My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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NEW DELHI, INDIA—I must tell you a little more about the drive to the Chinese border. The refugees seem to find any kind of a shelter through the hills and you will see them washing or getting water along the streams by the road.

When we reached the barrier, we could see the Communist Chinese guards across the bridge and we watched a number of Chinese who live on the other side but whose land is on the Hong Kong side, coming across the bridge, sometimes driving a cow or a calf or chickens, or a pig and always carrying tools to work their land.

There are rice paddies everywhere and vegetable gardens. Hong Kong does not begin to grow enough food so some of it has to come over the border. The border is guarded by police, not by soldiers and the head of the police told us a party of 9 had made their escape the day before from the Communist side, walking along the railroad for about 20 miles till they came to a place where there was no fence. Here they crossed, were spotted by the Communists and fired at. No one was hit and while they arrived, as the head of police said, in "a bit of a mess", which is probably the usual British understatement, they were safely on the free side. He said they told the usual story. They were people of small means but they had something and they had been so constantly called up and questioned and bedevilled that they finally could bear it no longer.

I get a feeling that a great many of these people are neither Communists or non-Communists. They just want to be let alone and given a chance to earn a living. If the government doesn't exact too much in taxes, they are even not much concerned about corruption. What they really want is to be able to eat and to be left in peace.

When we came back from the morning drive, we had only a few minutes before crossing the ferry again. This time we went in our American Consul General's car. The climb up the hill gives lovely views and the Consulate is high up with views of the bays on all sides and the big Communist dominated islands about ten miles away.

There were a number of delightful people at the luncheon, including some we had met the night before at Government House and I was glad of the chance to talk again with Mr. Keswick, the British merchant whose family has been so long in China, and Mr. Harrington.

After lunch I went back and had a talk with the Governor General at his request. Then at the hotel we had Mrs. Fok in for tea. She had done some shopping for me which pleased me very much.

At 6 o'clock we were again crossing the ferry to the U.N. Association meeting, held at the home of Dr. Wu. He had kindly opened his home for this meeting and people were seated in the garden. We sat on the porch and I answered questions for nearly an hour, some of them quite evidently slanted questions with Chinese pro-Communist sympathy back of them. But I think it was a good meeting and I was glad to meet the people who are members of the U.N. Association in Hong Kong. It is a very young association since it was only started 5 months ago. It is made up, of course, of many nationalities.

My refugee Chinese friend, Dr. Wan, came and took us to a friend's house where we had dinner with a number of Chinese refugees. This was my first real Chinese dinner and I was much interested in it and also interested later to go to see a real Chinese house, which was high up in the hills and had the same beautiful view our own Consulate has.


Names and Terms Mentioned or Referenced

  • New Delhi (India) [ index ]

About this document

My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt, July 3, 1953

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.