Knowledge of the situation in Communist China can easily be obtained, Lord Lindsay of Birker commented last week. "But what to do is the hard question," he stated in his talk, "The Problem of Communist China," second in the Thursday afternoon lecture series.
The prevailing American view, that understanding is difficult to obtain but that once it is acquired action becomes easy, is not true in the field of foreign relations. Many American ambassadors to China, even if they had complete knowledge of the existing situation, did not make the right moves, Lindsay continued. They thought of Chinese policy in American terms, failing to understand Chinese traditions and their role in shaping foreign policy.
Since the Peking regime is controlled by "political fanatics," dealings with it have become very difficult. "How can we deal with a country whose people hate us as a doctrine of their lives?" Lindsay asked. "China's leadership is passing towards more and more doctrinal views," and, with this alteration, public attitudes of hostility cannot easily be changed.
Policy Change Useless
Even though the American government yields to mass pressure in favor of peace, the Chinese people do not exert a comparable pressure. Thus any change in our policy toward China would be useless now, Lindsay asserted, for "Chinese opinion of us is falsified in such a way that no type of change could alter their views."
"In our foreign policy department one can find people just as fanatical as in theirs," he continued. "But the difference is that they are checked by the people. In China, the people know little about the outside world, and don't want to know more."
Partly as a result of isolation, any contact with Western theories is harmful to the Chinese Communist regime. Thus, since 1957, only unimportant, non-Chinese speaking people have been allowed to tour the country.
Question of Recognition
Concerning official recognition of China by the West, Lindsay stated, "People don't face the fact that China refuses to accept recognition unless their sovereignty over Taiwan is acknowledged." American recognition of China therefore would mean losing ten million people who do not want Communist rule and would also "write off any faith in our support of Far Eastern countries" trying to maintain the ideals of the free world. "American policy," he felt, "has often helped Peking by hiding the bamboo curtain on the Chinese side with a nylon curtain on the American side."
In dealing with Communist China, Lindsay concluded, Americans must not ask how to deal with the existing regime but how to change the system in order to realize our objectives. Do the Chinese people support the existing regime? If so, would they be less enthusiastic with more knowledge?
To discover whether the people favor Mao Tse-tung's rule means observing the ways by which the government maintains its power. Recent use of military power to suppress rebellion shows, said Lindsay, that the Communist Party lacks mass support. From his point of view, "Knowledge of the situation is easy; but to know what to do is hard."
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