My Day by Eleanor Roosevelt

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HONG KONG—On Tuesday evening, again with Mr. and Mrs. Aylward, we met an interesting group of people, among them the area head of the U.S. Information service, Mr. Bradley, who knows a great deal about this part of the world, from Korea to New Zealand. He is on his way home and will leave on the same plane for Manila as we take.

Rather early Wednesday morning we started off for Kowloon Peak, where you get a beautiful view of the harbor, and then we drove to the border between Hong Kong and Communist China. There is a second planting of rice coming up, and I marveled that the land could stand two crops. I was told, however, that where there was irrigation this was quite possible to achieve. I also saw some corn growing but that crop is not in great abundance here. One sees chickens and geese and ducks and a few cows and bullocks, but generally speaking livestock is not evident in fields or along the roads.

I forgot to tell you that at the border one of the Chinese guards snapped a picture of our party. Dr. Gurewitsch at once took a picture of all the guards, and as he did so they lowered their guns, a gesture that evidently denoted they did not wish to look as antagonistically military as they had looked up to that moment. No one spoke, however, and we were told that there is no fraternization among the soldiers on either side of this line in spite of the fact that Great Britain has recognized Communist China.

Coolies carrying heavy bags are permitted to cross the border between Hong Kong and Communist China and return, but they must all wear red hats as to be easily identifiable.

Those persons who have proper papers are allowed to go into Communist China and to return to Hong Kong. I have heard one or two people say they might go into Communist China but that they doubted if they would be allowed to return. So they do not venture to go.

In the afternoon I went to meet the members of the Hong Kong United Nations Association who plan to send five delegates to the meeting in Bangkok of the World Federation of the United Nations Association. They introduced me to the young man who won their essay contest which revealed to me that one of their activities is similar to an activity that we carry on in the United States. Our essay contest, though, is for all high school children throughout the country who wish to participate, whereas theirs is limited to older students. The prize this year for the Hong Kong winner will take the form of allowing the student to go to Bangkok for the meeting of the World Federation.

This meeting in Bangkok must cover quite a lengthy agenda and the Hong Kong U.N. Association is taking a number of resolutions to the meeting which they hope to have considered.

More and more people are telling me that sightseeing is fascinating in Bangkok, so I hope that those who plan our meetings will arrange for us to have time to go off and see the interesting landmarks and temples in and around the city.

On Wednesday evening we dined with the consul general and Mrs. Drumright. The residence has a beautiful view and the evening there is cool and pleasant. It was an informal buffet dinner at which everyone felt relaxed and free to move about. The consul general is a very good host and I found myself with the opportunity to talk with interesting people which gave me a chance to hear about many subjects.

Some of the British as well as the Chinese at the dinner spoke quite casually of the time they had spent in prison during the Japanese occupation, and one Englishman, a Mr. Hawkins, described a meeting on his release from prison with an old Chinese friend who was then 84 years old. Mr. Hawkins had to be introduced to his Chinese friend because before his imprisonment Mr. Hawkins weighed some 300 pounds. And at the time of his return he weighed 112 pounds. When the old Chinese gentleman finally recognized him he went down the street chuckling, hardly able to believe that his fat friend had returned so sylphlike.

On the serious side, however, Mr. Hawkins told me that he thought the common suffering of the British and the Chinese during this period had created a very warm bond of friendship between many men who had spent years in this area and who now felt that they had common memories which would make their ties closer than ever.

E.R.
PNews, NSJ, 2 September 1955