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This is a complete and accurate transcript of the second oral history interview of Robert Brainerd Ekvall (Collection 92, #T2) in the archives of the Billy Graham Center. No spoken words which were recorded were omitted. In a very few cases, the transcribers could not understand what was said, in which case "[unclear]' was inserted. Also, grunts, verbal hesitations such as "ah" or "um" were usually omitted. Readers of this transcript should remember that this is a transcript of spoken English, which follows a different rhythm and even rule than written English.
... Three dots indicate an interruption or break in the train of thought within the sentence of the speaker.
.... Four dots indicate what the transcriber believes to be the end of an incomplete sentence.
() Word in parentheses are asides made by the speaker.
 Words in brackets are comments made by the transcriber.
Chinese and Tibetan place names are spelled in old or new transliteration forms according to how the speaker pronounced them. Thus "Peking" is used instead of "Beijing" if "Peking" is what the speaker said.
This transcription was made May-August 1985 by Robert Shuster and Sharon Averell.
Collection 92, Tape #T2, Interview of Robert Brainerd Ekvall by Robert Shuster, September 18, 1980.
SHUSTER: This is an interview for the Missionary Sources Collection of Dr. Robert Ekvall....
EKVALL: Leave off the doc.... I told you, I'm not a doctor!
SHUSTER: Oh? Reverend? Mister?
EKVALL: I've been Reverend, colonel, I've...everything. I've dropped all of them and I think prefer to be called just Robert Ekvall. [Chuckles] Excuse me. Go ahead.
SHUSTER: This is an interview with Robert Ekvall for the Missionary Sources Collection by Robert Shuster. This interview took place at 11:30 in Wheaton. Robert, how did your recent.... What is the origins of your recent trip back to China?
EKVALL: Yes. The matter of my going to China was broached about two years ago by the C & MA after William...Reverend William Kerr had been on a tour. That was a tour of...of the...of an airline in the big tour. He and another person were just two people who went along. But he...he arranged to...he arranged materials with the Chinese with great success and he started in leading tours himself. The matter was broached to me and at that time the...the sudden loosening of all pressure against religions had not yet come into the open.
SHUSTER: About when was this?
EKVALL: This would be...well that came into the open September of last year and this was in the early part of the year. There was a feeling...the idea was to create...try to have some kind of a...to try to have some kind of a chance to go to the C & MA mission field in the far north-west. It is a unique bit of territory in that it is against the Tibetan border so the Tibetans are included and there are about 3 or 4 other races of people in that area.
SHUSTER: What races are they?
EKVALL: Well, there's an ancient Chinese race, there are Moslems, there are [unclear] from Samarkand and there's a mixture of religions, there are Moslems who will become Buddhists, there are Buddhists who will become Islamic and this ancient...the ancient Chinese who reached there...almost 3 millennium ago three thousand years ago.
SHUSTER: This is the Han?
EKVALL: Well, they're called Han, see but they now speak such an ancient dialect of Chinese that the Chinese can't understand them. Now this is a very interesting area. Missionary work on that place...in that area started in the late 80s...19...1880. And then the evacuation... final evacuation took place in 49...47...between 47 and 49.
SHUSTER: And this is the area, is it not, where your family served and you yourself had served?
EKVALL: Yes, now that was...evacuation because of the communist coming in. Now, before the...the opening of freedom for religion had started the idea was to find out...well the raison d'etre for going someplace. And, I had been sort of a kind of anthropologist uh...archeologist among other things and even when I was on the field I had a vacation from the Bible school for about two weeks. And I had the privilege and....of going along with the famous Swedish anthropologist G. G. Anderson and in the course of two weeks I learned more anthropolo....I mean, more archeology than you can imagine of course and I was in on several digs. And we discussed whether I should talk about wanting to go back and see the arche...archeology things and than I proposed what I called (this sounds cynical) the Chinese card. And it's all true. That I wanted to go back to see the grave of my father. I wanted to go back to where I spent my childhood up to fourteen years. I wanted to go back to another place where I was born. I wanted to go back to a third place right on the border where my wife was buried.
SHUSTER: And what place....what was the name of that?
SHUSTER: What were the names of these places?
SHUSTER: ....names of these places?
EKVALL: Names of these places. Titao was where my father was buried and I was a child, Min ch-in was where I was born, Taochow was a border station and close to Taochow is a little place where there's a mission cemetery and where my wife was buried. So, with the thinking of that the next step that they wanted to have me take was to get in touch with Chinese officialdom whom....the ones whom I knew. During the Marshall Mission I had become acquainted with Yechien Ying and he is now the oldest man in the government and of course given great honer but I don't suppose he does very much.
SHUSTER: How is...how is that spelled; Ye....
EKVALL: Yeh... y.e.c.h.i.e.n. and Ying- i.n.g. Yechien Ying. I also, at that time, become acquainted with a man named Wang Wah. He was an assistant of Yechien Ying, an interpreter indeed because he spoke English. He now is the Minister of Foreign Affairs of China. And I wrote letters. I didn't hear anything for a long time then I received a very pleasant letter from Wang Wah. And he...to the effect that they wished to expedite my visit and do everything that would make my visit most pleasant and comfortable in China. On that basis, Reverend Kerr in Hong Kong wrote the letter which I had sent...of which I had sent a rough copy of ideas to him saying what that... they...they and I or I would want to go to the area where my parents were and would they fix up visas to that effect. Well, just before I started for Hong Kong the Foreign Affairs office sent back a very polite letter but turned thumbs down on the idea of my going so far and their reason given, which is a valid reason, that accommodations were very rough...rough and rude. This was outside the routine tour areas and roads and they didn't want to expose me to such, to such hardship. Of course this...this is Chinese politeness. So, I arrived in Hong Kong with the...the matter had been sort of blocked. But, in Hong Kong I met a Chinese scholar, he has a PhD from Columbia, he's a member of the Academy of Social Sciences in Beijing, Peking, he teaches in Victoria University in Hong Kong when he happens to be around, he knew...was in contact with some people there who were greatly interested in Tibetan and all of them had read some of my books. And they...this man sort of encouraged me. He said, "This idea of you going to where your father was bor...buried...." He said, "This...this is a real Chinese thing, in fact I'm going to try to get the government to make it into a...a show that they'll send a crew there and take pictures and it will be the foreigner coming back to his grandf...to his ancestors." And I said, "Well, that's kind of...." This man has his own long Chinese name his surname is Wang, but he has also a foreign name to ease things up and he's always called Jimmy Wang.
SHUSTER: That's w.o.n.g.
EKVALL: Yes, w.a.n.g. He...he said he'd do all his best to help me and I said, "Well what about Wang Wah?" And he said, "Wang Wah is away. He's in Africa and he's going to be all around in other countries for quite awhile so he won't be home." And then I talked about two people whom I know very intimately. One is a man named Rewi Allay, a man from...oh, what's the...New Zealand. He's been in China for decades. He's really become truly Chinese.
SHUSTER: That's r.u.e.e. a.l.l.e.e.
EKVALL: His name? Rewi, r.e.w.i. Allay, a. double L. a.y. And I said to Jimmy, "You know I've heard that Rewi Allay is dead and we were such great friends." " Oh no," he said, "He isn't. He's in Peking and at the present time he's one of the most trusted people of the Peking government for all the years and services he's given in China." And I said, "Fine give me his telephone address." "Well," he said, "You can't find any of the telephone business until you get...get to Hong Kong." And then he said...I said, "Is Wan Ping Yen around." Now Wan Ping Yen was the ambassador to Poland at the time the talks in Geneva started between the Chinese and the United States the beginning in August of 1955. The American representative was the man who later became the Deputy Secretary of State, Johnson, Ulyess... Alex...Alexander Ulysses Johnson I think was. We finally called each other...we called...I called him Alex of course. And this, the Chinese...now, I was there and across the table with the Chinese for three years while the discussions went on and he and I became very good acquaintances, to say the least. Here...here I found that he was in Peking and he was the President of the Chinese association for friendship with foreign countries and Rewi Allay was his number one assistant. So as soon as we got to Hong.... [Dog is barking loudly at this point] Oh no, keep still, keep still no, no, no, no, no. [Dog subsides] Well, I might have to say that our entrance into China and all the arrangements, Visas and money arrangements and everything, were all carried very smoothly by the Chinese. The Chinese have really people who handle things beautifully at these points. In fact quite a large number of them are women. I think there are as many women as men.
SHUSTER: There was no problem going through customs?
EKVALL: Well, with customs there are rules and regulations but they are very easy. They just touch...find something, they say do you have such and such, take your word for it and you go on through.
SHUSTER: Do you have a special representative that met you from the Foreign ministry or from this association.
EKVALL: Well, what we had was a representative from the travel agency. You see, the tour was billed with a travel agency...the national travel agency. And a representative meet...met us at every place when we got off the plane and then took charge of being guide, interpreter, and general helpmate. Well, it was very smooth. We arrived in Canton....
SHUSTER: You flew there on the Chinese airlines?
EKVALL: Yes, Chinese airlines.
SHUSTER: How are they compared to other lines?
EKVALL: Well, it depends what they're...where they're going. The big lines like the one from Hong Kong, see, was sealed, you know, it was a jet. Most of the others that we rode were some... somewhat old and smaller airplanes, largely British and of course not sealed so you had the problem of what altitude, going up and down did to your ears and that, the pressure and stuff. We... When we got to Canton everybody's going on the first day's tour around someplace or other but I didn't get to go because I undertook to get in touch with Peking and get in touch with the people I knew. Well, long distance calling from across China in Chinese and whatnot and people aren't there and they are there and their secretaries are there and if they're not there...all this thing. But at the end of the day, I had gotten in touch with Rewi to his intense amazement.
SHUSTER: He had no idea you were....
EKVALL: No, he had no idea I was alive, see. And I got in touch with Wan Ping Yen. Now, our tour people...the arrangements that had been made had made the Peking stay somewhat awkward because they said there weren't enough hotel spaces in Peking because there's so many tours coming. And they had made it so that we would be staying overnight in Teng Xian and it's an hour and a half ride by train to Peking. So early in the morning we'd go in by train and early in the afternoon we'd get out of...and come back to...and of course they were supposed to be visiting all the places in Peking and everything, that would be very awkward. So, the first thing I undertook was, "Will you please see it you can do something about having the thing changed so we all stay in Peking." That was what the leader of the tour, Reverend...
EKVALL: ...Kerr, Bill Kerr said, wanted me to do.
SHUSTER: How many...how many people were on the tour?
SHUSTER: And these were all the church executives or...?
EKVALL: No, not church executives. There were...there were...there were some...there were some...there was a retired businessman, quite well off with his wife. There was very oddly two Britishers that had come, were going home or something on vacation and they had come from Saudi Arabia where they worked. And they suddenly got the idea they'd like to go along. There were some missionaries from Hong Kong, both of the C & MA, one Pentecostal Assemblies of God couple, one Mennonite couple from... they had been missionaries in India for a long time and he was in Shai... he was in Hong Kong as the English speaking minister of an English language church. And then of course there were some...there were some C & MA missionaries and one or two people from the homeland of the Christian Missionary Alliance, man from Col....no from, not Colorado but from North Carolina. He was my roommate all through the period, lovely man. But, at the end of that day, I had it sealed up that we wouldn't have to stay in Peking....uh in Teng Xian and that the arrangements would be made for accommodations in Peking. And then I had been told by Rewi, he said, "When you're in Shanghai, then get in touch with us again because there are other things we want to discuss."
SHUSTER: And all this took place while you were in Canton?
EKVALL: This all took place while I was in Canton. We went out of Shanghai. That was a very interesting place. We saw a great deal. We went on to Peking. That was another business. We went on to the ancient capital of China in the far, fairly far northwest, Hsi An, and that is the place where the legendary emperor Shih Huang-ti in 19....in two thousand...in uh...in 250 BC had created the Chinese empire. The...there has been a picture I think, in the...of this picture of clay horses and clay men. That's part of the...his...his spiritual guards that are around the tomb and everything. Well I...but, now I'd like to switch. I've just outlined where we went and what happened. And at Peking, in Peking I talked with the guide and interpreter of the tour. Everybody was scheduled to go and see the Great Wall and to see the Summer Palace and to see this and to see that. A very closed, very tight schedule. But I persuaded her, she was a lady, that I had friends in Peking and I had business in Peking and I had seen all that again and again when I was in Peking with the Marshall Mission and there's no sense my just wandering around going over it again, so they agreed. Told me how to get taxi people for this hotel, how to get a map or gave me a map of Peking and were very gracious about it. So, I into finding... well, I went to see Rewi and I went to see Wan Ping Yen but he was terribly busy at the time. I asked for Yechien Ying and his health is poor but, there were messages sort of going back and forth between us. And then we went on of course when the thing...tour was ended there we went on to Hsi An what I'm telling you about.
SHUSTER: Now, how is Hsi An spelled?
EKVALL: Well, it's uh...it's now called Hsi....Hsi An, An. It's sometimes pronounced Hsi An. An of peace and Hsi of west.
SHUSTER: Western peace.
EKVALL: Western peace, see. It's original name was [Tong?] An and that was long peace but the Chinese when they get to talking about it say the idea is eternal peace. So this is the outline of the....
SHUSTER: But how is that spelled Hsi An.
EKVALL: Well, there...there's so many kinds of spelling. The old...the old kind that I know in Hsi and An, a. n. But they...some people pronounce it nyang instead of An, see. An is peace and Hsi is west. Now this is the outline and I might say that the people that took us around were brilliant interpreters, were courteous to the nth degree, would do almost anything possible for your...to increase interest and for your welfare and for your comfort and Reverend Kerr was a master hand...Bill Kerr was a master hand at graciously introducing everybody at each place where we'd have a new escort, talk of how the escorts were so kind to us and so good, introduce everybody by their name to the escort. In order to keep name problems down, why at the start it had been decided that everybody would use first names, see. And I might as well bring in the matter of whether I got to my western home or not. In Peking Wan Ping Yen gave a luncheon for me. The consulate in Hong Kong had wired ahead to the embassy because of the consulate in Hong Kong I had gone to help build...make some arrangements.
SHUSTER: This is the American Consulate?
EKVALL: The American Consulate. And he said Bob, he said will you please see...you...you've been with...you've been with the State Department in your....you're a military man and that and that, will you please see if we can get right to the thing with the...to the top man and get something done. Well, you know, I crashed the gate. He came...heard that there were two people who wanted to see him. He came down, leaned on the fence and said, "What do you want to talk about?" And uh...somewhat brutally I said, "I'm Colonel Ekvall and I was the interpreter at Panmunjon and in Europe and attended the conferences and that." And of course he said, "Oh...oh yes, yes, yes, yes, yes come right in...come right in," you know....
SHUSTER: That's a time when your title came in handy.
EKVALL: Oh yes, yes, sure it was a time when the title.... And I had a...I had a...my curriculum vitae and the bibliography which is a pretty good one. And I had brought a copy of it for him and I turned it over to him and after that of course everything was...they'd do anything that we wanted. So Peking had been informed and then I was treated to a lunch by Wan Ping Yen and a number of people came who had been in Panmunjon in Korea in the negotiations and who had been opposites to me. And they had read my book, Faithful Echo. They had read that and they talked about it and one who was the Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs said, "You weren't entirely fair." I said, "What...what do you mean entirely fair." He said "There's one place in the book where you say every time you started to interpret you detected a faintly malicious smile on my face." And I said, "After all you know I was just a poor interpreter scrambling around and you've got to admit that it was a smile that I said. I really...I didn't say a malicious frown." It was that kind of talk, see, but friendly. And there was...there was a top man from the embassy there at the same time and the Chinese secretary he had brought along was the man who had been under me as a Chinese translator in Korea, see. So it was....
SHUSTER: He had been translating for the Americans?
EKVALL: Yea, he had....No, he was translating for the Americans. You see, interpreting and translating is two different things. Translating is working from book.....from paper to paper, book to book. Interpreting is explaining what the guy says and of course this thing gets mixed up alot in...in writing, in printing and everything. And he had been a translator to translate documents and stuff. And here these people all turned up at this, well it was hilarious thing, see. And I said to Wan Ping Yen, I said, "Well you know here I'm getting to be pretty old" (I'll take that matter up later) "I'm getting to be pretty old and I want to see the grave of my father and be...and see where I was a child and this and this and then went on. And he said, "My old friend," and he put his hand around my shoulder and he said "My old friend," he said, "You should be able to go, it's right that you should go to all those places." Then he turned to the Vice-President of Foreign Affairs and said, "Can't you fix it up?" And they said, "Yes we can." So I walked out of the place with the assurance that steps would be taken for me to go but for me only. And then I intervened and I said well after all I need some...somebody to go along with me, a companion. And he said well O.K. just one. And I said "I'll introduce the leader of the thing, Reverend Kerr. He's the man I'd like to have go along," and this of course would put the Alliance representative right in the front. So we had the...the promise. Now, it didn't fu....didn't come through because in Hsi An the local man tried desperately to block it and yet I think he was quite honest in a way. He said....
SHUSTER: This is the local head of the party or local head of the....
EKVALL: Yes uh...the local head of the agency that handles all this, see. Travel agency that handled....
SHUSTER: Like the Intourist in Russia?
EKVALL: Right, exactly. And we argued for about an hour over the thing and he was trying to get me to make a decision not to go and he was trying desperately not to be tagged with having said you can't go, see. So you can..., this went on and on and on. And I think he was completely honest in his worry about accommodations and roads and everything because that's outside of where the tourists go and all that. And he said, "You know...you know how even in Lanchow the air...the air...airlines, the airfield is in such a dangerous place with the mountains that the winds sometimes create trouble." And then he said, "You know the roads from there on are broken down and there are bridges and there are....there are floods." All true, you see. And he said, "I just can't take the responsibility of letting you go." And I said, "Well, then why did the foreign affairs people say I could go?" Well he said, "I hope they withdraw that." And so we argued and argued and finally there's a limit. I said, "You want me to decide not to go, yes." I said, "I can't do that but I am the guest and if you say I can't go, why of course I have to accept it." And he wiggled away tried to keep from being the person who made a decision and then we had a compromise and he agreed that we could go to Lanchow, half way place and the capital of Gansu province. Accommodations are a little bit better there, see. My wife and I, 1948, we lived in quite a nice hostel and the [name of hostel] was still in operation.
SHUSTER: You think his only reason for not wanting you to go was because of the primitive....
EKVALL: I think so because the way things showed up later on there wasn't...there couldn't really be any other any reason. Now, let's get right back to the real reason why I went to China, to find out what was happening to the Chinese church. Well, for me it began in Shanghai. I might say, by that time I had become aware of the Chinese slogan and the Chinese decision to let all people have freedom of religious worship and even propagated... propagation, changing the blockage which had come from the Cultural Revolution. O.K. In Shanghai and as soon as Bill...as soon as we got going Bill, in many respects of course, relied on me sort of as a go-between to talk with the local...because very soon the local interpreter and guide or something, and usually there were two, a superior one and a....
EKVALL: ....help...help...assistant. Very soon I was pretty much one of the three. Just, just, just because I knew so much about Chinese history. They'd tell about things and I'd ask further and further and further. And I spoke Chinese and they were at ease with me to a great degree.
SHUSTER: And you say that the guides you had were very well informed....
EKVALL: Very well informed. Well, at Shanghai they had an outline for us to see all kinds of places. And acting on what Bill had said I said that we want to see at least one church and how its going. And he said, "Well now, which one do you so want to see?" And sort of just catching at names I said, "We want to see the big Presbyterian church." There was a very large one. And ju... the Easter before we had gotten there. That was the place where hundreds of Chinese waited on the sidewalk to go to Easter service.
SHUSTER: This was a church that had been built before 1949?
EKVALL: Oh yes, yes. A big red...red brick building and other buildings. So we formally were taken. As a government action we were taken to see the church and hear about the church. And the routine was exactly the same as going to see a...a commune farm or going to see a factory or going to see a school. The chief person would talk to us. We all sat down and had tea at a long white table. Cups of tea poured. And then the chief person would explain what was going on and all the matters of the place and the guide-interpreter would interpret it into English. And the same routine was followed in the church. We went in and there were three pastors. There was the oldest one and evidently the leader. He was the one that proceeded to tell about the church and about what they were doing etc. etc. etc., see. Almost in the same tones as the factory man would be telling about what the factory did and the official interpreter interpreted it all to us.
SHUSTER: And what was the pastor's name?
EKVALL: I didn't get it. I didn't ask him even. You...you...for instance again in the tours we made and I got to be buddy-buddy with the...with the people who were the leaders of it, that comes in in something else, but names were very seldom used passed on, see. So, he talked about the church, the man translated and then came the time for the people on the tour to ask questions. And there were four people who asked questions. I asked one question, somebody else asked another, somebody else asked another. I'll give you just the questions and what the results were. Because the pastor told how the church had been made into a factory and then the government turned it back and gave it to the church and even took the...even took the responsibility for repairs and for giving the church rent arrears.
SHUSTER: When was it turned into a factory?
SHUSTER: When was it turned into a factory?
EKVALL: It was in... a Chinese factory during the time of the cultural revolution.
SHUSTER: During the late sixties?
SHUSTER: But, before that day continued from....
EKVALL: Before that day had continued a little bit, but the pressure began quite far back and the Christians ducked into what were known as house churches, family churches, see. They'd meet, a few people would meet in one family, another in the other, see. Well, the pastor. I asked the question. Oh...the pastor told us that the government had given him a great stock of printing paper and they were negotiating with the local publisher for the printing of the Bible. And they were using the old writing form, the old Bible because that one could be simply, you know, just come off just as fast as you could slap it down and come off, see. And he said, "We are doing it in order to turn out a great number of Bibles.
SHUSTER: You say the old style, you mean....
EKVALL: The old style.
SHUSTER: This was the translation that was made in the....
EKVALL: Well, it isn't a case of....
SHUSTER: I'm sorry not the translation but the, the old type script and....
EKVALL: ....old type script. You see modern script has alot of the old type too but it has a great many characters that are... that are not as complicated as the old, see. Well now, I asked a question because I had heard a great deal of talk in Hong Kong [prolonged sound of a dog barking in the background] that the Chinese Christians wanted nothing but the old type, see...nostalgia or something or other and. And I said, well
now.... Hi Bub [to dog] "What about....what about the Bible? You're printing the old. Now of course alot of younger people are used to the new type and everything. And are you thinking of using that at all?" And he said, "Oh yes, oh yes...yes...just as soon....but this is faster. Just as soon as you get a large number of Bibles then we'll turn to the difficult task of setting up a new type business. That's just as difficult as starting a....going from manuscript to printing." Well, I was satisfied. Then a Pentecostal missionary spoke up. He hadn't understood the business about the paper too well. And he said...this of course is through the interpreter...he said to the pastor, he said, "If you will tell me where to send it...what address and everything... I'll send you a hundred pounds of good printing paper from below." And the pastor said, "No thank you, we don't need it." Than the man from P....from India spoke up....
SHUSTER: Why do you think he said, No thank you, we don't need it?"
EKVALL: Well, this comes in as I explain things later, see. This Mennonite pastor from India, who was from...from Hong Kong. He said, "Now let me...I want to know in detail, what are you doing about the matter of Sunday School? How you're organizing it and that and that and if there can be any...any help that we can ha...we can have...we can give." And the pastor said, "We are not thinking of Sunday School at the present time, because you must understand that now liberty has been given to the parents to teach their children their religion at home. And for the time being that is going to be our sunday school. In time when there are older people and older students and whatnot, we may...we probably will arrange a sort of sunday school, but at the present time we're not having it because of the opening in the family at home." And then the third...the fourth question was asked. And said, "I'd like to know the number of Christians in the Shanghai area." And the pastor through translation said, "I don't have any idea. We don't count heads. The doors are open to everybody who comes in and worships with us." O.K. Now at this point I might have take up the matter of, why, that you asked. When the new constitution was in print, oh about three years ago or four, I was taking the Peking Review all the time. And the entire text of the cons...of the constitution came out in the Peking Review. And of course I looked immediately for the matter of religion and it was a funny queer business. It said, "All people have religious liberty...personal religious liberty for worship and the religious sects have the same freedom to talk about their religion that the atheists have." Of course the atheists.... poli... polit... technically that's the national religion. Now that was a change from the old constitution, but it was sort of small and I was sure that that meant the beginning of it. I talked with the Alliance people down...and they said, "That is such...such a little bit of a twist." And I said, "But it's there, it's something coming, there's something coming." And in September of last year...yea that's right... in September of last year an increased religious liberty came into the open.
SHUSTER: In what way?
EKVALL: In a proclamation. The three...why, I say it in Chinese and it's so difficult to translate into English. The Three Self Policy Action, see, [Chinese name of proclamation]. And then, one: self government, two: self-support, three...and this is the one, see...three: self propagation. I'd like to point out that the word used in that middle one, self-support, is a very tender word in China. It's like self-nutriment. It's often time used in the care of a mother for her child. So it isn't the bare politi... financial self-support thing that the English is, see. It's like self-nutriment. [Chinese word] Well, so that was the end of questioning. This is an interlude that I took...you asked why and I told you.
SHUSTER: With the three pastors, they were all older men or....
EKVALL: Two of them were quite a bit younger than the leader.
SHUSTER: Was there any kind of talk of where they had gotten their...gotten their training or....
EKVALL: No there wasn't any ask... asking about that at all. And the other two didn't talk very much only I went to a little aside with one them. And I said, I'd like to know the details of the sense of this [Chinese title of The Three Self Policy Action]. "Well," he said, "We...we...we control ourselves. We govern the whole situation. We support ourselves. We don't ask for anything from anybody and we propagate as we see the opportunity. And I said, "Well there must be something else...other things in this...in this too, see." The government thing. "Yes," he said, "There are words follow that say, `the church should not be involved in any conspiracy against the government.' And also, naturally, all citizens should love the country." That was all.
SHUSTER: When the senior pastor was describing the church, what kind of information did he give you to describe the church? What was the size of the building?
EKVALL: Well he described about how...their...their times of service, because they had...they had to have several...several meetings a Sunday because people were pouring in, see. And he described the arrangements and the things the government had done and then it came time and he said he was going to pray. Now this was one thing that wasn't interpreted. And he poured out a prayer that at the end I was in tears. And one thing that struck me as peculiar, later on there were other things, he was reiterating again and again the need for prayer, for prayer, for prayer, but he said...never said, "You help pray for us." He said, "Let us all pray for each other." O.K. Now that's at a fairly high level picture of something that I saw and heard.
SHUSTER: Just one question, does the...you mentioned the government does repairs on the building. Do they own the church or does that church belong to... Is the church itself a corporation or....
EKVALL: The church itself has the church just like....well, it has the church just like a school has the schoolhouse, a hospital has the hospital. Now, let's go to another level. This was the official level in Peking. And at the luncheon that I talked about, one man who was...there...there were two from the Foreign Affairs Ministry. One was the Vice-president...Vice-minister. And one...one was the man who has the responsibility for all of the North American continent and Oceania. So he has alot of responsibility and he's a graduate of Harvard. And in the course of all our talking and kidding around and stuff, I finally talked to him sort of in an aside and I said, "I'd like to know the matters...the how this came about." Of course I used the Chinese phrase [Chinese phrase] and how you explain it from the government's side. And I...I was leading that because I had something else in mind to tell...tell him, that comes. "Well," he said, "We have decided that the religions...all religions, Moslem, Buddhist... should have their freedom. But, we also have decided that there is to be no interference from the outside world." He said, "You know it isn't to...it isn't to difficult for the Protestants." Oh yes, and then he said, "And of course the Protestants have got to figu...fix it...have to...the Protestants have to work it out themselves. They're different...of the different denominations." [Laughs] He said, "We're just dealing with (A) the Protestants. We recognize no...." And he said, "We really weren't pressing so much on the Protestants about no outside interference as on the Catholic Church." He said, "There is...." And he said this, he said, "There is a Chinese Catholic Church that is lasted all through the time just like the others lasted. It is not a Roman Catholic Church in China." And he said, "The priests and bishops who have been ordained during the period when they had...they didn't know...they didn't have communication with the outside...they are the bishops and priests that are legitimate." And he laughed and he said, "I know you're laughing too, the Vatican doesn't like this at all." And he said, "One...one Cardinal has come to us and he spent a long time arguing and he...we sent him home and another Cardinal is on the way and we're going to send him home too, in time." Then I came to the point about my own mission, the C and MA. In 195..54, 5, or 7, Bill told me the time, the Alliance Mission broke away in a very rapid and drastic fashion from paternalism and they practically had the same thing that was in the...in the Chinese thing, see.
As soon as there was a church, as soon as it was standing on its own feet, it had its own affairs and it propagated. And the Alliance supported and helped it but the Alliance went on to get another church going. I said to him, "Did you ever hear of a missionary society like that?" And he said, "No, no, no. I knew about the old ones and I knew how they ran." I said, "This was a change in 1957." And I said, "If you ever come in contact...." Of course, I asked him, "Do you know...do you know...do recognize the Shan Do Wei?" That's the Alliance mission. "No," he said, "I don't." He said, "I only know some of the bigger ones, like as the Chan No Wei[?] That's the Presbyterian church. And I said, "Well, at the present time, I'm a Presbyterian because I go to a Presbyterian church." "Okay," he said, "you're a proper...a proper Chin...Protestant."[Laughs] And I...then I explained to him the Alliance policy. And I said, "I'd like this thing to be in your head in the future." And of course that was... that was the thing I was.... I had asked Bill.... I had said, "I want to do this. Will you let me? Or will the Alliance be...."
EKVALL: "You know, involved." And he prayed about it and he said, "If it comes up, why go ahead." So that is what I did. Okay, this is the official level. In Hsi An we ran into the other. A man had written Bill Kerr in Hong Kong and begged Bill to bring him a English-Chinese dictionary, not a Chinese-English dictionary, but a English-Chinese dictionary. and Bill got a good one and had it along and then Bill added some New Testaments, things like that, because he was still feeling that there had to be things brought in. A party had gone in before where one of the missionaries had taken alot of stuff and he had been stopped by the police.
SHUSTER: This is at the border?
EKVALL: No, no. Inside, inside China. And he had said... the police said, "well what are you doing?" And he says, "Well, I'm a man who..." he was born in China too, " I'm a man who loves the Chinese and I think this was good for the Chinese and I did it on." And they said, "Well if you wanted to do that, why didn't you send it in openly to the church and not come around like somebody bringing in contraband?" And, I talked with the... that missionary later on and we had come to a uni...unified agreement about some policies. That's later. We had the address of this man. It was near a hospital. And we asked the guide. There were two. The eldest...the top one was a very pleasant lady, woman. We asked them, we said... Bill and I wanted to see...visit these people, individuals, see. We had the address, figured out the address. Would they help us find it? So one of the guides went along, hired the taxi, didn't charge us for it, hired the taxi to take us. And we went to see this home. The man wasn't there. His wife was a nurse. She was there. There were neighbors who crowded around and looked in and came in and everything and she started telling about their Christian activity. She said, "Every Sunday we have about two hundred people in this place." And I thought....I thought sardines, you know. [Laughs] She said, "We have about two hundred people here worshiping and we preach, my husband preaches." And here were the neighbors. The door was open, everybody was listening one way and another.
SHUSTER: The neighbors, I guess, were interested because they had Westerners.
EKVALL: Yea, exactly. And, the...the...the gu...the guide that was with us, the host, she kind of smiled in an embarrassed way and she translated it although she knew I understood but she translated for Bill. And the... the wife of the pastor, she turned and talked to the official. Part of the time she was talking to us and part of the time she was talking to the official about the church and what it was going to be and how they preached and everything. [Laughs] It was almost as if she...as if the official was getting a testimony or something. And she sat there looking rather embarrassed and smiling and nodding her head. But at the meeting I had an experience that really flipped me over in a psychological way. An elderly woman came in...an elderly woman came in [pause] and she greeted us all and she sat down. She was either a relative or a neighbor. And she had gone to Peking University at one time. And of course by that time I had gotten used to a little quirk that went all through the...all through my visit. About myself and my age and what it did. And the usual question came up, how old was I and where did you learn to speak such Chinese? I said I was eighty-two. She said, "Well, you're ten years older than I am." She said, "I'd like to have your visiting card. What's your Chinese name?" And I told her. And she said, "I'd like to have your visiting card from you. Do you have any?" Well now, visiting cards aren't...aren't in use in China now as they used to be. Used to be that you...visiting cards went everywhere, see. But I had foreign type visiting cards, but with my Chinese name written into it, see. And I said, "Yes, I have them." And she said, "Could I have one?" And I gave it to her. She said, "I want it because I want to pray for you." She didn't say, "Because I want you to pray for me." She didn't say, "I want you to pray for helping us and this and this and this." She turned around and said, "I want to pray for you. See, that's a flip in psychology. And of course back of it is, is the idea inequality, we pray for everybody. And of course I immediately "With all my heart," I said. "I'll pray for you too." Well, finally we saw the little paster.
SHUSTER: Is the husband or the man....
EKVALL: Not in his home. He came to the hotel and he looked like a nondescript little fellow. And the hotel people said, "Well, we can't take you up into the hotel, stay in the gate...gate room." Because there had been some nuisance something or some.... I think there had been some thievery going on and whatnot. And he said, "Well, I want to see, so-and-so, so-and-so of the man from Hong Kong." And of course they knew that and they came.... And at that evening we were having sort of a session arguing over alot of things and also I was telling alot things that had been told me and hadn't been told to the rest. And somebody came in and told Bill that a man wanted to see him and Bill went down and then he came right back and taped me on the shoulder and said, "Come on with me." So we went down and the little man, very deaf, very excited wanted first to thank him for the dictionary. Bill hadn't put the...put the other things with the dictionary. There was some difference of opinion among us about, by that time, about what was what in regard to giving, but had arranged to give it to somebody outside and it had gone off. And the little man was trying to talk in broken English from the dictionary as to what was happening and what we're doing. And his wife would help him. She'd write out characters and....for the deaf like. She'd show it to him. But,...of course it finally developed that he realized that I was able to hear everything he wanted...understand everything he wanted to say in his own language. And as the evening tailed off a little bit and he went off home, he said to me...well, alot of things were said through me. He said...he talked to...about the churches. And why did they only have home churches. He said, "The churches are down, been destroyed or been used for other things." But he said, "They're giving us back the...the land where the churches were. They're saying, "O.K., you have it."
SHUSTER: Can build a church on it.
EKVALL: And he said, "We...when we collect enough bricks we're going to build a church, but it isn't going to be big enough for all the Christians that are coming." That remark about bricks has to do with something is Chinese cities right now. Because the cities are changing from brick to concrete. And there are piles of brick in all kinds of places, along the road and in lots and everything, neatly piled up. And anybody that wants some to go and do something with his house he should...he should...he can go ahead and have some. And this man said, "When we collect enough bricks we're going to build a church." [Laughs]
SHUSTER: How...did he talk at all about how he had become a Christian?
EKVALL: No...no. He didn't talk about that at all. So, O.K., he knew that I was an opening. And he said...he got through... his wife said to me. Of course she under...she got things from him. His wife said to me, "He want's to know when you're leaving. The airport and what plane and that." And I told him. He didn't say anything. I got out of the bus at the airport and he was there. He'd driven twenty miles on his bicycle and he was there and he grabbed me and he held on to me as we went in. And there was some time and we went to a corner of the room and sat down and he started to talk. And he poured it out. Talking about the zeal that was showing up, talking about how there were Christians preaching, talking about how there was multiplication of Christians. And we talked about figures. He said there were forty house churches in Hsi An and the suburbs. And he said, "The pastors go around." I said, "What pastors?" You know I kind of, what. "Oh," he said, "you see, pastors of the past, coleporturs, assistants in the old system of missions, see and people who go to Bible school and that. They had to work just like everybody else. But, just like everybody else when they're sixty they don't have to work anymore and the government continues to support them, seventy percent. And so they had nothing more to do and so now they're pastors and going around to all the churches. And on Sunday...on Sunday they have a routine to hit all the house churches.
SHUSTER: Riding the circuit.
EKVALL: Yea. Riding the circuit. And then he said, "It isn't only here. I'm in correspondence with a man in Lanchow." He said, "There are forty churches there and we write back and fourth...back and fourth about church matters and what to do and how we pray for each other and that." And he said, "Actually I have...I write to one man in Urumchi." Urumchi is the Turkish... the Kurd...the Turkish.... The province of Sinkiang is mostly eastern Turkish, see. The Cossacks and that, see. But, Urumchi is the capital, there are Chinese there. He said, "One man there, a Chinese, he's trying to set up and start a church and he's been writing to me about how to do with it and what to do with it and that," he said. "And oh," he said, "God is so good and we are so zealous. And we are going to pray for you and you are going to pray for us." Really, it was....
EKVALL: Now, let me get to a little bit of the sometimes almost comical personal. I didn't notice it on the first day or so. But, I wasn't going around talking Chinese all the time because in a sense that is a little insult to the interpreter. [Laughs] But I'd let things slip. Talking and something about the tea, and I said.... Somebody would say "Is the tea hot...is the tea hot...cold...is it cold?" or something. And I'd say in good Chinese, "Oh, no it's very hot and it's lovely tea." And things would just slip out you know. But the accent was bonifide Chinese.
SHUSTER: What was that?
SHUSTER: Oh, oh bonifide, yes.
EKVALL: Bonifide Chinese, see.
EKVALL: And immediately a startled look and then somebody would say, "Where did you learn Chinese?" And I'd say, "I was born in China." And the next question, inevitably, was, "How old are you?" Of course that's a polite question in Chinese society. "How old are you?" I'd say eighty-two. And after that V.I.P. It seemed like...it seemed like at times they were going to carry me. And they would go along and be so solicitous, "Watch for these paving stones it's not so safe here." The stairs, somebody will help you up the stairs, etc. And it was very nice. I'm in pretty good shape so many times I didn't need it, but it was very nice. But the main thing was that they would take me off and give me all kinds of information. One man or an other man would take me off and I'd go in a wider circuit and I'd see more things and he'd give more information and talk to me than came through the official channel to the tour, see. And then there was aspect of it that, again and again, those who had sort of followed me as the strange foreigner let's see what's going on. [Laughs] We all...would come to say goodbye and everything. And then they would say, "But you are so well...you are so strong...you are so healthy...you are so well. How is it?" See. And of course there was a chance. The grace of God. I'd point up and I'd say it in Chinese again and again and again. And then watch the reaction.
SHUSTER: What was the reaction?
EKVALL: Varied. Hm...hm...hm...hm, maybe a slight frown. A smile, somebody...a nod of the head, somebody shaking the head, somebody asking a question, how I had got to have the grace of God, see. A varied smile. Which is also significant.
SHUSTER: You never actually got to see a Christian worship service in China then?
EKVALL: No, no. SHUSTER: But it was...they were described to you?
EKVALL: Oh yes. [Laughs] That house where they had two hundred, it was the...the...that little preacher. It was interesting, this is something for the people here in this country I think to hear. His wife is younger than he is and she was a bustling and competent nurse, see. And she had control of lots of things. And he said, "We're going to have the new church." And he said, "Incidentally my wife is going to be one of the pillars." [Laughs]
SHUSTER: One of the main supports. How long would a service usually last?
SHUSTER: How long would a service last, from the way they described it?
EKVALL: from the way they described it he...it...from the way he described he preached, I think it was a pretty long one, see. The Chinese, even as I remembered, they are more patience through long services and a...and sermons than we are.
SHUSTER: Uh huh. Did you get any kind of idea of what kind of things Christians might do together besides the worship service? Do they meet other times during the week?
EKVALL: No, there wasn't much talk about that, because everybody works, see. And there was a problem because in the routine of shifts and everything it would come around where the shift of the day (it's three shifts in twenty-four hours,see)....
EKVALL: Would light on a Christian and he wouldn't be able to come to church because he went to his shift in the factory or on the fields or anything, see.
SHUSTER: Uh huh. Did.... You say that the pastors were sometimes in communications by letters.
SHUSTER: But each church is more or less independent?
EKVALL: Well, they're sort of isolated with the postal service as the only link.
SHUSTER: Uh huh. Even in the same city?
EKVALL: No, not in the same city. No, no, no. They know....
Hsi An is a huge city and this little man knew every place around in Hsi An and here the pastors who were going around... the pastors that.... They now pastors. When it was before, they were carpenters and assistants and this and this and this in the old system, see. And as soon as they had finished their sixty years and they were being supported by the government, they turned to preaching.
SHUSTER: Did you see any evidences of how new pastors are being trained?
EKVALL: No, there was no discussion of that, but it was evident from some of the things they were telling me that there is a scouting group of new ones who are still workers and everything but they're Christians and they're starting to be, let's see, the beginning of the next generation of pastors.
SHUSTER: Is there are kind of publishing of works besides the Bible...
SHUSTER: ...for Christians?
EKVALL: Not that we heard of.[pause] oh, I had something come to my mind and I wanted to tell it to you and now it slips out. It may come in just a moment. The only publishing that I was involved...I mean which I got involved in was the matter of the publications of my books in Chinese. [Laughs]
SHUSTER: Oh yes. I remember you saying that. Why don't you describe that again.
EKVALL: I have two books, anthropology they are. Cultural Relations on the Gansu-Tibetan Border. Because I did that for...I did that for...I did that for a monograph for the University of Chicago when I had just a bare six months of graduate students ...study there. The bare six months was not that the government...my mission gave me that spontaneously but I had become a historian during a prolonged furlough from my wife, who had had anthrax and I had written a history of the mission.
SHUSTER: We have that history in the Center...the Center's library.
EKVALL: Fifty Years I think its called. Yeah, right. And I'm very unhappy about that book because they changed it so much and they.... I wrote in from the Tibetan border. I said, "Next time it is published, if it ever is published, please take my name from the title thing." Because there were many changes there were many changes made, particularly in regard to the time of the friction and separation between (it happened with many churches) between the charismatic, see, and the standing church as it was. And the Alliance was pretty, pretty stiff and hard about it. And also.... Well, of course in handling.... I had given...I had put up the title that I thought was the title see, Into All The World. And they narrowed it down to After Fifty Years. [Laughs]
SHUSTER: Different kind of thing.
EKVALL: So that's the one I don't like but I have another one. Do have it in the thing?
SHUSTER: What's the title?
EKVALL: Gateway to Tibet.
EKVALL: That's the history of the mission field where I was. Now the...the Alliance, after I had done the history.... That took of course about two years because it required an enormous amount of research in the archives. The other, it didn't require and research see. It was all in my head and I did that book writing day and night, almost, in six weeks.
Ekvall: And I had been given six months to do it. And I took the rest of the time and a little bit more, with their permission, and went to Chicago and I wrote this monograph, Cultural Relations on the Tibetan-Gansu Border, for a committee headed by Robert Redfield and I.... Oh, you weren't there with the ...the finale of the meeting?
EKVALL: They got to talking about, something about writing of stuff and that.
SHUSTER: This was the meeting at the Center about....
EKVALL: They laughed... Somebody...somebody started laughing, I think it was Shoemaker, says "Sounds like you have written half a dozen dissertations the way you..." I said, "Well, I got involved in it but it never worked out. It only became a monograph but it was published." He said, "What do you mean?" Well I said, "They told me when I finished the monograph, it was a result of a...a paper in a seminar, they told me that if I would stay another six months they would give me a...my PhD. and count the thing for my dissertation. Well I couldn't go...stay another six months. I was headed for the Tibetan border. And so they changed the thing around from a dissertation, of course, to a monograph and they
published it. And then a year and a half ago it was republished by the...by the press, Chicago University Press.
SHUSTER: University Press. EKVALL: Well....
SHUSTER: And that's one of the books that being published in China?
EKVALL: That's one of the books that's been published...is in process of being published in China. And the other book is my book on..on anthropology...in anthropology. A part of the series Cultural...Case Studies in Cultural Anthropology. Holt, Reinhart and Winston the publishers are.... The two academic editors are George (Spindler and his wife Louise, they're both anthropologists. Spindler was...Spindler was....editor of the American Anthropologist for I think four years. But they devote their time, not all, the...the University lessen their...teaching burden according to how much stuff is coming in for them to edit and look after and all that, see. And that series, time I put my one...my thing in, in `68, I think there were about thirty... thirty... thirty titles there. I don't know how long it had been going, but I was in New York just last year and I went to see the man in Holt. Every time I go...stop in New...New York why he always takes me out for a big lunch. And I asked him how it was going and he said, "Well, now we have had...we have a hundred and fifty titles." A hundred and fifty books of the series...going of the series. And so I've been trying to use some of the methods and everything to point it out as being the analog and can we have a religious analog. And actually where everything is said anthropology, I think that new... new term ought to be injected, missiology, in it. [Laughs] So that's what I've...that's part of the reason I've....
SHUSTER: Yes, we were talking about at the Center....
EKVALL: ....I've been fighting this battle, see, right down to the....
SHUSTER: So you were talking also with the C and MA...CMA about the....
EKVALL: Well the point was, this was the thing, see. I spent alot of time with the C and MA. And after an enormous amount of talk, talk, talk, talk, talk with everybody they accepted it. Then at their national council the following summer it was endorsed. That's this year. And between that time and now, see, they suddenly reneged and chopped... chopped of anything of it with me.
SHUSTER: This would have been the case book on China....
SHUSTER: ....or on Tibet. This would have been a case book on Tibet? Missiology in Tibet or in China?
EKVALL: Well...no. I'm talking about the series.
SHUSTER: Uh huh. Oh, just approval for the whole series....
EKVALL: Missiology... as I have it now, missionary...case... missionary case studies in non-Christian religions. Well now that is a series. That's the title of the series. The thing I started, my contribution, was simply Tibetan religion....
EKVALL: ....as perceived by the missionary. That's the one I....I don't know when you were there whether finally I...I promised to...to work on it six months and see what happens later on.
SHUSTER: Bill was telling me about it, Bill Shoemaker.
EKVALL: Yes...yes. Now....
SHUSTER: How did you learn your books were being published in China?
EKVALL: From Jimmy Wang. Jimmy Wang told me he was going to try to be involved in it. And he only asked for one, the anthropology one...the title is Fields on the Hoof. He said, "I want two copies because I'm trying to get it published...I'm going to get it published for you." And we came back, he told Bill...he said, "There are two books being published, the Academy of Social Sciences in Peking had already chosen Case Studies in Cultural Anthropology on the Gansu-Tibetan Border which was the early one. They had already chosen that and started it and now they choose...they picked up the other. And I have confirmation of it because the Dali Lama's brother was with some Chinese scholars and everything and of course they got to talking and found that they knew me...different ones knew me or knew of me and he was a great friend of mine and they confirmed the fact that the two books were in process of publication.
EKVALL: But, I have been hammering at Jimmy Wang right from the beginning when he asked for the different kinds of books of mine. For my novel Tents Against the Sky. I told him, "If you want the hart of the Tibetans it's in that novel. It's not in the somewhat more ....
SHUSTER: Scholarly or....
EKVALL: ....monograph form of those books. And of course...have you ever...have you read it?
SHUSTER: Tents Against the Sky?
SHUSTER: No, I've read your poetry...book of poetry, Tibetan
EKVALL: I see. Well, Tents Against the Sky ends with conversion for the Tibetan and all the reasons. How he was pressed into it and alot of the material that I gave in preaching and talking to him of Christianity and it ends in his conversion. And if Billy...if Jimmy Wang can get that printed by the Chinese, [Laughs] translated and printed by the Chinese, I'll feel that God has His hand on it.
SHUSTER: That would be incredible. Of course, you say you were in Shanghai.
SHUSTER: Now that...wasn't that basically the center of the Cultural Revolution. The....
EKVALL: That was...that was....
SHUSTER: ....the uh...stronghold....
EKVALL: ....more the center. No, no. That was more the center for the uneasiness of the four. You know the gang four...the four.... That was their head...that was their...that's where they had more power and that's where there was more seething....
SHUSTER: Their base....
EKVALL: ....and conspiracy and everything.
SHUSTER: Did you hear much talk when you were over there about the coming trial, the gang of four. I hear on the radio today they're supposed to go on trial tomorrow.
EKVALL: Oh...well. All I...oh yes, I...I...I would talk about the gang of four with them. And then they would say, "Well." I'd say, "Where are they?" "Oh they're in prison." "Well, are they going to be alive?" "Of course they're going to be alive. We won't kill people in prison." And uh...but I never...I never through a.... Of course at the top level I was...I was shooting for what we wanted and everything. And I was very careful not to....
EKVALL: ....not to wander off into too much....
SHUSTER: Politics or....
EKVALL: You see.... Now, oh this is private. Will you turn it off?
[The machine is turned of at this point and later switched on again]
EKVALL: I heard...saw more smiles and heard more laughter, particularly in middle-aged and younger Chinese, then I ever heard in old China before.
SHUSTER: Why is that do you think?
EKVALL: That I don't undertake to explain. It's just a significant thing, maybe. And the mules and donkeys on the farms...collective farms and everything in old...around Hsi An..... I know an awful lot about them because I knew them in the old days. Sometimes I'd have to hire a mule or get a mule or something. And they were skel...near mere skeletons. And this time I saw all these mules and donkeys fat...no, well, sleek and well taken care of as they pulled their loads. That's something to think about too.
SHUSTER: How about mechanical transportation?
EKVALL: They have it. They have a very cheap mechanical thing which is a sort of a like built on the lines of a wheelbarrow. With the little mach...with the little engine right down in front and lower wheels there. And then it comes bigger and higher and it's automatic. And they pile it way high up and it clatters and roars along with its little engine right straight down in front in the open. I assume that it's very economical. And that is doing the work...alot of the work that was formally done either by humans or by animals. They have a small taxi that is smaller than the smallest Honda I've seen. I think it...I think two people could get in it with the driver. But it looks much better for driver and one person. And they'll scout around, go very fast. The other taxis that they have are mostly imported through Hong Kong from...from Japan. But they...they say that they have some that they make themselves.
SHUSTER: Did you see any evidences of anti-Christian or anti-religion campaigns while you were traveling in China.
EKVALL: No I saw plenty of evidences of let's say personal anti like the personal that shake their heads and that say, "Well, Christianity, after all, that's the opium dream." But I saw nothing of that and I saw no indication of any fear and fright on the part of Buddhist religionists, the Islamic....
SHUSTER: Or Christian?
EKVALL: Pardon ?
SHUSTER: What about Christian?
EKVALL: Oh, I've already told you what about Christian. I'm just talking now about, see.... These are right along the same thing.
And we did visit one Buddhist monastery. It was...it was on the tour thing. And we visited an Islamic mosque within this great city that had been given back to the Islamics and I talked with him at great length and uh.... I had had a great deal of contact... intercourse with the Islamic people because, uh...well, I had studied alot of their theology in a way in passing because here were people who would listen to me as I talked Chinese and that and I was in on the conversion of some of them.
Uh, and uh
SHUSTER: How did they describe the condition of Islam in China?
EKVALL: Well, they described it that, "We had a very tight time during the Cultural Revolution. Now we're free and we're putting together things and...and we're building up the... we're fixing up the mosque and we're increasing attendance and we're increasing all the rights of that, see." One of them said to me, "We don't need to be afraid to go out on the street and pray five times a day."
SHUSTER:. And are they too.... You mentioned the Christians, they just don't have enough space because so many people are coming. Is that a similar situation....
EKVALL: No they...they...there weren't many in the mosque and the place where they said they had their gatherings was relatively small and the old teachers and what not had come back and were going through their rituals and of course much of it was reading the Koran and explaining it.
SHUSTER: What about the pilgrimage to Mecca which each Islamic is supposed to make.
EKVALL: I don't know anything about it. I didn't even ask, see. I imagine that it is not done, I would assume that it is not done although you never can tell what the Chinese will do.
SHUSTER: What about Buddhism? What is the state of Buddhism?
EKVALL: Buddhism.... The only Buddhism I saw was Chinese Buddhism. I didn't get close enough to Tibet or anything. But we were taken on a tour to a Buddhist monastery, a little one. And there was an old Buddhist there and two or three elderly people and four or five young monks. And they described their routine and what they did. And I got to talking with the elderly people and I asked them what the links were the links with that and Tibetan Buddhism...see, Chinese and Tibetan Buddhism. And he said, "We have no connection with Tibetan Buddhism. We are the Buddhist things which came in China, sproughted in China from the Buddhist missionaries who come around from central Asia into China, not from Tibet." Which is pretty close because Tibetan Buddhism is pretty distinctive. It has so many different things in that Chinese Buddhism isn't a part of it. Although there is naturally a certain sympathy or relationship. "After all, we are Buddhists." I suppose it would be like the relationship between, even in bad times between communists,between....
EKVALL: Catholics and Protestants.
SHUSTER: Or...do the Buddhist temples seem to have any worshiper?
EKVALL: We were there in the middle of the day and the place was prim and nice. There were gardens or what you call 'em. There was nobody there as a worshiper as a time but there the arrangements were all there for worship and the young monks told me that "Oh yes." They had a routine, a two hour period during the day of reciting the sutras and there was a difference between them (I got that from talking to the old leader). He said, "There is a class of those who read the sutras and there is a class of those who recite the sutras." That is, they know it by heart.
SHUSTER: What was the reaction of people toward you when they...as a Westerner? Of people, the interpreters....
EKVALL: I can't answer that question because the definition as a Westerner....
SHUSTER: Or as a foreigner or as a non-Chinese....
EKVALL: Yes I know what you're.... But even that I can't answer it squarely because I had the sensation all through the thing that the minute I opened my mouth I became less Westerner and a little bit Chinese. In almost each response, in all kinds of situations.
SHUSTER: And this is because your pronunciation and way of expressing yourself was....?
EKVALL: I would...I would say something and my pronunciation.... They knew I must be half Chinese or something. And for those that wouldn't...those that were people getting me through customs and people...clerks getting things out for me. They... they... they had us a special repproachment so that I couldn't...I couldn't have.... Now, I...I've been in China when anti-foriegnism.... It isn't only...it isn't only Communist.... Anti-foreign things have been rife. Movements and that and I've been in situation where that was hate and snarling refusal and all that sort of thing, see. But that's the case...but that's not the population's whole attitude. That is the various things, movements, revolutions. And, let us be frank and sure, anger and rejection of Western superiority action, see. And... so I... I can't...I can't...I can't assess that. All I know is that the least contact at this time...at the least contact, all of a sudden they were friendly and half-joking and there wasn't anything at.... And I in old days, in times of trouble and everything, I was very sensitive. I had my antenna out because sometimes it was a matter of self-protection and in planning or even in crisis, see. But I didn't have any of that this time. Of course in general, I was already assured by being in the tour, see. And I met many people just as in the tour. Consequently, I met many fewer people as a single individual. And of course that was mostly when I was looking for people I knew. But, I really can't answer that question.
SHUSTER: Did you get any idea of the kind of conception that Chinese had of America?
EKVALL: Well, this is where I argued for... for years, but way down deep the Chinese probably alike... like the Americans more than any other people, foreigners. Because of some of our policy. And I argue... I argued that out thing with... I've talked about that with Communists from the years, from 1920 on. And non-communists and through all periods of Chinese history. And did I tell you about my interview with the Frenchman?
SHUSTER: No, I don't think so.
EKVALL: When I was assistant military attache in Paris, I debriefed a French railway equipment salesman and whatnot who had been in China for.... Now, this was in 19...this was in 50...58. 57...58. Who had been in China and at that time of course there was no break with Russia and all the Eastern countries... countries were pouring into China and doing things and doing things. And this man was French railroad and he spent something like six months in China. And in the debriefing, when he found that I knew so many of the places, exact lines of where the mountains were and where the tunnels might be and that. Of course there had been alot of railway building since I was there. But, I knew the lines, outlines and knew the places. And he opened up and talked at great length and of course he had this feeling about the Chinese which in the past was very strong about feeling with the Japanese. That you sell them something and they take one copy, they take one thing as a sample and then they make copies of it and you don't sell any more, see. He was very much conscious of that. And I said, "Well, how did...how did you feel about the Chinese?" Now, I... I also have a belief that French culture and Chinese culture probably has more similarities than any other combination.
SHUSTER: Oh, how so?
EKVALL: And I can argue it out in great length. I argued it with a French officer to the extent that when...after about three months, this was when I was in Chungking, I not only argued it but I... I dared him to go with me and see what was happening. I argued it that there was more similarity between French culture and Chinese culture than people thought of. The mistress system, the concubine system. Theatr...theater, what they call "dry theater."
EKVALL: Cooking, of course. Statesmen and high people worrying about the cook and the taste of the food and talking about food. Super politic...politeness. You can go run through the thing and tremendous array of under...down under similarities. And of course I met alot of Chinese who had been in France. But of course in numbers those who were in England and the United States were more numerous.
SHUSTER: Wasn't Chou En Lai himself in France?
EKVALL: Chou En Lai was one of those, see. Now, so...so this man was, let's say, a favored...a favored race or something. And yet when I said, "Well, what do you think...who would you like to be to live in China, of all the foreign...Westerners?" He said, "I'd like to be an American." I said, "Why?" He said, "Down under, I sense more solid liking of Americans than anybody else, of any other country." He said, "Of course there were posters." There were posters of Uncle Sam killing the kids in the Korean war and there were posters of this and that and the other thing and all that. And they're all over the place, but that doesn't make any difference.
SHUSTER: Why do you think they feel that way?
EKVALL: We claimed no territory in China when all the other countries were grabbing up chunks of territory by force. We had no privileged quarters although we liked to be in the Shanghai International. It was pleasant to be there. But then we didn't have a Brit...like the British. The British and the Russian and the German and the Italian and whatnot, see. The indemnities of the Boxer Rebellion which were wrenched out of the Chinese by the Allied army with the...with the Germans as a particular brutal vanguard. The indemnities, the other countries took them, the United States took them but gave them back to...for students to come to the States and for education. Quite a bit of history, that.
SHUSTER: Well, I thank you very much for this interview and fascinating account of your trip.
EKVALL: Well, I hope it's of some...some interest and some good.
END OF TAPE