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中国现代史学会成立于1980年,是经民政部批准的全国性的一级学会,至今已经有35年的历史。现主管单位为中共中央党校。

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中国抗日战争与现代国际关系国际学术研讨会论文选登之四  

2013-11-29 15:40:55|  分类: 研究论文 |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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抗战时期驻华美军士兵和技术顾问与中国的士兵(一)

Zach Fredman(傅知行


A Preliminary Study on Interaction Between Chinese Interpreters and American Soldiers in Wartime China, 1942-1945

Zach Fredman

History department  ,Boston University ,USA

During World War II and the months following Japan’s surrender, more than 100,000 American troops served in China. A few had lived there before the war as part of the American Legation in Tianjin or the Yangtze River Patrol, but the majority were young men in their early twenties who had never traveled far from home. To reach China they bobbed and weaved across the southern Pacific to avoid the Japanese. Sleeping off hangovers from liberty in Hobart or Perth, the GIs then sailed to Bombay and made their way, via slow train, to the airfields north of Calcutta. Here they joined American pilots, who had leap-frogged their way across the British Empire from Ascension Island to Assam, on the vomit-inducing Hump flight into Kunming. The Kunming they found was swollen with hundreds of thousands of refugees from across China and Southeast Asia—professors and students dressed in rags, Nanyang Chinese hauling freight in charcoal-burning lorries, wealthy Shanghai traders, Yunnan Army troops, and curious kids eager for a glance at the Western “big-noses” and their American flying machines.

This paper explores this largest-ever encounter between the American military and Chinese society. Relying largely on memoirs and oral histories, it examines how American soldiers meshed with Chinese interpreters. By analyzing what made for effective and ineffective relations, the paper also comments on the larger conclusions about U.S.-China relations that soldiers and interpreters drew from their time together. Out of these encounters some Chinese and Americans formed friendships that outlived the Mao era. Others lost touch but nevertheless felt satisfied with wartime cooperation. Many learned a trade or matured from adolescence into adulthood through their work with one another. But for some wartime memories left a foul taste, as they remembered the other side as bigoted, thieving, wasteful or incompetent. Taken as a whole, their experiences cannot be reduced to a singular tale. Neither the heroic image of the Flying Tigers in American and Yunnanese popular memory nor the Mao-era portrayal of the American soldier as a violent, drunken, sexual predator do justice to the complexity of Sino-American interactions in wartime China.

I argue that both sides correctly anticipated that good relations depended above all else on the Chinese believing that the Americans treated them as equals. But powerful historical forces buffeted this just yet lofty ideal. The great disparity in wealth and power between China and the United States lurked beneath every Chinese-American encounter. Chinese exclusion policy and the legacies of white supremacy and American exceptionalism predisposed many Americans toward accepting reductionist, and sometimes racist, explanations for the problems they encountered, most of which stemmed from China’s poverty and wartime disarray. Nationalism and historical memory had a similar effect on the Chinese side, with interpreters judging any instance of unequal treatment as an insult to Chinese national dignity and evidence of American racism or contempt toward all Chinese. Reductionism also led both Chinese and Americans to overlook their own roles in promoting the very behaviors they found most offensive and frustrating when committed by the other side. Despite the challenges each side encountered, Chinese interpreters played an essential role in the allied war effort, and the American soldiers would have been unable to work in the China-Burma-India Theater without them.

In the fall of 1941, the first of several hundred American Volunteer Group (AVG) aviators and technicians landed at Kunming’s Wujiaba Airport. To prepare for their arrival, the Guomindang Military Affairs Commission established an interpreter training program in Kunming under General Huang Renlin (黄仁霖), commander of the War Area Service Corps (WASC) (军事委员会战地服务团). An interpreter shortage had intensified conflict between Chinese laborers and Westerners in Europe during World War I, and the WASC sought to prevent this from occurring again.[i] Huang, who had degrees from Vanderbilt and Columbia, asked three former colleagues from his days in the United States—Pan Guangdan (潘光旦), Wen Yiduo (闻一多), and Wu Zelin (吴泽霖)—to help him develop the program.[ii] All three men taught at Xinan Lianda, China’s leading wartime university, which combined Peking, Qinghua, and Nankai Universities into one campus in Kunming. They organized a two-month training course and enticed volunteers by promising year’s academic credit for a year’s service. Lianda President Mei Yiqi (梅贻琦) urged students to join by reminding them that the American volunteers “would be unable to work” without interpreters.[iii] Some thirty-five students signed up for the first course, which began on October 17, around half of them coming from Lianda.

 As the second interpreter class began in November, Chinese authorities remained anxious over how the American volunteers would treat their hosts. AVG men would earn more than Chinese generals. Would they mistreat the locals or upset the power balance between central authorities and Long Yun’s provincial government? Chiang Kai-shek seemed more concerned with the latter when he insisted during negotiations that the AVG follow Chinese orders.[iv] Provincial Governor Long Yun, meanwhile, rebuffed American requests to base troops in central Kunming and offered them a facility just outside city limits instead.[v] Long’s move made sense considering the GMD’s experience with German and Soviet advisors in the 1930s. These men had got on well with their Chinese hosts at least in part because they had little to no contact with ordinary people.[vi] And contact between American servicemen and ordinary Chinese had already caused trouble in Chongqing, where the twenty-four men of the USS Tutuila, a Yangtze Patrol gunboat, had been stranded for two years. “Every night without exception,” wrote Chongqing detective Zong Yongyu (宗永宇) in his October 1940 investigation of the crew’s night club, “sailors here indulge in food, wine, women and gambling…Sailors and prostitutes play carelessly by river, where the drunken sailors often shove the women into the water.” Zong’s supervisor added that municipal authorities “must seriously clamp down” on such behavior, which many Chinese considered an affront to national dignity, but extraterritoriality limited their options.[vii] It would also protect the Americans arriving in Kunming.

These anxieties led the War Area Service Corps and the interpreter training program staff to develop a course that did more than simply churn out interpreters.  Language work made up only 40% of the program. Students also studied American history, geography, customs, and table manners. They heard lectures on military affairs and practical subjects like meteorology. And they did plenty of athletics and infantry drilling. By cultivating physical fitness, language skills, practical knowledge, and understanding of American culture, the program aimed to prepare interpreter-trainees for work in China’s foreign relations. Huang Renlin himself reminded the students that they “had to pay attention to upholding both national dignity and their own integrity” when working with the Americans.[viii] Other instructors, like Chen Futian (陈福田), a Harvard grad who chaired the Lianda Foreign Languages Department, warned that this would prove difficult. After all, Chen reasoned, “American soldiers lived a ‘three W’ life: wine, women, and wealth.” But the program’s athletic director, Springfield College alum Ma Yuehan (马约翰), urged them to avoid showing weakness. He taught the students how to play baseball, reminded them to practice good hygiene, and told them to “throw off the ‘sick man of Asia’ hat by walking down the street with one’s head held high and one’s chest thrust forward.”[ix] As intermediaries between Chinese and American civilization, interpreters had the opportunity to link China more closely to their ally and to prove that their country deserved respect.

The War Area Service Corps also guarded its interpreters’ wellbeing after they had finished training. They gave graduates officer ranks roughly equivalent to those held by the Americans with whom they would work.  Most became third class interpreters, equivalent to captains, and they typically accompanied American junior officers. Second class interpreters held the rank of major, and first class interpreters, lieutenant colonel.[x] In devising this ranking system, the War Area Service Corps granted interpreters officer status in order to press for respect from the Americans. But they still anticipated trouble. As a result, interpreters in the field retained a direct line of communication with Huang Renlin and other important men at the Kunming Interpreter Training Center. Huang and other officials urged interpreters to write them immediately if the Americans mistreated them. Commanders in the field, especially Sun Liren, reinforced this message. One of Chiang’s best generals, Sun had studied at the Virginia Military Institute, and he told new interpreters that he would back them completely if they reported anything that “damaged China’s reputation.”[xi] Those interpreters who ran into trouble could be transferred elsewhere, and those who formed good relationships with American officers could follow them to other assignments.

American servicemen bound for China received far fewer instructions for dealing with the Chinese. But what they did read and hear stressed the need to treat the Chinese as equals. AVG commander Claire Chennault gave his men a lecture or two on Chinese customs.[xii] The U.S. Army’s Pocket Guide to China warned that treating Chinese as inferiors “would be playing right into the hands of Hitler and the Japs.” It dismissed Japanese claims that Americans could never see Asians as equals and urged soldiers to show their hosts “that Americans treat the Chinese as we treat any of our allies, and that we respect them as human beings on an equality with ourselves.” The Army’s Special Service Division warned that “China is the oldest nation in the world, and its civilization will not bear any assumption of superiority on the part of a white man because he is white.”[xiii] In all, the Army offered American servicemen sound advice. Yet the history of the American military presence in China and the realities of the new alliance between Washington and Chongqing clashed with its message.

The parallels and contrasts in the ways Chinese and Americans prepared for the latter’s arrival reveal much about each side’s self perceptions and ideas about the other. As Christopher Jespersen and Hong Zhang have noted in their respective work on Chinese-American perceptions, each side viewed the other through a nuanced, contradictory lens. Almost everyone working in the Chinese interpreter program had earned an advanced degree in the United States. These men generally returned home with the idea that America had special resources of use to China but was also a racist, imperialist power. But their time in United States also showed them how far their own country had fallen behind the West in science, industry, and organizational methods. Chinese history textbooks from the Republican Era reflected intellectuals’ impressions of the country, lauding the American Revolution, Civil War, and federal system while chastising American imperialism. In the United States, Americans believed they had a special relationship with China, which entailed protecting the country from rapacious Europeans and Japanese while leading the grateful Chinese toward American-style modernity. At the same time, they upheld Chinese exclusion, made bestsellers of racist diatribes like Lothrop Stoddard’s The Rising Tide of Color Against White World Supremacy, and treated the Chinese living in America poorly.[xiv] It thus comes as no surprise that the War Area Service Corps trained interpreters to show strength and dignity while refusing to tolerate mistreatment, and that the U.S. Army urged soldiers to treat the Chinese as equals. Chinese weakness relative to the United States and American anti-Asian racism could not be ignored. They had the potential to fracture the alliance.

China and the United States became formal allies after Pearl Harbor, and Chiang hoped the Americans would treat the Chinese as a full partner. The December 1941 Arcadia Conference and the first Chinese military mission to the United States disabused him of this notion. At Arcadia, American President Franklin Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill devised a global strategy and set up the Combined Chiefs of Staff, which excluded the Chinese. To make matters worse, Chongqing’s first military mission to the United States, headed by General Xiong Shihui (熊世辉), was a debacle from start to finish. The American crew flying Xiong and his delegation to the States forced them to sit in the back of the plane. After landing in Miami they had to ride in the colored train to Washington. And in the capital a barber refused to cut Xiong’s hair. Having endured one insult after another since departing Chongqing, Xiong hoped to at least get some work done in Washington, but the Joint Chiefs of Staff refused to let him sit in on their meetings. Exasperated, he cabled Chiang to inform him that the Americans saw the Chinese as inferiors compared to the Soviets and British. In the end he returned to Chongqing having accomplished nothing, and his experience helped convince Chiang that Americans retained their traditional feelings of superiority.[xv]

Pearl Harbor also interrupted the second interpreter training class and compelled the War Area Service Corps to allow many students to leave the program before graduating. Some, like Xu Yuanchong (许渊冲) found meaningful work. He translated Chinese intelligence reports at Wujiaba Airport for AVG Commander Claire Chennault and General Mao Bangchu (毛邦初) head of the Chinese Air Force. One such report alerted the AVG to the movement of Japanese aircraft into Hanoi, which allowed the Flying Tigers to prepare for attacks on Kunming.[xvi] But other interpreters ended up spending months without ever seeing an American. In these cases, they usually ended up doing administrative work, writing bilingual instruction manuals for Chinese workers, and teaching them basic English. Much like the Americans who did administrative work, these men often struggled with boredom or took up hobbies to pass the time.[xvii] But by the next summer, the War Area Service Corps had once again found itself short of interpreters.

  The interpreter program expanded in the summer of 1942 after Chiang granted permission for the Americans to begin training the elements of the Chinese fifth and sixth armies that had retreated into India after the failed first Burma campaign. More Americans had also arrived in Kunming. So in late May, Huang issued an interpreter call up that required universities to send candidates who were “healthy, of pure mind, with strong English and an upright bearing, and thus qualified to represent China’s modern youth.” He noted that students from any academic department who could meet these standards would be accepted. He also assured university administrators that the War Area Service Corps would support trainees during their eight-week course and cover their travel expenses. After graduation, new interpreters would earn a base salary between 140 and 200 Chinese yuan. But interpreters who left their posts would be expelled from school and punished in accordance with military law, and no interpreter could return to school without a certificate from the War Area Service Corps.[xviii] The contents of the interpreter course continued along similar lines as before.

For the remainder of the war, interpreter training expanded to meet the demands of increased Chinese-American interaction throughout the China-Burma-India Theater. The dozens of hostels and bases housing American troops throughout Southwest China required interpreters, as did each of the U.S. Army’s major training centers—Ramgarh, India (蓝伽训练中心); the Ganhaizi Field Artillery Training Center (FATC)(甘海子炮兵训练中心) north of Kunming; and the Helinpu Infantry Training Center (黑林铺步兵训练中心) in Kunming’s western suburbs. The War Area Service Corps planned to train 3,000 interpreters to accompany the American liaison officers attached to Chinese units for the West Yunnan and Second Burma Campaigns, which led to the opening of another training center in Chongqing, and a completely reorganized training program under the control of the Military Affairs Commission’s Foreign Affairs Bureau. The reorganized training program still ran for eight weeks, but now students had contact with American soldiers before graduating. American guest lecturers also taught classes, and the students now spent about a third of their time studying military affairs. Emphasis on upholding national dignity and one’s integrity remained central.[xix]



[i] For interaction between Chinese laborers and American soldiers during World War I, see Xu Guoqi, Strangers on the Western Front: Chinese Workers in the Great War (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2011), 152-173.

[ii] 闻黎明:《关于西南联合大学战时从军运动的考察》,《抗日战争研究》2010年第3期,第4页。

[iii] 何宇整理:《西南联合大学八百学子从军记-1944届从军学生的译员生涯》,中国社会科学院近代史资料编辑室 编《近代史资料》总109期,第213-214页,北京:中国社会科学出版社20048月出版。

[iv] 齐锡生:《剑拔弩张的盟友:太平洋战争期间的中美军事合作关系(1941-1945)》,第632-633页,台北:联经出办公司2011年出版。

[v] Ge Shuya Interview, Kunming 3/11/2013. This would become the First Hostel, which was also the location of the interpreter training program.

[vi] 《剑拔弩张的盟友》第634页。

[vii] 职蒲岗至唐局长电,19401018,关于取缔重庆市美国海军俱乐部的签呈,重庆市档案馆存 0061.0015.02080.

[viii] 杨先健:《连年翻译生涯履行国家外交》,西南联大1944级编《国立西南联合大学八百学子从军回忆》 20-21页,北京2003年出版。

[ix] 郭冠球:《两次应征去美军招待所当翻译》,《国立西南联合大学八百学子从军回忆》 19-20页。

[x] 翁心钧:《中印公路通车后的炮校》,《国立西南联合大学八百学子从军回忆》 147页。

[xi] 梁家佑: 《打鬼子去!》,《国立西南联合大学八百学子从军回忆》 31-32页。

[xii] Robert T. Smith Diary, 1941, (AFC) Veterans History Project, American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, Washington DC (Hereafter referred to as VHP).

[xiii] Special Service Division, United States Army, Pocket Guide to China (Washington DC: Army Service Forces)

[xiv] See Hong Zhang, America Perceived: The Making of Urban Chinese Images of the United States, 1945-1953 (Westport, CN: Praeger, 2002) 21-22; T. Christopher Jespersen, American Images of China, 1931-1945 (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999), xv. Also useful are Harold Isaacs, Scratches on Our Minds: American Views of China and India (New York: John Day Co., 1958) esp. 198-200; John King Fairbank, The United States and China: Fourth Edition, Revised and Enlarged (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1983) 205-275; R. David Arkush and Lee O. Lee, Land Without Ghosts: Chinese Impressions of America from the Mid-Nineteenth Century to the Present (Berkeley: The University of California Press), 81-170. For Chinese textbook views of American during the Republican Era, see 赵梅:《历史教材中的美国形象》,《美国研究》2006年第4. Accessed online at http://hist.cersp.com/jcyj/jcpk/200710/7843.html.

[xv]齐锡生:《剑拔弩张的盟友》第29-30

[xvi] 许渊冲《追忆逝水年华从西南联大到巴黎大学》,第118-119页,北京:三联书店1996出版。

[xvii]杨先健:《连年翻译生涯履行国家外交》,20页。

[xviii] 黄仁霖至国力云南大学电, 1942529,军事委员会战地服务团征调学生人数早日通知为寄此致,云南省档案馆存,1016.001.00011.029. Interpreter trainees who failed to meet graduation requirements had to retake the course while covering their own expenses.

[xix]闻黎明:《关于西南联合大学战时从军运动的考察》,第7-8页; 梅祖彦:《最早的外事局昆明议员训练班》,《国立西南联合大学八百学子从军回忆》 26-27页。

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