BLAIR FRASER... REPORTS FROM PEKING

Maclean’s Ottawa editor sees for himself: The spy system that covers all China A co-operative farm for 82 families A model factory town and a Shanghai slum Christianity under the Chinese Reds

April 27 1957

BLAIR FRASER... REPORTS FROM PEKING

Maclean’s Ottawa editor sees for himself: The spy system that covers all China A co-operative farm for 82 families A model factory town and a Shanghai slum Christianity under the Chinese Reds

April 27 1957

BLAIR FRASER... REPORTS FROM PEKING

Maclean’s Ottawa editor sees for himself: The spy system that covers all China A co-operative farm for 82 families A model factory town and a Shanghai slum Christianity under the Chinese Reds

Mr. Li, the chairman of the co-operative farm at Chu Yung Kuan, five miles this side of the Great Wall of China, was not expecting visitors on Sunday. Indeed, the only reason he had any was that our car was stuck on the long slippery hill below the village. But when my interpreter and I appeared unannounced, he welcomed us into his home without embarrassment.

It is one of the better houses in Chu Yung Kuan, real glass in the windows, two fairly large rooms for only five people and everything marvelously neat and tidy. As we came in, Mr. Li's mother, a spry old lady with a face like a withered apple, tottered over to the stove on her tiny bound feet to make us a bowl of tea.

Read his startling conclusions

PEKING

Mr. Li *said the eighty-two families in C'hu Yung Kuan had nearly a hundred acres among them. In some parts of China that would be a big farm, but this is barren, stony, hill country. The land produces less than half enough to support the three hundred souls w'ho dwell on it; the rest they earn by working on the roads or on nearby construction jobs. Family income in Chu Yung Kuan averages four hundred yuans a year, or a hundred and sixty Canadian dollars.

I asked how often the Li family ate meat. Mr. Li looked at his father and they both began to laugh. When he could speak, Mr. Li explained to the ignorant stranger that they don't eat meat at all, except on occasional feast days. Those w'oolly little black pigs in the village street arc a cash crop, not a dietary luxury.

This w'as hardly the Garden of Eden that, to read some Chinese government publicity, you might expect to find on a Chinese co-operative farm. I didn't see how' Chu Yung Kuan could ever have been much worse off, short of actual starvation.

But Mr. Li was very positive that times are better now than in the bad old days before

“Liberation,” or even the more recent days after land reform when each peasant farmed his own small plot. Now that the land is farmed as a unit, he said, seventy people are enough to work on it and they can be the less vigorous, the old men and the women and elder children. Ablebodied men can spend more time earning wages, at jobs that are easier to get nowadays and much steadier. The price of the grain they buy from the government is reasonably stable; so are the prices of the vegetables and pigs and chickens they have to sell.

Mr. Li is chairman of the co-operative and presumably an enthusiast. Some other citizens of Chu Yung Kuan may be less convinced than he of the advantages of collective farming. But there is no evidence of any direct coercion to keep them socialist in word and deed.

Certainly there is not the visible machinery of compulsion that you see on every hand in the Soviet Union: the police and the MVD and the ever-present army. We did not see a uniform within miles of Chu Yung Kuan. The official who doles out the ration of flour and rice, and collects the taxes-in-kind by which China's peasants support her Communist government, is a big, good-natured, rather bovine youth who is no better clad and even worse housed than his charges in the village. He sleeps on a cot in his “office,” a tiny cubicle at one end of the mud-brick warehouse he supervises.

At the showpiece farm outside Shanghai where lntourist takes the visitor who asks in advance, there are no outside officials at all. Director Chao King-de was formerly a poor peasant. He used to rent an acre of land and pay the landlord more than half his crop. The secretary, Chou Vung-an, was a “middle” peasant who made a bare living on an acre of his own. Both were born on the farm of which they are now part ow ners. contmued on page 60

r

Fraser found these "businessmen” -unshackled under Communist rule ►

Fraser saw the state running these businesses—for its own great glory

Blair Fraser reports from Peking

The “little dolls” Fraser saw in Red China

Continued from page IS

I have called it a showpiece and so it is, but it is also a real farm—not at all like the transparent fake that used to be shown to traveling reporters in Yugoslavia, until the Yugoslav collective farm program finally collapsed. The Shanghai co-operative is called Hung Hsing—“Rainbow Star"—and one thing that stamps it as genuine is its continuing poverty.

I went into a fairly typical dwelling —a bedroom partitioned off from the dark, narrow living space in front, anti in the rear a brick stove half filling the kitchen-storeroom. I'he two windows had no glass. The walls were of wicker lightly plastered with mud, and the roof of rather untidy thatch.

How many people lived here?

“One old couple, one young couple, two children.”

I could see only two beds; where did the children sleep?

“One child sleeps with each couple.”

However, the people in Hung Hsing are better off than they used to be. Mr. Chao took me around and showed me why.

Here, for example, was a drainage ditch put in last year. It ran past what used to be a dozen little farms, and no one farmer would ever have found it worthwhile. Now that the land was owned in common, though, it was worth

everybody’s while, because it brought into production several hitherto worthless acres that used to be turned into slough by every rainstorm.

Conversely, irrigation ditches now run to land that used to be too dry to grow much. Tractor-drawn ploughs, lent by the state, turn in a few days more furrows than hundreds of manhours accomplished in the individual plots. Instead of each farmer raising his own grain and his own vegetables, blocks of land are assigned to the efficient production of each. What with one thing and another the cash value of produce per acre is fifty percent higher than in 1954, the last pre-co-operative year.

Hung Hsing had eight “rich” peasants in the days before land reform, men who owned three to five acres and hired day labor. Mr. Chao said things had so improved that even these ex-tycoons were doing better as co-operators than they had done as “exploiters.” (This, I must say. I took with a grain of salt.) Only the five landlords, who once lived idle on the labor of three hundred poor peasant families, are admitted to be worse off today. All five are still in the village and are members of the co-operative, but now they work for a living like everybody else.

Hung Hsing has two schools now instead of one, twenty-two teachers instead

of six. Mr. Chao didn't know how' many children were in school, and I couldn’t count the little dolls as they came swarming around me all clamoring to have their pictures taken (“They are calling you Uncle,” my interpreter gravely informed me) but they certainly look healthy and happy. Mr. Chao said there was a new “middle” school a mile or two away; teen-age children go there on the bicycles which, he added proudly, all their parents can now afford.

It was all, in fact, a little too pat to be entirely convincing. I’m sure Hung Hsing is as far above the national average as poverty-stricken Chu Yung Kuan is below. No man of normal skepticism

would believe on this evidence alone that all hundred and twenty million peasant families in China have taken to collective farming with eager delight, as official propaganda says they have.

Two nights ago, at dinner with a Chinese editor, 1 put the question bluntly: How could anyone accept the offi-

cial account of this “high tide of socialism,” which in eighteen months has swept ninety-six percent of Chinese peasants into collective farms?

After all, the collective farm program in Yugoslavia and Poland and Hungary was a failure, a fact now officially admitted hut for a long time officially denied. Collective farming in Soviet Russia was imposed by brutal coercion, mass deportations and artificial famines that starved millions, a fact no longer denied but not officially admitted even now.

Among China’s six hundred million people five hundred million are farmers, and at least four hundred million were land-hungry and poor. Six years ago they got what they had always wanted, land of their own. Then the government took back the land so newly given, turned it into big common pools in which no single peasant had a field he could call his. How could this have been done by mere persuasion?

My host was not offended or even surprised by my incredulity.

“You’re quite right,” he said, “collective farming did fail in eastern Europe. To understand why it has succeeded here you must understand certain differences in our country.”

In Yugoslavia, for instance, land reform cut family holdings to a maximum of twenty-five acres. In the fertile parts of China a family owning half an acre was considered rich. The drawbacks of farming such pocket-handkerchief plots, the utter impossibility of ever using modern machinery or efficient methods, are so obvious that even the stubbornest peasant can see them.

Another related difference is the imminence of famine in China. Even the rich farmer was not secure against a bad season. Whole regions would starve from time to time, even when other regions might be having good crops.

It was probably lucky for the co-operative program that in 1954, the last preco-operative year, floods ruined the harvest in several areas and there was severe distress. Nobody actually starved (or if anyone did it is not admitted) but many went hungry.

Last year too there were floods, and in other places drought. The crop as a whole was disappointing. But because the whole country is organized by the state, because grain could be moved easily from areas with plenty to areas with none, everybody is getting enough to eat.

My host might have added, though he did not, that the introduction of Communist methods was not as wholly peaceable as it is now made out to have been. There was a surge of violence before the first land reform, when peasants were deliberately incited to mob the landlords. 1 heard about it from a cynical Frenchman who was here at the time, and who spoke with a tinge of admiration: “The Communists urged the peasants to kill because, having killed, the peasants became their accomplices and could not turn back.“

Then came a short, sharp burst of terror known as the “Three Anti” and “Five Anti” movements, campaigns against corruption, waste and a string of other evils ending with the worst of all, the betrayal of state secrets. This was the period when rough-and-ready trials before “people’s courts” were followed by rough-and-ready executions in

village squares and were broadcast on the government radio. It was also a period when the red vans of the security police were seen every day in the streets of Shanghai, and many people disappeared.

But those days are gone. Having shown that they meant business, the Communists did not labor the point. Foes as well as friends of the regime admit that there has been no terror for a long time now, and that the motto of today is moderation.

There is an old Chinese proverb about the best way to deal with the inevitable. (Relax, it says.) A visitor gets the impression that the Chinese people are applying it in their dealings with the Communist Party, and the party in its dealings with the people.

One example is the way the Chinese ration rice.

Obviously, you cannot fix a uniform allowance of rice ip a country where the poor eat almost nothing else, and therefore need twice as much as do those rich enough to eat meat. The Chinese solve the problem by letting each housewife decide for herself what her weekly ration should be.

A free market in meat

But if each can buy what she likes, why have a ration at all? Because, by asking her to say in advance how much she needs, the government makes sure of two things: It prevents people from idly wasting, and in time of shortage from hoarding. It also gets a firm idea of requirements, so that supplies can be planned.

Planning, of course, is the keynote of the system here as it is in all Communist countries. A First Five-Year Plan will be completed this year, the Second Five-Year Plan has been adopted, and work has already begun on a Third FiveYear Plan, all on the familiar Russian model. But in China there is a characteristic flexibility about the whole thing.

Last year the price of pork was set too low. Rather than go on feeding them, farmers killed their sows and sold or ate them, and a shortage developed of China’s favorite meat. The government immediately did several things at once: raised the price, started a propaganda campaign for pig-breeding, and allowed pork and poultry to be sold on the free market as well as through government food shops.

The free market is a typical safety valve or shock absorber to ease the rigidities of communism in China. On the sidewalk a block from my hotel,

farmers stand beside barrows of vegetables and crates of live chickens, and housewives haggle with them as they have done for uncounted generations. The state makes sure that basic foods like rice are provided in standard quantities at a stable price. Other things the farmer may sell, if he likes, directly. This gives the farmer extra income (and, in regions or seasons of under-employment. something to do) and the worker an extra outlet for his wages.

Factory workers are much better off than farmers in China. At the big plant in Anshan, Manchuria, which the Japanese built in 1920 and which produces half the basic steel of all China, workers average a hundred yuans (forty dollars) a month. That is three times as much as the Fi family earns in Chu Yung Kuan, with four people working and a little girl helping out.

Actually the gap is not quite as wide as the cash figure implies. A peasant’s income-in-kind is reckoned, at the price the government pays him. only about half what the city worker must pay at retail. Even when peasants have to buy rice or other food, as in Chu Yung Kuan, they get it at the low country price.

But the industrial worker is still better off, not only in money but in the conditions of his life.

The new workers’ dwellings at Anshan are by no means palatial. Built in 1953, they already show serious wear and tear, and few families have more than one middle-sized room. But compared with the average in a Chinese village, or city for that matter, this is very good housing indeed.

I talked to a housewife in one of them—a grey-faced woman, tired and sick and old before her time, but apparently not discontented. She feeds a family of five on her husband’s salary of a hundred and fifteen yuans (forty-six dollars), and has more than half of it left after food, fuel, electric light and the one dollar a month they pay in rent for their modest home.

“We used to pay three times as much to a landlord,” she said, “for a miserable mud shack with a roof that let in the rain.”

Did she find things better now than before “Liberation”?

The woman looked at me as if I were crazy. Of course she found things better. Before Liberation the money was no good — thousands of yuans wouldn’t buy a bowl of rice. Work was unsteady. Nobody knew what might happen next. Now everything was quiet and peaceful.

She had a daughter of twenty and a

son of sixteen who were both in school. How did it happen they were still there, so late?

“They got a late start. Before Liberation we could not pay the school fees. Now it is free, but they did not begin until 1949. Only the little one was able to begin at seven years old.”

I noticed something on the wall that looked like a diploma, with a man’s picture on it. She beamed.

"That's my husband. He is a technician. He learned in the school for adults, here in the evenings.”

Could her husband read?

“Formerly he could not. Now he can read the newspapers a little.”

I began to see what the young man from the State Planning Board had meant when he said, in Peking a few mornings before: “Hungary and Poland are a warning to us and one that we shall heed, but we were not unaware of it anyway. We knew we had to raise the living standards of the people as well, and at the same time, as we develop heavy industry.”

So far, the something-for-everybody policy has been astonishingly successful. It even includes some consolation for the ex-rich.

Bodyguards for businessmen

Both in Peking and in Shanghai there are a few tame “capitalists,” former mill owners who are now mill managers in state or “joint” enterprises. The foreignoffice information department sends the visitor to talk to these one-time grinders of the faces of the poor, and they tell him how much better things are now and how glad they are that the country has been “liberated” and they themselves re-educated and redeemed.

I must confess 1 did not listen very carefully to the prepared part of this recital from my capitalist, a smooth young man named Wu Tsong-yi. At the end of our conversation, though, he said something that stuck in my mind, and had a ring of sincerity about it.

“You see those bars on the window?” he said, pointing from the rather luxurious living room in which we sat. “Why do you think we had those put on? For safety, that's why. To protect ourselves. Why, I used to need an armored car and a bodyguard to go to my office.

“In 1948 when the Chiang Kai-shek government was near its end and desperate, my father was arrested. 1 don't think any particular charge was laid; he was just arrested. It cost us one hun-

dred and fifty thousand United States dollars, in currency, to get him out.

"You have to understand what it was like before to know why we think it is better now.”

This contrast helps the Communists in many ways. It protects them from resentment when the Five-Year Plan goes wrong, as it has done in many important ways.

In Changchun, the capital of Japan’s puppet state Manchukuo, Red China has installed its first and only motor works, the showpiece of modern Chinese industry. It is a beautiful plant, airy, welllighted, well - equipped in every way. Around it are modern apartments for all its eighteen thousand workers, with shopping centres and recreation clubs as well as two-room fiats with showers for each family—the best housing in China.

The plant has a capacity of thirtythousand Soviet-type trucks a year, roughly a hundred a day. Actual production target for the first fifteen months is four thousand, ten percent of capacity.

On the day we went through the assembly line was not moving. It was the end of the month, our guide said: they were “taking stock.” Sure enough, every few yards along the line a couple of earnest girls in overalls were counting, by hand, the nuts and bolts and noting them on pink slips of paper. I remarked that 1 had never seen a plant close down for an accounting operation like this.

“We are only making about ten trucks a day,” said the manager rather gloomily, “so we have plenty of time.”

I asked why. The manager talked vaguely of training new workers before he mentioned the real reason: shortage of raw materials. The plant hadn't enough steel. I remembered seeing a new plate mill under construction at Anshan the day before. Evidently the planners got things backwards when they built the motor works first and plate mill second.

But the Chinese don't really care. They have their motor plant and they’re enormously proud of it. A party of “model workers” from another industry went through on a tour of inspection the same day we did, evidently a special treat; they goggled at the silent assembly line with no less admiration than if it were disgorging a truck every ten minutes. Nobody minds things being done, even if they’re not done quite right. After years of nothing done, it’s welcome anyway.

“All my life I wanted to build a bridge

across the Yangtse.” a Chinese engineer told a friend of mine. “Often the money was voted but it always melted away somehow. Now I am building the bridge.”

It sounds incredible that corruption should have been wiped out in China, the homeland of “squeeze,” but the traveler can testify at least that another national custom has disappeared. You cannot give anybody a tip in China today.

Theoretically this is true in the Soviet Union also, but in fact 1 got much bet-

ter service when 1 slipped a rouble under the plate. I tried the same thing here, and the waiter came running after me into the lobby: “You forgot your change, sir.”

On a train journey in Manchuria, by way of experiment, I made several real efforts to tip the sleeping-car attendants. I was positively insistent, but it made no difference. They wouldn’t take it. Even the pedieab drivers now quote an exact and moderate fare, and say thank you for it. Anyone who has ever argued with a ricksha coolie in Hong Kong

can tell what a change has come about.

Changes have, in fact, been numerous enough that the Chinese are not embarrassed by the blots they haven’t had time to remove. The Chinese foreign office itself suggested that I ought to see the slums of Shanghai.

They are dreadful. The typical Chinese house, rural or urban, has nothing that could be called plumbing, either indoor or outdoor. Noisome hovels lean against each other for miles in all directions, looking as if a strong wind would blow them down.

Still, there has been improvement. The water supply was once the dark-brown creek on which sampans ply and every kind of refuse floats lazily down to the river. Now there is a tiled washing square every few blocks, where half a dozen taps provide clean water and the women all come with their laundry and their vegetables.

I was guided through this slum ward by Miss Cheng Hso-ing, a fat goodnatured girl who is a member of the local “street committee.” The street committee is a unique feature of the Chinese Communist system and might even be considered its backbone. An elected body, the street committee always turns out to have a solid core of Communists. Its duties are leadership and guidance in every conceivable field—to tell the people what they must do, and see that they do it.

Through the street committees the government put on its much-publicized drive to eliminate flies. Of course it is not true that there are no flies left in China, as some fellow-traveling travelers have reported; a large and saucy one buzzed around me all through lunch today. But it is true that there are fewer here than in other Eastern countries and fewer, I am told, than there used to be in China.

Now the street committees have undertaken what they call a “Patriotic Sanitation Movement.” It is a worthy cause; Chinese lack not only domestic plumbing but also the inhibitions that go with it. Since TB is China’s worst public-health problem, the street committees also plan a campaign against the national habit of spitting. This one too will have the approval of all foreign visitors, especially those who travel on Chinese trains.

Nosey Parker is everywhere

But of course the street committee’s job is not only or even mainly public health. Its real purposes are political.

If Mr. Yung, the retired merchant, clings to his reactionary ideas, if Mrs. Yi buys each week a little more rice than she needs and builds up a hoard, if young student Wu seems to be harboring anti-Communist principles—in all these cases the street committee is supposed to learn the facts and take the necessary action. It is above all an organized and authorized Nosey Parker which makes everybody’s business its own. A project on its current list is to encourage birth control, and it would be no surprise to learn that the assiduous ladies of the street committee are subjecting the wives in each district to a cross-examination every morning.

However, the street committee is a channel of communication upward as well as downward. Citizens can and do go to the street committee with complaints, and the complaints arc reported and heeded.

The effect is to give the Chinese a sense of participation in their government. They seem hardly aware that the street committee does many things that in Russia are the task of the secret police. Unlike many Russians, the Chinese sound as if they meant it when they say that theirs is a “democratic” and a free country.

It isn’t, of course.

The secret police are not as obtrusive as in Russia but they are not absent. The reason the room clerks in the Hsin Chiao Hotel are so uniquely incompetent is that they are secret police. They are incapable of the simplest function in the hotel business — even to register, you have to go to the back room and deal with the real hotel clerk—but at their

true job of watching who comes into the hotel to visit foreigners they are quite alert.

The press is controlled, and like every controlled press it is deadly dull. The translation service is not as good in Peking as in Moscow, but evidently the Chinese get the same cascade of lies about foreign affairs as the Russians get, and here it seems to be rather more generally believed.

One of the few things here that a foreigner can read for himself is a monthly magazine called China Reconstructs, written in the bland style of an old-fashioned industrial house organ. A few issues ago it carried an article about the clash of public debate in China, part of the “struggle against dogmatism” as the Communists characteristically put it. About a year ago Mao Tse-tung made a speech containing a sentence that is now a cliché in China: “Let flowers of all kinds bloom together; let diverse schools of thought contend.”

Obediently, they have been “contending” ever since, and some Chinese describe the result as “freedom to criticize.”

In fact, of course, the freedom is strictly limited and the “contention” extremely tame. Historians “contend” about the date when Chinese feudal society began; some say 1200 B.C., some say not until 400 B.C. Biologists proudly affirm that they are now allowed to argue about the inheritance of acquired characteristics, which in Stalin’s time was a dogma. Critics debate the merits of the poet Li Yu, a tenth-century emperor who lost his throne because he was too fond of poetry, dancing and women. But there are also a few signs of real liberalization, however slight, in the universities and in the intellectual life of China.

Starting next autumn Peking University’s department of philosophy will introduce courses on Bertrand Russell and Immanuel Kant. (Hegel is already taught, but since he was the intellectual godfather of Karl Marx perhaps that doesn’t count.) I doubt that any of these philosophers will be presented in terms they themselves would have accepted. More likely they will be “taught,” like Marxism in a Roman Catholic seminary, a demonstration of their errors. Still, it’s a slight breath of air that they are noticed at all.

Last May, just after Mao’s benediction of “diverse schools of thought,” British economist Nicholas Kaldor of King’s College, Cambridge, was invited to Peking to lecture on the economic theories of Lord Keynes. Facing an audience of Chinese economists, Kaldor said: “I

could of course prove to you by facts that Karl Marx was wrong, but this is an academic discussion, so I propose to prove it to you by pure theory.”

Chalk in hand, he proceeded to do so. It is doubtful whether any of his audience were actually converted to Keynesian thinking, but they gave him a quiet hearing. The whole affair marked a great change from the immediate past.

There has also been a change in the Chinese Communists’ treatment of the Christian religion. How deep or how permanent this change may be is a matter of grave dispute among Christians in and outside China.

For the first two years, when missionaries were being expelled and many imprisoned, the Communists seemed to be behaving just as the Christians had cx-

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pected. Then, about 1951. the first change came. Protestants were told they might carry on as before, especially in the welfare and public-health work that China needs so badly.

Rev. Joshua Bang, the Chinese pastor of the Centennial Baptist Church in Shanghai, said his congregation of two hundred had no difficulties at all with the government. They had two services every Sunday, as well as Sunday school and three Bible classes: they also had meetings on four out of six week nights. Their new church had been built in 1953,

part of the celebration of the hundredth anniversary of the Baptist faith in China. It was one of two Protestant churches built in Shanghai alone since Liberation.

The minister used the word “Liberation” smoothly and unselfconsciously, with no suggestion of inverted commas. It was obvious that he, for one. accepted the Communist regime as the legitimate government of China and gave it his loyalty as a citizen.

Recently, some Chinese Roman Catholics have been adopting the same atti-

tude. They have formed what they call a "Catholic Patriotic Association” to emphasize their loyalty to the new China, and are carrying on church work within the framework of the Communist system.

1 shared a Lenten lunch in Shanghai with two priests and three laymen who take this point of view. Rev. Aloysius Chang, rector of St. Peter's parish, explained to me how they feel: “We cannot think a Catholic’s religion obliges him to work against his country.”

And they accepted the Communist

regime as a legitimate government?

“Of course. It is the government of China; there is no other.”

Father Chang wanted to make one thing very clear, though: "We do not accept the doctrine of the Chinese government. Communism, materialism, these we utterly repudiate. We are true Catholics under the spiritual authority of Rome, but in secular affairs we respect the authority of the government of China.”

Had they had any contact with the Vatican since 1949?

"We sent a telegram of greeting to His Holiness the Pope at Christmas time.”

And had they received any message from the Holy See?

“An acknowledgement of our telegram.”

What about the question of Catholic schools and the control of education, which had been a stumbling block in other Communist countries?

“That is not a problem in China. Now that we have no more help from abroad we could not afford to operate schools anyway. We have our classes for relig-

ious instruction, but education as a whole we must leave to the state.”

But what about the Roman Catholic priests who arc prisoners, the five Americans and the many Chinese?

At this Father Chang looked troubled and embarrassed for the first time.

“We do not know the facts,” he said. “They were not imprisoned because they are Americans; to be an American is not a crime. Nor were they imprisoned just because they are priests. Father Lee and i are priests and we have not been imprisoned.

“The government says they were guilty of espionage. You must remember it is possible to commit espionage innocently: one might write a personal letter describing the military situation, and yet if the letter were intercepted it would seem to prove espionage.” This, of course, was pretty thin and the good father evidently knew it. The fact is that Roman Catholics have had very rough treatment indeed from the Chinese Communists. In 1949 five thousand priests were ministering to three million Roman Catholics in China, three thousand missionaries and two thousand Chinese. Of the three thousand missionaries, one remains. Bishop James Walsh, an American, a frail old man who lives quietly but defiantly in the Jesuit Church of Christ the King in Shanghai, determined not to leave China unless he is formally expelled. Of the two thousand Chinese priest*, about one thousand are in prison. How many have died there, nobody knows except the Chinese security police. They also arc the only ones who know what charges, if any, have been laid against the prisoners. The remaining one thousand Chinese priests arc free and carrying on their Christian work. Among them, and between some of them and their fellow Roman Catholics abroad, there is a sharp difference of opinion about how to deal with the Chinese Communist government. Most Roman Catholics abroad, and some in China, think that any recognition or co-operation ol am sort is treason to the faith and a betrayal of their persecuted brethren. Is all uf China Godless? Some carry this attitude to an extreme. “At one time we had difficulty obtaining enough Hour to make the Host,” said Father Chang. “The government offered to set aside a sufficient amount for our use. Some Catholics said we should refuse. that to accept would be collaborating with the Communists.” Some time ago one of the missionaries gave an interview, at Christmas time, by telephone to the United Press in Hong Kong. He said he had had a pleasant Christmas, that the churches were full as usual, that all was quiet and everyone in his community was well. When an accurate report of the interview was published, the missionary got a stern note from his superiors in New York. He should remember, they said, that statements of this kind, however true, might be used to give the impression that freedom of religion exists in Godless China. But however sharply some Roman Catholic authorities may deplore and disapprove the co-operative attitude ol certain colleagues in China, the latter group has not been repudiated. Its members arc true Catholics who have not been excommunicated. Its priests are still entitled to administer the sacraments. Officially, the Vatican has neither approved nor disapproved their attitude. I walked back to my hotel with Father Chang after our Lenten lunch, eaten with chopsticks. “In the end these troubles may prove a blessing of God." he said. “You know, they always called us foreigners here, and renegades, and of course it was true that we did have much help from abroad and many missionary priests. “Now we are on our own. We must support ourselves, stand by ourselves, be Chinese Christians and nothing else. Perhaps it is time the church here faced this test.” ★