Li Fu-jen

Chiang Kai-shek Will Not Release
Peasant Masses for War Against Japan

(November 1937)

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. 1 No. 15, 20 November 1937, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Chiang Kai-shek has from the beginning prosecuted the war inadequately and half-heartedly, all the while hoping to be able to make a more or less favorable deal with the Japanese imperialist moloch with the aid of British and American imperialism. Direct evidence of this attitude, and the treacherous role of the Stalinists, is now at hand in the shape of a factual editorial which appeared in the Shanghai Evening Post & Mercury for October 18, 1937:

“From foreign observers,” says the Post, “who have been in this area (North China) we learn that the one-time Red Army, now known as the 8th Route Army, has had a peculiar time of it. Various apparently successful operations have not been reported to the general public, or have been reported without identification of unit or leaders, evidently because Nanking still feels indisposed to do anything which might contribute glory to its one-time foes.

“What is more to the point, by Government order the former Reds have been unable to carry out their most cherished plan – the organization of a large mass of armed peasants for guerilla warfare which the Japanese might find extremely distressing. That the ex-Communists have their feet firmly planted on a mass movement is undenied, and it would seem that they might be highly successful in reviving the technique of 1926–27 days which in large measure was employed against the Government in subsequent fighting after the party split.

“With active collaboration of Nanking, and Government supply of arms to the masses, suck a thing could fee done on a scale never before attempted. The efficiency of such maneuvers would be unquestioned, for an armed peasantry is the most unpleasant enemy any foe can encounter over a wide area. Japan’s tactics are rigid, they call for the employment of conventional counter-tactics, and an opponent living oh the soil, knowing its every characteristic, impossible to confront or to grasp, would be an opponent which would confuse and baffle Japanese mechanized and mechanized-minded armies. Many observers have said, in fact, that the launching of China-wide guerilla warfare was China’s one sure answer to Japanese aggression; and there is a great deal of merit to this view, beyond a doubt.

“But Nanking is suspicious of the 8th Route Army and all its works, apparently. Orders have confined the ex-Reds to operations exclusively west of Taiyuanfu, the Shansi capital, and certainly the operations conducted by others east of Taiyuanfu have not been crowned with signal success. The Japanese and foreign observers seem agreed that lack of effective leadership and central control largely nullified the fighting spirit of the men. No general plan appears to have been followed, and in some instances the erratic back-and-forth movements have involved the abandonment of carefully prepared defenses without a struggle – a situation only, one step short of the Jehol debacle when mountain defenses were never given even a preliminary test.

“Few compliments can be paid what has been done north of the Yellow River thus far, on a basis of reports. Such compliments as are in order go rather to isolated units and to the mass of the soldiery than to any coordinated planning or spirit of get together on the part of high command.”

It thus emerges that China’s struggle against Japanese imperialism is being actively sabotaged by Chiang Kai-shek. By order of the Nanking government, the former Red Army is prohibited from conducting guerilla warfare against the Japanese invaders. Nanking forbids the arming of the peasantry although this could be done “on a scale never before attempted.” It confines the former Red Army to an area west of Taiyuanfu, well away from the scenes of military operations.

And why? Because Nanking is still “suspicious of the 8th Route Army and all its works.” Suspicious, be it noted, in spite of the craven capitulation and surrender of the Stalinists! But the suspicion, in this case, is merely a reflection of Nanking’s very real fear of any movement of the armed masses. Nanking and its bourgeois constituency fear and oppose the masses much more than they do Japanese imperialism. Nor are they at all confident of the ability of the Stalinists to keep the masses in check, despite Moscow assurances.

Who exposes the deadly treachery of Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang government at Nanking ? The Stalinists? By no means! They have kept as silent as the grave. Their mouths are sealed by the pact which Moscow has made with Chiang Kai-shek. In refusing to permit the arming of the peasants for guerrilla warfare, Chiang is holding Moscow to its agreement to suppress all revolutionary initiative by the masses. That is why the Daily Worker can print only nauseating prattle about “united China,” which simply means Stalinist unity with Chiang Kai-shek. The revelation of Chiang’s sabotage of the struggle is left to a paper like the Shanghai Evening Post & Mercury, which is an organ of American imperialism in the Far East, and has its own reasons for desiring a stronger struggle against Japan.

Is it any wonder that, as these lines are written, Japan’s war machine is pounding forward to all its objectives, sweeping aside China’s defense both in North China and at Shanghai? The legions of Japanese imperialism are being met only by such comparatively frail military defenses as the Nanking government, capitulatory in mood and treacherous in action, has been able to strew in their path. The masses are herded in the background and held immobilized by the government’s military dictatorship. Not a single appeal has been addressed either by the Nanking government or its “Communist”’ servitors to the Japanese soldiers who are being forced to fight in the interests of their own exploiters. Chiang Kai-shek could hardly make such appeals, for he has no program which would strike any sympathetic chord in the mind of the downtrodden Japanese soldiers. And if he did make such an appeal, what Japanese soldiers would pay any attention to it? Chiang is known to the Japanese workers and peasants as the executioner of the Chinese proletariat.

And the Stalinists? They, as we know, have promised not to engage in any more revolutionary propaganda. Yet only a revolutionary appeal would reach the minds and hearts of the Japanese soldiers. Any other would ring with an inevitable hollowness.

Upon the Chinese Bolshevik-Leninists rests the responsibility for building a new revolutionary party, which alone can lead the struggle to victory. The first step in this direction is to strive to win the confidence of the masses, including Chiang Kai-shek’s soldiers, by tireless practical work in the present struggle, and by a consistent exposure of the treachery of the Kuomintang and the Stalinists.

Last updated on 19 November 2014