tv Chinese Americans in China During World War II CSPAN September 13, 2015 9:35pm-9:56pm EDT
in a society of 310 million different people who stick together because they believed in a rule of law. cases, the exploration of the historic supreme court decisions and behind them. it debuts monday, october 5. american history television was at the society relationsan foreign annual meeting. this is about 20 minutes. is a historybrooks professor and is focusing on
americansd chinese . take us back and tell us why you are focusing on this. >> if you were chinese american in the 1930's, you lived under the shadow of the chinese law passed in 1882 that forbade almost all chinese immigration. .ou kind of forget that they were seen as innocent. the chinese americans growing up at that time, if they have been born in the nine states, they can be citizens. naturalize -- in the united states, they can't be citizens. turalize.ot nau
they could not get a decent job. they could not live where they wanted to. classere treated as third citizens, if the citizenship was taken seriously. the depression made it worse. >> for those who came, why did they come? >> the chinese immigrants came to united states to work and send money home. they were for bidden to stay. the merchant -- they were stay.den to there weren't that many chinese women and there were not that many chinese-american kids. grewwere citizens and they up in a society that rejected them.
it was a society that was often at odds with the experience growing up in schools, educationally, and trying to find a life in a chinese community was very isolated from the rest of american society. >> what was it like? you had the great depression. you had the start of world war ii. you had a transformation in the country during that time. you had chinese immigrants coming to the united states in trying to assimilate. sincey had been coming the 1840's and they were not allowed in. it was their children growing up. where thereg a time was growing patriotism in china and china had been an empire. rlordism.llen into wa a gradually reunited under the
nationalist party and a lot of americans were really proud of this. proud of beingy chinese and they were ambivalent about their status. about going to china and finding jobs there. jobs where race would not be an issue. that is what i talked about in my paper. it is hard to totally get the number correct because of the iffyness of immigration statistics. emigrated to china. they returned to china. you talk about some of the people and the stories that you learned about? >> it is amazing to me.
these are people coming back and they talked about the war. there was a great deal of patriotism from the japanese and there were some who participated in the struggle. and,d gone on for decades in my research, the people who states were aited cross-section of society. they were engineers, doctors, lawyers. they were lawyers, doctors, stock workers. they founded churches and they often sent their children to american schools. kids to college is in china and you have wheresities in shanghai
football and baseball teams are made up of a hawaiian's and american kids -- hawaiian and american kids. it was an interesting time. another dark time in american history with japanese-americans interred. was there any spillover? to there any other factor the japanese? can you touch on that. -- on that? >> it is interesting for the chinese-american to ended up in china. you think about internment of enemy-aliens. that was the justification for interning japanese-americans. we do not call it incarceration. chinese-americans were seen as less threatening by the japanese.
at what is happening in the united states in places like san francisco, there was animosity between the chinese and japanese because of the japanese, before pearl harbor, supported the invasion of china. a number of chinese americans who celebrated it and took over their businesses. had impact. it changed how groups fell about each other often. >> your research? h i had an unlimited budget. i taught history last year at a
university of finance and economics and i made trips to shanghai. later, i spent some time in hong kong. were overseas schools and set up for people of chinese ancestry outside of china to study in china. i have been looking through consular numbers of kidnapped and in trouble. i have more research. >> based on the research and the time spent in china, we sat down with jon huntsman, a u.s. envoy to china, to ask him how he would assess the relationship with china. he says, "complex and vitally important." >> im a historian of an earlier time. -- i am a historian of an
earlier period. there are people in china who want to simplify and make it very black-and-white. what is funny about what he says is that it has been a case for a long time. what i am looking at in my research is a wartime era and before. the united states had a complex relationship with china back then. my paper is called loyalty and ambivalence. there is a relationship between iiite states in china in ww that was very murky. we were allies and there was a lot of trust -- mistrust. at the same time, china needed american support and the americans did not a waste trust the chinese nationalists. -- did not always trust the
chinese nationalists. they occupied china and they lived in a murky area where the loyalty could get them in trouble. or, the loyalty could be unclear. it is complicated. >> you've spent time in china and talked to the people of china. theyou say how you see relationship changing from the time you researched the 1930's and 1940's to where we are today? not government to government. people to people. >> when we talk about the chinese people, they are diverse. in the 1930'scans and 1940's were on the lower-end in thesocial scale or upper reaches of the social system.
well educated, english-speaking, having gone off to college and graduate school in the united states. there is a distorted picture of china for not having much understanding of the groups beyond. time, i think,e -- i went tod to china 20 years ago and i have seen a growing sense of confidence in people and nationalism. sometimes, a little bit of aggressive nationalism. that has been a change. there is a wider range of people interacting today with americans and there is a lot different social strata advantage years ago.
theou researched from 1930's in this book. tell me about the individuals. >> i picked this picture because it was a political rally at an important time. it was pat around running against -- pat brown running against ronald reagan. it was his first political victory. the other people on the cover, phil burton, a powerful congressman from california who owed his initial election and totial political fortunes chinese-americans. a mayorhim is george, of san francisco in 1978. next to him are chinese-americans who are politically active in san francisco. they are democratic activists.
art and joe. it is a forgotten part of progressive politics. >> the book is focused on the cold war. what did you learn? the chinese-american politics developed in the shadow of the cold war against china. the peoples republic of china was considered a major enemy. and, the way the countries interfered in chinese-american francisco andn they were able to carve out a separate american politics, compared to new york, where they are in the thrall of nationalist government and exercise political influence. is, if you look at
where chinese-americans have political power, it is the west coast and san francisco. the chinese-americans were crucial to the political fortunes in the 1960's and 1970's. >> where will the research take you next? >> i am looking at a time from 1900-1949. a civil war in china ended in a communist victory. hopefully, i will go to taiwan theo research and 1920's and 1930's. >> wherein taiwan do you want to go -- where in it taiwan do you
want to go? >> -- in taiwan do you want to go? >> i want to look at records of oversea chinese offices that encourage chinese-americans and try to manage them and control them to suppress their political deviance. andchinese in the 1920's 1930's were far from democratic. i like to see how chinese-americans coming from a racially unequal and divided a placefared in china, where political control is much more ominous and violent. >> how is the communist control of china able to maintain a firm grip on the time? >> in the time i am looking at, the 1930's, the communists were
often on their last legs. the nationalists have been able to beat them. weakened the nationalist government and they were able to rebuild. they emerged a stronger force. so, the communist were not much of an influence on the chinese-americans i am looking at. it is the idea of the nationalist government try to make sure that the commonest are not an influence on anybody and you had an incredible political suppression. >> doing all of work, did anything surprise you? >> so much surprised me. one of the things that really surprised me is how little is known about the fact that chinese-americans are in china and helping to build the young republic and contributing in ways that we do not really think about to the new institutions. i found that the son of a
leader in new york city became a christian convert and went to china to become one of the of foreignofficials ministers of the chinese government. the early aviation pioneers and it came the chief of staff of the nationalist chinese air force. awaiite senator oh became a city planner at one the worst times you can imagine. you can imagine so many of the stories. -- there are just so many of the stories and it is amazing. you find them anywhere you are looking for them. i had no idea when i started
this project. and illy pulled me in continue to be fascinated with the number of fascinating stories. what i am talking about is a less savory chair after in my aracter- savory cherry who left china in 1932 and found a niche in radio. he was a well-known english-language broadcaster and azi hired by the n government to be a big name broadcaster for a new radio broadcast shanghai to propaganda to the far east. the u.s. 20 war with germany and the became one of the more infamous traders.
at the same time, his brother fl ed to southwest china and his wife stayed in shanghai, pretty much abandoned. she made her home a safe house for agents. the nine states to join the united states army and fought in world war ii. states -- the united the unitedck to states to join the united states army and fight in world war ii. deathsthe more grisly explained was on august 15, 1945. he either committed suicide or or was pushed out of a window, murdered, supposedly, by the japanese. he was found with his throat
slashed. he died in the guard of the german embassy. >> the paper will be turned into a book. you have a title? ,> it is tentatively called "immigrants from america." >> charlotte brooks, thank you very much. we appreciate your time on american history television. >> thank you. >> with live coverage of the u.s. house on c-span and on c-span2, here, we show you relevant congressional hearings and, on weekends, there are programs that tell the story. visiting battlefields, key events, museums,