Michel Pablo

In Defense of the Chinese Revolution

(November 1959)

From Fourth International (Amsterdam), No. 8, Winter 1959–60, pp. 12–13.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Since the events in Tibet last spring, there has been an incessant stirring of the reactionary campaign against the Chinese revolution, which tends to undermine its influence among the Asian masses and colonial people in general.

In this campaign, the Asian capitalists are in obvious connivance with imperialism, only too happy to justify the scandalous prolongation of the international blockade against the great Chinese revolution. The Indian bourgeoisie first of all found in the demagogic exploitation of the events in Tibet, and then in what it calls the “frontier incidents,” an opportunity to turn the attention of the Indian masses from their growing misery towards an exacerbated nationalism, and to set them up against China, chief catalyst of the revolutionary potential which is growing and threatens to explode in India.

For People’s China, from all the evidence, represents objectively enemy number one of the Indian bourgeoisie, to the extent that its economic and cultural progress contrasts more and more with the stagnation, if not retrogression, in India under the bourgeois regime of the Congress party and Nehru.

The “friendship” which the latter had proclaimed over quite a long period was only making a virtue of necessity. This “friendship” was in reality the price paid in exchange for the ultra-opportunist attitude of the Chinese leadership in regard to the Indian bourgeoisie; the former having, with the connivance of the Kremlin, ordered the Communist Party of India ta guarantee “social peace” and support Nehru.

But class realities and demands are, in the final analysis, more decisive than any calculated “friendship.” The necessity for turning the attention of the Indian masses from the revolutionary experience of China and for setting them against her has become all the more urgent since the situation in India continues to deteriorate.

A part of the Indian bourgeoisie, which is becoming more and more important, can see no solution other than making an approach to American imperialism, an approach which goes along with the reappraisal of foreign alliances and friendships and a harder internal policy. The current reconciliation with Pakistan and the visit to New Delhi announced by Eisenhower are typical operations which enter into this range of ideas.

Nehru, a more subtle and equally more conscious representative of his class, is in reality the author of the present changeover of the foreign policy of India and of its internal climate.

To slow down People’s China and set public opinion against her is a prerequisite for this operation. Nehru, pretending to yield unwillingly to the pressure of public opinion, has hypocritically continued to undermine the friendship towards revolutionary China and its popularity. He has put it in the dock on account of the events in Tibet and those which followed on the frontiers.

Let us get this last question clear. This is all the more necessary since the Communist party, as well as Khrushchev himself, have not hesitated to dissociate themselves from China, and to incriminate her indirectly as chiefly responsible for the “frontier incidents.”

The Indian Communist Party, roused in a fervour of patriotism, not to say chauvinism, and with the blessing of the Indian bourgeoisie and its “hero” Nehru, suffers manifestly at the present moment from the pressure of “public opinion” and has shamefully capitulated before this pressure. This is the inevitable ransom for its ultra-opportunist policy, to which Pekin as well as Moscow has greatly contributed. As for Khrushchev, who generously proclaims an equal “neutrality” towards China, a workers’ state in full revolutionary development, and to India, a bourgeois state, fighting desperately against the revolution which is ripening and threatens to explode, he manifestly obeys the demands of his policy of “peaceful coexistence” and of compromise with imperialism.

What counts now for him is to give proof that he remains loyal to the spirit of his talks with Eisenhower.

It is this loyalty which leads him now to discover, for example, the “historic bonds” which have enchained Algeria, colonised by French imperialism, but ignore the rights which revolutionary China has reasons to consider to be really valid historically in regard to the delimitation of her frontier with India and Pakistan. In the case of Algeria, it is a question of Khrushchev coming to an agreement with de Gaulle to the detriment of the Algerian revolution. In the case of the “frontier incidents,” it is a question for him of safeguarding Indian “friendship” to the detriment of the Chinese revolution.

Naturally, everyone can fairly deduce that such an attitude towards the latter betrays a state of affairs between Pekin and Moscow which is at present rather strained, for reasons which go far beyond the Indo-Chinese dispute. The near future will throw more light on this question for us.

We come back to the essence of the Indo-Chinese frontier dispute. It is a fact accepted by all, that revolutionary China has never accepted the frontier line with India and Pakistan, drawn in the past by British imperialism (the McMahon line) and reclaimed by New Delhi and Karachi: on the contrary she has declared that this question must be settled amicably “through friendly negotiation conducted in a well-prepared way step by step.” [1] The frontier points and regions at present in dispute are shown on Chinese maps as forming part of China, and have been since the Liberation under the effective administrative and military authority of China. It is in such a region controlled by China since the Liberation that the recent incidents of October 20 occurred, when an Indian patrol came into conflict with the Chinese forces which had been installed there for a long time.

The revolutionary Marxists have no special reason for according more credit to the assertions of the bourgeois government of Nehru than to those of the Pekin workers’ government. The latter declares that all the incidents of the past month were provoked by the incursion of Indian forces into territories controlled by China since the Liberation and that “although the Chinese government cannot recognise the illegal McMahon line, guards have never crossed this line.” [2]

Better still, if the points and regions of the frontier zone between China, India and Pakistan are in reality still undetermined and require fixing, clearly the revolutionary Marxists can only favor the Chinese point of view without complications, that is to say, the point of view which conforms most to the strategic interests of the Chinese state and the Chinese revolution.

The entire frontier dispute is concerned with a desert mountain region of the Himalayas, but of very important strategic interest. It is really the hinge between the three countries and commands China’s access to India and Pakistan, and vice versa (the access of these countries to China). There is absolutely no reason why the Chinese workers’ state should show itself “generous” and give away gratuitously these very important strategic positions to the bourgeois states, India and Pakistan, allies of imperialism.

The revolutionary Marxists, including those of India and Pakistan, placed in a similar position, begin first of all by giving more credit and even favoring the point of view of the workers’ state, and not of their own bourgeoisie, and by resisting the current chauvinism that the bourgeoisie will not hesitate to arouse in order to undermine the prestige and influence of its revolutionary neighbour. The revolutionary Marxist certainly cannot forget that the Chinese workers’ state is now governed by a bureaucratic administration brought up in the school of Stalinism. But this bureaucratic leadership in questions of frontier disputes defends fundamentally the interests of the workers’ state and of the revolution, independent of the possible criticisms of certain of its actions. Between it and the national bourgeoisie, the Marxist revolutionaries are neither “neutral” nor inclined to yield, for the strongest of reasons, to any kind of insidious form of nationalism. They are resolutely opposed to the chauvinist current in their own country, they unmask the hypocritical and reactionary campaign by their own bourgeoisie and subordinate the possible future criticisms of the bureaucratic leadership of the workers’ state to the defense of this state. It belongs quite naturally to the IVth International to hold high the flag of defense of the great Chinese revolution, which is now so much embarrassing the Kremlin and the Indian Stalinists.

November 10, 1959


1. Declaration by the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, October 26, 1959.

2. Ibid.

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