Japan invaded China in 1931. The ruling Kuomintang Party (KMT) in China, led by Chiang Kai-shek, initially adopted a nonresistance policy toward the Japanese. Many overseas Chinese, including members of New York City’s Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance (CHLA), opposed the KMT’s passive position and organized “Save China” campaigns to raise money for a strong China. The CHLA sent letters and telegrams to American politicians urging them to adopt policies to support China against Japan. But the CHLA’s main strategy was to appeal directly to the American public by approaching their customers, residents of New York City. This 1938 article in the Chinese Vanguard reported on the CHLA’s anti-Japanese work and efforts to mobilize support for China.
The New York Chinese Hand Laundry Alliance has been extremely dedicated to the work of resisting Japan to save our country. Immediately following the Marco Polo Bridge incident, the HLA began to organize a campaign to raise funds for China. Aside from the sum of around 4,300 Silver Dollars that the HLA collected during its first and second period of fund-raising and which was already sent to China, the Alliance has raised an additional 1,230 Silver Dollars and twenty-seven cents during its third fund-raising period. This sum was given to the two gentlemen Chen Yeh and Chen Chia, who wired it directly from the Bank of China to the Treasury Department of the Chinese Central Government, so that the money could be used to supplement the government’s military funds.
Furthermore, because the Alliance realizes that most Americans sympathize with our country, it has initiated a number of activities aimed at Americans, such as that of soliciting donations for medical supplies from American customers of hand laundries. It also contributed significantly by distributing English-language publicity material that called for the boycott of Japanese goods. With winter approaching, refugees and wounded soldiers in China will be in desperate need of relief, and even western customers of hand laundries have frequently suggested that the Alliance broaden its campaign to collect funds for medical supplies. In response to this situation, the Alliance decided last month to broaden its fund-raising activities. It has recently made ready the first 5,000 donation boxes, which will be distributed to hand laundries for the purpose of collecting funds from laundry customers. In addition, on October 31, at 4 PM, the Alliance will be sponsoring an anti-Japan publicity conference at its headquarters, to which Professor Chi Chao-(illegible)—China’s representative to the Pacific Scholars' Conference—has been invited as a speaker. The Mayor of New York has been eagerly assisting the work of the Alliance, and will be sending as his representative to the conference the President of the City Council, Mr. Esser. Undoubtedly, Mr. Esser will be offering an eloquent speech to celebrate the patriotism of Chinese living in America. It is said that the Alliance will especially welcome the participation in the conference of Chinese active in all sectors of Chinese-American society.
Source: Chinese Vanguard, 28 October, 1937, 2. (Translation by Chia Yin Hsu.)