Oriental Exclusion

June 7, 1943

Report Outline
China's Claim to Equality Among United Nations
Laws Discriminating Against Chinese Nationals
Exclusion of Japanese and Other Orientals
Special Focus

China's Claim to Equality Among United Nations

Pendings Bills to Repeal Chinese Exclusion Laws

The Importance of China's contribution to the war against the Axis has led to the introduction at the 1943 session of Congress of legislation to abandon the long-standing American policy of Chinese exclusion and to bring natives of China under the quota system of immigration control applied after the last war to nationals of European countries. Repeal of the Chinese exclusion laws would be the second step since the United States was made a participant in World War II by the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in according China equal status as a member of the United Nations; the first was completed on May 20 of this year by an exchange of ratifications of the treaty by which the United States relinquished its century-old extraterritorial rights in China.

Hearings on two measures to repeal the Chinese exclusion acts are now in progress before the House Committee on Immigration and Naturalization. The first, offered by Rep. Kennedy (D., N. Y.) on February 17, would grant Chinese nationals both the right of entry and the privilege of becoming citizens of the United States. The second, introduced by Rep. Magnusson (D., Wash.) on March 16, would amend the Immigration Act of 1924 to admit natives of China under the quota system, if not excluded on grounds other than those of race or nationality.

The most striking testimony recorded in the House hearings to date was that given on June 3 by Rear Admiral Harry E. Yarnell, retired commander of the United States Asiatic Fleet. Yarnell told the committee that repeal of the exclusion acts would have an effect in the Far East at least equal to the effect in western democracies of Stalin's dissolution of the Third International. The United States would need air bases in China for the final attack on Japan, but there was a grave possibility that the nationalist government of China would collapse unless effective aid from the outside was soon forthcoming. The most effective means of strengthening the Chinese determination to fight on until adequate assistance could be given, Yarnell said, was to consider China, “by act as well as by word,” the equal in every respect of every other one of the United Nations. Oswald Garrison Villard told the committee that laws denying naturalization rights to the Chinese amounted, under present war conditions, “to telling the people of China ‘As cannon fodder you are of the best, but as residents of America and future citizens you just don't qualify.’ “Min Hin Li, a departmental commander of the American Legion in Hawaii, said resentment over the American policy of Asiatic exclusion was being exploited in Japanese propaganda and was “growing like a cancer in the Orient.”

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