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April 16, 2014 / 16 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Shanghai’

Did the Chinese Communists Really Save Jews Fleeing the Holocaust?

Wednesday, May 29th, 2013

During his visit to China last month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recalled that the city of Shanghai was “one of the few places that opened its gates” to Jews fleeing Hitler. Officials of the Chinese Communist government, standing nearby, beamed with pleasure at the expectation that people all over the world would read how their regime rescued Jews.

But is it true?

As the prime minister noted, the port city of Shanghai was a haven for many European Jewish refugees during the Hitler years, at a time when most other countries, including the United States, closed their doors to all but a fortunate few. It is important to note that much of China was under Japanese military occupation from 1931 until 1945, and immigration to Shanghai was controlled by the Japanese government, not the Chinese. The Japanese, hoping to improve their relations with the U.S. and the American Jewish community, permitted about 20,000 German and Austrian Jews to settle in Shanghai during the 1930s.

This immigration was made possible in part by false documents given to Jews by the Dutch consul in Lithuania, Jan Zwartendijk, and by transit visas to Japan provided, without official sanction, by Japan’s acting consul-general in Lithuania, Sugihara Chiune. Officially the visas were good for only eight to 12 days, but the Japanese authorities allowed the refugees to remain in Japan for up to eight months until they found other destinations. Many went to Shanghai, including 500 rabbis and students (and their families) from the famous Mir Yeshiva.

Beginning in 1943, most of the Jews in Shanghai were confined to a two-square-mile section of the city known as the Restricted Area. Conditions were harsh but certainly not comparable to what Jews suffered in Europe. These Jews were saved from the Holocaust because of Japan’s – not China’s – policies.

There were several individual Chinese citizens who came to the aid of the Jews during the Holocaust. But they were nationalists, not Communists; they were associated with the anti-Communist forces led by Chang Kai-Shek, who later lost the Chinese civil war and fled to Taiwan in 1949.

One was Dr. Li Yu Ying, a prominent scholar and president of Soochow University. While living in the United States in the 1940s, he served as one of the co-chairmen of the Emergency Committee to Save the Jewish People of Europe (better known as the Bergson Group), an activist movement that held rallies, lobbied in Washington, and sponsored hundreds of full-page newspaper advertisements promoting rescue of Jews from the Nazis. Dr. Ying had previously served the Chang Kai-Shek government in several capacities, including as China’s representative to League of Nations meetings.

Two other Chinese citizens have been honored by Yad Vashem for assisting Jews during the Nazi era. One was Pan-Jun-Shun, who moved from China to Russia in 1916 (more than thirty years before the Communists took over in China). He was living in the city of Kharkov, in the Soviet Ukraine, when the Germans invaded in 1941. Pan saved a Jewish girl named Ludmilla Genrichovna from the Nazi round-ups by hiding her in his home.

The other Chinese rescuer was Dr. Feng Shan Ho, who served as China’s consul-general in Vienna from 1938 to 1940. He issued unauthorized visas to Jews trying to escape Nazi-controlled Austria, enabling them to reach the safety of Shanghai. Dr. Ho represented the Chang Kai-Shek government. And after the nationalists fled to Taiwan in 1949, he served as Taiwan’s ambassador to Egypt, Mexico, and other countries.

When Dr. Ho was posthumously honored by Yad Vashem in 2001, the Communist Chinese ambassador attended the ceremony – and insisted that the ambassador from Taiwan be excluded. The Beijing government-controlled press gave prominent coverage to the honoring of Ho, whom it identified as “a Chinese diplomat,” erroneously implying that he was associated with the Beijing regime.

It is not hard to understand why Beijing’s rulers would falsely seek to take credit for what the Chinese nationalists and the Japanese did to help the Jews. Xu Kuangdi, an official of a government agency called the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, explained after visiting the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum last fall, “The spreading of this story plays an active role in promoting the understanding and friendship between the Chinese and people from all over the world.”

Chinese Media Ho-Hum on Netanyahu’s Visit

Tuesday, May 7th, 2013

Chinese media have reported Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s current visit as secondary news, reflecting China’s distance from the Israeli-Palestinian Authority issue.

PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas is also in China, and his visit has gained slightly more attention than Netanyahu’s.

The Prime Minister’s main mission is economic, and Israel’s trump card in any political dealings between Beijing and Ramallah is Israel’s capacity for helping China in the fields of agriculture and high technology.

The Chinese news agency Xinhua reported a seven-paragraph blurb on Netanyahu’s first day in the country, with most of the report referring to his scheduled tour of the Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum. The site illustrates Shanghai’s providing a safe heaven for approximately 30,000 Jewish refugees from the Nazi Holocaust.

Prime Minister Netanyahu has not brought up the matter of Syria in his visit and is not likely to talk about considering China’s objections to foreign intervention and its condemnation Sunday of Israel’s bombing of Iranian missiles in Syria that were headed for Hezbollah.

Abbas is trying to convince China to be more vocal in his bid for declaring the Palestinian Authority an independent country based on his own definitions while ditching a negotiated agreement with Israel.

However, China has little to gain from joining Abbas’ worldwide campaign for support and has a lot more to gain from Israel’s technology.

China Central television gave Abbas more coverage than Netanyahu, and Chinese President Xi Jinping presented a four-point proposal for Palestinian Authority.

The People’s Daily featured a photo of Abbas and the Chinese president shaking hands, and the caption read, “China firmly supports the just cause of the Palestinian people.”

However, experts in China doubt that Abbas will receive much more than headlines.

Prof Yin Gang, associated with a Chinese Academy of Social Sciences state-run think-tank, said Beijing is “very unlikely” to playa significant part in the deadlock between Jerusalem and Ramallah, according to the South China Morning Post.

Li Shaoxian, a Middle East expert at the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, a state security ministry-affiliated think-tank, told China Daily that China can “hardly match” Washington’s role in the Middle East.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/chinese-media-ho-hum-on-netanyahus-visit/2013/05/07/

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