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Susan Green

China: The Struggle Between Chiang
and the Communists

(25 June 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 26, 25 June 1945, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

China is split into two antagonistic sections. There is Kuomintang China with its capital at Chungking, and Communist China with its capital at Yenan in the northwest. The hostility between the two Chinas verges on civil war. About Communist China, until quite recently, very little has been known for the simple reason that the Generalissimo’s blockade of so-called Red China has excluded the press from the area.

However, in an inadvertent moment at a press conference, the official Chungking spokesman denied that there was a blockade. Whereupon a group of correspondents pressed their advantage and asked permission to go to Yenan. After months of squirming, Chungking granted permission. Mr. Forman was one of the group to go. He reported on his six months’ stay in Communist China in the book here reviewed.

In a way, Mr. Forman’s book reminds one of the reports that used to come out of Russia in the early ’30s when the starry-eyed friends went to see what was good, beautiful, brave attd progressive – and naturally saw only that. However, Mr. Forman is supposed to have gone to Yenan with no preconceived views. Be that as it may, much of what he reports has been authenticated from other sources. Some of his account is based on official statements of the Communist Party; some consists of verbatim interviews with Communist leaders; so that, all in all, a reader can piece out a pretty comprehensive picture – if he applies some critical sense of his own.

Russian Connections

The section where Mr. Forman tries to show that the connection between Communist China and Stalin’s Russia is negligible has to be taken with a grain of salt. “In the five months I spent with the Chinese Communists I saw not the slightest tangible connection with Russia. There were no Russian supplies – no guns, planes or equipment. There were no Russian military or political advisers.” Thus writes Mr. Forman.

Again, Mr. Forman makes the point that “the Chinese Communists are not Communists” in the Marxian-Leninist sense; and this is true. But neither are the Russian Stalinists communists in the Marxian-Leninist sense or in any settle. Nor are the Stalinists anywhere communists in the Marxian-Leninist sense. On the contrary, they have become a major counter-revolutionary force in the world. In America, the Stalinists are now staunch supporters of capitalism and enemies of all working class militancy. All of this, far from indicating a slackening of connections with the Kremlin, reveals how the puppet parties of the world dance to Moscow’s fiddle.

The reader must pause and consider the policy of the Chinese Communists to accept only one-third of all elective offices – even if they receive more votes. This, supposedly, is evidence of the democratic intentions of the Communist Party. Has it, then, given up the primary objective of every political party, namely, power? Of course, it has not. Po Ku, member of the Politburo, made this clear to Edgar Snow of the Saturday Evening Post: “We must struggle for leadership everywhere and at all times. We do not deny that. A political party that does not lead has no reason for existence.” Presumably, there are other ways of gaining influence and making friends, and that one-third business is only a token concession – to what?

Red China seeks the military and economic help of the so-called western democracies, especially of the United States. Knowing the American disapproval of the Russian one-party system, is it not likely that the Chinese Stalinists have swept the dust under the carpet to make a democratic impression?

Mr. Forman’s story of the military achievements of the Eighth Route Army, the New Fourth Army and the peoples’ militia or partisans has been substantiated by others, including General Stillwell and Ambassador Hurley. These men, interested in winning the war against Japan for America, soon saw that the Chinese Communists were doing a businesslike job against the invaders, while the Chungking government was more concerned with doing such a job against the Chinese Communists.

Policy of Communists

Another pretty well substantiated fact is, that the Communist Party has instituted a number of reforms in its extensive Border Region with a population of some 90,000,000. There is a very close connection between the military plans of the Communist leaders and such reforms as were granted the people. No party could get the ear of the poverty-stricken, landlord-oppressed peasants subjected also to the assaults of the Japanese invader, unless that party came with a program of agrarian relief and governmental change. On the other hand, tightly blockaded from the outside world, the Communist leaders just had to secure the active support of the people.

The Communists advocate lower rents and lower taxes. At the same time an intensive production driye was started to supply food and the materials of war. Cooperative labor exchanges facilitated the division of labor between working and fighting. To remove the old-time objection of poor peasants to billeting an army, the army also rolled up its sleeves, participating in the production program and making itself as self-supporting as possible. Local self-government in the villages – such as it can be under Communist domination – has been established. Education, within the limited facilities, becomes available to larger sections of the people. Much of the education is, however, propaganda pure and simple, as are also the cultural efforts which Mr. Forman describes as being so thoroughly enjoyed by the villagers.

By quoting Mao Tze-tung, big chief of the Communist Party, Mr. Forman makes it quite clear that the party program is not revolutionary. The agrarian reforms consist mainly in inducing the landlords to reduce rents; and then, by intensifying production, making it possible for the peasants to pay rent where formerly they couldn’t. For the rest, the Communists stand for competition, private enterprise, and encouragement of foreign capital investments.

Neither is a revolutionary people’s government on the slate of the Chinese party. It calls for a government representing landlords, merchants, capitalists, petty bourgeois, as well as peasants and workers. At the time of Mr. Forman’s writing, the Communists were willing to make peace with Chiang Kai-shek. The latter’s terms, however, were not acceptable; consisting of reducing the 570,000 Communist army to a mere 100,000, disbanding the 2,200,000 people’s militia, and appointing Kuomintang dictators for the anti-Japanese bases in North China.

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