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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 22, No. 2. March 23, 1959

"Race of Automatons"

"Race of Automatons"

Of course, I could not see [unclear: ah] Relying only on my eyes, and not on Intelligence reports from Hong Kong, I saw nothing of the "mass slavery" or "the destruction of family life" which Mr Dulles sees in China today. I saw nothing of the "merciless regimentation" which, it is held, alone can explain China's remarkable progress.

What I did see clearly was that we can understand the almost feverish energy and the dedication with which the Chinese are throwing themselves into this gigantic task of economic development only if we keep in our mind a picture old China—not the China of exquisite jade carvings and golden-roofed pagodas and elegant scholarship—but the China of poverty and exploitation.

It was a country where the peasants ate grass and roots, where children with bellies swollen with hunger died by the wayside; a country where the gap between ruler and ruled was so great that 6,000 million dollars of American aid could not ensure the survival of a hated regime.

We rarely concern ourselves with the "mathematics of suffering" in pre-Liberation China—"the sum of millions hungered, of countless beings scratching the earth's surface for a pittance, of children prematurely dead, of men and women prematurely aged and minds acquiescent and fettered by superstition." 1

Yet, as was driven home to me by long hours of discussion and by the personal histories of many to whom I spoke, until we do this we have no understanding of the processes of change in China.

The motive force behind China's progress is simple; as one worker put it:

"When I was 10 I was working 14 hours on the night shift in a Shanghai cotton mill—and I am determined that my son and my grandchildren will never have to go through that."