From Labor Action, Vol. 5 No. 1, 6 January 1941, p. 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).
Aiding the Chinese people defeat Japanese imperialism is a noteworthy and progressive action. It strikes a blow at the enemy of all colonial peoples: world imperialism.
While Europe suffers from the effects of war, increasing in its intensity daily, China still qualifies as the stamping ground of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Any account of the miseries of the Chinese people always bring to mind the question – How can human flesh stand this much?
Knowledge of this situation is so common that many people here felt rather good about the news that the American government announced new loans to the Chinese government. Of course, the Great Father in the White House was given credit in most newspapers for another noble humanitarian deed.
Mr. Roosevelt, after all, was a democrat, we were reminded. America in world politics has more than merely materialistic motives. Doubters were asked to look at the loans to China.
Well, we did just that. First we learned that loans to colonial countries are a time-honored device for strapping that country to the specific imperialist exploiter. The U.S. has several times in the past “loaned” money to China – and not always by request. Then, aided by a remarkable interview published in the Los Angeles Daily News and given by Nicol Smith, author and Far Eastern explorer got another slant on the loan. Mr. Smith drew no conclusions. His facts, however, speak for themselves. We checked them with a qualified expert on the Far East.
China is to repay the United States partly by shipping its tin supplies from the fabulous mines of Kochiu in the province of Yunan via the famous Burma road to this country. This transaction will help liquidate the loan. In other words, the new loan to China was primarily a business deal by which the U.S.A. received a much needed war metal, tin.
What’s wrong with the United States doing that? Why shouldn’t America feel it is helping the Chinese people by buying the tin mined there? Just a little trifle, to some people.
Let us tell you in Mr. Smith’s words about the tin mines in China. Remember them the next time you open a can of fruit or vegetables. Perhaps the tin came from China.
“The tin from Kochiu is mined by 25,000 children, sixty per cent of whom are under 10 years of age. None of the children miners are over 15 years old.
“The children, when running about the town present an appearance more fantastic than those seen at the Grand Guignol horror shows in Paris before the war.
“The bodies (they work naked, you know) have been tinted green by the arsenic content of the stuff in which they work. Then the red dust from the tin settles over their sweating bodies – you add to this their natural yellow hues and you have singular appearances.
“These children are sold into slavery by their families. They earn a penny a day. The first year, 20 per cent of them die. The second another 20 per cent.
“Some die later, after twelve lunar months of work in the mines, when they return home. Altogether 53 per cent of them die.
“The mine shafts are so small, you know, that only a child could enter them.
“The working children sleep in long barrack-like rooms. There is no sanitation system. Most of them suffer from inherited venereal diseases.
“They do not receive their penny a day wages, which are sent to those who sold them into slavery. Most of them soon learn to escape the horror of reality through fantastic dreams furnished by opium.
“One tenth of the world’s tin supply comes from the Kochiu district. The mine owners here are fabulously rich.
“One has a yearly income of $16,000,000 American money.
“They contribute heavily to the war chest of China, and for that reason the new order of Chiang Kai-shek as yet has not interfered with their methods of working the tin mines.
“Having so much money and nowhere to send it – although they are so rich they have their private armies – they gamble most of the time. And then they smoke opium, dressed in their bond street clothes.”
And now the United States, through the diplomatic maneuvers of the humanitarian Roosevelt, gets the main benefits of this almost unbelievable exploitation of the Chinese children. Clever peoples, these Roosevelts. Japan’s blundering Imperialists can hardly refrain from admiring such finesse.
It’s all done under the guise of aiding the Chinese people.
Readers of English history might recall how shocked the English people were when Jonathan Swift satirically proposed that the poor children be eaten to put them out of their misery.
Civilization has progressed since then. The world doesn’t bother with satire anymore.
That is why we say that it will take only a few more similar acts of kindness by Mr. Roosevelt to reduce China into a semi-slave state, a vassal of American imperialism squeezing out Japan in their bloody struggle for domination of the Far East.
In the ghastly story of the mines of the Kochiu, each word written by the broken bodies and pitiful cries of anguish of helpless children, the Chinese people are learning the painful lesson that all imperialist nations, Japan, England and America as well, are their enemies. And that a Chinese mine owner is no different from a Henry Ford.
Last updated: 22.11.2012