A later Historical Text for this week! This one’s from 1920, a publication called “Young China”, which was published by The Publicity Bureau of the Chinese Students in the University of Illinois. The University of Illinois always had a large number of Chinese Students, especially Boxer Indemnity Scholars, because the president of the university, Edmund J. James, was integral in convincing the US government to set up the Boxer Indemnity Scholarship in the first place.
True Information, the Thing Only Americans Care to Know
C. H. Huang
“What affects China affects America and vice versa,” said Professor La Tourette. For years in the past the United States has been friendly to China and in years to come China will be a confidential friend of America. The history of the future will be that of the Pacific, for the nations on its shores are those who will play the most important part in world affairs.
In view of the significant relationship between the United States and China, it is highly recommendable for the people of the two countries to promote better understanding between them. Therefore, from merely personal point of view I speak of some of the things that may be helpful towards this end. As most Chinese students in this country have experienced, the writer has found out, from the various questions about China by our American friends, that a number of things said about that country are practically unknown to them and that also untrue information has been given to them. It has often startled me when I have heard from the American people those things that have absolutely no ground for belief; for some of them are so ridiculous that not only they have never been seen by the Chinese themselves in their native land, but they have also been unheard-of in that country. However, this is not due to the fault of the American people, who usually do not know the truth about China; yet it is advisable for them who are considered as fair in judgment and sound in principle to find out what is true about China, so that they may not be deceived by made-up stories and hearsay.
Years ago, when I was a young boy, I heard that missionaries in China abused Chinese women for taking out the eyes of the children with which they prepared a certain kind of medicine. I did believe that for a time, but was that true? The same kind of false report about China can be easily existing in this country. For instance, I have been shocked several times by the statement that the Chinese eat mice. Anything more ridiculous than this cannot be found. If, indeed, anyone in China can find any mice seller or buyer, this horrible statement may be taken as a fact without question. But the truth is that there is no mice trade in China. It is hard to see where the people get such ideas. True, every Chinese family rear cats. Some people may say that the Chinese use cats to hunt out mice as the hunter uses dogs to chase rabbits. However, is it possible that cat has any spare mice for others? Can a person get mouse from the mouth of a cat? The fallacy needs no further explanation to be pointed out.
Indeed, these things seem to be trifles, but something more important has been untruly said about China. For years, the Japanese have tried to rule over the Far East as Germany had done; she established strong propaganda organization all over the world so as to make the European and American people believe that they are superior to the Chinese and that consequently they should rule the Chinese. They claim that Japan has made greater progress during the last twenty years. They further say that the Chinese government sends students abroad to study modern civilization; but despite that fact, even up to the present time, China has not yet become a strong nation. From this assertion they draw the arbitrary conclusion that the Chinese can not rule themselves and do not have the ability for construction. Indeed, such a statement seems convincing and well grounded. But on a moment’s reflection, can one call it a fair and honest statement?
China is about twenty times as large as Japan in territory and six times bigger than Japan in population. Who has a bigger task, the Chinese or the Japanese? Which nation needs more hands to work out her salvation, China or Japan? Which will take more time for affiliation of thought and completion of work, China or Japan? Can it be said that to build a dreadnought is just as easy as to build a cruiser?
Again, so far as has been known, the Japanese have never had any civilization of their own. They borrowed the Chinese characters for their language; they adopted the old Chinese costumes in their dressing; and they learned the Confucian teaching from China. On the other hand, the Chinese have distinctly maintained their own civilization. It takes more time for them to modify their old methods in order to meet the new conditions of the modern world. In referring to this argument, we can readily imagine that an empty jar is far easier to fill than one already full of water; moreover, in the latter case, we have to empty the jar first and then fill it with another kind of water.
Finally, I want to say a word about the statement made by the Japanese that the Chinese cannot rule themselves. It seems there is nothing so artificial and unnatural as such a wrongly created impression. For thousands of years the Chinese have been their own masters. In the history of China there has never as yet been found that a foreign race ruled that country. The absurdity of the statement made by the Japanese can be easily testified.
In conclusion, it seems fair to say that our American friends should be on the constant lookout for any untrue and misled information regarding the Chinese and particularly those statements made by the Japanese which are more or less intended for Japanese propaganda work. The American people should keep in mind the fact that it China ever falls into the hands of Japan, it will mean that Japan will get hold of the weapon by means of which she can control the Pacific Ocean. “What affects China affects America.”