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  • "Chapter 17—Jones looks back on China":from A World Search for Democracy (1937)
  • W. E. Burghardt Du Bois (bio)

1. The most obtrusive fact to me in China was the bitter feeling against Japan. I had known there was rivalry. I expected to find considerable feeling but I was not prepared for the depth of resentment that I found when, for instance, I was being pointed out mementos of the "last war" in Hang-Chow. I was a bit puzzled when the guide explained, "Oh, we mean the War of 1932." Then I cast about to remember that of course it was that uprising in Shanghai, which we in the West thought of as a petty incident but which in China looms as a great battle between Japan and China.1 An official of the South Manchurian Railway told me that he had lived in [China] sometime and at last his neighbor said with some curiosity, "Are you really Japanese? We thought Japanese were devils." It is the sort of fierce fight that starts in a family, or a feud between cousins; or to make it more specific, war between mulattos and blacks in the West Indies or between the English and Irish in the British Isles. The Chinese and Japanese are blood relatives. Of course, the mixtures are different and those used to the East can tell them easily apart. I think I began to sense the [End Page 275] difference and yet they are very near each other. The Japanese without doubt borrowed much of their civilization and methods of culture from China and in recent years China has learned not only facts but a whole world attitude from Japan. But this nearness does not allay the strife. It makes it, as I have intimated, even more bitter.

2. I sat down with a number of Chinese: officials, social workers, teachers, and newspaper men. We lunched together and then talked. First I told them about myself and my problems and then whirling perhaps a bit suddenly I said, "There is one thing I cannot understand. You Chinese surely know that you have suffered more from the English and the Europeans than from any one else, and granting causes of estrangement from Japan, why is it that it is so much more in evidence than the natural resentment against Europe?" I did not have to point to what I meant. Sitting there, we were in a Chinese city ruled by Europe. The whole valley with its myriad millions was a pawn to European investment.2 The whole emancipation of China was primarily an emancipation from European capitalistic control. They knew it. They told me some of the plans and work toward freedom. I even went down and visited that new ghost capital between Shanghai and the sea which was planned to cut Shanghai's supremacy in trade and put it in a city ruled by the Chinese. But it was a thing but half-begun and half-done. A beautiful and empty library stood in the city, a marble city hall. Streets were there and some houses, everything but people. And they explained that it took capital to do it. They did not have the money. And therein lay the secret. They proposed to out-capital capital. They were going to build a new Chinese industry which should emancipate them from European industry; and they felt themselves able to do this and they bitterly resented the intrusion of Japan coming in as though she were a western power destined to dominate orientals [sic]; as though she, the culture child of China, was going to show China the way of life—that China, which lived a thousand years before Japan was known and would live long after Japan's end. The intrusion of Japan was resented because of its very success and because of its all too apt imitation of western techniques. They were not called upon to take hold of the hands of their yellow brother and march side by side toward freedom and domination. They [End Page 276] were asked rather to put their millions at the mercy of Japanese exploitation and let Japan finish what England...


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