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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 7, No. 3. May 3, 1944

Tense Situation in China — North-West Regions Still Isolated

page 4

Tense Situation in China

North-West Regions Still Isolated

One does not have to be a very acute observer to see that all is not well with China today. In this article the writer has endeavoured to clarify the position to New Zealanders by a brief resume of recent Chinese history and of the latest developments, with special reference to the question of students in China today.

In 1910 China was a corrupt and weak Empire. Two years later the Republic had been formed, and the first, challenge to the feudal institutions had been made. British, French and other capital had already entered the country at the turn of the century, but the industries started by this capital were near the coast. Inland lay vast expanses of old China, feudal, a country of terrible contrasts, grace and cruelty, great wealth and terrible poverty. Among the makers of the revolution had been merchants, scholars, soldiers, peasants, artisans—all manner of men—and they had to come together to decide what China should be.

Sun Yat Sen

Under the wise guidance of Dr. Sun China struggled to learn the ways of democracy. Sun Yat Sen worked in an alliance with the Communists. The Kuomintang in those days was a more progressive body than it is today, and much good work was done by a union of these two parties.

The separation of the left and right in China goes back to the death of Dr. Sun Yat Sen; from then on the impending break-up became apparent. The right wing of the party, led by Marshal Chiang Kai Shek, increasingly broke away from the principles laid down by Sun Yat Sen. In 1927 the blow fell. The right wing Kuomintang allied with the war lords and manufacturing barons effected a coup d'etat. which broke up and decimated the democratic and left wing forces, including, of course, the Chinese Communist Party. From oppression of the peasantry by the landlords, who were supporters of the government, came revolt and a peasants' army. It was joined by trade unionists and communists who had had to fly from the towns, and thus became the Red Army, and eventually moved, after continual attack by government forces, to its present situation—a soviet area called a 'special' area or North-west Border region.

China has been at war with Japan, on and off, officially and unofficially, since 1931. In 1937, the official beginning to this war, Japan attacked again and in this same year Chiang Kai Shek, representing the Kuomintang, the official party, came to an agreement with the Communists who controlled a considerable area of China. The two parties agreed to peace between them—National Unity against fascist Japan. Despite provocation, attack and once or twice massacres of Chinese Red Army Units by Government forces, (sometimes it. seems as Kuomintang policy, sometimes at the whim of the local general) this United Front continues.

Madame Sun Yat Sen

Madame Sun Yat Sen, widow of the founder of the Chinese Republic, more liberal and humane perhaps than many educated Chinese, has recently had an appeal published in American papers, including New Masses, in which she deplores the way in which no assistance, military or medical, is sent to the North-west border regions.

Chiang Kai Shek

Leader of China today, educated competent, Christian in religion, this man has a big say in Chinese affairs.

He published last year in Chinese a new book, "China's Destiny," in which he dismisses the war in less than one-tenth of the space, and in the rest plans a new China, based on a "new" feudalism—a new tyranny!

As yet the book has not been fully translated; it is officially banned from leaving China; the problem of China is today and is not to be found in China's Destiny, but in the gallant fight for the United Front made by the anti-Japanese forces in China.


Despite this United Front agreement, and the measures taken on behalf of this by the Chinese Communists, and in spite of the fact that the guerilla regions or Chinese Soviet Forces (4th and 39th Route Armies) are engaging half the Japanese forces fighting in China, nevertheless, the Chinese Government shows little co-operation. The North-west border region is separated from the rest of China by a cordon sanitaire of front-line troops who are thus immobilised; no military aid by way of guns or ammunition is sent to the 'red' areas. Despite the fact that the Chinese Red Cross aid contributed from overseas is sent to China, no troops from these areas benefit thus.

No medical supplies are being sent to the armies, which are bearing half the weight of the Japanese attack on China.

Our Defence

Do you remember Kipling's poem on another war:

"Their bodies were and our defences while we wrought our defences."

These Chinese soldiers are in a more grave position than this. Agnes Smedley, who left China in 1941, wrote of the tragic lack of medical supplies and doctors. Coolies might be conscripted as cannon-fodder but wealthy or idle doctors would have no compulsion on them to care for the desperate plight of the sick, starved and maimed Chinese soldiers.

Certainly the health and medical authorities have made a terrific effort to bring the scientific treatment of wounded possible. In The Place of Science in China by Yap Pow-Meng the writer has little to say of science in wartime China. Certainly Chinese need of trained medical personnel is very vast, but the impression is gained that the government should consider this more seriously than hitherto.


The lack of co-operation of the Central Chinese government cannot be dismissed as a purely internal Chinese matter, for it vitally affects every member of the United Nations, including, of course, New Zealand, with so many of her soldiers fighting the Japanese in the Pacific. Reaction in China is sabotage to the Allied cause.

"The elders are not keen on publicizing disputes within the family," explained a government official on refusing to allow a foreign newspaper correspondent to go to Yennan, capital of the Border region. Perhaps that is how they feel. But regimented education and repression cannot-keep China in a state of feudalism indefinitely, It is not without grave fears we see this weakening of democracy in China and of the Chinese government.