unborn.