Trans-Pacific cables have been humming lately with a variety of war-like news from China. Disputes with Russia over Manchuria and revolts on the part of discontented generals fill the columns of the daily press until the most optimistic might well despair of the coming of the peaceful times that will be needed before China can carry out her adjustment with the Western world. Yet one inconspicuous article in the papers of yesterday probably contains more of real import for the future of China than all the fluctuations of her political troubles. That was the opening of the Yenching University.
Harvard men have an especial interest in the inauguration of this latest introduction of modern educational methods into the Orient in view of the formation of the Harvard-Yenching Institute last year which led to the re-organization and expansion of the Chinese Department in the University. It has been frequently pointed out that there are vast stores of knowledge of an older civilization than any in the Occident that are all but ignored in the West. But of even more importance is the spread of European institutions and culture to the East.
The inevitability of this process is a bitter pill to swallow for those few members of our own civilization that appreciate the true values lying beneath the chaos that prevails in China today. But with transportation and communication as far developed as they are now this Westernization cannot be long delayed, and it may be consoling to the friends of China that it may turn out for the best. For the Golden Age of the Empire is a thing of the past and if the country that still treasures its remains is to enjoy the benefits that a younger culture has to offer, it can only be by learning the methods by which it has been built up. China will be a happier land when it has succeeded in taking its place among the great nations in the world today, and Harvard is fortunate to be represented among the American universities that are helping to bring this about.