Study Hard and Think Independently
The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences first elected 95 honored department commissaries. He Fang, the president of the Japan Research Center and a famous expert in international issues, deserved it. He was the only honored department commissary from the Japan Research Center. The writer interviewed He Fang on April 16th, 2007.
Lin Chang (hereafter referred to as Lin): Mr He, I was entrusted by the Youth Humanities and Social Sciences Research Center to interview you as a result of the activity - ‘‘Young scholars seek advice from department commissaries and honored department commissaries’. What do you think of this activity?
He Fang (hereafter referred to as He): I think the activity advocated and organized by the Youth Humanities and Social Sciences Research Center is very good. It is necessary to carry out this activity humbly at first, but it should carry on from different perspectives. It isn’t only beneficial to boost the academic atmosphere in our academy but also enhance communication between the old and young scholars which is friendly to both parties. Young scholars are active in thinking and adept in finding all kinds of fresh questions so that they could enlighten and affect the elder scholars.
I am 85 years old this year, but I like to approach or exchange views with young people and learn something new from them (like new words that I don’t understand and now I don’t understand ‘Huyou’ fully). Certainly, elder scholars have their own advantages; they study more firmly and know more about the world. Hence, they have accumulated lots of experience in studying and working. If young scholars can contact or communicate with them, they can learn something. In a word, young and elder scholars have their own advantages and can learn from each other’s strong points to offset their weaknesses, which is based on one premise - mutual respect. If they disguise themselves, there would be nothing to communicate.
Lin: It is said that as a scholar, you took part in the revolution of 1938. Could you talk about your experiences briefly?
He: I took part in the revolution because of the Anti-Japanese and nation-saving campaign. I went to Yanan at the age of 15 in 1938 and lived there for more than 7 years. I spent about half of the time in the rectification movement and production and the rest of the time studying or working. I went to junior high school for only 1 year in Guomintang Nomination Region and later I mainly relied on spare time to supplement my knowledge and improve my educational level. So, I always regard ‘Da Yu and Tao Kan cherish time’. I graduated from the Russian Department at Yanan Foreign Language Department in 1945 and then I went to Northeast China. I was appointed as head of the Publicity Department of Liaoyang County, deputy-secretary of the Youth Council of Liaodong Province, etc. I took charge of local works in Northeast China, mainly including advocacy and writing. In 1950, I came to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and studied international issues under the instruction of Zhang Wentian, which has carried on till now. In 1959, I was marked as a major member of the Anti-Communist Party School and treated unfairly. When I was righted in 1979, I came back to work and took part in the Writing Group of Central & International Issues. In 1981, I was appointed as the president of Japan Research at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. In 1988, I took the office of deputy-general director at the China International Issues Research Center. During this period, I was awarded a special government allowance; I was recruited as a part-time professor at Peking University and Nankai University and was nominated as an honorary doctor and consultant of some academic groups. I assumed CPPCC membership 2 twice and was appointed as deputy-president of the Sino-Soviet Friendship Association (also referred to as Sino-Russia Friendship Association later). When I retired, I began to study the history of the CPC and wrote lots of distinctive drafts.
Lin: You are a famous expert on international issues who has engaged in international issues and external policies for 50 years. Could you talk about it briefly?
He: I have studied international issues for 50 years which could be divided into 3 periods: 10 years as the director of the Research Office in the Soviet Union Embassy and deputy-director of the General Office in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the 1950s; 20 years of labor reform because of my involvement in Zhu Wentian’s problems and 20 years studying international issues after righting in 1979.
I studied international relations and external policies and wrote many internal research reports for the reference of the Ministry of Foreign affairs and central decisions during the first 10 years. For example, the Korean Armistice and Negotiation Report in 1951, requirements of maintaining the status and dividing the administrations in the Far East during the Geneva Meeting, reflections on the Soviet Union’s criticism of the cult of personality in 1954, etc. received high attention from central governors. ‘About the New Changes of America’s Foreign Strategies’ published in the first periodical of ‘Research of Foreign Affairs’ in 1955 I even received compliments from Chairman Mao. My studies during the second part of the1950s served foreign affairs directly. I wrote the research reports and drafted plenty of internal documents or foreign letters as well, including some internal journals such as ‘Bulletin on Foreign Affairs’, ‘Tendencies of Foreign Affairs’, ‘Research of Foreign Affairs’, etc. In addition, I also wrote the part of international tendencies and external relations of government reports (including the politics report of 8th Meeting of the CPC) several times and drafted the speeches of some government leaders. During these 10 years, I was young and vigorous and profited from Zhang Wentian who explored the studies of Chinese international issues, so I made great achievements.
Although I was sent to the countryside after 1959, I still paid attention to international tendencies, read lots of theoretical books and materials on international issues and found chances to write something about international issues. For example, when I was in Cadre School, I spent most of the time reading books and studying because I didn’t have to work a lot after 1972. I systematically studied why Japan developed its economy quickly after the war and then wrote tens of thousands of words about it and sent the materials to Huan Xiang (deputy-president of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences later) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, etc. Perhaps, I was entrusted to construct the Japan Research Center as a result of this material.
Lin: Could you talk about your work at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in detail?
He: I met lots of surprising matters in my life and leaving the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to construct and host the Japan Research Center was one of them. I didn’t study Japan on purpose (I had the above-mentioned experiences by accident) and knew nothing about the Japanese, but I had taken charge of the Japan Research Center for more than 8 years and some people even called me a Japanese expert or so-called ‘Japanologist’. Now, whenever I recall these memories, I felt a little bit funny. In fact, it was really by chance.
In the beginning, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences asked me to construct the USSR and East European Countries Research Center. However, Huan Xiang still wanted me to work in the International Department that he was in charge of. We went to the American Brookings Institute on academic exchanges in January, 1980. When we introduced the current status of international issues at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Huan Xiang said that another two Research Centers would be founded and I would be the president of the Japan Research Center. The Party Organization totally agreed with its establishment and my nomination after discussion. In the same year, we visited Japan on behalf of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and Hu Xiang also introduced me as the president to the Japanese. When we returned, I had to construct the Japan Research Center.
I wrote dozens of papers about Japanese issues after constructing and hosting the Center. During the first half of the 1980s, I held the post of director at the National Japanese Planning Group to coordinate the studies of Japan in China. I proposed that the scholars who would like to study Japan should go to Japan on an inspection tour and to study. I organized all the leaders of the Japan Research Authority in China to go to Japan. Meanwhile, the Japan Research Center founded the Japan Culture Research Office which filled the lack of studies in Japanese culture. Nonetheless, I still focused on international issues and external relations, especially theoretical and strategic issues. I was transferred to the China International Issues Center in 1988 and began to center on internal inspection reports and propose political suggestions.
Major Academic Views
Lin: Please talk about your representative academic views on international issues.
He: I just want to talk about some major views of the 20 years I was at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences. I had different views on international tendencies and external policies before the 1980s, but I had nowhere to express them at that time. When I came back to work, I often discussed with some friends and old leaders who had the same views as me. So when I drafted central reports with them, I expressed my views in their reports. It includes: (1) I didn’t agree with the ‘One Line’ strategy (ally with America and fight against the Soviet Union), so I wrote a report about getting away from America and alleviating the relationship with the Soviet Union on behalf of Huan Xiang. (2) World war is avoidable. (3) ‘Three worlds’ proposed by Chairman Mao could not stand, so do not talk about it to foreign countries. The last two were contained in the report of Li Yimang to the Central Committee. They shared the same opinions (Li Yimang also proposed to change our views on Yugoslavia and recover or set up the relationship with brother Parties or social Parties, which weren’t a concern of mine.), which were adopted by the Central Committee.
I would like to talk about other views in this period as well.
First of all, times. In 1986, I proposed that national & democratic revolutions would be reduced decades after WWII and the world would come to ‘peaceful and developing times’. However, we still insisted on wars or revolutions, made up intense situations and prepared for wars, which made us miss the precious opportunity of development for 30 years and some countries & districts surpassed us. No matter how hard we work, it will take us decades to catch up with them. Peace and development will carry on for decades, but we will lose many opportunities in case we continue the policy of ‘transition from capitalism to socialism’.
Secondly, after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, I proposed that the world strategy pattern would transit from dipolar to multipolar. It will take a lot of time because of peaceful transition. There will be upheavals or local conflicts sometimes, but they will tend to be peaceful in general. Based on two factors (balance of great countries due to uneven political & economical development together with the rise of developing countries), a multipolar world is on its way, but America is always the stronger one. We should not regard multipolar as meaning great countries with the same power because imbalance is absolute in international relations. Anyhow, the power and influence of America is decreasing; there will be no world war for a long time and we won’t witness signs of world revolution. Therefore, attention should be paid to dealing with relations with other countries (especially great countries) on economy, security, etc. and avoid confrontation. It is inappropriate to advocate anti-imperialism and anti-hegemonism, internationalism and world revolution. In contrast, we should focus on doing our business rather than dealing with such activities.
Thirdly, differences between the south and the north have been shrinking except for a few years after ‘WWII’. In recent years, the south has developed very fast, especially the development of some new market countries like China, India, Brazil, ASEAN, etc., which have aroused great attention from developed countries. In the 20th century, I wrote several papers there were published in the ‘People’s Daily’, ‘Liberation Daily’ and ‘World Knowledge’.
Lin: I want to know more about times of peace and development. As is known to me, you are an important scholar studying times theories. Your views about peace and development have exerted extensive influence and aroused some fierce arguments. Your ‘Discussing Peace and Development Times’ published in 2000 reflect your major views on problems of the times completely. Could you talk about it?
He: Of course. In the case of the Gulf War and Kosovo Event, some critics also issued some comments and even published some papers or best-sellers, holding that international tendencies were changing, we could not talk about peace or development and we should be ready for wars. I met a taxi driver who asked me whether there would be war. Although I have mentioned it in the past repeatedly, the above-mentioned problems appeared. So I wrote a series of papers (’Re-discussing Peace and Development Times’) which pointed out that there was no fundamental change in world tendencies. In particular, I proposed that we shall not sway or change some basic views or estimates and change policies randomly after observing international issues.
Views on Japan and Sino-Japan Relations
Lin: You had undertaken the office of president of the Japan Research Center for 8 years. What are your views on Japan in general?
He: Different people hold different opinions on Japan and are quite familiar with it. On the one hand, it is the world’s No.2 economy. Although the economic output of Japan was only half of China’s, ours has reached half of Japan at present. Deng Xiaoping mentioned our country and Japan were standing on the same starting line in the 1960s, but it surpassed us afterwards.
On the other hand, we should keep a peaceful mind to Japan and regard it as an equal member of all countries rather than a conquered nation. Also, we shall not forbid Japan to do what other countries could do. As for me, the militarism of Japan will not revive because it symbolises fascist and economic domination internally and military invasion externally. Japan could not recover them, or they don’t want to. It is very difficult for Japan to become a ‘world military power’ because it is an island country that lacks strategic depth and invasive strategic weapons. So, Japan is a very realistic government and doesn’t have such intentions. It just wants to be a so-called ‘ordinary country’ which has independent sovereignty and equal rights as other countries, like the right to modify the Constitution, defend, possess a national defense department, military, etc.
About the invasion of Japan, the government of Japan and the mainstream of the nation came to an end through the ‘Murayama Speech’ and more requirements were impossible. It disguises other countries’ comments which might influence national attitudes. Germany’s Anti-Nazi government has been in power till now and the allies have settled the Nazi problems completely. However, the government of Japan hasn’t changed and received support from America, by which its guilt hasn’t been entirely clear. Therefore, some often issue old thoughts and speeches.
Lin: You published ‘Could we live with Japan?’ in the ‘Global Times’ 10 years ago. People in China hardly knew about your paper at that time because there was no internet like today. I was in Japan at that time and journalists at the Xinhua News Agency said it was very influential. Later, people regarded it as ‘pioneering for the set up Sino-Japan relations’.
He: When I was the president of the Japan Research Center, Sino-Japan relations were very favorable. China learned the experience of a developing economy, brought technologies and received help from Japan. The Chinese treated the Japanese well rather than recalling bad memories. Leaders like Deng Xiaoping, etc. always emphasized that we should look forward. Each visit by Chinese leaders to Japan would arouse great attention and ‘Friendship Forever’. Such great influence carried on till I left Japan.
I felt Sino-Japan relations turned down not long after that. Japans government was upset about the development of China and China began to stress historical issues. The Japanese got tired of mentioning historical issues repeatedly. The more we mentioned them, the more they disguised, which was a vicious circle. I couldn’t wait any more, so I wrote that passage criticizing and accommodating their relations because of an invitation. Deng Xiaoping pointed out: “We shall think of state-to-state relations in terms of national strategic interest. We shall focus on long-term strategic interest and respect other’s benefit as well rather than care about resentment in the past together with the differences between a social system and ideology. In addition, we shall respect each other regardless of the size or weakness of the country and treat each other equally. Hence, we could handle any problems properly.” I wanted to elaborate on this thinking in my paper, so I proposed that we should consider Sino-Japan relations in terms of cooperation and mutual benefit rather than historical issues.
Lin: We should learn from history while dealing with Sino-Japan relations.
He: Referring to learn from history, we should enlarge the scope of history. We shall not only learn from the Japanese invasion of China 50 years ago but also the friendly communications of 2000 years, especially 60 years after WWII (also referred to as Contemporary History) and absorb helpful and painful experiences. In the 1980s Sino-Japan friendship, capital, technology and experience from Japan were very helpful for China and we brought in many appliance production lines as well. I want to give an unforgettable example. During the mid-1950s, ‘three warriors’ of the House of Representatives from Japan (Koura Yutaka, etc.) visited China and signed a Sino-Japan Non-governmental Trade Agreement, which raised another climax in Sino-Japan relations. However, the ‘Nagasaki Flag Event’ of little scope cut off trade and communications with Japan completely, which damaged us a lot and in turn took years to get over. Moreover, the media sometimes confused all of Japan with individual actions and always criticized it rather than distinguished between the differences. Nonetheless, we didn’t propagandize the issues of Japan a lot (like peaceful development route, to help Chinese modernization, etc.), which made the Japanese dissatisfied. All in all, I believe we should study many Sino-Japan issues carefully. Certainly, we should not demand scholars interpret all views accurately, but the media should broadcast the conclusions precisely. Once we arouse national sentiments, we can not resolve them in a short time.
It is quite difficult for big countries (especially adjoined countries) to avoid historical issues, so we should desalinate them gradually rather then be affected by individual sentiment and nationalism, which is related to the policies and Media of both countries. When Sino-Japan relations were favorable, issues of the Eastern Sea and Diaoyu Island was not a big deal. When the relations degenerated, these issues became distinct. So, it is essential to deal with other problems which mainly affect the relations. Take Sino-Soviet Union relations for example as well. When it was under good conditions, we could hardly find any problems between both parties. However, when the relationship went bad, we could read bad news everyday.
Unfortunately, Sino-Japan relations have begun to change after decades of relations. If both parties could learn from history, Sino-Japan friendly relations of generations could recover and go forward.
Lin: What do you think about the studies of Japan?
He: The Chinese Academy of Social Sciences was founded 30 years ago. As a founding member of the Japan Culture Research Office, although I have done some creative works, they are not enough indeed.
As for the entire studies of Japan, the scope and depth are more profound than that of 20 years ago. However, it was not easy to study deeper. When we asked Xia Yan to assume the post of honored president of the Japan Institute of China decades ago, he talked a lot with us. He said he had studied Japan for decades and he still felt that Japan was a ‘puzzle’. Also, it indicates the research object, Japan, is very complicated and intangible, so we should be determined to calm down and regard it as a long-term and formidable task.
What’s more, we lack independent thinking while studying Japan and are easily affected by policies or the Media. Hence, if we want to be expert scholars, we should have our academic specialties while dealing with scientific research.
About and Zhang Wentian’s Studies
Lin: After retirement, you have not only studied international issues but also begun to research Zhang Wentian and Communist history. Also, you have carried out deep studies of the important contributions of Zhang Wentian when he was general secretary and China international issues while founding the new China. Could you introduce it briefly?
He: I began to study Communist history when I was old. On the one hand, I wanted to correct my historical mistakes (that is, to criticize Zhang Wentian against my heart), so I studied Zhang Wentian to compensate. On the other hand, I had gone through a lot in Communist history. I was obsessed by fake public voices, so I wanted to figure it out. I have studied Zhang Wentian, restored some historical facts and refuted some uncertainties. For instance, I confirmed that Deng Xiaoping mentioned in ‘Monument of Zhang Wentian’ that he was elected General Secretary of the Party Central Committee at the ‘Zunyi Meeting’ rather than taking charge of some works of the Party Central Committee which is admitted at present. Also, he hosted the Wayaobao Meeting and formulated the strategies of the anti-Japanese national united front in 1935 (At that time, Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai were commanding the war at the front, so they just expressed their agreement rather than taking part in its formulation), which fulfilled a great strategic transformation from civil war to the anti-Japanese war. After the Xi’an Incident, everyone held that it was necessary to ‘bring Jiang Jieshi to trial or bring down Jiang Jieshi’ (They also published their signatures in agreement). In contrast, Zhang Wentian admitted that Nanjing was ‘the authentic government’ and we shall resolve the Xin’an Incident peacefully and change the partial (only Northwestern) united front into a national united front. Resolving the Xi’an Incident peacefully fulfilled Kuomingtang-Communist cooperation and the nationwide Anti-Japanese war, which not only saved the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese revolution but also rescued China and the Chinese nation.
Zhang Wentian and I entered the Ministry of Foreign Affairs together and I began to study international issues under the instruction of Zhang Wentian. He was the explorer who first studied the international issues of the new China. He founded the Research Authorities of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Embassies, set up the first Research Center of International Issues, the Press and school (namely, China Foreign Affairs University) and propelled the research of international issues in all aspects. He was the model of international issues studies, who was worthy of study.
Hopes to Young Scholars
Lin: What’s the principle of your life?
He: In my opinion, you should be a good man first. First of all, only if we are independent, honest and moral, can we deal with everything properly, including studies.
Lin: What do you think of the shortcomings of young people nowadays?
He: I think young people at present are not diligent enough so that they are not devoted to studying.
Lin: How can they make it up? I remember that you mentioned young scholars should utilize all thier time to study ‘Celebrity Talks about Self-study’. What advice do you want to give to young scholars?
He: When I was at the Japan Culture Research Office, I set ‘Recalling Marx and Engels’ as a necessary book. I wanted young people to learn from Marx and they should utilize all their time to read books in terms of devotion and intensive studies. They should form the habit of thinking independently and form their own methods of dealing with problems and some views gradually. Do not write papers without originality and never follow others. Please pay attention to the style of study and have contempt for fame and wealth.
My opinions might not be absolutely right since the times are different. However, I would like to study with young scholars. I would like to talk about my experience for reference.
Firstly, have a thirst for knowledge and be fond of learning. You should try your best to read more books and accumulate more knowledge to enhance the level of cultural theories. At that time, I always found time to read important Marxist-Leninist classic works, other humanities and social sciences books and even literary classics at home and aboard. Hence, I was afraid to lose face and be surpassed by others. For example, in Yan’an, People always said you could not recognize China fully if you didn’t read ‘Dream of Red Mansion’. So, I borrowed this book and read it whenever I had time. I have read it several times so that I can retell the story and most of the poems till now.
Secondly, extensive interests. Young people should try every possible means to lay a foundation and learn more knowledge. Although you might be engaged in specific studies in the future, you need to learn more knowledge because it is helpful. So, you should develop extensive interests for study. Darwin once mentioned the formaltion of his habits and characteristics in school: “My strong and various interests affected my development in the future. I indulged myself in my preferences and was fond of any complicated problems and things.”
Thirdly, ‘find and dig’. In other words, you should find time to study and dig into the books. For instance, I fought in guerrilla wars when I was in the Northeast. Whenever I was free in the daytime, I would read ‘History of Western Philosophy’, ‘Ten Great Families in America’, etc. When I was marching, I would read some biographies of celebrities or novels. I strictly followed the ancient – Ou Yangxiu’s principles, namely, ‘to read books on a horse, in the bathroom or in bed’, so I would read books in my spare time. But there was one shortcoming, namely, the lack of personal hygiene. To read books when I was eating was bad for the digestion.
Finally, combine theories with practice, a common view of Marxism which is known to all. Here, I just want to talk about 2 points. One is to read books and absorb knowledge and the other is to combine reading with studies and writing. As for me, I should not only dig into and understand the books but also combine my learning and form my knowledge system. Hence, I could achieve my own conclusions. Take learning international issues for example. If we read newspapers everyday and know something about some questions, but couldn’t connect them with each other, our thinking is still a mess and can’t form our knowledge system or our views. Therefore, if we want to combine our readings with practice, we shall think more and independently. As for reading books and newspapers, we should carry out contrastive analysis in combination with practice and our knowledge rather than be satisfied with understanding and memorising. Then, we could absorb our readings, bring them into our knowledge system and confirm our views. It is the process of studies or the combination of learning and studies.
There is nothing special about the above-mentioned points. It is essential that you recognize the importance of recognition and learning and stick to it. During the process of learning, everyone can summarize their experience continuously and adopt appropriate solutions. We should consult others experiences, especially revolution supervisors. Their learning spirit and methods are worthy of study and it is helpful to read their biographies or books concerning their stories. But all in all, we should rely on ourselves to study and our efforts determine our achievements.
Lin: Thank you for your accepting this interview. Please take care.
Translated by Feng Weijiang.
Editor: Wang Daohang