Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria University College, Wellington N.Z. Vol. 20, No. 13. September 12, 1957
To China Despite Threats
To China Despite Threats
I am writing today (August 14) because of what happened here last night. By the time this reaches you it will probably be splashed all over the world.
I refer to the decision of 48 of the American kids here (there are 200 Americans altogether) to press on with their proposed trip to China in spite of a threatening letter from Mr. Dulles' deputy at the State Department.
These Americans are living in the same hotel as we are, and we have seen quite a lot of them. The hotel was invaded by Yank pressmen last night. They sat in a separate room in the hotel while the 48 youngsters conferred. Several New Zealanders sat up to hear results, and I innocently went to iron a frock and found I could hear everything that was going on.
I got hold of a copy of the letter from the State Department—dated today's date you will note. Here it is:
"The Department of State has been informed that a number of United Slates citizens presently in Moscow have been invited to visit Communist China, and that some of them have indicated an intention to accept. .
". . . It is not consistent with policy of the United States as approved by the President that citizens of the United States travel to the areas of China under Communist control.
"There are many reasons for this, and they are cumlative. They include non-recognition of the regime, the existence of a quasi-state of war and the continued application of the Trading with the Enemy Act. the refusal of Communist China to renounce the use of force, and the illegal jailing of Americans in China despite promises to let them out.
"Suffice it to say that those officials of your Government who are charged with responsibility in this matter have soberly and definitely come to the conclusion here expressed. Most of your fellow citizens, even those who may desire a change in some aspects of this policy, have accepted it.
"For you to determine to travel to Communist China in violation of the declared policy of your Government is a serious matter not to be undertaken lightly. By so doing you will be violating this restriction. At the first possible opportunity your passport will be marked valid only for travel only for direct return to the United States, and your passport will be taken up when you do so return. In the event that you make application for a passport at a later date, your wilful violation of passport restrictions will be duly considered in connection with such application.
"Your attention is further called to the fact that travel to and in Communist China at this time may well involve violation of the Regulations under the Trading with the Enemy Act. which constitutes a criminal offence under our law.
"There may be some of you who feel that by going to Communist China at this time and debating the position of Democracy as against Communism, you may be doing a service in offsetting the propaganda efforts of others less well intentioned. If you believe this you are in error. By travelling to Communist China at this time you will, in the considered view of your Government, be acting as a willing tool of Communist propaganda, intended where possible to subvert the foreign policy and the best interests of the United States, of which you are a citizen. . . .
Christian A. Herter.Acting Secretary of State."
At the close of a three-hour meeting which went on into the night hours and has just concluded, the American group going to China (or some of them) issued the following statement:
"We the undersigned Americans travelling to China at the invitation of the All China Youth Federation, having received a statement signed by the Acting Secretary of State, wish at this time to reaffirm our belief in the right of United States citizens to travel, and once again state that our exercise of this right is consistent with loyalty to our country. We hold widely divergent political views. We reject the notion that we are a tool of Communist propaganda. We too, look forward, with Mr. Dulles, 'to the day when the people of China and the people of America can resume their long history of cooperative friendship. We believe that we are acting consistently with this expression of hope."
More about the festival later.