An informed public is essential for the development of sound foreign policies. We owe it to ourselves to know as much as we possibly can about our contemporary world. And who can deny that China is a most important part of that world? When one of every five occupants of our globe is Chinese, it would seem the most obvious kind of self-interest to know as much as we can about them and about the many forces that have shaped and influenced them throughout their long history. An ambitious and aggressive Communist China represents a serious threat to us and to all of its neighbors. But we can never hope to meet that threat successfully, or to encourage developments favorable to world stability or to our own interests, if we shut our eyes and close our minds.

When the Communists won control over the mainland in 1949, there ensued a heated but largely fruitless debate here on the question "Who lost China?" Many Americans wrote off Communist China as a huge but willing puppet of Moscow. Now that cliché has been shattered on the rocks of the deepening Sino- Soviet rift. One can imagine another "Who lost China?" debate going on today--this time in the Kremlin. The fact is, of course, that China was not ours or the Russians' to lose. The victorious and vanquished are the Chinese themselves. And if the history of that troubled land suggests anything, it is that the struggle among internal forces will continue.

There are encouraging signs that Americans now are seeking a deeper understanding of the facts of life as they pertain to China, past and present. In doing so, we need not--indeed, should not--confuse awareness for approval. There is a vast difference between recognizing facts and approving policies and actions. The author quotes an ancient Chinese maxim: Know your opponents; know yourself.

This book is a good example of our reawakening interest in Chinese history and current developments. Our great universities and research centers are devoting increasing time and energy to study and analysis. Translations of Chinese Communist materials undertaken by the United States Government are the backbone of much of the private and official investigation of the Chinese Communists.

Fortunately, we are not cut off entirely from the Chinese people, whose friendship we have sought since the days of the clipper ships. We enjoy cordial and rewarding relations with the Government of the Republic of China now on Taiwan, which we recognize as the legitimate Government of China. We have important contacts, too, with millions of Chinese in Hong Kong, Malaysia and elsewhere.

As for the Chinese on the mainland, no one can predict when their isolation will end. But their separation from their neighbors and from all free peoples is such an obvious tragedy that we must hope that it is only a temporary phenomenon.

Meantime, we can better understand modern China and how it reached its present condition by drawing on the scholarship and experience of men like Loren Fessler. The Editors of the LIFE World Library have done us all a service by making available this readable and thoughtful review of the history of a great but tragically exploited people.

Surely all Americans must look forward to the day when these talented people with their rich culture are reunited with us and with the rest of the world in friendship, cooperation and freedom, when we are working together toward the goal President John F. Kennedy once described as ". . . a peaceful world community of free and independent states, free to choose their own future and their own system, so long as it does not threaten the freedom of others."

W. AVERELL HARRIMAN U.S. Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs . . .

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