FORMOSA: Bright Feather Monday, Jan. 19, 1953
FORMOSA: Bright FeatherMonday, Jan. 19, 1953
The big news on Formosa last week was a visiting celebrity: Dr. Hu Shih, China's most respected scholar, who was concluding his first visit to Formosa since that strategic island became the Nationalist refuge and stronghold. Scholar Hu (who has been leading the scholarly life in New York and Princeton) received a flattering and festive welcome, dined with Chiang Kai-shek and lectured to eager crowds.
His visit to Formosa was a big, bright feather in the Nationalist cap. Its importance stemmed not only from his eminence as a philosopher, poet, diplomat and educator, but from the fact that he was once regarded as outside of and above the struggle between Communists and Kuomintang. After four years (1938-42) as Chiang's ambassador in Washington, he left his post because of a tiff with the wartime Chungking regime. In 1947 he said: "Liberal is a terrible term these days, so you'd better just call me an independent." He wrote a letter to "Dear Mr. Mao" urging the Red leader to disband the Red army if and when the Communists joined the government. Now, five years later, the mainland Reds spewed out a poisonous torrent of calumny against him, and Chinese neutralists in Hong Kong and Singapore, who sigh for a nonexistent third force, sulked because Hu had ignored them.
On Formosa, Hu called for more freedom of debate and criticism in the press, quizzically quoting a newspaper article that said "only Hu Shih enjoys freedom of speech in free China." But he praised the present freedom of discussion in Formosa's Legislative Yuan (assembly), citing that the Sino-Japanese peace treaty had been passed only after Foreign Minis ter George Yeh had to put in 19 appear ances before Yuan committees.
Hu Shih compared the Nationalist struggle to regain the mainland with France's struggle to free herself of the Nazis in World War II. But he counseled patience as well as perseverance. "The deliverance of France," he said, "took place not only through the individual efforts of loyal Frenchmen . . . but because a free France had become an integral part of global strategy . . . We know that half a million [Nationalist] soldiers are not enough to retake the mainland. Our future is linked with that of the free world, which must one of these days answer the question whether it is going to leave 450 million people on the Chinese mainland to be drilled, equipped and indoctrinated by world Communism."