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The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project

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Winchester, Va. -- One of my newspapers (the New York Post) has asked me if I would be willing to go to Communist China and try to interview some of the people in the government there. I had long wanted to go to China, just as my husband always wanted to go there.

Hoping that the State Department was ready to relax its rules and allow for communication between our countries through the press, I made application for a visa and was told that, as yet, no newsman was permitted by our government to visit Communist China.

I still hope that the State Department may find it possible to allow all correspondents who wish to gather news from this area of the world to go there if the Chinese will allow them to enter.

I believe it might be easier to learn some things in China than in the Soviet Union. But I am anxious to go to the Soviet Union, too, and since I cannot now go to China, I hope that I will be able to visit the Soviet Union in the near future.

My husband acquired his earliest interest in China and his great respect for its people through his grandfather, Warren Delano, who had lived there for a number of years. Warren Delano had been a partner in one of the British trading firms dealing primarily in tea.

Westbrook Pegler once reported the horrifying fact that the firm also had probably dealt in opium. I never knew, nor did my husband, if there was any truth in this.

But when I went to Hong Kong a few years ago I found an old book which told much of the story of the tea and opium trade. I also talked with a representative of an equally ancient British trading firm whose family had been there for generations. He said that opium was a minor part of the tea business and that many of the British firms traded in it.

All of my life, it seems to me, I have been interested in China -- even before I knew of my husband's interest in it. My Grandmother Hall had cherished some beautiful old blue and white china that came from her ancestors who either had bought it from Chinese traders or themselves had gone to China.

Neither my husband nor I ever traveled to China, however, and the possibility became more remote as the situation there grew more and more serious.

I have been saddened by the final results brought about by what undoubtedly was a bad government. Reforms which should have been made never seemed possible, and finally Communism became the answer.

The establishment of this new regime seems to have cost 800,000 lives, according to the admission of the present government. This does not seem to be a happy way to inaugurate reform.

Nevertheless, I would be interested to go to Communist China to talk with the people in power. I especially would like to see Madame Sun Yat Sen, for whom I always have had a great respect.

I believe that we need all the information we can get about every part of the world, regardless of the type of government that may be in power there.

We now are officially recognizing the fascist government of Spain, which actually came into existence through cooperation with our German and Italian enemies in World War II. During that war, because of the danger facing all of us, we fought as allies with the Soviet Union and only when the war was at an end did our difficulties seem insurmountable.

The difficulties we face with any Communist country are still considerable, but I believe that trade and communication are essential if we are ever to come to some solution of how to live in the same world, in spite of our differences, without war.

Above all else, the peoples of the world desire to live without war. We must feel secure from attack, but in the long run just building up military strength is not the way to find out how to live together in the new world we face.