GREAT BRITAIN: The Curtain of Ignorance

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    In Canton, where the authorities hastily had the main streets painted and beggars and refugees hustled out of sight, Morgan Phillips issued a farewell statement for the delegation: "We sympathize with the efforts the Chinese people are making . . . This sympathy and understanding should be shown by the rest of the world in immediate and practical form." With that, they emerged into the outer world at Hong Kong.

    Hong Kong Impressions. Attlee and most British Socialists have never entirely believed that the Chinese Communists are real Communists; they regard them as the product of a genuine popular revolt against Chiang Kai-shek's government, and believe that much of Red China's hostility comes from the U.S. refusal to grant it recognition. At a press conference in Hong Kong, Attlee admitted that his "impressions" had not much changed. But the man who had said he knew eyewash when he saw it professed not to have been taken in: "We found, and expected to find, that China is being run by Communists on principles with which we do not agree." Other impressions:

    ¶ "The evidence that we had everywhere is that the Chinese have a government that is incorruptible."

    ¶ "There is no pretense that everything is all right yet. That is an engaging contrast with Russia, where we were always assured that they are ahead of the whole world in everything."

    ¶ Government hostility to missionaries and religious bodies is "more due to nationalism rather than Communism."

    (Snapped the Rt. Rev. Daniel Mannix, Archbishop of Melbourne: "How could he be the vehicle of so much misin formation?")

    Attlee's most astonishing statement: "I believe that the Chinese peasant has got a government that is doing something for him, which is concerned with the prosperity of the peasant, and rests upon the confidence of the peasant population." Old China hands were amazed. Even Red China's leaders acknowledge repeatedly that the government does not have the confidence of "the greater part of the peasant masses." Snorted the Hong Kong Standard: "It almost appeared as if the Laborite mission had not really visited China at all, but some mythical country of the same name magically erected in the clouds by the Communists."

    Fresh Fatuities. Attlee, met by his wife in Singapore, last week coursed on down to Australia (at the government's invitation), spraying fresh fatuities as he went. In Darwin, he remarked that "I do not think we need have any worries about Communist China. Communist Chi na is too busy looking after its 600 million people. That's twelve times as many as I had to look after when I was Prime Minister." In Canberra, he assured a group of Australian M.P.s that "the whole Chinese people are out for peace," and declared that the Chinese leaders were "genuine idealists." ("Nehru has never gone as far as that," said one astonished Indian M.P.)

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