BACKSTAGE IN CHINA

New Korean Role for Canadians?

BLAIR FRASER December 15 1950
BACKSTAGE IN CHINA

New Korean Role for Canadians?

BLAIR FRASER December 15 1950

Blair Fraser is on a world air tour to write a series of special articles, the first of which appears on page 10. At the same time he is cabling his regular Backstage column from wherever he is at deadline time. This issue he’s on the Asian front.

HONG KONG—The Chinese intervention in Korea caught the United Nations Command bending. General MacArthur was so supremely confident that China would stay out that no preparations had been made to meet the new threat.

Only a week before, it was announced in Peking that crack American troops had been ordered to return to Tokyo in time to participate in an Armistice Day parade. Some of them were all packed and ready to embark when new orders came to move up to the front. Other American units had been given the idea that most of them could hope to be home by Christmas, some even by Thanksgiving. Morale was reported to be several degrees subzero as the homesick Yanks moved back up the line.

The day after the Peking announcement, MacArthur’s spokesman was still obliged to use doubletalk: “ ‘Alien’ reinforcements are

revitalizing the enemy’s resistance.” It was already known that the Chinese had upward of six divisions

engaged but headquarters clung lamely to this phrasing for the communique. Headquarters also struggled vainly to duck reporters’ questions about the previous announcement that only 20,000 enemy were left. This showed that Intelligence was caught with its pants down.


"Get up, pal. Looks like we got some more fighting to do.”


MacArthur called the Chinese intervention a surreptitious trap— “An offensive act of international lawlessness” because troops were moved without any notice of belligerency. The invasion was doubtless an offensive and unlawful but certainly not surreptitious. As a matter of fact it was probably the most telegraphed punch in all military history.

Days before the crossing of the 38th parallel Chinese Communist Premier Chou En-lai got Indian Ambassador Pannikar out of bed at midnight to warn him that if the advance went beyond the line China would fight. Chou outlined full details of intended troop movements toward the Manchurian border. Pannikar was convinced Chou was not bluffing and phoned Delhi immediately, which accounts for the Indian insistence that the UN advance into North Korea threatened war.

When this private warning was ignored China repeated it publicly, but this was ignored too.

The United Nations apparently reckoned with the possibility of intervention at the moment of crossing the parallel but when it did not then happen dismissed the whole idea as a Communist bluff. The new developments raise serious decisions for Canada. The previous announcement that only one of the three battalions raised in the Korea Force is coming is instantly obsolete — the obvious course is now to send all or none.

If the United States is unable to hold the line it is conceivable they might evacuate Korea rather than commit their entire strength to one inaccessible theatre. Then the Canadians would not be wanted. On the other hand, if the line is held and

reinforced our troops would be doubly welcome.

The Korean terrain now reached is suitable for the special training of the Canadian regular force. Deep snow and subzero temperatures are usual in December. And even the battlehardened Marines are inexperienced in winter warfare.

If. as some expect, the opposing forces dig in for a winter stalemate the Canadian regulars would be better suited than any troops in the whole free wrorld to face the problem of survival under Arctic conditions.

Whether this consideration will affect Ottawa policy cannot be discerned at this distance.

Canadian immigration is doing a land-office business here these days. Ever since the Immigration Act was amended to admit wives and minor children of naturalized Chinese-Canadian citizens there has been a steady stream, averaging 200 a month, from here to Vancouver and points east.

Yesterday morning the waiting room was so packed with people that I literally couldn’t get in the door. Any

time from 9 to 5 the benches are filled with women and children patiently waiting. This is no mere queue—all these people are there by appointment. They are the ones who have already made application, and are here to be examined as to eligibility, health, and

Superintendent H. T. Peters, with two officials and a battery of clerks and interpreters, has to verify the age and status of all these would-be immigrants. Very few speak English. Even fewer have any documents to prove either marriage or date of birth— they don’t issue such documents in

Naturally, Canadian Chinese want to bring out as many of their relatives as possible. Peters and his men are continually being confronted by “twins” who look no more alike than Mutt and Jeff, by “18-year-olds” who look old enough to have children that age themselves.

The officials do have ways and means of checking up, though. For one thing, they have a record of the father’s movements into and out of Canada. If he wasn’t in China nine months before the child’s supposed birth flate, the child doesn’t go.

Birth dates can be adjusted when there are no documents involved. A more useful check is the X-ray - not just for ordinary physical examination, but to show the bone structure as indication of age. One pair of “twins” had an X-ray two weeks ago, which showed them to he 19 and 23 respectively. By this and other means, about 50 fraudulent applications are detected each month and. of course, refused.

So far there is no sign of any slackening in the flow of new Canadians from China—quite the reverse, in fact. Peters has been here only 18 months, but already he is running across a few familiar names and faces. Some of the boys whom he allowed to proceed to Canada in 19-49 are already coming back, marrying Chinese girls, and taking their wives home to

All Canadians out East feel pretty isolated and complain about being out of touch with Canadian news. But the most isolated of all are the small group of missionaries, doctors find nurses on Formosa.

Before I left Ottawa I couldn’t find anyone who knew whether or not it was still possible to get to Formosa at all (actually there are two or three planes a day going in from Hong Kong and Manila). In Formosa I learned that there was a period last year when even the Canadian Post Office didn’t know.

After the fall of Shanghai, Canadians on Formosa got no mail for three months. They wrote to Ottawa and got no answer. They got friends in Ottawa to go to see the Post Office officials and finally they did get an official letter. “We have found your mail,” it said. “It has been held up in Hong Kong (three hours’ flying time from Formosa). Normally it would have gone to you via Shanghai, but as Shanghai has now fallen this is no longer possible. We have therefore ordered this mail returned to Canada and it will be redispatched to you via

The letters got there in the end, but the news in them was a bit out of date.

One thing you observe repeatedly on a trip like this: Canada is extremely

well represented abroad.

Everybody knows this about the senior men. What’s not so well known, and very pleasant to learn, is that the junior men are equally likeable and

competent. At all the eastern posts Fve visited, I found young war veterans with a maximum of five years in government service—Charlie Butterworth in Cairo, Paul Bridle and Harry Jay in New Delhi, Geoff Murray in Karachi, Tom Fletcher in Hong Kong. All of them turned out to be a very present help in time of travel. They are not only willing but able to do anything for you. from getting a hotelroom to arranging interviews with his Excellency, whoever his Excellency may be.

This may sound like a public breadand-butter letter, which it is. But it’s also a simple statement of fact.

Some time next year (April 10 is the target date, but few people think they can stick to it i the biggest political operation in the history of democracy will take place in India. Every adult in a nation of 350 millions will be eligible to vote in a general election.

India’s had elections before, of course, but never on the basis of universal adult suffrage lin the 1937 election only 30 millions could vote). Millions of Indians have had no previous experience of democracy at all.

Until two years ago there were, in the present India, no fewer than 000 princely states which were medieval despotisms. And even in the parts of India that have known elections it’s doubtful whether the illiterate peasant had much idea what was going on.

“In my home district we speak the J amil language,” a New Delhi reporter said, “and in Tamil the word ‘vote’ means ‘tile’ I bet 959? of the peasants there will think (he government wants them to make it a gift of one tile

Even among those who know all about elections in theory there are few who know much about the mechanics of it. Over the next few months India has to recruit several million returning officers, poll clerks, scrutineers and what not, few of whom will have any clear idea of what they are supposed to do. How they are going to manage it, nobody knows least of all the Government of India.

Socialization note: In the lava-

tories of Britain’s state-owned airports each individual sheet of toilet paper is stamped “Government property.” ★