Xi Jinping in His Own Words
What China’s Leader Wants—and How to Stop Him From Getting It
IF WE take at face value the 30-year treaty of friendship, alliance and mutual aid concluded in Moscow on February 14, 1950, between the world's two greatest Communist Powers—the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China—Mao Tse-tung has scored a signal diplomatic victory. The treaty and the supplementary agreements seem in general advantageous to China, and the terms of the treaty do not prove that China under Communist rule is an obedient tool of the Kremlin.
Thus the Treaty's propaganda value is immense, and both the Soviet Union and Red China will exploit it. By renouncing their special rights in regard to the Chang-chun railways, Dairen and Port Arthur "after the conclusion of the peace treaty with Japan, not later, however, than 1952," the Russians seek to leave the impression that they had demanded these special privileges in 1945 because they were distrustful of the Kuomintang Government, and that had they not done so Chiang Kai-shek would have granted strategic bases in Manchuria to the United States. And the Chinese Communists can now tell their own countrymen and the world that Mao Tse-tung was more than right when he said that Communist China could "look for genuine friendly aid" only from the "anti-imperialist front headed by the U.S.S.R." They also are able to say with a show of justification that Soviet "internationalism" is not the same thing as Tsarist imperialism.
The world, however, is inclined to be incredulous. The picture of the Soviet Union in the rôle of a selfless donor in China is too good to be true, and few who are not brothers in the faith believe that the public announcement of these terms in Moscow is more than propaganda intended to mislead. The Treaty cannot be regarded as the whole story, or even the most important part of the understanding between Mao and the Soviets.
Whether the decisive aspects of the arrangement have been incorporated in secret protocols to the Moscow Treaty is not known at this writing. Indeed, it is not the important thing. The Soviet Union has concluded treaties of friendship, alliance and mutual aid with all satellite countries in Eastern Europe, and in appearance at least these treaties are not essentially different from treaties which might have been freely entered into by equal and independent states. But no one would for a moment suppose that Poland, for example, is in fact on terms of equality with the Soviet Union because a Soviet-Polish treaty of friendship exists. What actually determine Soviet relations with another Communist country are not the provisions of a formal document, but the state of mind of the Soviet rulers on the one hand and of the local Communist leaders on the other—as exemplified, of course, in various working arrangements made over a period of years. If the Kremlin looks upon Poland, for example, as a satellite, and Poland accepts the Kremlin's point of view, then Poland's status is settled.
It may, as we have seen, happen that there is a Communist state which does entertain ideas of a relationship with Moscow on terms of equality. Then we have a case of Titoism. Moscow took for granted that Jugoslavia would be delighted to play the part of a satellite, as all good Communist states should do, but Marshal Tito thought otherwise. He was willing to align Jugoslavia with the Soviet Union, and the alignment was sealed by a treaty in 1945 when he visited Moscow. Yet, in spite of this, and in spite of his Moscow training, Tito did not consider Jugoslavia subordinate to the Soviet Union. Hence the Cominform rupture, the intense hostility between Moscow and Belgrade, and the torrents of abuse poured upon the Jugoslav Government.
A similar criterion should now be applied to the relationship between Soviet Russia and Communist China. The Treaty cannot be the controlling factor. Nor can the secret agreements, if any, be controlling. The proper questions are: Does Stalin look upon China as a satellite? If so, does Mao Tse-tung agree with him on this point?
When Mao Tse-tung set out for Moscow last December he was a pilgrim journeying to the Holy Land of World Communism. Alone among the important Communist leaders of the world, he had never been to Moscow before. It must be remembered that in the early days of his revolution in China he was not on friendly terms with the Kremlin. He had quarrelled with the Comintern: he is the only important Communist leader, with the exception of Tito, who has had the temerity to rebuke Moscow's agents in public. The Comintern once ordered his removal, but he refused to budge and remained in power. He launched his agrarian program, organized the Chinese Red Army and set up his first soviet without Party directives. As late as 1945 the leaders of the Soviet Union did not think that the Chinese Communist Party could conquer the Kuomintang within a short period. Yet Mao Tsetung and his followers did it, and they did it without much help from the Soviet Union.
Is Mao still the stubborn rebel of the earlier days, or has he changed? Of course Moscow is willing to concede that he is a man of great abilities, but it cannot afford to take any chances of nurturing another Tito. If the Chinese Communists had conquered state power a few years earlier, say in the 1945-1946 period, Moscow might have given Mao Tse-tung a much freer hand to run his own country. But times have changed, as the establishment of the Cominform in 1947 and its ferocious onslaught on Jugoslavia are witness. The Cominform is a militant union of Communist Parties under the leadership and control of the Soviet Union. Every Communist Party and every Communist-led country must keep in step; no challenge to Soviet leadership on any ground whatever is permissible, either in the management of internal affairs or in the conduct of foreign relations.
China is the only Communist country that has a population larger than Russia's, hence her status as a nation is of course different from that of the Eastern European countries. She is potentially one of the world's major Powers. The Soviet Union will give due consideration to these factors; but they will not alter the basic reality of Chinese-Russian relationships. Now that China is a Communist state, China must, like all other Communist states, accept Soviet leadership, for the simple reason that there is no provision in the Soviet system for a "national" Communist Party or a "national" Communist state. For Communists anywhere to argue, as Tito has argued, that "coöperation" must be based upon equality and reciprocity, and that each Party or state has its own right of self-determination, is, in the Russian view, to resort to "an opportunistic, bourgeois ideology, basically contrary to the ideology of revolutionary proletarian internationalism." Nationalism, in the eyes of the Soviet Union, is nowadays being used by reactionaries as a secret or potential weapon against Socialism; and as such it must be guarded against and implacably hunted down.
Not all satellite states are homogeneous in structure or uniform in spirit. The degree of political control which the Soviet Union exercises over these countries also varies in accordance with the special conditions of each country. Poland, for example, is geographically nearest to Russia. But the Russians are also least sure of Poland. For this reason Poland is the most tightly controlled, with a Russian general now at the head of the Polish Army and of the Ministry of National Defense. On account of China's special internal conditions, a longer period of time might be allowed the Chinese Communists to collaborate with the bourgeois parties, to liquidate "feudalism" and the remnants of capitalism, and to abolish private ownership and to effect the collectivization of the land. But there cannot be any compromise in regard to foreign policy; there must be an international united front against "American imperialism."
The new Communist Government of China starts off with a devastated country on its hands—ruined cities, wrecked railways and highways, broken villages, hungry, weary and destitute people. In the current year, thousands will die of hunger and starvation in the wake of a widespread famine brought about by drought and flood and war. The task of rehabilitation is tremendous. The new government, in addition to rehabilitation, has a program of reconstruction. A plan for rapid industrialization must be put into effect, thousands of technicians must be trained, and agricultural methods must be modernized and output increased. For all this there is an urgent need of capital and credits, tools and machinery, in vast quantities. The Soviet Union will be sympathetic and will render such assistance as it can; a low-interest loan of U.S. $300,000,000 has been promised, and Russia will also be glad to take whatever agricultural products China is able to sell. The prices may be a little below those offered by capitalist countries, but one should remember this is a matter of fraternal collaboration and that it would be niggardly and uncomradely to haggle over prices. Perhaps China would like to become a member of the Council of Mutual Economic Assistance which has at its disposal Russia's gold. As a member of this Soviet-controlled organization, she may also be able to get help from other satellites, notably Czechoslovakia, the most heavily industrialized country of the Eastern European states. Within limits, it will even be permissible for China to enter into trade relations with capitalist nations. But it must be understood that such commercial relations must not in any way jeopardize the solidarity of the united Socialist front, and it is essential that China see to it that her industries be geared to Soviet strategic requirements. Thus, in the main, Soviet reasoning will run.
In short, Stalin cannot afford to let so important a country as China slip through his fingers. China may be allowed a higher and more dignified status among the satellites, but she will be a satellite.
Will Communist China submit to Soviet domination?
In a very able article,[i] Mr. Edgar Snow once ventured the opinion that "after a dozen years of first-hand study of China, I concluded that Soviet Russia would not hold effective domination over the extremely nation-conscious Chinese Communists." Mr. Snow's conclusion has been shared by not a few observers of the China scene. The Chinese Communists, it is said, developed their strength by tapping Chinese resources and correctly estimating the forces at work there. They came to power the hard way, and are proudly conscious of the fact that they did so with little assistance from the Russians. It may be easy to push around political and military leaders in some small European state, but it is quite another thing to do the same in a country with a population of more than 400,000,000 people and an armed force of several million men. Unlike the Eastern European Communist leaders, the veterans of the Chinese Party are "made in China," and they are not going to be bossed by foreigners. The Party itself, it has been said, is "rooted in its own soil, Sinified and nationalistic. It has fought so long against an alien enemy that it has become as thoroughly and as ardently patriotic as the Kuomintang."[ii]
Many observers have been struck by Mao's independence of mind—a rare thing among Communists. He is perfectly sure of himself, always ready to enter into discussions on any problem and always willing to see the other man's point of view. He makes decisions on important issues often without strict adherence to ideological dogmas. He seems to possess the very qualities of which Titoism is made. His early squabbles with the Comintern have been pointed to by admirers as evidence that he is a man made to be a principal, not a subordinate.
But it should be remembered that Mao's quarrels with the Comintern took place during the 1927-1933 period when the Chinese Communists were completely isolated and cut off from Russian contacts. The Soviet Union was at the time preoccupied with building "Socialism in one country" and had little energy or desire to interfere with Chinese affairs. It was easy for Mao Tse-tung to have his own way under the circumstances. Since then, both the Kremlin and Mao himself have been willing to take the rough with the smooth and let bygones be bygones. As Mr. Snow so aptly said, the Sino-Soviet Treaty of 1945 had placed the Communists "under even heavier pressure than Marshal Tito had resisted when . . . Moscow had demanded that he accept Mihailovitch as a valid 'nationalist' leader of Jugoslavia." Yet Mao accepted the fait accompli with good grace. He even hurried to Chungking, ready to come to terms with Chiang Kai-shek. When Moscow broke with Tito, the Chinese Communists upheld Moscow's denunciations. Nor could this be taken as a halfhearted gesture; in a resolution passed by the Central Committee of the Party on July 10, 1948, all members were warned against Titoist tendencies. Mao's statement of his "lean-to-one-side" policy was in fact a declaration of his allegiance to Moscow.
Mao Tse-tung's "new democracy" program has also been described as a distinct contribution to revolutionary theory and practice, creating, as it were, a Chinese or Asiatic form of Marxism. He is said to be the first who succeeded in doing this, and the only man outside Russia who dared to do it. Said Mr. Snow:
In fact Mao Tse-tung and his followers were the first to prove that Communist-led revolutions in semi-colonial countries can conquer power by combining the rôle of national liberation with anti-feudal social-reform movements. In a setting quite unforeseen by the Kremlin hierarchy they proved that such revolutions can succeed without depending upon urban proletarian insurrections, without help from Russia or the world proletariat, and on the basis of the organized peasantry as a main force.
Today these Communists observe a somewhat unorthodox program based upon Mao Tse-tung's original thesis that in a backward country such as China it is possible for two distinct phases of history—"new capitalism" and "new democracy"—to coexist in an extended transition.
Upon closer analysis, however, we find that neither Mao's reliance on the organized peasantry nor the coexistence of the two phases of history "in an extended transition" was "unforeseen by the Kremlin hierarchy." In spite of its special cogency to Chinese conditions, Mao's thesis was in fact based on accepted dogmas. By describing Chinese society as "feudal" he was borrowing a Marxist concept, though he did not clearly distinguish "feudalism" in China from the very different kind of feudalism which Marx had in mind. Both Lenin and Stalin saw the revolutionary possibilities of the peasantry. Stalin once said that Leninism "recognizes the existence of revolutionary capabilities in the ranks of the majority of the peasantry," and that "it is possible to use these in the interests of the proletarian dictatorship. The history of the three revolutions in Russia fully corroborates the conclusions of Leninism on this score. Hence the practical conclusion that the toiling masses of the peasantry must be supported—supported without fail—in their struggle against bondage and exploitation, in their struggle for deliverance from oppression and poverty."[iii]
Prior to 1937, Mao Tse-tung did not seem to be well acquainted with Stalin's writings. It was during the war, according to Mr. Chen Po-ta—a close associate who accompanied him to Moscow—that Mao found time to read Stalin's published works. He was especially impressed by the Russian leader's dictum that the colonial and semi-colonial question is in essence the peasant question. His interpretation of the problem of "transition" is also in line with the program adopted by the Comintern at its Sixth World Congress on September 1, 1928. Mao himself did not claim that his doctrine was original. To praise him for his daring in creating a "Chinese or Asiatic form of Marxism" is to credit him with something he has not tried to do.
Like all revolutionary movements in China, Chinese Communism was, of course, a child of nationalism. Nationalism was unknown in ancient China, because from the very beginning China was an empire and not a national state. Theoretically the Chinese Empire embraced all civilized mankind. It grew and expanded very much like a giant polyp, enveloping, subjugating and partially absorbing all alien tribes that happened to come along. The Chinese were keenly conscious of their cultural superiority, but they were willing to accept as Chinese any barbarian who would accept their ways of life, their language and their manners. The traditional pattern of Chinese political thought was based on principles of universality. Suddenly this proud and ancient empire was thrust against a powerful civilization with a culture which was not only different, but in many ways superior. China came out of this encounter a humiliated and beaten nation.
Against this background it is natural that nationalism in China should primarily mean a determination to shake off foreign domination. It found its first expression in a reform movement in the latter half of the nineteenth century. This movement failed, but it gave the first great impetus to revolutionary change, and in 1911 Dr. Sun Yat-sen and his followers were able to overthrow the Manchu Government. The success was, however, short-lived. With the center of gravity gone and with nothing strong and vigorous in its place, the country was soon plunged into complete disorder, and foreign domination was unshaken. The abolition of the "unequal treaties" seemed as far off as ever. In this period of despair the October Revolution in Russia produced a great impression on the minds of Chinese intellectuals, for the Bolshevik Revolution appealed to the principle of universality. It did not merely propose to introduce fundamental changes in Russia; it envisaged the world-wide abolition of poverty, misery and inequality. Suddenly, to the Chinese revolutionists, their revolution seemed to be a part of a world-wide movement, and the Russians deliberately exploited the situation by renouncing the Tsarist special privileges in Manchuria. It was inevitable that many patriotic Chinese should be attracted to Communism, and the Chinese Communist Party was accordingly born in 1921.
The men who joined the Communist Party were not fully aware of the implications of Communism. They were idealists deeply interested in the liberation of mankind in general, and the liberation of their own country in particular. It was for this reason that Dr. Sun Yat-sen, while not subscribing to Communism, enlisted the service of the Communists in his nationalist cause during the last two years of his life.
It would be out of place here to narrate the vicissitudes of the Chinese Communist movement; suffice to say that the fortunes of the Communists reached their lowest ebb just before and after the "long march" in 1934. It was apparent that if they were to survive they must rally the Chinese people to their support, and there was only one sure way to do that—to stir up the spirit of nationalism by championing the cause of resistance to Japanese aggression. When Chiang Kai-shek was still obliged to temporize with Japan, Mao Tse-tung launched the "United Front Movement" and changed his tactics from class war against capitalists and landlords to an all-out war against the common enemy—Japan. The move was a masterpiece of timing; the outburst of national feeling that it produced was so overwhelming that even Chiang's own troops were swept along.
The war with Japan started the Communists on the road to victory, but their triumph over the Kuomintang has not been gained by military means alone. Communist success is, to a large extent, a result of the acumen of the Communist leaders in discerning the temper of the age and of their ability in using it effectively. Communist success is in fact a triumph of nationalism, and for this reason the Chinese Communist movement is said to have a "nationalist bias." The question that arises, then, is whether, having achieved power, the Communists can now consolidate that power in terms of Russian needs and objectives.
This, of course, is not the way the Chinese Communists put the question. The idea of championing Chinese interests while at the same time representing a foreign Power which wants to infiltrate Chinese society and subvert national culture and independence seems to them no contradiction and offers no problems of conscience. Mr. Liu Shao-chi, the chief Party theoretician, a member of the Politburo, Secretary-General of the Party, Deputy Chairman of the People's Republic of China, probably the most powerful man in the Party, has expounded the Party view in a small volume, "Nationalism and Internationalism." The importance of this little pamphlet is shown by the fact that it is being currently used as the basic textbook for indoctrination, taking precedence over Mao Tse-tung's "New Democracy."
Nationalism, according to Mr. Liu, is a bourgeois ideological manifestation—one of the most striking features of capitalist society. It is inspired by nothing more laudable than the desire to preserve class privileges at home and the determination to hang on to ill-gotten spoils of conquest in Asia and Africa. From the viewpoint of the Communists, nationalism serves only to keep people in subjection and to make them fight for interests that are not their own. On the contrary (so runs the Party doctrine), the Communists are not nationalists. They are internationalists working for the liberation of the oppressed peoples of the world and the oppressed classes of every nation. National boundaries make no difference to them.
Nationalist movements in colonial and semi-colonial countries, however, are to be encouraged and supported because of their revolutionary possibilities, he continues. Such movements are important in the overthrow of imperialism, since the problem of nationalism does not stand alone; it is a part of the general problem of proletarian revolution and is subordinate thereto. Prior to their victory over the Kuomintang, the Communists had supported Chinese nationalist movements on various occasions. At present, however, nationalism is considered unnecessary because the "new democracy" of Mao Tse-tung is anti-imperialistic. It has now taken the place of nationalism.
There is, of course, nothing new in Mr. Liu's exposition. Communism as expounded by Marx was indeed internationalist. What Mr. Liu has overlooked is the fact that Communism as practised by Stalin has undergone a fundamental change.
After 1928 Stalin subordinated the cause of international Communism to the national interests of Russia. With every shift of world politics he continued to tell Communists in other countries that they should think and act in terms of internationalism. But the Soviet Union is not at all international-minded; on the contrary, it is ultra-chauvinistic. "Internationalism," then, in the Soviet vocabulary, means nothing more or less than whatever contributes to Soviet nationalism. When Mr. Liu says that he wants his countrymen to forget nationalism, he is merely taking a roundabout way of saying that he wants China to contribute her share to Soviet Russian power.
To dispel any possible doubt about the meaning of Soviet internationalism, all resources of Communist propaganda in China are now being used to din into the popular consciousness the idea that the Soviet Union is China's only friend, and that only the Soviet Union can help China rehabilitate and reconstruct her economy. Every allusion to the Soviet Union is one of adulation. The anniversary of the October Revolution and Stalin's seventieth birthday were celebrated last year with much ceremony and festivity, marked by parades, dances and speeches. "Stalin's birthday," exclaimed one important Communist, "is a 'day of mankind' for the world. We Chinese people have special reasons for hailing Stalin. They are: Stalin's close relationship with the Chinese revolution, his concern over the fate of the Chinese people, and his theoretical contribution to the questions of the revolution." "The great friendship of the Soviet Union for the Chinese people," said another, "has been demonstrated by the fact that she was the first nation to renounce the unequal treaties extorted from China by the Tsars."
As a part of the program to convert China into a nation of Russophils, a Sino-Soviet Friendship Club, with headquarters in Peking and with branches all over China, has been established under the leadership of Liu Shao-chi. It now claims a total membership of 2,000,000. Books on the Soviet Union are printed by the millions for sale to the general public at very low prices; the Soviet Cultural Delegation which visited China last October promised to send 6,000,000 more books to help in the friendship drive. The visit of the delegation was described by Mr. Liu as "a tour of brotherly love." "The Soviet people," he declared, "love the Chinese people with profound sincerity which springs from the spirit of internationalism. They help us unconditionally and nothing is asked in return."
Mr. Liu was probably sincere when he made the declaration. As a dyed-in-the-wool "internationalist," he was simply repeating an article of faith. Do other Chinese Communists agree with him? Do the masses of men and women in China agree with him? The veterans of the Party, men who have participated in the movement for more than 20 years, are probably convinced of the necessity of alignment with the Soviet Union. Most of them are true patriots who have given the best part of their lives to the cause of national liberation and revolution. As loyal Communists (those who were not loyal long ago left the Party, some subsequently joining the Kuomintang), they believe that the basic contradictions between Socialism and capitalism are insoluble, and they reason that sooner or later the Socialist states will have to face capitalist intervention; for their own safety, therefore, it is absolutely necessary for the Communist Parties and states to stand together. This may, as in the case of China, they continue, involve serious sacrifices; but this is the price that must be paid for security. The difficulty is that there are only two camps—the imperialist camp headed by the United States and the anti-imperialist camp headed by the U.S.S.R. There is no halfway house between the two. Anybody who, like Tito, breaks away from one camp will inevitably be drawn into the opposite one. That, they are certain, is the logic of the situation. The veteran Communists may even have misgivings about Russia's intentions, but they see no choice in the matter.
Mao Tse-tung is commonly regarded in China as the leader of this group of veterans—known as the "native school of Communists," as contrasted with the internationalists. It is generally believed that Mao's grip on the Party apparatus is more apparent than real and that in recent years the actual control has passed into the hands of the Soviet-trained and Russian-speaking elements whose allegiance is primarily to the Soviet Union and world revolution. They form the hard core of the Party—the body and soul of Chinese Communism. Their number is still small, but they have the backing of the Kremlin and wield an influence far beyond their numerical strength. Their present leader is Liu Shao-chi, who now occupies the all-important post of Secretary-General of the Party. Mao Tse-tung may be the acknowledged leader, but Liu Shao-chi has the whip hand.
But this fact should not lead us to the erroneous conclusion that the Party is divided. The distinction between "native school" and "internationalists" has probably been exaggerated, for the Chinese Communist Party has shown a remarkable degree of unity since Mao Tse-tung's rise to leadership. Unlike most Communist Parties, it has been free from violent internal feuds, from treason trials and heresy hunts. There does seem to be a real unity of purpose among the top leaders, as well as unity of action among the rank and file. It is improbable that Mao Tse-tung and Liu Shao-chi have always agreed in regard to major policies, but there is no real evidence to suggest that the differences have been serious enough to threaten the unity of the Party. The Chinese Communist Party is definitely and irrevocably committed to a policy of "internationalism."
The rank and file of the Party are younger men and women. They are mostly idealistically-minded if somewhat immature and politically gullible. If a "liberal" group once existed in the Party, it is not in evidence now. The younger members are on the whole devoted to the Communist cause, though at times they may seem to be a little bewildered. For instance, they were none too pleased when Mao Tse-tung took into the Peking Government a number of men—the so-called "democratic personages"—who, to their minds, were downright reactionaries. Mao Tse-tung once publicly rebuked them for their lack of understanding of the Party's policy, pointing out that at the present stage of the revolution a united front is of utmost importance.
This bewilderment seems to exist also in regard to foreign policy. The Chinese have a deep-rooted dislike for Russians, and the members of the Communist rank and file in Manchuria are no exception. This was shown in the Hsiao Chun case, which raised quite a flurry last year. Hsiao Chun was a well-known Communist writer and journalist who was sent to Manchuria as a cultural worker after V-J Day. He was shocked by what he saw there— Russian arrogance, the raping of Chinese women, the looting of industrial establishments and the general disregard of Chinese interests by Soviet soldiers and bureaucrats. The Chinese in him got the better of his Communism; he expressed his indignation and disgust in a series of articles highly critical of the Russians, in one of which he went so far as to call the Russians "imperialists of another hue." Coming from an outstanding Communist writer, the article of course created a sensation. The authorities promptly condemned Hsiao Chun's views as "bourgeois," "individualistic," "reactionary" and "nationalistic." He was purged.
But we must not exaggerate the importance of this incident. It is true that the Russians have behaved badly and that even the Chinese Communists do not like them. The majority of the young men and women in the Chinese Communist Party are not rampaging subversives or ideological monsters. They love their country just as much as non-Communists do. But they are too good Party members to allow their personal feelings to interfere with Party policy. They feel that they have to take the Russians as they are. There may be some discreet grumbling, some private resentment, but that is all. Chinese Communists have an almost religious faith in the wisdom of their leaders, and if their leaders say that the Russians are to be endured—well, they must be endured. It is improbable that they will under any circumstances turn on the men who have led them to power.
There seems to be a tendency in the West to assume that the Kremlin will be very careful to handle the Chinese Communists gingerly so as to avoid the possibilities of breeding Titoism in China. The fact is that it really does not make much difference whether the Kremlin handles Mao Tse-tung with a silk thread or a hempen cord; they are equally binding. Western expectations of Titoism in China are naïve.
Mr. Liu Shao-chi said in October 1949 that there were 200 Soviet "advisers" in China. There are probably several thousand by this time. These advisers are supposed to serve in a technical capacity, but it is probably more correct to say that they function as watchdogs, charged with the responsibility of looking after the interests of the Soviet Union in China and seeing that the mines and factories are coördinated with Soviet strategic demands. They are not much in evidence; but it should occasion little surprise if a political adviser of the type of Michael Borodin, who dominated Chinese politics from behind the scenes for a number of years in the early twenties, turns up again.
The Chinese Communists are psychologically well conditioned to accept the status of a satellite—and once the status has been accepted, there is nothing that the Russians cannot do in China. The Communists resent the word "satellite," considering it a slanderous description of a perfectly honorable relationship. They believe quite sincerely that the Soviet Union has much to teach Communist China and that China has everything to gain from this "fraternal collaboration." They have been conditioned to believe that this sort of unselfish and fraternal relationship is so new and so different from the traditional pattern that it is beyond the comprehension of the "imperialists," based as it is on the spirit of "internationalism," a higher stage of historical development than the capitalist concept of nationalism.
The tragedy of the Chinese situation is that, much as the majority of the Chinese people dislike this Communist attitude toward Russia, there is nothing they can do about it. At present alternatives simply do not exist. Immediately after the Japanese surrender many people had great expectations for effective leadership from the Kuomintang, but three years of incompetence and misgovernment, three years of disorder and war, have completely shattered these hopes. It is not likely that the remnants of Kuomintang power now isolated in Hainan Island and Taiwan can stage a comeback.
In former times and under other régimes it was possible to look to the intellectual classes—professors and students in the universities, and other enlightened and politically conscious elements of society—for leadership against foreign domination. In 1919, for instance, Chinese interests were endangered by the decision of the peacemakers at Versailles to leave the former German concessions in Shantung in Japanese hands. The students held a mass demonstration and the government was forced to instruct its delegates to refuse to sign the peace treaties. This student movement, known as the May Fourth Movement, produced far-reaching effects on the intellectual, political and social life of the nation, engendering a new nationalism which reached all classes of the Chinese people.
Can the spirit of 1919 be rekindled in the present unprecedented situation which threatens the very existence of China as an independent nation? Unfortunately, the students of today are no longer the students of old. The Communists know the revolutionary possibilities of student movements and are masters in the art of manipulating youth. In the past they have more than once exploited student demonstrations to their own advantage; now that they are in power, they are not going to let the students get out of control. Their partisans are the leaders of the student organizations, which function as one of the interlocking Party fronts by which various Communist-inspired mass demonstrations and political rallies are carried out. These Communist elements in the student organizations attend all meetings, work long hours, and outwait the opposition if their control is threatened. There is not the slightest chance for other students to carry through any move to which the Communists are opposed.
The professors are even more closely watched and tightly controlled than the students. The men who were trained in the West, who have an understanding of western institutions, and who have in the past played a great rôle in the intellectual and political life of China, have the choice of becoming toadying academic opportunists or of dropping by the wayside.
What of the Chinese masses? The Communists have always boasted that they were leading a popular revolution and that they derived their strength from the strength of will of millions. That might have been true in the Yenan days, when the Party's influence was confined to a few counties in a small rural area. It is not true today. One admittedly pro-Communist observer, who had lived many years in the Communist areas during the war, reported recently from Peking that the Communists have not enlisted the mass support they had in the old Communist areas because they have not been able to offer the inducements of better living conditions. With their "lean-to-one-side" foreign policy, they may never again be able to offer such economic rewards. The taxes and levies in some areas of China are now heavier than they were in the Kuomintang days. A major portion of the peasant's produce is taken away, the small tradesmen are being driven out of business, and the factories are not producing because of a lack of raw materials. Peasant uprisings have been breaking out in various parts of the country; but they are put down without mercy. It is no easy thing to revolt against the absolute police power of a revolutionary régime. In sum, as long as the Communists are in power, Chinese nationalism will yield place to Soviet "internationalism"—in other words, to Russian chauvinism; and in the absence of an alternative, the Communists are in China to stay.
Perhaps the first step in the long, slow road to the development of an effective Chinese national resistance will be provided by the object lesson of Soviet exploitation of Manchuria, which is now administered by a Northeastern People's Government run by men who, from the point of view of the Kremlin, are particularly trustworthy. As Secretary Acheson has said, there is no doubt that the Soviet Union intends to detach Manchuria from China. She intends to make it a Russian protectorate. Russian language is compulsory in the schools and private ownership of land is rapidly disappearing in rural districts. In urban centers private ownership and free enterprise are still tolerated, but are being squeezed out by large state monopolies and crippling taxes and levies. The Northeastern People's Government functions more or less independently of the Peking Government. Manchuria is in effect an autonomous republic, and has the prerogative of entering into treaty agreements with the U.S.S.R.
This People's Government was responsible for the Trade Agreement of July 1949 stipulating the exchange of Chinese agricultural products (reportedly 60 percent of the farmer's produce) for Russian industrial equipment and machinery to replace the equipment which the Russians stripped from Manchurian factories after V-J Day. In addition to this trade agreement, it has been reported that two other agreements giving Russia further special rights, known as the Moscow Agreement and the Harbin Agreement, have been signed by the Chinese Communists with the Soviet Union. Both Moscow and Peking, however, have denied the existence of these agreements and characterized the report as a "shameless fabrication."
The new Moscow Agreement promises that treaty rights obtained by Russia in 1945 will be restored to China after the conclusion of the peace treaty with Japan or not later than the end of 1952. The two-year moratorium on the transaction is a good gauge of Russian intentions. At the rate international relations are developing, a great deal can happen in 24 months; and at the rate the Russians are digging in in Manchuria, two years may be enough to render it impossible for the Chinese ever to make it their own again. Manchuria has a greater railway mileage than any group of Chinese provinces, and Manchuria's abundant natural resources and sparse population offer possibilities of great development. Were China to lose Manchuria, her chance of becoming a strong modern nation would be greatly diminished. Manchuria has been the cause of two great wars. Japan fought Tsarist Russia to gain it, and China fought Japan to recover it. Its loss to Communist Russia would hardly fail to make an impression on Chinese minds.
[i] Edgar Snow, "Will China Become a Russian Satellite?" The Saturday Evening Post, April 9, 1949.
[ii] Theodore H. White and Annalee Jacoby, "Thunder Out of China." New York: William Sloane, 1946.
[iii] J. Stalin, "Problems of Leninism." Moscow: Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1940, p. 40.