CHAPTER X MAINTAINING THE ARMY.
Troops are to the country what breath is to the body. The liver secretes blood and assists the circulation, and for this reason the Nui King says that this important organ controls all the functions of the body. Never has there been a man who could survive without a liver, and never has there been a country that could exist without an army; and yet there are many influential Chinese to-day who think that China should connect herself with the Western Disarmament Society, arguing that the affairs of China are in a desperate condition, and that such a move would guarantee a lasting peace to the Orient.
Our contention is, that a procedure of this kind, instead of promoting peace, would serve as an occasion of further insult to China by other Powers. Hsiang Su (400 B.C.) established a society of this kind, and was rebuked by Tze Han, who perceived his ulterior design of deceiving the Kings. How much more important is it now to be on our guard when all the powerful countries of the world are talking of disarmament! Are they fooled or blinded?
Austria first instituted the Disarmament Society. Immediately afterwards the war between Russia and Turkey broke out. Then Germany attacked Africa, England attacked Egypt and Tibet, France conquered Madagascar, and Spain, Cuba. Turkey has just fought with Greece, and if there is any member of this Society who has played the peacemaker we have not heard of him. Germany, consequently, has seized upon our Kiaochou, and Russia has appropriated our Port Arthur. Since the Disarmament Society was formed, the great countries have been energetically purchasing men-of-war and using every means to obtain a power balance. If we maintain an army, the weak countries will fear us and the strong will respect us. If we ally ourselves with Europe, then Europe will win; if with Asia, Asia will win. By all means get the army first and then consider the question of disarmament; for if we talk of disarmament to the other countries, without the force to back up our words, we will become the laughing-stock of the world. It would be like reciting the Filial Classic to a band of armed rebels, or hoisting a flag of truce to stop a street fight.
Drilling troops is better than disbanding them. With fifty war-ships on the sea and thirty myriads of troops on land; with daily additions to both ships and troops; with the daily strengthening of our forts and equipping them with the best engines of modern warfare, and with the railways intersecting the land, what country would dare begin hostilities against China, or in any way infringe upon her treaty rights? We would be in a position to redress our wrongs without the fear of staking all upon minor issues. Under these conditions, Japan will side with China, Europe will retire, and the Far East will be at rest. Kuan Tze says, “When the talk of disbanding troops prevails, the strategic points will not be guarded, and when the talk of protection becomes over-confident, truth and modesty will not be established.” If the principle of disbanding the troops be carried out in China the Emperor and the people, high and low, will simply sit with folded hands awaiting the action of the Peace Society. The affairs of State will be neglected, and no more will the troops “make pillows of their spears awaiting the movements of the enemy.” Each province will maintain a mere undrilled corporal’s guard to keep the peace. The weapons of war will rust, batteries and camps will be deserted. Civil mandarins will become drunkards, and the military will swagger. Officials will covet the people’s wealth and squeeze their substance. Faithful advisers will come nevermore, for competent, clean-handed men will not be in demand. The mouths of the Censors will be stopped, and the faculties of the mind will deteriorate. Other countries beholding our forlorn and desperate condition will step in and divide China. Thus we will speedily perish.
If a man travels among mountains infested with tigers, will not his hope of escape from destruction be vain if he goes unarmed?
There are many who place the most implicit confidence in International Law, but these are as stupid as the individuals who depend on the Disarmament Society for peace. If countries are equally matched, then International Law is enforced; otherwise, the law is inoperative. For what has International Law to do with fighting issues when one country is strong and another weak? There is a saying of the Chou dynasty which runs as follows: “If countries are equal in courage, strategy will conquer.” We have never heard of International Law controlling the issues of war between unequal States. To-day the countries of the world are in close and mutual intercourse; but the relations of the smaller States to the greater are entirely different from those which exist between the States of equal power. China is not on an equal footing with the West. This is perceived in the fact that the duty on imports is fixed by Western Governments. Not so in China. Merchants engaged in business abroad are subject to the laws of the country in which they reside. Not so in China. Foreign commerce is confined to seaports in the West. Not so in China. The murder of a foreigner by a Chinese is a very serious matter, but the killing of a ” Chinaman ” by a foreigner is a trivial thing. Foreign countries have no Mixed Courts — in fact, China is really not in the comity of nations, and it is useless to prate about International Law. Disarmament is an international joke, and International Law a deception. There is nothing for it but to seek help in ourselves.