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NEW ZEALANDER HELPS BUILD THE NEW CHINA, Press, Volume LXXVII, Issue 23277, 13 March 1941
NEW ZEALANDER HELPS BUILD THE NEW CHINA
THE FAR EAST
* , i-i [By EDGAR SNOW.] ' b^,4wiUl the "Saturday Evening Post.’’) ij (Published by Arrangement with m
Rewi Alley is unique because he has achieved greatness in a country where few foreigners ever managed to create an authentic ripple. He means to China to-day at least as muchas Colonel Lawrence meant to .tne Araos, and perhaps more. Where Lawrence brought to Arabia the destructive technique of guerrilla warfare, Alley i teaching China the constructive organisation of guerrilla industry. In July 1938, when the Chinese Got - iook ibis New Zealander from the Shanghai Settlement Council to become chief adviser of Chinese Industrial Co-operatives, that organisation was only a name. It did not-own a lathe* or even a chisel. More than 90 per cent, of China’s pre-war industry was already destroyed or immobilised. Alley picked up the pieces and improvised a new conception of industry —native products to fill Free Chinas empty markets
Out of Chaos
To-day Alley’s Indusco —the decentralised Industrial Co-operatives—are growing so fast that most data are stale before they are printed. Early in No - vember there were more than 2400 factories spread across 16 provinces, or an area nearly as large as all Europe. An Indusco line extended from guerrilla territory b £ hind enemy positions into China’s deep rear, and from the Mongolian plateau to the highlands of Yunnan. An army of more than 250,000 was directly dependent on Indusco, and work was being created for thousands more. Complete blockade —even
before the Burma road was reopened—was no longer the nightmare it had been in 1938.
lages instead of concentrated in jhjr' cities, industry in capital could really work\ (kjggther; btl; ’ dustry that could not onlyiwin thll. war but also win the peace. -. , Support Given One morning I went with Alley to| , see the British Ambassador, Sir Arehu.v bald Clark Kerr. He had been inteivi’ ested in the Indusco scheme and had' asked me to bring along the New Z(s., lander. It was an odd interview andseemed to me to leave everything un.| ' said, but I suppose it was typically],British. Sir Archibald made a judg.| . ment of Alley’s character in five rnin-l u tes—from then on he gave his com*! plete support. He staked his repufcJ : tion and prestige to persuade Generalissimo and Madame Chiang'tot« adopt the Indusco plan and to ehgag*;-, Alley to carry it out. • , The Generalissimo and Madamt'i* Chiang were impressed. So .wail Madame Sun Yat-sen, who saw in’ !n.| , dusco the epitome of Doctor Sini’irPrinciple of Livelihood. As a result, ? Alley got a cautious green light,to go? ahead. Never before, I believe,,hada foreigner been given such wide re*-' eponsibility for the actual organisation of a socio-economic movement'idr, China. ' Hr 'Before long, dozens of professional people, returned students and gifted! " began to volunteer to work’: for wages that scarcely paid for thtif; - food and shelter. Trained minds, dfc*'
gusted with politicians and bute*fc>' crats, here got, a chance to use theif-, brains. Alley’s spirit of “the neW hero* " ism of construction” proved cpnt»* gious. He preached: “Every unde*, veloped resource is a challenge to tji* youth of China. , .We must leam toiee, the adventure in creative work— and ' in courage without spurs and pretty uniforms and public notice.” i The magnitude of his effort can per* haps -best be gleaned from the travel! of “this perpetual-motion machine,", as Clark Kerr calls him. During the .first two years he covered more thaif, 18,000 miles, or a distance about six,, times the width of the United States And believe someone who has covered a little of this bomb-torn land—with practically no railways and few motor roads, 18,000 miles, is something to boast about “Perpetual Motion” . Pedalling bicycles, hitch-hiking frpffl village to village on army trucks, rid* ing an ambulance or a horse into C<®* ; bat zones, but more often stumping \ along on his own tireless legs. Alley , leads the C.I.C. staff to carry the mes*. > sage of working together into the rar* , thest corner of the country. He mm* r self organised many of the existing, shops, from those in the SuernU*, armies near Shangahi to Mohamme*,: dan spinners and weavers m disvan*, Kansu. And always under skies ds r *i with enemy bombers. ,; Few Chinese have seen as much «;. the country at war as Alley has. m*" journeys take him through spots tested with bubonic plague, relapsing | fever and other epidemics. Last y« r ’ in Kiangsi he went down with typnoio- - For a month, during daily air ra ‘f*ri he had to be carried, dripping wiUJ fever, from an improvised hospital a kerosene store to a refuge acroS L*« river in the fields. Somehow he cam* , out of it as energetic as ever. .; During this illness the bishop oi Hong Kong sent in by aeroplane - >., foreign specialist to save Alley s , After sharing the perils and the w® j there, the specialist .came out vowing, never again. But for days he.ww»s about Hong Kong talking of AUw - >; “A saint,” he told everybody to ■ awed voice. "I went in there a®* [ f ‘ found a saint.” , ~ ~V With his demonstration that his jjr, will work, AHey has become an mter «. national figure and Indusco is peu** ? , closely studied by .oth^agß’ffij a *'f; 1 leaders. Jawaharlal L 2 Nationalist, flew his first official visir—before he w >, recently incarcerated. When he steppe •, from the aeroplane, the man he- as ¥*s , for was not the Generalissimo 0 -. Rewi Alley. Not long afterwards ® Burmese delegation, after a study- _ ; . Indusco, returned to Rangoon to r commend a similar method, England came Sir Stafford Cnpps.“s“. famous Labour barrister, who stum • Alley’s work and urged that the i“ be applied in India. -* __j , Who can say that in the end n*. Alley's achievement may not prove •• more lasting benefit to mankind - , the current battles of empire—nw ; not,- in fact, be the most construct! result of the battle for Asia itselK Measured by American stand!®"* * all the industry of China is s® >' 1 change indeed and its problems "5 little resemblance to ours. t measured against the emergency nee^ 1 , of its own people, Indusco looms Judged against the difficulties a t ra ?H , ji : overcome, the experiment stands as a living monument to a gj*». people’s apparent readiness to : on for ever and ever!” And to ; man in particular, who loves bum* ] , life as much as he hates vvastev**i admires work above all things. is, I suppose, why Alley prefers to himself “China’s No. 1 White - (Copyright by the “Saturday EveniSp Post.” Reproduction in whole*-, part forbidden.)
Rewi Alley is something new in China’s n-elations with the foreign devil. A “barbarian” who knows the Celestial language better than, most Chinese. An adviser who draws his dividends from the thrill of rehabilitating human life. A missionary whose churches are the workshops of China, And a captain of industry whose headquarters are where the day’s end finds him—a peasant’s hut. a muleteer’s inn, and sometimes simply the green bank of a stream. Christchurch Alley is 42 and a bachelor. He has adopted two children, whom he has christened Allan and Michael. He found Allan one arid June in Inner Mongolia during the famine of 1929. Michael, Allan’s brother. Alley found during the Yapgtse floods in 1931. At first the British in Shanghai regarded the Alley family as extraordinary. But the boys have been sent to good schools and have done, remarkably well. They visited Christchurch some years ago when Alley returned to see his mother. Alley’s early years were lived in Christchurch.. During the war he served in the New Zealand Division with distinction. It was at the front that he learned to hate the wastage of human life—a hatred which has been the mainspring of his work ih China - . After the war he went farming with a friend. Until the bottom dropped oiit : of the wool market, things went smoothly. Then, broke and bewildered, he gave his half interest in the run to his partner and returned to the city. Eventually some former war comrades offered him a job as factory inspector for the Shanghai Municipal Council. Here- again, after the waste of war, and the waste of - depression when he had tipped bales of wool into the river while people went without clothes, he was confronted with the waste of human life. Rackets in Shanghai “Factory inspection’’ had always been a racket in Shanghai before Alley took command as chief inspector seven years ago. Some of his predecessors bad retired’ with neat fortunes. Alley made factory reform a serious business. He travelled to London, to Berlin, to Paris and New York, to study the industrial systems in the most advanced countries. He had new industrial regulations adopted and began a campaign to clean up Shanghai. Factory owners had to spend a little money to protect the lives they used, and sometimes to pay for the hospital expenses of injured workers or even to improve their diet. But his authority was very limited, Chinese could be brought to book only in courts full of bribery. Foreigners were protected by extraterritoriality. Progress was ended by the war in 1937. I well remember stumbling through the burned-out shell of the Shanghai industrial world with Alley after the Japanese occupation. More than 140,000 business and factory buildings and houses were demolished. To Rewi Alley it was the wreckage of his own effort to inject a little decency into Asiatic industry. Tinder his terse comments the twisted iron and shattered masonry took on dying breath and body. He knew the personal stories of hundreds of workers and technicians now thrown out of jobs. China was doomed, Alley warned officials and technicians, unless she found a method to mobilise her labour power and resources in a scientific way, eliminating waste of human life and materials. Eventually he himself offered the solution. It was his idea of a new type of production, fitted both to war-time needs and the social structure of China—small decentralised industry spread over the towns and vil-
NEW ZEALANDER HELPS BUILD THE NEW CHINA, Press, Volume LXXVII, Issue 23277, 13 March 1941
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