The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers, Digital Edition > My Day
My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt


EN ROUTE HOME FROM ATLANTA, Friday—I have said nothing so far about the White Paper on China, but on reading one of our ablest columnists some days ago I noticed that he said the following:

"This is tantamount to saying that there was no such thing as a sound or an unsound, a right or a wrong, a wise or an unwise, policy toward the Chinese Civil War. All policies were equally futile."

I think the review of Chinese history for the last 20 years gives one a feeling that this question in China became too big for any outside nation, no matter how strong, to really bring about the final decision that they desired within China. Had we been prepared to carry on a major war against the Communist-dominated element in China, it would have taken vast resources and many men, and we would have done it with a divided country behind us.

It seems to me that what this really proves is that no one great democracy can actually control and dominate another one.

If the Chinese people as a whole are going to be democratic they will have to get together. This is no recent civil war. This is a war that has been going on for a very long time. China is too big a country, it has too many people for any other nation to be able to fully control unless they wish to invade and control by force.

The Communistic theories are those of a dictatorship and it may be that for a time and on a partial basis they may control certain areas of China. But if the people of China do not become convinced Communists, not even the dictatorship sponsored by communism will really run a stable government for the whole of China.

I have a feeling that China is slowly emerging into a new and strange era. An unsettled situation may be theirs for a long time but I doubt if we can do more than remain the friend of the Chinese people and be ready, when signs of stability emerge, to help them in any way that it becomes apparent might be useful.

The Communists undoubtedly, through the leaders they have chosen, will try to dominate with their ideas. They may be able to furnish a considerable amount of arms and ammunition, but it seems to me the vast undeveloped territory will swallow up great resources of the Soviet Union. It will be a long time before moving about in this great region is easy. To add the control of tremendous areas of China—and, of course, with control must go development—would seem to strain the resources of any great nation, even those of Russia.

It is for this reason that I feel the influence of the United States, through diplomatic channels, should be exerted to protect China from interference from without as far as possible. At the same time we must leave her free within, trying as far as our influence goes, to give the Chinese people an opportunity to make their own choices and to work out their own salvation.

When there is need of economic aid, then it may well be that the United States will be better prepared and geared to offer help in skills and organization than is the nation that now controls a large undeveloped area north of China.



Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • Atlanta (Ga., United States) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, September 10, 1949

Roosevelt, Eleanor, 1884-1962
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Digital edition created by The Eleanor Roosevelt Papers Project The George Washington University 312 Academic Building 2100 Foxhall Road, NW Washington, DC 20007

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Transcription created from a photocopy of a UFS wire copy of a My Day column instance archived at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library.