Published Date

August 1, 1944

Resource Type

GI Roundtable Series, Primary Source

From GI Roundtable 42: Our Chinese Ally (1944)

China’s heroic resistance to the modern military might of Japan has caused many of us to wonder in astonishment how such a nonindustrialized, loosely organized nation could carry on as it has. We have been inclined to accept the continued resistance of the Chinese as an unexplainable miracle. But the Chinese themselves are driven by moral and spiritual forces, aided by geographical and other considerations, that can be understood. That Americans should understand the character of the Chinese people and government is important because of the bid this ancient nation is making for a high place among modern powers. You will find this pamphlet contains material sufficient for several interesting meetings.

Much of this material gives background that is a necessary basis for intelligent leadership of discussion about China’s future. It may be used in a number of ways. The plans outlined here are intended as suggestions to be used as you believe practicable within the local policies under which you operate your educational program.

One or more forums. You have here material for four meetings in which a twenty- to thirty-minute talk is followed by a question period. Each of the meetings might cover one of the following topics:

  1. The Chinese, their country, and their old civilization
  2. China: Relations with the West and the story of the two revolutions
  3. War with Japan
  4. China’s future

Careful reading of the pamphlet will suggest to you appropriate arrangements of these topics for either three or two meetings. If you wish to plan only one session, it will probably he most fruitful to emphasize the two sections that appear under the main headings, “Who Are the Chinese?” and “Today and Tomorrow.” No matter how many forum type meetings you plan, be sure to secure the service of an effective speaker or speakers. It is possible for a speaker to study the pamphlet and make a forceful presentation, but your forum will be more successful if your speaker is already well informed about China. He will be better prepared to answer the variety of questions that are sure to be asked.

A series of informal discussions. The nature of this material about China is such that you will probably wish to organize study type discussions rather than the type that naturally develops from a highly controversial subject. For these you can very well use plans similar to those outlined above as far as subject-matter is concerned. In an informal study group, however, it would be a good idea to reduce the opening lecture to the proportions of a five or ten minute introduction that covers only especially important information. You would then prepare a series of questions which would be calculated to bring out points important for the topic under study. It is well to remember also that your group members will take more constructive part in the proceedings if they have done some advance reading. Through library, service club, or other central reading room try to make it possible for each member to have access to a copy of this pamphlet.

In planning questions for your discussion, those given below may be helpful. The list is by no means exhaustive, so that you may prefer to search out your own.

Who are the Chinese?

What are the Chinese like? Have we any accepted customs similar to the practice of “squeeze”? Have Chinese a sense of humor that Americans can understand? Do you think that Chinese emphasis upon “face” is difficult to understand? Is the typical Chinese friendly and democratic in his ways of meeting people? Do Chinese believe in individual opportunity? Are they fatalistic?

The oldest civilization—asset or liability?

Are there advantages and disadvantages to China in having the oldest civilization in the world? Does it make modern industrialization difficult? Does it foster desirable personal qualities? Will it hinder or stimulate progress in education? How do you explain the presence of poverty and disease so evident everywhere in China?

A miracle?

How do you explain the fact that in spite of inferior and inadequate equipment China has been able to resist Japan for nearly seven years of war? Is it geography? Unity among Chinese in their spirit of resistance? Quality of Chinese leaders? Ideals of Sun Yat-sen? Aid from the other United Nations?

Is China a democracy?

In what sense can you call China a democracy today? Does the Kuomintang stand for democratic principles? How is the war affecting Chinese Communist principles? Can China go far toward democracy under war conditions? Why? Will the Chinese after the war be able to establish a democratic form of government as we think of democracy? Is our pattern of democracy the only possible one? Would it suit China? Do you think there is likely to be civil war in China after Japan is defeated? Can the Chinese government meet the problems of the Chinese Communists after the war? Will the prewar pattern of rule by independent war lords be likely to reappear?

China tomorrow

What will be China’s place in the postwar world? Will there be opportunities for foreign trade and investment: after the war? Will the Chinese try to develop heavy or light industries? Do you believe that China may embark on an imperialistic career of its own when Japan is no longer a menace? Will China assume a position of leadership among other countries of Asia?

How to conduct discussion meetings. Suggestions for organizing a discussion program and for conducting forums, informal discussion groups, panel discussions. symposiums, and debates are given in EM 1. G. I. Roundtable: Guide for Discussion. Leaders. This guide, a pamphlet published by the War Department in the same series as the present one on China, contains useful advice on the objectives of off-duty discussions, on promoting the program on choosing subjects, on the use of visual aids, and on other practical matters. Every discussion leader should have a copy for reference.


Suggestions for Further Reading

These publications are suggested if it so happens that you have access to them. They are not approved nor officially supplied by the War Department. They give more information and represent different points of view.

Four pamphlets which might well be read to supplement the material in this booklet are: Changing China by George E. Taylor, China—America’s Ally by Robert W. Barnett, The Changing Far East by William C. Johnstone, and War-Time China by Maxwell S. Stewart. The first three are published by the Institute of Pacific Relations, 1 East 54th Street, New York 22, N.Y. (1942), and the third is No. 41 in the Headline Series of the Foreign Policy Association, 22 East 38th Street, New York 16, N.Y. (August 1943).

There is more about China’s history and geography and the way they help to explain her present problems inThe Making of Modern China by Owen and Eleanor Lattimore, published by W. W. Norton and Company, 70 Fifth Avenue, New York, N.Y. (1944), and in L. Carrington Goodrich’s Short History of the Chinese People, published by Harper and Brothers, 49 East 33rd Street, New York 16, N.Y. (1943).

Is China a Democracy by Creighton Lacy, published by John Day Company, 2 West 45th Street, New York 19, N.Y. (1942), and The Battle for Asia by Edgar Snow, published by Random House, Inc., 20 East 57th Street, New York, N.Y. (1941), answer many questions about the China of today.

Far Eastern War 1937–41 by Harold S. Quigley, published by the World Peace Foundation, 40 Mt. Vernon Street, Boston, Mass. (1942) gives a good survey and analysis of the events within the period indicated in the title.

Three novels about China in the war years are: Dragon Seed by Pearl Buck (John Day—New York, 1942); A Leaf in the Storm by Lin Yutang (John Day—New York, 1941); and Destination Chungking by Han Su Yin, published by Little, Brown and Company, 34 Beacon Street, Boston, Mass. (1942).

Translations of modern Chinese literature also help to fill in the picture. Living China (John Day—New York, 1936) is a collection of contemporary short stories. Village in August published by Smith and Durrell, Inc., 25 West 45th Street, New York, N.Y. (1942) is a novel about the war by a Chinese soldier.