Skip to main content

tv   Chinese Americans in China During World War II  CSPAN  October 18, 2015 3:40pm-4:01pm EDT

3:40 pm
citizens. going chinese-americans up in america at this time, they were told in many ways that you are marginal, you are not a real citizen, and when they went out into the world, they could not get a decent job based on their education and they were treated as third class citizens if their citizenship was taken seriously at all. the depression just made that worse. >> for those who came to the u.s., how did they come? >> chinese immigrants came to the united states to work and send money home often because they were forbidden to stay. merchants came often to sell and buy across the pacific and laborers came unlawfully to send money home. were not that many chinese american kids, but they were
3:41 pm
citizens aced on american law, so they grew up in american society that rejected them. in a chinese american society that was at odds with their experience growing up in american schools and an american amosphere, trying to find life, the chinese community was isolated from the rest of american society. >> what was it like? you had the great depression, the start of world war ii, and a transformation during that time had thely and you chinese american -- chinese immigrants trying to assimilate as best they could. >> that chinese immigrants had been coming since before the turn of the century but it was a tiny trickle and they were just not allowed in. so it is their children i'm focused on and they grew up in an era in which there was growing patriotism about china.
3:42 pm
hada had been an empire and fallen into warlord-ism. under theeen reunited nationalist party and a lot of chinese-americans were proud of this. america marginalized in and they are often indignant about their status as american citizens and increasingly have opportunities in american society and so they start to think about maybe we should go to china. maybe we should build this new country where our race won't be an issue. that is what i talk about in my paper. it is hard to totally get the ifber correct because of the venus of immigration statistics, but i would save one in five chinese-americans returned to china. though they had never been there. they called it returning to
3:43 pm
china to make a life in their parents and grandparents homeland. some ofou talk about the stories you learned about? >> this is thousands of people going back and you talked a little bit about the war. there was a great deal of patriotism against the japanese, so there were some people who participateping to in the struggle, but the immigration had gone on for decades. these people who came from the u.s. were really a cross-section of society. there were engineers, doctors, lawyers. if you go to shanghai, there's a thriving chinese-american community. there were singers and pro-wrestlers of all things. they found in their own social clubs and churches and often sent their children to american schools. people in the u.s. sent their
3:44 pm
kids to college and you have universities in shanghai where are made up teams of hawaiians or american kids. you also have the society of chinese-americans you would not know about or expect. americanr dark time in history is when we had japanese-americans interned during world war ii. was there any spillover or any factor toward maybe the prejudices we had? can you touch on that? >> it was a really interesting time. for chinese-americans, those who , you think china about the interment of enemy aliens -- we say incarcerating because internment is something you do to aliens and two thirds of those interred were american
3:45 pm
citizens. chinese-americans did not face that because they were seen as less threatening than white americans but if you look at what's happening in the united states, laces like san francisco, there was animosity between chinese-americans and japanese-americans because before pearl harbor, they supported japan's invasion of china and chinese-americans resented that. when japanese-americans were 1942, there were a number of chinese-americans who celebrated and took over their businesses. other places where relationships were better, that did not happen , but what happened in asia did have an impact in terms of the feelings different ethnic groups had about each other. >> where do you go for your
3:46 pm
research? >> i wish i had an unlimited touch it. i actually started in china and taught history last year at a school called southwestern university and while i was there, i made a side trip to shanghai and the municipal archives. i spent some time in hong kong and did research on overseas chinese schools set up particularly for people of chinese ancestry to come study in china. lately, i've been to the national archives in college park and looking at amazing numbers of chinese-americans kidnapped or in trouble. i have a lot more miles to go before doing this research. >> we set down with jon huntsman, who served as the u.s. envoy to china in the first warriors of the obama administration ms how he would assess our relationship with
3:47 pm
china and he said complex and vitally important. how would you answer that? >> i'm a historian of a little earlier time. i obviously pay attention to the news on china and he has it right -- it is very complicated and there are people who want to simplify it and make it a very black and white issue. is that has been the case for a long time. the time i'm looking at in my research is more time and before. the united states had a very complex relationship with china back then. the relationship between the u.s. and china between world war ii was muddy and murky. we were allies but there was a lot of mistrust and the government miss -- disliked the history of western involvement
3:48 pm
in china and blames it for weakening china. but, at the same time, china needed american support. a lot of the chinese-americans i looked at during the war stayed in china, in occupied china and lived through this gray, murky area where their loyalties could yet them in trouble or be unclear. i think it is very complicated. you spent some time in china and so you talked to the people. can you assess how the relationship people to people has changed from the time you researched to where we are today? not government to government, but people to people? things about the chinese people is it's an extremely diverse population. they were most likely to
3:49 pm
interact in the 30's and 40's were people at the low end of the social scale who served in american households in shanghai or people of the upper reaches of the social system, well educated and english speaking who had gone to college in the united states. verynk americans got a distorted picture of china through not having much understanding of these groups for anything beyond that. but at the same time, i think 20 years -- ilast went to china 20 years ago for the first time and what i have seen is a growing sense of confidence and a growing sense of nationalism. sometimes aggressive nationalism. we have that in our country as well, but that has been a change. one of the encouraging things is
3:50 pm
there's a wider range of people interact and across different social strata then there was 70 years ago. >> from your research in this paper dealing with the cold war, explain who is on the cover and why these individuals were selected. picked that particular picture because it is a political rally at a very important time in our history. it is governor pat round of california when he was running against an actor who became president -- ronald reagan. that was ronald reagan's first medical tree. the other people on the cover is phil burton, a very powerful initialman who owed his political fortunes to a 1956 victory for state assembly and though his victory to chinese-americans work. next to him is george muscovy who became mayor of san
3:51 pm
francisco and was assassinated. next to him are two chinese americans who are very politically active in san francisco. it is sort of the forgotten history of california and san francisco politics and progressive politics in america. book focusing on the cold war, what did you learn? >> the way chinese american politics developed in the shadow of the cold war and the people's republic of china was considered thejor american enemy and united states was allied with taiwan, the nationalist. the way chinese-americans, especially in san francisco were able to carve out and exert power in their city, compared to new york where chinese-americans
3:52 pm
were in this or all of the national government and unable to exercise that influence, i take it all the way to today. if you look at where chinese-americans have clinical power, it is not new york. it is the west coast, especially san francisco. >> where will your research take you next? >> the papers linked to this book, i'm looking at the time from about 1900 to 1949 and the civil war in china ended in a communist victory. taiwanly i will go to and do some research about the chinese nationalist government and its encouragement of nationalist to come to china. after that, i have so many places i need to do research.
3:53 pm
in taiwanpecifically do you want to go? what do you want to ask? >> i want to go to various archives that have pages from the taiwan government and its predecessors in china. ofant to look at the records overseas offices that encouraged chinese-americans and tried to manage them and pretty much control them. suppress their political deviance. china in the 20's and 30's was far from democratic, so i would like to see chinese-americans raciallyom a discovered a tory society and how they fared when they came to china and end up in a place where political control is much more obvious and violent. how was the communist control
3:54 pm
of china able to maintain such a firm grip? >> in the time i'm looking at, 1930's, what is interesting is we forget the communist were on their last legs in 1935 at the end of the long march. haveationalists may eventually been able to beat them but it was the invasion in 1937 that we can the nationalist government and gave the communist some breathing room and enabled them to rebuild. they emerged a much stronger force after world war ii, so the communists were not much of an influence. idea of thethe nationalist government making sure they were not an influence on anybody and you had incredible lyrical violence and suppression. >> did anything surprise you? >> so much surprised me. one thing that surprised me is how little is known about the fact how chinese-americans were
3:55 pm
helping to build the young republic and contribute in ways we don't think about to the new institution. the sun of one of the most infamous leaders in new york city became a christian convert, became a minister and went to a diplomaticame for an official of the chinese government, a guy who learned to fly from len curtis and was one of the very early aviation pioneers and rose to become the chief of staff in the chinese air force. and the guy who was state editor in hawaii and that becoming a city planner in the city of nanjing, probably at the worst time you can imagine. there are so many of these
3:56 pm
stories that it's amazing. everywhere i look, i find these chinese-americans participating in various parts of chinese society and i had no idea when i started this project, but it really has pulled me in. one i'm talking about is a less savory character in my named herbert who went on the lam with his family and left for china in 1932. he kicked around for a while and found his niche in radio. well-known was a english ron caster and was hired by the not the government to be the government, broadcasting german propaganda to the far east. when the u.s. went to war with
3:57 pm
germany and japan, this i stayed on and became one of the more infamous traders who we don't remember at all anymore. traitors.s his brother's wife stayed in shanghai. one of their brothers went back to the united states and join the army and not in world war ii. totally unusual story. i can't even decide which ones to feature when i write about. herbert? >>ened to one of the more grisly deaths and unexplained. on the night of august 15, 1945, he either, depending on who you ask, don't -- committed suicide or was pushed out a window,
3:58 pm
murdered, supposedly by the japanese as a farewell parting gift. he was found with his throat slashed and he either did it himself, which seems unbelievable, but he was died -- he died and was found in the garden of german embassy. >> your paper will be turned into a book. do you have a title? >> it is tentatively called immigrants from america. >> thank you very much. we look forward to the book and we appreciate your time here on c-span three's american history tv. unification to my mind is far more than a matter of cosmetics. to me, it describes the whole effort to bring the natural world and man-made world into harmony, to bring order, usefulness and delight to our
3:59 pm
whole environment. chairman julian bond died in august. anrican history tv features
4:00 pm
oral history with mr. bond. they were conducted by the university of virginia. is sunday, october 25, 10:00 a.m. eastern here on american history tv on c-span3. many news reports refer to the current refugee crisis in the european union as the worst since the end of world war ii. back to 1946 with "seeds of destiny." it is a war department found depicting the situation film by orphans. there was recorded by the u.s. signal corps

45 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on