|The Rushden Echo, 5th March, 1943, transcribed by Gill Hollis
Chinaman Opens £1,000 Effort
His Country “Resisting For Humanity”
Rushden opened its £1,000-for-China campaign on Monday and received the thanks of Mr. Hwe Yee Hain, a Chinese student, who addressed and also sang to a large audience at the Park-road Baptist Church.
Coun. W. J. Sawford, J.P., chairman of the Rushden Urban Council, urged Rushden people to do their best in the month’s campaign. China, he said, was one of the first nations to fight for the cause of freedom and right. She had been fighting six years and was still fighting, and they were very grateful to her.
“China,” added Mr. Sawford, “is fighting a war for all mankind, and I trust this month’s campaign is going to enable us to show some practical gratitude. Our aim which I sincerely hope we shall achieve is to raise £1,000 or more.”
Speaking from the pulpit in excellent English, Mr. Hain said he wished to bring greetings from the Chinese students in the Midlands, one of whose objects was to try and bring about friendship between the Chinese and the English.
When China made her resistance against aggression one of her journalists declared she was resisting aggression for humanity. After nearly six years of war the Chinese had suffered tremendously. Over one-third of their territory was in Japanese hands and they had something like seven million of their people wounded or killed. There were about sixty million refugees in the country about one-and-a-half times the population of Great Britain. Students and others had to manage on a few dollars a week and on starvation diet.
Countless families, including his own, were scattered. Wives were separated from husbands, children from their homes, and students had to travel thousands of miles to seek a free part of China where they could carry on their normal education.
“This gift of yours,” said Mr. Hain, “is given not on a charity basis. China’s fight is consecrated to the ideal of democracy and freedom, and therefore your help is given in the same direction.
A Great Mistake
In the past a great deal had been unsatisfactory in the relationships between Britain and China, and this had been due in some part to China, but to a greater extent to Britain.
When China appealed to the League of Nations for help there were leaders in this country who thought that being so far off, she was not worth bothering about. Events had shown how wrong this attitude was.
Under the Nanking Treaty of 1843 British or American residents in China could not be tried by a Chinese court of justice. Such things were most humiliating. Also as a result of that treaty concessions were given to other countries on Chinese soil. The fact that these other countries were even allowed to have troops there was one of the reasons why the Japanese attack on China was facilitated the troops were already there.
A new phase had opened since the British and American governments decided to relinquish extra-territorial rights. This would be of advantage to British traders because the Chinese would know that in cases of disagreement the Chinese merchant would be able to make a claim through the proper court.
Mr. Hain emphasised that this new agreement was celebrated in Chungking for three days on a great scale. The visit of Chinese delegates to India, he said, had raised hopes in China of a united front in Asia against the aggressor. The British Parliamentary Mission to China and the offering of scholarships to Chinese students in the English universities were other progressive steps.
The late Dr. Sun Yat Sen preached internationalism and declared that, if there was a permanently peaceful world, China’s resources must be used for the world in general.
To-day China had about 11 million of her subjects overseas. Though isolated in the past, she was not so to-day.
The first object must be to win the war; but Chinese soldiers could not fight without arms. Madame Chang Kai-Shek had declared in America that on many occasions Chinese soldiers had been fighting with bare swords in front of rifles and machine guns. The great thing for Britain to do at the moment was to arm the Chinese soldiers there were 10 million of them and they needed a large amount of equipment before they could take the offensive.
It was wrong policy to say “We will leave the Japanese alone and finish with the Western Front first,” because by that time Japan would have consolidated her ground.
After the war China would be able to level-up herself, and when she did that an industrial country like Britain would be able to give a tremendous amount of technical assistance.
China was not selfish. She was very democratic in her outlook, and from her long years of culture from three to four thousand years she was bound to be able to contribute something in the permanently peaceful world in which they all desired to live.
A second speaker was the Rev. H. B. Rattenbury, B.A., a missionary in China for many years, who congratulated Rushden on its ambition. The Aid-to-China Campaign, he said, began in London last July, when the Bishop of Hong King thought of sending Madame Chang Kai-Shek a “little purse” of £100,000. It was already nearly £350,000 and had been contributed by people of all political shades and opinions.
It was about a year ago, said Mr. Rattenbury, that he told the B.B.C. they were “all wrong” about China that nobody seemed to say that China was very important and great, and that it might be a greater thing that China had become our ally than that Japan had become our enemy.
“I think,” continued Mr. Rattenbury, “that before we are through, money won’t be the biggest thing, however big it is going to be. Understanding is the great thing; mutual honour, respect, recognition and help is the thing at the back of our minds.”
The speaker described his own journeys through China, including the fighting zones, in 1939-40. One of the Chinese proverbs, he said, was “Good has a good consequence; evil has an evil punishment.” Like ourselves, the Chinese had faults and failings, but he had never met a man among them who called evil good and good evil. He believed the heart and soul of the tremendous Chinese resistance to Japanese invasion was fundamentally a moral and religious thing. The Japanese thought the war would be over in six months and the friends of China said “How can they resist?” Now, after six years, their leader’s position was firm and strong and they were never going to give in.
At the outset, said Mr. Rattenbury, the Chinese said to him: “If these British and Americans mean what they say, they must come on our side. All this folly will cease, and we shall come together as allies.
It Came Right
Some of the British in China could hardly lift up their heads when they knew what was going on in the business world but it had come right, as the Chinese said it would.
“Supposing six millions in China were willingly under Japanese sergeant-majors. If you slept soundly you would be a fool. But she is on our side a great asset.
“By-and-by there is going to be a harder day. When we lay down our arms the battle for humanity is going to start, and then America, Britain, Russia and China all on the side of the angels are going to work together, and among them 460 million Chinese, some of them among the wisest and best people on the face of the earth.
“We are not throwing loaves of bread to a beggar sitting in a gutter; we are recognising a great nation. We count it a privilege to be able to do something for a friend. We want all misunderstandings to go, and we want the future of our relationships with China to be entirely friendly and understanding.
Winning The Peace
“We have not merely to give gifts this month. We have to go on reading and thinking about China; we have got to get to know China. This time we will win the peace because China is in it. I flew to China and got there in six days. Perhaps after the war I will get there in two. It is not so far away after all.
“I congratulate this town on its understanding ambition to do something worthy of the great ally in whom we have great expectations.”
Under the baton of Mr. W. T. L. Flood a large united choir sang “Lift up your heads” from “The Messiah.” Mr. W. Cyril Groom, A.R.C.O., accompanying.
The speakers, chairman, choir, and deacons of the Baptist Church were thanked by Coun. A. F. Weale, vice-chairman of the Rushden Aid-to-China Committee, who said they had much to be thankful for in that China was fighting on the right side though it might be that the western civilisation had not always been fair to the Chinese people.
When Mr. Hain acknowledged the compliments he ventured to sing a Chinese song, which proved very popular. Coun. W. E. Capon (joint hon. Secretary), Mr. A. H. Whitton (hon. Treasurer) and the Rev. R. Percy Jones also took part in the meeting. A silver collection was taken and realised over £10.