About Mandel's life and work
Debates, interviews, ...


The Third Chinese Revolution (December 1950)

II. Nature and Perspectives of the China of Mao Tse-Tung
Ernest Mandel / Ernest Germain Print
From Fourth International, Vol.12 No.1, January-February 1951, pp.14-26.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

From the Portal of Celestial Peace in Peiping, Mao Tse-tung on October 1, 1949, proclaimed the People’s Republic of China. Military operations had not yet come to an end on that date. Canton, metropolitan center of Southern China, did not fall until 15 days later. Chungking was occupied at the end of October and Kunming, capital of Yunnan, last province of the south-west to be liberated, was taken December 10. Nevertheless, October 1 can well be considered as the date all of China came under a new central power dominated by the Chinese Communist Party. Mao Tse-tung proclaimed the People’s Republic of China in the name of a pre-Parliament, the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Council, which met in Peiping from September 21 to December 1 and adopted a governmental platform and a provisional Constitution. The Consultative Council was a body set up from above by the Chinese CP through the various mass organizations it controls, together with the other political parties participating in the government. In fact it is a coalition government – officially, the Central People’s Government Council – which today reigns in China. This government is periodically accountable, not to the People’s Political Consultative Council, a top heavy body of 576 members, but to the 149 members of the National Committee of this Council. Mao Tse-tung, as Chairman of the Republic, Chairman of the Central People’s Government Council and Chairman of the National Committee of the People’s Political Consultative Council, combines within his person all the legislative and executive powers of the Chinese People’s Republic.

It must not be assumed by any means that the present coalition government simply represents stage scenery set up to hoodwink the public while the real power remains with the CP. Among the political parties participating in the government with the Chinese CP are two which can be considered genuine representatives of social classes other than the proletariat or poor peasants: The Democratic League of China, banned October 13, 1947 by the Chiang Kai-shek dictatorship, is composed of numerous teachers, professionals and petty bourgeois intellectuals as well as some generals of “liberal” renown. It represents the cultured middle classes of the cities and has some 50,000 members. [81] The Revolutionary Committee of the Kuomintang, primarily a regrouping of generals in Southern China who deserted Chiang Kai-shek, must be considered as representing the interests of a section of the Chinese bourgeoisie of the South. Among the “great” of People’s China there are, in fact, a number of former Kuomintang dignitaries whose hands were often red with the blood of workers and farmers. Thus the Vice President of the Central Government, Marshal Li Chi-sen, is known as the butcher of the 1927 Canton Commune. General Chen-chien, butcher of the Hankow workers and the farmers of Hunan province in 1927, is today head of the provincial “People’s” government of Hunan. General Lu-han, Kuomintang governor of the province of Yunnan until December 1949, and General Liu Wen-hui, once known as the butcher of the farmers of Szechwan, are members of the National Committee of the People’s Political Consultative Council. This integration of former reactionary cadres is not at all limited to instances in top government circles. In the city of Tsinan, capital of the province of Shantung, 75 to 80 percent of the functionaries kept their places. [82] This phenomenon, duplicated throughout the country [83] is a source of corruption of the Spartan ways of the Chinese Communist leaders. [84] It is highly characteristic that in the cities a good part of the police force was taken over by the new authorities, with results that might well have been foretold:

“To a considerable degree, vestiges of the traditions of the former reactionary police force have contaminated our public security corps where a part of the former personnel have had to be reintegrated.” [85]

Nevertheless, in the countryside the transformation of power was radical and is in fair way to be completed. Wherever the agrarian reform was carried out, the former political regime disappeared with the former property relations. The Peasants’ Associations, embracing tens of millions of members, carry out the agrarian reform and are in fact invested with all power on a local scale. The People’s Courts, genuine revolutionary organs of the insurgent peasantry from the beginning, are developing in Central and Southern China where the agrarian reform is only beginning to be carried out. They are composed half of members appointed by the district authorities (including the chief Judge and the assistant Judges), and half of members elected from below by peasant organizations. [86] The higher bodies (district and cantonal authorities) are likewise beginning to be elected. It is only when we pass to the level of the province that we find authorities exclusively appointed from above. This likewise holds for mayors of the large cities, directly subordinated to the central power. From the point of view of form, the Chinese People’s State appears as an agrarian democracy capped by a political dictatorship exercised primarily by the CP. 

The Struggle Against Economic Chaos

At the time the People’s Central Government was constituted, the collapse of the Kuomintang’s power had brought to a climax all the factors of economic decomposition that had characterized Chinese society for a number of decades. Runaway inflation raged. Barter had replaced commerce. Industry was paralyzed. The middle classes were ruined. Relations between the cities and the countryside were broken. The productive forces had fallen into ruin. Floods, famine, epidemics added their ravages along the road of retreat of Chiang Kai-shek’s armies.

Of the three fundamental tasks of the bourgeois revolution remaining to be achieved in China – solution of the agrarian question, elimination of the predominate influence of foreign imperialism, completion of genuine national unification – the third was needed the most urgently to overcome the economic chaos which sapped all the living forces of the nation. Without genuine central administration, there could be no serious collection of taxes, no standardization of money and no genuine struggle against inflation. Without reconstitution of a unified system of national transport, no genuine revival of commerce and no revival of industry was possible in the big coastal cities that remained cut off from the agrarian hinterland. Without the combination of an effective central administration and a unified system of national transport, there could be no genuine struggle against famine. Such a struggle demands the creation of a nation-wide market of food products, replacing the hundreds of autonomous markets of provincial, departmental, district and even county-wide size that permitted famine to develop in isolated areas, within 300 miles of an abundance of food. Consequently the new central government has devoted its major efforts to the actual realization of national unity and it is in this field that it has achieved the most rapid and most remarkable successes.

The struggle against inflation was not at all easy and victory was far from assured at the beginning. The necessity of financing the enormous Liberation Army, whose forces tripled within a year, forced the new power to continue printing a considerable amount of paper money. As a consequence, the new monetary unit, the “People’s Dollar,” underwent rapid depreciation. The index of prices in Peiping rose from 100 in June 1949 to 407 in October; to 1,107 in November; to 1,454 in December and doubled once again between that date and March 1950. In Chungking, liberated later, prices tripled between January and March 1950. [87] At the same time, speculation raged, provoking scarcity of many prime necessities. 

Measures to Check Inflation

The reaction of the new power to all this, prepared by a conference of financial specialists in Peiping in February 1950 was, however, made easier by a sensible measure taken at the beginning which acted as a strong check to the havoc of inflation. Instead of imposing an artificial market price on the “jen min p’iao” (People’s Dollar) and thus aggravating the ruin of all those with fixed incomes, the Chinese government applied the sliding scale to all wages, salaries and bank accounts. A “parity index” called the FEN was set up, equal to the average wholesale price of eight pounds (six catties) of rice or millet in the six largest cities of China. [88] The purchasing power of the bulk of the urban population, expressed in this “parity index,” was stabilized, thus permitting an early commercial and industrial revival which limited the effects of inflation and speculation.

Then the government set about drastically reducing the budgetary deficit. In the first place, taxes were increased and above all centralized. On one hand this eliminated at a single stroke the principal source of corruption under the Kuomintang regime whereby the land owner himself was most often the village tax collector, not paying anything himself and letting the biggest part of the taxes squeezed from the peasants disappear in his own pockets. On the other hand, it reestablished the fiscal equality of city and countryside by levelling numerous surtaxes on luxury products (wines, liquors, cosmetics, custom cigarettes, etc., from 60% to 120%). In the second place, considerable income was derived from the big industrial, commercial and banking institutions of the State. Thirdly, a forced loan was levied, called the “Victory Loan,” which the Communist functionaries extracted often not without brutality [89] from owning circles in the cities and countryside. Normal revenues of the State now cover 80% of the expenses (against 33% in 1949!). The Loan in turn must have absorbed close to two-fifths of the remaining deficit, the balance being covered by the printing of bank notes. [90] These measures prepared the ground for the final assault against inflation. Due to the important industrial sectors which it controlled, the government like the private merchants had retained enormous stocks of finished products during the inflationary period. With the collection of taxes, considerable quantities of grain were likewise concentrated in its hands – taxes paid in kind predominate in fact in most of the agricultural regions of China. Now began an enormous stabilization operation that created at one stroke a unified market in China. To the regions deficient in food products, the government services sent huge quantities of grain and rice. During the first three months of the year, more than 20,000 carloads, amounting to more than 600,000 tons of grain, were shipped from Manchuria to Eastern China. In the following months, more than 200,000 tons from Manchuria and more than 300,000 tons from Southern China were likewise sent to deficit regions. [91] The result of this operation was a successful struggle against famine in regions hit by natural catastrophes in 1949 [92] and the abrupt halt of price rises in the cities. At the same time, the government dumped on the market the masses of consumer goods stocked during the preceding period. At once, the merchants and speculators began to unload their stocks too in fear of seeing them depreciate in the fall of prices, and inflation was arrested. [93] In Shanghai prices fell 10% within a month, in other large cities even more: in Canton an average of 35% from March 13 to April 13; in Hankow the price of rice fell 25%, etc. [94]

The arrest of inflation created the preliminary conditions for industrial revival. But only the preliminary conditions, since the whole heritage of the past continued to weigh heavily on the economic life of China. A big part of the industrial equipment remained idle. Even in Manchuria where the revival had been under way for a year, industrial production at the end of 1949 stood at only 29% of the level of 1943. [95] The productive forces revived slowly, profiting first from the restoration of agriculture, the transport system, and above all from the first year of genuine internal peace China had known for a half century. 

The Structure of Industry and Commerce

The victorious struggle against inflation constituted not only an indispensable precondition for industrial revival in China. It also permitted the central government to modify perceptibly the relations between the State sector and the private sector in industry, and above all in commerce.

In decreeing expropriation without compensation of “bureaucratic capital” belonging to the four monopolist families of the Chinese big bourgeoisie [96], the People’s Political Consultative Council in September 1949 gave the State the key position in the national economy. Although opinion varies on the exact weight of the State sector, the most moderate estimate puts its weight in the various industrial branches of China south of the Great Wall as follows [97]:

Metallurgy 60%       Electrical 62%
Oil 53% Paper 72%
Textiles 55% Cement 37%
Machine Tools 70% Chemicals 89%

As for Manchuria, the North-East Inspection Commission sent into that region by the Shanghai bourgeoisie after the liberation of the city estimated the weight of the state sector in industry at 87.5%. For China as a whole it is certain that nationalized capital represents between two-thirds and four-fifths of the industrial capital. To appreciate this figure at its true value, however, the fact must be taken into account that Chinese industry does not produce more than 10% of the country’s national income. 

Consequences of the Stabilization

The measures taken at the beginning of 1950 in the struggle against inflation brought about the ruin of numerous private industrial enterprises. First of all, the forced loan was often imposed without regard to the real status of the treasury. Next, enforcement of the new legislation compelled industrial companies to continue paying wages to their employees and workers even when production was halted. Then came the bankruptcy of numerous firms, above all the foreign ones in Shanghai when the Nationalist blockade cut off supplies of raw materials for many an industry. [98] Finally, stopping inflation likewise meant stopping the race for products of all kinds and the reestablishment of the normal functioning of the laws of the market. It then appeared that many industries had enjoyed false prosperity due to speculative buying during the inflationary period; their markets abruptly disappeared. In the same way it turned out that many firms had abandoned all concern for productivity during the period when “anything sold”; among them too many shut-downs occurred. The first consequence of financial stability was consequently the closing of a great number of plants, above all in Shanghai, where out of 4,671 plants in 41 branches of industry, 3,205 were functioning in April 1950, a decline of 30%. [99] Finally, the social changes occurring in the country brought about a redistribution of purchasing power which rendered obsolete the industrial structure of the big coastal cities. Actually these had turned in the first place toward satisfying the luxury needs of the old owning classes, and not toward satisfying the needs of the immense peasant population of China. [100]

More important still were the modifications the government struggle against inflation brought about in the structure of trade. Already in Manchuria in 1949, 34% of retail trade and the greater part of wholesale trade passed through the State stores and cooperatives. [101] To combat inflation effectively, the central government at the beginning of 1950 took a series of far-reaching measures. On March 14, six State trading companies were set up to control the entire trade in food products, textiles, salt, coal and construction materials, farm products, and miscellaneous goods. Branches of these centralized companies were established in all the big cities and provinces. These bodies were in fact entrusted with the management of State trade and the “giving of directives to the private commercial companies aimed at stabilizing the local markets”. [102] Following these measures, the network of State stores and cooperatives spread rapidly. In August 1950 there were 38,000 cooperatives with 20 million members, ‘a fourth in Manchuria alone. In one year, the number of cooperative members in Northern China rose from one to six millions and four million new members were recruited in Eastern China. [103] 

Alarmed by Their Success: A NEP Follows

It goes without saying that at the same time, the government established trading companies to control foreign trade, representing a stage toward the establishment of a monopoly over this trade. In fact a monopoly was established over the export of a certain number of products: pig bristles, tung oil, hides, furs and minerals. [104]

The complete statization of the industrial means of production, however, requires a certain level of development of the productive forces to meet the criterion of economic efficiency. Hadn’t the Chinese CP leadership understood this in advance of the conquest of power? Hadn’t it sought in the low level of development of the productive forces in China the reason why socialism, in its opinion, cannot be built now, China having to pass through a period of mixed economy, half-Statist, half-capitalist, the so-called “new democracy”? Hence, the Chinese government itself appeared alarmed at the radical results of its struggle against inflation. At the meeting of the Central Committee of the Chinese CP early in June 1950, several days before the session of the National Committee of the PPCC (People’s Political Consultative Council), Mao Tse-tung sounded the alarm and dexterously outlined the retreat under the form of a veritable NEP. The slogan of this NEP, developed more fully in the reports to the National Committee of the PPCC, was “readjustment of the relations between the State sector and the private sector of the economy.” The two principal corollaries were: the beginning of a new “course toward the rich” peasant of the countryside,” and the opening of an energetic struggle for the reduction of State expenses, particularly through the demobilization of a big part of the Army. 

Beginnings in Planning

This new economic policy was not long in producing its effects. The State granted generous credits and handed out huge orders to private industry, which visibly recovered from its slump. The production of cotton goods in private industry in Shanghai rose 70% from March to August; paper production increased seven fold in the same period. [105] The number of State stores and bazaars have been reduced and not permitted to sell more than six different products. [106] Even in the export field private initiative has been encouraged. In Manchuria the State abandoned its monopoly on export of soya, cotton and peanut oil established the year before, and even sold back to private firms, for commissions of one to five percent, products which had been reserved to the monopoly. [107]

At the same time, strict relations were established between the Communist directors of economy and the representatives of the industrial and commercial bourgeoisie. Early in June 1950 a conference was held in Peiping between the principal heads of State and private industry. Proposals made by the private sector, such as the prohibition of the sale of certain products by the State stores, were ostentatiously adopted with great publicity. [108] In his report mentioned above, Chen-yun, Chairman of the Financial and Economic Commission of the Chinese government, openly declared:

“In China, a country poorly exploited from the industrial point of view, the development of industry and industrial investments undertaken for a long time by the national capitalists, if they remain progressive in character, will be useful to the State as well as to the people. Although Chinese commercial capital causes inflation in the big cities, we take into account that China is a vast country where small, dispersed production plays a predominant role and the existence of private traders is inevitable.” [109]

In order to prevent this revival of private trade and industry from shortly reproducing the chaos from which the country had just emerged so painfully, measures to organize the economic life were taken which represent the first rough draft of future planning. A first national conference of heavy industry was held in mid-July 1950 to elaborate a series of “control figures” for certain branches of industry such as steel, smelting, machine tools and chemicals. The fundamental aim of this conference was to re-orient the development of Chinese industry so as to modify its essentially colonial structure of a producer of raw materials. [110] The incorporation of private industry in this planning operates through the distribution of State orders. These measures were reinforced by the decision of the regional government of Manchuria [111] to start a unified and planned distribution of ten essential raw materials in order to avoid seasonal production slumps, particularly in the coal mines. [112] Although the Chinese authorities strongly insist on the necessity “of not. exaggerating the possibilities of planning at the present stage” [113], it is clear that we are dealing here with a series of experiences that will facilitate the preparation of integrated national planning at the opportune time. 

Agrarian Reform Continues

The new economic policy inaugurated by Mao Tse-tung in June 1950 opens, we have said, a “course toward the rich peasant.” In his speech of May 1, 1950, cited above, Liu Shao-chi criticized the too brutal fashion in which the Communist cadres had imposed the Forced Loan on the rich peasants. But the real problem of the attitude to be taken toward the village bourgeoisie arose in a sharp form the moment the government prepared to continue the agrarian reform south of the Yangtze, which had been stopped in 1949. The manner in which this agrarian reform was approached and carried out is highly characteristic of the transitional stage through which China is passing today and of the contradictory elements in the politics of the Communist Party.

The CP leadership sought to postpone as long as possible carrying out the agrarian reform in Southern China, for economic as well as political reasons. From the point of view of production, the agrarian reform inevitably provoked, if only for one harvest, supplementary difficulties through the overturns of all kinds which accompanied it in the village. From the point of view of a revolutionary movement fighting for power, these difficulties cannot be considered as anything but overhead expenses of the revolution. In history up to now it has not been possible to achieve any revolution without provoking a temporary setback of the productive forces, a setback which appears inevitable even from the viewpoint of the subsequent development of these productive forces. The Chinese Communists by contrast found themselves in the unique position of having already conquered power while the revolution which they headed had not yet been effected over the major part of the national territory! The fundamental aims which this position posed were not only social but of an economic nature; it was a question of conquering famine and inflation and along this road anything that could diminish agrarian production, even one harvest, appeared harmful. This point of view exerted its weight not only in the delay and hesitations with which Mao Tse-tung decided on the development of the agrarian reform in Southern China. It also stamped its seal on the very methods of the reform.

In thus taking the economic point of view on the agrarian problem, the leadership of the Chinese CP at the same time chose in full consciousness a definite political and social orientation. The desire to “limit casualties,” to “maintain a maximum of stability in the countryside” went against the aspirations and desires of the poor peasants who had waited for decades for their liberation from the yoke of the land owners, the money lenders and tax collectors. Now, in Southern China, as we have already indicated, the urban bourgeoisie represented the predominant element among the land owners in many provinces. [114] The present orientation of the Chinese CP, however, is that of making a “bloc” with this “national bourgeoisie” whose representatives sit beside the Communist leaders in the Central Government of People’s China. Agrarian reform in the South thus risks undermining the very base of this bloc. Concern not to cut this alliance prematurely no doubt enters heavily into the delay with which the agrarian reform has been launched in the South.

Nevertheless, absolute necessity forced the CP to carry out the reform; and the factors which had delayed its execution ended up by influencing above all the form of its application. Without agrarian reform in South China, richest and most advanced part of the country, no unified national market for the industrial products could be created and all the plans for industrialization of the country would miscarry. Without continuation of the agrarian reform in the South, the CP risked, in addition, loss of support from the Southern peasantry at the very moment when the first enthusiasm of the peasants of the North for the agrarian reform carried out there began to calm down. The relation of forces in the government itself would have become modified from this viewpoint; the bourgeoisie would have regained confidence, economically and politically, in its future and the South would have become the base of operations for the counter-revolution. In fact, it is in this part of the country that the Kuomintang bands have maintained their activity without cease since the end of the war on the mainland. [115] To cut the ground from under their feet through the agrarian reform was certainly not the least important objective sought by the Chinese CP in following this policy. And the existence of real peasant pressure for the reform was frankly admitted by authoritative Communist sources. [116] 

Yielding to Pressure of Masses

To prepare the reform and contain the impatience of the peasants until after the first harvest of 1950, the government on February 28, 1950, published “directives on lowering the rate of taxes and on collecting taxes in kind in the newly liberated zones”. [117] In accordance with these directives Various cuts in the tax rate were granted by the different regional and provincial authorities. In the region of Eastern China a limitation of 35% maximum of the farm crop had already been granted several weeks previously. [118] At the same time, the government was concerned above all with not diminishing its own revenues. Since some land owners did not dare claim payment of the tax from the peasants, they found themselves without means of covering their obligations to the state. [119] Because of this the directives insisted that taxes be paid regularly and that the land owners and peasants fulfill their obligations. In fact, the directives prescribed that “the number of those obliged to pay taxes in kind shall not be less than 90% of the total rural population” (by district).

Announced by Mao Tse-tung in his speech before the Central Committee of the Chinese CP June 7, 1950 (“100,000 cadre elements are ready to launch the agrarian reform in the newly liberated regions”), the Law on Agrarian Reform was presented by Liu Shao-chi before the National Committee of the Political Consultative Council June 14 and finally adopted June 28, 1950. The text of this speech as well as the text of the Law makes clear the important limits of the reform which we have summarized in the formula “course toward the rich peasant.” It represents a considerable step backward in comparison to the manner in which the agrarian reform was carried out in Northern China. Liu Shao-chi declared:

“In the period between July 1946 and October 1947 in many regions of North China, Shantung and Northeast China, the peasant masses and our rural militants were not able (!), in carrying out the agrarian reform, to follow the directives published May 4, 1946 by the Central Committee of the Chinese CP, directives laying down as inviolable in the main the land and property of the rich peasants. They did it according to their own ideas and confiscated the land and property of rich peasants as well as the big land holders.” [120]

He explains at the same time that the CP was obliged in this period to tolerate these “excesses” to obtain the support of the village poor:

“... we authorized the peasants to requisition the land and excess property of the rich peasants, and to confiscate all the property of the big land owners to satisfy in a certain measure the requirements of needy peasants so that the peasants would join with greater revolutionary enthusiasm in the people’s war of liberation.” [121]

To block confiscation of the land is not only an economic necessity; it is also a means of limiting the revolutionary activity of the masses in the countryside:

“If the peasants take the initiative in undertaking the agrarian reform, it is necessary to dissuade them ... we must not let disorder be established and we must no longer tolerate the deviations and disorder for long without remedying them ... The implementation by the People’s Government of a policy of maintaining the holdings of the rich peasants will enable us generally to neutralize them and it will thus be possible to better protect the middle peasants and to bring to an end the useless agitation among the peasants ...” [122]

And if these admonitions were still not sufficiently clear, they were accompanied by an open threat:

“If, in certain regions, deviations and a certain disorder appear when the agrarian reform is begun, deviations and disorder which are not susceptible to rapid liquidation, it will be necessary to halt realization of the agrarian reform in those regions in order to correct these deviations ...” [123]

Naturally the speech of Liu Shao-chi as well as the text of the Law on Agrarian Reform state flatly that all commercial and industrial enterprises belonging to land owners, urban bourgeosie and rich peasants must be left untouched. The Law does not even broach the question of cancelling the debts and mortgages which in Southern China more than elsewhere constitute the main component of the misery of the poor peasant.

As for the rest, the Law continues the essential forms on carrying out the division of the land in force since the agrarian reform in the North. Confiscated land is to be taken over by the Peasants’ Association and distributed “in a rational, uniform and equitable manner among the poor peasants who possess little or no land and lack other means of production”. [124] Draft animals and tools are confiscated along with the land. Big forests, irrigation works, extended reaches of uncultivated land, salt-marshes, ore bodies, lakes, rivers, ports are to be nationalized. Big tea plantations, mulberry cultivations, etc., already worked according to large scale methods can be nationalized in certain cases. Finally, this limited agrarian reform as a whole is to be applied gradually in the winter of 1951 and even 1952. It should be underlined that in certain provinces where the “interlacing” of the old Kuomintang cadres and Communist cadres is farthest advanced (Yunnan, Szechwan, etc.), the reform is postponed until 1952. 

A Condition of Dual Power

We shall examine later the economic consequences of this reform; but the political and social consequences are clear. Whether it wished to or not, the government found itself compelled to institute a genuine dual power in Southern China. On the provincial and district level, the majority of the old cadres remain in place; on the local level their class enemies, the poor peasants of the Peasants’ Associations, bid fair to seize all the actual power in carrying out the agrarian reform. In vain the central government tries to block the present stage of the development of the class struggle in the countryside. Despite the government, the class struggle manifests itself in all the regions of China. Even while Liu Shao-chi spoke against all “useless agitation” among the peasants, the New China News Agency reported in its daily bulletin of June 11, 1950 that the peasants of Hupeh province had imposed a radical change in the tax structure:

Formerly In 1950
Owners as a whole paid   3.2%. They paid 50%.
Rich peasants paid   7.9%. They paid   8%.
Middle peasants paid 29.0%. They paid 15%.
Poor peasants paid 61.0%. They paid   8%.

At the same time, the poor peasants complained that in this province alone no taxes had. been paid on 2,520,000 acres of unregistered land held by, land owners and rich peasants. We dare say these various changes have “agitated” the villages of Hupeh not a little despite what Liu Shao-chi might have desired ...

It was by basing itself on the peasantry that the Chinese CP was able to conquer power, and that is why the nationwide extension of the agrarian reform was inevitable. But what happened when the peasant armies entered the big industrial cities of Eastern China? To properly answer this question it must be understood that these peasant armies were headed by a party that in program as well as political perspectives, tradition, consciousness and tempering of cadres did not issue from the peasantry but remained for close to three decades the main spokesman of the Chinese proletariat. To be sure, this party fought for the bloc of “four classes,” it came out in favor of collaboration with the “industrial bourgeoisie,” with the representatives of which it constituted a coalition government. But it affirmed at the same time that “the working class has become the ruling class of the nation” and that it is only a question of time until the construction of a socialist society can be undertaken in China. 

The Working Class and the “New Democracy”

These contradictory aspects of the policy of the Chinese CP are faithfully reflected in its attitude toward the workers and in the reactions of the workers toward it. On the one hand, with its entrance into the big cities, the Peoples’ Army of Liberation promised complete protection of private property. It repressed all disorders and attempts of the workers to create on their own initiative the “big overturn” announced by the Chinese CP. [125] But at the same time it lifted all restrictions on trade union action and favored a rapid rise of the trade union movement that thoroughly upset the relation of forces between employers (Chinese and foreign) and workers. The struggle, organization and development of class consciousness of the workers likewise received an immense impulse on the arrival of the Communist armies, since the workers took at their word the CP leaders who talked about the “leading role of the working class.” Quickly disappointed by the passive attitude of the Communist leaders toward them, they have since then fallen back into an attitude of cautious expectancy toward the regime, an attitude all current observers have noted. [126]

The two most important concessions the workers received from the new power were establishment of a genuine sliding scale of wages based on purchasing power in kind, and enactment of the first social insurance and health laws to. be generally imposed on all factories. The rest, they conquered themselves through the stormiest economic action. Thus official statistics show in Shanghai 9,027 labor disputes between May 1949 and May 1950. [127] Avenging their past miseries and humiliations, the Shanghai workers forced payment in particular of enormous back wages, ruining certain foreign firms. [128] In certain cities, above all in Shanghai itself, these gains were however in large measure neutralized by the agonizing development of unemployment. Out of an industrial proletariat of 1,200,000 persons in Shanghai, 350,000 were listed without work in December 1949–January 1950. [129] The evacuation of part of Shanghai’s industries and the ensuing dispersion of the vanguard of the city’s proletariat-were certainly not unrelated to the fear the leaders of the Chinese CP must have felt before these workers, militant and strongly conscious of their own class interests.

The anxiety of the CP not to alienate at one blow the sympathy or even the goodwill of the workers seems however to have been sufficiently strong during the first period after the constitution of the People’s Central Government to prevent any measure tending to run counter to the proletariat. It was not until the government felt itself firmly stated in power, after the successful stabilization of its money, that it began to harden its attitude toward the working class. 

Attitude to Workers’ Struggles

Li Lisan speaks of the exaggerated demands of the workers, of the necessity

“... of correcting the workers’ persistent (habit) of occupying themselves exclusively with their own interests without taking into account the general interests ... of correcting (the error) of workers who in their own narrow interests make exaggerated, inadmissible demands.” [130]

These remarks, repeated by other government officials, culminated in the setting up of “consultative commissions of Labor and Capital” which established a general system of compulsory arbitration. [131] These commissions do not grant the workers any right of management or control over private industry, but do allow measures tending especially to increase production. Decisions cannot be made except by common agreement, and in important decisions, the entire staff of the concern must be consulted. Within the framework of the new economic policy inaugurated by Mao Tse-tung in March 1950, the measure in fact lays down the principle in Chinese private industry of “producing first, demanding better conditions later”; and represents a serious setback for the Chinese labor movement in comparison with the rising militancy from the spring of 1949 to the spring of 1950.

Neverthless, while marshalling demagogic arguments to implant the idea that increased production in private industry represents the common interests of workers and capitalists, Li Li-san insisted in his speech on the legitimacy of a certain limited militancy on the part of the workers:

“... The Department of Labor cannot, naturally, eliminate altogether the conflicts existing between labor and capital. In fact, so long as private capital exists, conflicts between labor and capital will continue to exist ... (it is necessary) to extend everywhere the system of collective agreements ... etc., etc.” [132]

In the same fashion, the new trade union law, reflects the contradictory elements of this labor policy of the Chinese CP at the present stage. For the first time in China, the law recognizes the right of wage-earners, including government employees, to organize. At the same time, the following clause limits this newly conquered labor right:

“Every union upon being organized must apply to the Chinese General Confederation of Labor ... so that, after examination and approval, the Chinese GCL ... files for its registration with the People’s Government of the place where it has been established ... All other groupings which are not constituted in accordance with the requirements (cited above) ... cannot be called trade unions or enjoy the rights provided in this law.” [133]

In practice this establishes the absolute monopoly of the Chinese CP, since it can, through the GCL, dissolve or force into illegality any union which disagrees with this or that aspect of its labor policy, thus clearly demonstrating that the party leadership fears such reactions from the working class. 

Workers’ Role in Nationalized Industry

In nationalized industry, where the biggest part of the industrial proletariat is concentrated, factory councils have been created. Contrary to the Stalinist theory prevailing in the USSR as well as in the “people’s democracies” with the exception of Yugoslavia, the Chinese Communists have not refurbished the pernicious myth of “the identity of interests between the management of (nationalized) enterprise’s and the workers.” In the report cited above, Li Li-san explicitly declares:

“In the State enterprises there is no longer a conflict of classes, but other conflicts, partial or general, still exist ... Certain people deny the existence of such conflicts; they hold that the head-foreman acts in the name of the State, his instructions are equivalent to a law or ruling which no one can oppose. This point of view is false ...” [134]

And in an article commenting on the trade union law, the same author, a specialist of the Chinese CP on labor questions, writes:

“In the State enterprises, the policy (to be followed) must consist of taking into account public and private interests, and the unions have the duty of protecting the interests of the mass of workers.” [135]

This conception, half-way between the Stalinist bureaucratic conception and Leninism, is expressed quite fully in the statute on factory councils, which, according to the provisional Constitution, possess the “right of control over production” but in practice have only a consultative function and are presided over by the heads of the enterprises. The Yugoslav Communists say on this subject:

“... the People’s Republic of China has begun to introduce workers’ councils and management committees, and this only in the nationalized enterprises. The system of management in the People’s Republic of China is in fact a compromise between the Soviet principle of bureaucratic-administrative management and the principle of Marx, ‘the factories to the workers.’ The management committee is dominated by the manager ... and the latter possesses greater and more decisive powers than the organs elected by the worker collectives.” [136]

Other Yugoslav sources report that a Soviet magazine held the Chinese legislation on factory councils to be too “liberal.” Kao-kang, head of the regional government of Manchuria, reported that in some factories the unions have a tendency to completely replace the manager, which is a strong indication of the pressure toward workers’ management pure and simple [137]. He also extols Stakhanovism, but in terms which seem almost a criticism of the Stalinist system:

“It is necessary however to understand that increased output is, after all, a function of human capacity. Any output exceeding human capacity is incorrect. This means that in the movement for the establishment of new records we demand a rational output according to average human capacity and the technical conditions at our disposal at present. We must at the same time stimulate and encourage the initiative of the workers and specialists ... This will permit all the workers to attain certain new records which up until now have been made only by a minority.” [138]

The Economist (November 18, 1950) asserts that Chinese Stakhanovism operates at the expense of industrial equipment, which is not in contradiction with the concept outlined by Kao-kang.

Among all these contradictory tendencies, the Chinese CP tries to maintain an intermediate position, basing itself on the working class in order to keep the bourgeoisie in hand; limiting the action of the workers so that it can continue the present stage of collaboration with private capital.

Soviet Bureaucracy and the Revolution

We can thus assume that on a certain number of problems of political and organizational orientation, the Chinese CP has not simply copied or imitated the “solutions” and institutions of the Stalinist bureaucracy in the USSR, but has tried to elaborate its own conceptions, corresponding to its own experience. In fact, the very victory of Mao Tse-tung over the rotten Chiang Kai-shek regime is due in large measure to the fact that even before the war the Chinese CP began to work out its own political orientation and does not seem to have been guided by directives coming from the Kremlin.

The fundamental conception of the politics of the Chinese CP was elaborated in Mao Tse-tung’s book, The New Democracy, published in 1940 when direct relations between Moscow and Yenan were interrupted. It looked like a public insult when Chen Po-ta, in an article celebrating Stalin’s contributions to the victory of the Chinese revolution on the occasion of the 70th birthday of the “Father of the Peoples,” candidly explained:

“It was only after the 1942 movement of ideological reorientation that Stalin’s numerous works on China were systematically published by our party ... Many comrades of our party who in fact led the Chinese revolution never had occasion to make a systematic study of Stalin’s numerous works on China. Among them was Comrade Mao Tse-tung.” [139]

In fact, the new statutes and program of the Chinese CP adopted in May 1945 did not even mention the name of Stalin [140] but openly declared that the programmatic foundation of the party was represented by “Marxism-Leninism and the Thought of Mao Tse-tung.” It is difficult to believe that many present leaders of the Chinese CP, who either participated intimately in the leadership of the party during the great revolution of 1925-27 or lived abroad for long periods since then, can be ignorant of the real role played by the leadership of the Communist International, and especially by Stalin, in the organization of the great defeat. In their official writings, they continue the tradition inaugurated by Stalinism, of making Chen Tu-hsiu, General Secretary of the Chinese CP from 1921 to 1927, the scapegoat for all the opportunist mistakes committed under direct orders of the Kremlin. But they must know that a week before Chiang Kai-shek began to massacre the Communists in Shanghai, Stalin declared in a speech in Moscow, April 5, 1927:

“Chiang Kai-shek is submitting to discipline. The Kuomintang is a bloc, a sort of revolutionary parliament (!), with the Right, the Left, and the Communists. Why make a coup d’etat? Why drive away the Right when we have the majority (!) and when the Right listens to us? ... Chiang Kai-shek has perhaps no sympathy for the revolution, but he is leading the army and cannot do otherwise (!) than lead it against the imperialists.” [141] 

Recent Hostile Acts of Stalin

They cannot fail to note, especially if they study all of Stalin’s works on China, how for years the leadership of the Communist International defended a position diametrically opposed to the one they themselves advanced beginning in 1940, in regard to the impossibility of carrying out the bourgeois-democratic revolution under the leadership of the bourgeoisie in China. Above all, they cannot forget that coinciding with the Japanese debacle in the summer of 1945, when they began to move toward the rapid occupation of northern China, Stalin sprung a surprise agreement with Chiang Kai-shek, recognizing his government as the only legal government of China and stabbing the Chinese Communists in the back! [142] They cannot forget that at the beginning of the civil war in 1945-46, the Kremlin helped Chiang Kai-shek install Kuomintang functionaries in Manchuria by prolonging Russian occupation of Manchurian centers, on express demand of the Chinese marshal, until the arrival of Nationalist reinforcements. Nor can they forget the evacuation of Harbin, when the Russian troops took with them the hated Kuomintang functionaries, giving them safe-conduct to Nationalist territory [143]; nor that in 1947, on the eve of their great offensive to liberate the whole northern plain of China, Stalin counseled them not to attack the big cities but to continue their guerrilla struggle.

They cannot forget that upon the popular uprising in the province of Sinkiang. the Soviet bureaucracy helped Chiang Kai-shek to dissolve the new insurrectional power and return a part of the old feudal rulers to power in a coalition government which the people had to overthrow a second time. [144] Belden even affirms that he heard many Chinese Communists declare that in the USSR the farmers are “serfs of the State”. [145] The Yugoslav example shows us how important these experiences are for determining the future course of the Chinese revolution, even if at the present stage the Chinese Communists abstain from delimiting themselves publicly from the Kremlin. 

Present State of Sino-Soviet Relations

Nevertheless, a break between Peiping and Moscow in the near future would be a surprise. Powerful objective forces still make such a break highly improbable. The intervention of the Soviet bureaucracy in People’s China is different in form and substance from that in the European “buffer zone.” Unlike the mixed companies set up by the Kremlin in eastern Europe, all of which represent simple exploitation by the Soviet bureaucracy of the already existing industries and manpower, the mixed companies established in China (Sino-Soviet oil company, Sino-Soviet company for the development of rare and non-ferrous metals in Sinkiang, Sino-Soviet civil aviation company) involve a real investment of capital on the part of the USSR that favors early development of the productive forces, objective No.1 of the Chinese Communists. [146]

And if the Sino-Soviet treaty, concluded by Mao Tse-tung in Moscow after lengthy negotiations testifying to the independent spirit of the Chinese, imposes on the People’s Republic of China the payment of indemnities to the USSR for expenditures on the Chinese railway construction in Changchun, Port Arthur and Dairen, the return of these Soviet enclaves to China represents a satisfaction, as the agreement openly states, “to the national honor and dignity of the Chinese People”. [147] Moscow drew some conclusions from the break with the Yugoslav CP and is trying not to irritate the Chinese Communists by a condescending attitude on secondary questions. The Kremlin’s distrust of Peiping is, however, indicated by the fact that deliveries of modern arms, particularly jet planes, are made in such a way that control of the materiel remains in Soviet hands, and by the fact that the USSR seems to have established military bases in Sinkiang. [148]

As long as the Chinese retain essential control of the Communist movement in a series of Asiatic countries (Indo-China, Malaya, etc. – as demonstrated by the exclusively Chinese leadership of the conference of Asiatic and Australasian unions held at Peiping from November 16 to December 3, 1949), and thereby clash directly with imperialism, they will have to maintain close relations with the Kremlin. As long as imperialism maintains its factual blockade of China as to the principal raw materials and so-called “strategic” equipment, the restricted economic aid which they can obtain from the USSR will seem all the more appreciable. And above all: as long as the revolutionary forces independent of the Kremlin are unable to appear as an important political factor in Asia or elsewhere, the Chinese CP, drawing conclusions in turn from the current evolution of the Yugoslav affair, will essay only with extreme caution to draw away from the Kremlin.

In the long run, however, the social forces of the Chinese revolution and not the political or economic considerations of its leaders will determine relations between Peiping and Moscow. The development of the rural bourgeoisie, the eventual difficulty of maintaining industrial equipment, the eventual modification of the international relationship of forces in favor of imperialism, the appearance of capitulatory Rightist tendencies in the Chinese CP, could, under a condition of prolonged passivity and feebleness of the proletariat, bring about a reversal of Chinese foreign policy. An attempt, not yet excluded, by the Kremlin to reach an understanding with the State Department at the expense of China, could have similar results. Contrariwise, a new development of the Chinese revolution, an upsurge of the labor movement, a leftist orientation of the CP, the favorable development of revolutionary forces in the world, above all in India, Japan and western Europe, could bring about at a later stage a break “to the left” between Chinese Communism and the Kremlin. To be realized, however, the two possibilities require rupture of the new class equilibrium in China today, the equilibrium on which the Chinese CP bases its power. 

Role of the CP

This equilibrium is not the product of accident alone in China’s historic process. It was consciously prepared during long years by the CP of that country in the course of an ideological evolution which led it to reconsider the fundamental problems of the Chinese revolution.

In the fall of 1936, Mao Tse-tung, summing up the experiences of the revolution and civil war, wrote a small book called The Strategy of the Revolutionary War in China in which, without basing himself on a Marxist analysis of class relations in Chinese society and drawing only the empirical lessons of the past struggles, he reached the following conclusion, a complete revision of Stalinist conceptions of China:

“The enemy of the revolution has been not only imperialism but also the regime of the big bourgeoisie allied with the big land owners. The national bourgeoisie has become an extension of the big bourgeoisie, leaving only the Chinese CP to lead the revolution. Complete command in the hands of the Communist Party is the basic condition for ability to guide the war to a successful conclusion.” [149]

In the same work he assigns a negligible, secondary role to the proletariat in the Chinese revolution and arrives at the conclusion that a revolutionary victory in China is impossible without a victorious war of peasant armies led by the CP.

Only a few copies of Mao’s book were printed at the time and it did not at all influence the immediate strategy of the party. Quite the contrary: In 1937 Mao made a “bloc” with the Kuomintang against Japanese imperialism in which he openly abandoned all struggle for agrarian reform in the liberated regions. Up to now he has not been able to name a single advantage of this coalition with the land owners in northern China. Moreover, it must be added that this bloc was broken only under the pressure of the masses, who began to divide the land themselves in 1946 without waiting for directives from the CP [150]. In the meantime, however, reconsideration of the character of the Chinese revolution by the leaders of the Chinese CP has progressed considerably. Beginning in 1940 in his book, The New Democracy, published in printed form several months before The Strategy of the Revolutionary War (which appeared in March 1941), Mao characterized the revolution as follows:

“This stage of the Chinese revolution ... by its social character is a bourgeois democratic revolution of a new kind; it is not yet the socialist revolution of the proletariat, but it already constitutes a part of the world socialist revolution of the proletariat ... This first stage cannot be the construction of a bourgeois society under hegemony of the capitalist classes in China, but the creation of a new, really democratic society through union of the various revolutionary layers of China ...” [151]

Several years later, speaking before the Seventh Congress of the Chinese CP, Liu Shao-chi declared still more clearly:

“... because the fundamental motor forces of the Chinese revolution are the masses of the people, with the peasantry as principal force and the proletariat as guide, the Chinese revolution cannot be either a bourgeois-democratic revolution of the old type nor a proletarian socialist revolution, of the new type ... In this revolution, the principal motor forces are the proletariat, the peasantry and the petty bourgeoisie.” [152]

Finally, reviewing after the event: the development of the victorious military campaign, the Central Committee of the Chinese CP thus defined the character of the third Chinese revolution:

“The people’s democratic dictatorship, led by the working class, based on the alliance of workers and farmers, demands that the Communist Party of China seriously unite the whole working class, the whole peasantry, the revolutionary intelligentsia as the guiding forces and as the basic forces of that dictatorship.” [153]

It was with this conception that the armies led by the CP were launched toward victory in 1947 on a formidable wave of peasant insurrections. To carry out the tasks of the bourgeois revolution completely through conquest of power by the Communist Party without touching a single one of the tasks of the proletarian revolution – this appeared to be the program of the Chinese CP which permitted it to achieve victory in the first stage of the revolution. This victory was possible only because in practice the CP dropped the Stalinist idea of carrying out the bourgeois revolution in a fifty-fifty bloc with the “national” bourgeoisie and even under the periodic hegemony of the “national” bourgeoisie. 

Contradictions in Policy Revealed in Practice

But with the conquest of power, the limitations of this program became apparent. The CP wished to construct a “democratic” capitalist economy, but three-fourths of industry was already nationalized. It wished to halt the struggle against the “national” bourgeoisie for a period, but realization of agrarian reform in the south constantly placed this struggle on the order of the day. It wished to avoid all planning for the time being, but the task of industrializing the Chinese mainland appeared immense and planning seemed to be the only means of getting it going. It wished to leave the road to accumulation open to the rich farmers of the countryside, but despite its intentions, the class struggle blazed up more vigorously than ever The whole logic of the situation pointed to the conclusions of the Trotskyist theory of the permanent revolution. The present equilibrium of forces cannot last. In the near future the CP will have to decide to sharpen the struggle against the urban and village bourgeoisie, basing itself on the proletariat and “poor farmers, if it does not wish to capitulate before the enormous bourgeois pressure which the beginning of peasant “prosperity” is preparing. Will it know how to make this choice? 

Is a Left Turn Possible?

Many reasons permit us to hope for such a development. More than any other Communist Party, the Chinese CP has been obliged to keep a less bureaucratic and centralized structure, to maintain a constant metabolism between its own aspirations and preoccupations and those of the masses. The objective situation pushes it along this road. The party cadres became habituated for years to the regime of Kung Kie Tche (guaranteed food, housing, clothing), a Spartan egalitarianism. In his report cited above (p. 75), Liu Shao-chi says that in 1945 half the villages of the liberated regions did not have a single member of the CP! Under such conditions how could the agrarian reform be carried out without permitting relatively free development of the initiative of the masses? The vastness of the Chinese mainland and the extreme density of its population does not at all permit the rapid establishment of bureaucratic control over the awakened masses. The formidable power of this awakening, of peasants freed from the tyranny of the land owners, of women liberated by the new marriage code, of youth finally given a future of hope, of masses avid for education and culture [154], make such control all the more difficult. Thus it was no more than an expression of this objective situation when Liu Shao-chi, submitting the CP statutes to the Seventh Congress, affirmed again and again the party’s “faith in the self-emancipation of the people” (op. cit., p.56), rejecting the whole idea that “the cadres decide everything” and even insisting on the rights of minorities within the party, the majority possibly being wrong during political debates! (Op. cit., pp.83-4). In 1945 such remarks could never have been heard in a party linked to Moscow for a long time. Of course, they have only a formal value. In 1931 and particularly in 1937, on the occasion of two “turns to the right,” the leadership of the Chinese CP organized violent campaigns “against counterrevolutionary Trotskyism.” But Belden tells how a Communist newspaper in the “liberated regions” publicly criticized the too moderate directives in the application of the agrarian reform. (Op. cit., p.503). And all observers are unanimous on the extreme “liberalism” at present of the Communist power, the restricted limits of any political repression, the absence of Stalinist-type control of the revolutionary forces in the countryside. If it remains alert to the voice of the masses, a new turn to the left by the CP is not at all excluded. It is fails to heed that voice, its bureaucratization and its course toward the right will signify at the next stage a course against the masses

Straws in the Wind

To estimate the chances of such a turn to the left, we must not forget the fact that the leadership of the Chinese CP, contrary to the affirmations of some people, has never ceased to consider itself as a proletarian leadership. True, the party is composed of an overwhelming majority of petty-bourgeois peasant elements. Its rapid growth (30,000 members in 1937, 1,200,000 in 1945, 4,000,000 at present) signifies an extremely low ideological level. But at the Seventh Congress, when the party was still cut off from the cities, it did not cease insisting on the proletarian character of the party, on the necessity of the non-proletarian members assimilating the proletarian ideology; they even inscribed in the statutes different conditions for admission of workers, poor farmers, .middle farmers and intellectuals, etc., increasing the difficulty of their entrance into the party to the degree their mode of existence departs from that of the proletariat. [155] Nevertheless, a certain number of rich peasants succeeded in infiltrating into the party and caused it to deviate from its class line in regard to the village. The Central Committee reacted violently to this danger with its February 22, 1948 Directives on the agrarian reform and the reorganization and purge of the party in the formerly liberated regions. [156] And when the People’s Army of Liberation reached the big proletarian centers, the same Central Committee made a resolute change in its attitude toward the relative importance of the working class:

“On account of the disproportion between the popular forces and those of the enemy after the defeat of the Great Revolution of 1927 up to now, the center of gravity of the revolutionary struggle of the Chinese people has been the rural sector, gathering together the rural forces ... to encircle and take the cities ... The period when this way of working had to be adopted is now ended ... The center of gravity of Party work must be placed in the cities” [157]

This turn found its logical conclusion in the halting of peasant recruitment to the Communist Party, which from now is concentrating on winning the industrial workers. The difficulties on this road will remain numerous as long as the Party leadership has nothing to offer the workers except the perspective of increasing production. On this plane likewise, a future turn to the left would correspond to the main concern of the Communist leaders and alone permit the party to become the principal force among the proletariat. 

Whither China?

The first stage of the Chinese revolution ended with the overthrow of the power of Chiang Kai-shek. It carried out most of the tasks of the bourgeois-democratic revolution, particularly emancipation from imperialist domination (even though foreign capital has not yet been completely expropriated) and the realization of national unification. It has not yet resolved the agrarian question to the degree demanded in the south, or carried out the expropriation of the urban bourgeoisie and, above all, the cancellation of debts and mortgages. The coming stage, in definitively solving the agrarian question and in order to realize the conclusive victory and consolidation of the revolution, will sharply pose the solution of the proletarian tasks, certain of which have already been outlined. That is why China is still passing through a transitional period between the downfall of the old and the definitive establishment of the new regime. Politically it is a Workers and Farmers Government still maintaining a coalition with certain elements of the big bourgeoisie. The alliance between the proletariat and the peasantry is in brief the revolutionary alliance with the poor farmers in the North, in the Center the temporary alliance with the rich peasantry and in the South the uncertain alliance with the urban exploiter elements who dominate agriculture. Dual power, existing on the village scale, is also reproduced on the national scale in the opposition between various zones and inside the government itself by the presence of bourgeois ministers in its ranks.

The future of China is in the first place the future of 90 million peasant holdings. [158] To the degree that agrarian reform is achieved, the immediate future appears brilliant. Under the old regime, rent and taxes, not to mention interest on loans and other supplementary charges, took, on an average, more than 50% of the peasant’s crop; in certain prosperous regions, the percentage even reached 75%. [159] Today taxes take only an average of 17% of the farm income, and taxes are based on an average yield per acre, so that an increase in yield lowers the proportion of the levy. [160] The Chrinese peasantry suddenly sees its purchasing power enormously increased, and industry, particularly the textile industry, sees an unlimited market opening before it. In Manchuria where the agrarian reform was carried out first, the levy on the peasantry reached a total of 2.3 million tons of food products in 1949 against 8 million tons under the old regime. [161] Consequently in 1950 they were able to buy 9 million bolts of cotton goods as against 3 million in 1949 and 0.8 million in 1947 (before the reform). [162] The cause of the defeat of agrarian revolts of the past – the need to crush the peasantry under a burden of taxes in order to construct a centralized state apparatus – seems to have been checked in People’s China thanks to the elimination of corruption, to the frugal ways of the new government, to local self-administration, and above all, to the development of the productive forces.

Only when the agrarian reform is completed throughout China, will a new differentiation of social forces appear in the village on the basis of the private accumulation and the competition of millions of small peasant enterprises. The Mao Tse-tung regime will then experience its first serious test. Before this first crisis is reached, several years remain in which to concentrate on developing industry and raising the standard of living, consciousness and organization of the proletariat. On success in these two domains as well as on the aid the international revolution can give People’s China, depends the future fate of the Chinese revolution.

The victory of Mao Tse-tung smashed the bases of the century-old imperialist domination of Asia. Driving the H.M. Amethyst under artillery fire from the Yangtze in 1949, then driving the proud Yankee army from North Korea in 1950, the Chinese People’s Army overturned the relation of forces on which the capitalist world has been based for a century. It has avenged the victims of the Taiping and Boxer rebellions, the Shanghai workers of 1927, the peasants of Kiangsi and the millions of other victims of imperialist savagery in Asia. From now on China will no longer develop under the stigma of bandits and opium; modern industry will advance in giant strides and these strides will resound like a death-knell in the ears of the industrialists in Manchester, Bombay and Osaka. [163] It is not only through the revolutionary forces which it is unleashing in all of Asia that the Chinese revolution is undermining the world domination of imperialism; it is likewise dealing a mortal blow to the economic foundation of its existence which is rooted in the exploitation of the backward, under-developed countries.

The wofkers of the advanced European countries and the United States as well as the proletarians of Japan, India, Ceylon and Indonesia are not compelled to follow the tortuous road of Mao Tse-tung – 23 years of mass suffering in his country before smashing the enemy. Lenin’s road remains all the more on the order of the day while the revolutionary forces of the masses continually grow on a world scale: decisive blows, and audacious strategy make possible today, as in October 1917, an early victory. But they can achieve this victory only if they make their own – without any sectarianism and despite all the reservations due to the opportunism of the leadership of the Chinese CP – the cause of the great Chinese revolution. For a fourth of humanity this revolution sings, and will sing for many years, the Carmagnole of the people in arms and the Marseillaise of the workers.

December 10, 1950


81. Jean Jacques Brieux, La Chine du Nationalisms au Communisme, Editions du Seuil, Paris 1950. p.411.

82. New China News Agency, March 1, 1949.

83. May 1, 1950, speech of Liu Shao-chi, Vice-President of the Government and member of the Political Bureau of the Chinese Communist Party. In New China News Agency, daily bulletin, Prague edition, May 1, 1950, p.13.

84. Report of Chen-yun before the National Committee of the People’s Political Consultative Council, June 15, 1950. In La Situation Interieure de la Chine, published by La Documentation Francaise, October 21, 1950.

85. Kiai Fang Je-Pao (Liberation), Shanghai daily official organ of the Chinese CP, August 10, 1950. In La Situation Interieure de la Chine, published by La Documentation Francaise, October 21, 1950.

86. New China News Agency, daily bulletin, July 26, 1950. p.2.

87. Problemes Economiques, November 14, 1950.

88. Problemes Economiques, April 25, 1950.

89. Speech of Vice-President Liu Shao-chi, op. cit.

90. Problemes Economiques, April 25, 1950.

91. New China News Agency. Daily bulletin, June 6, 1950.

92. The Chinese Communist press acknowledged that great natural catastrophes had hit certain provinces of eastern China in 1949, Shantung, Kiangsu and Anhwei. According to an editorial in Kiai Fang Je-pao, March 9, 1950, more than 15 million victims suffered from famine in these three provinces.

93. New China News Agency, September 20, 1950.

94. Problemes Economiques, June 20, 1950. Most of the reports on China printed by this review edited by La Documentation Francaise, come from France’s commercial adviser in China.

95. Report of Kao-kang, head of the government of Manchuria, to the regional Congress of the CP, March 13, 1950. In La Situation Interieure de la Chine II (La Documentation Francaise).

96. See part I of this article in the Fourth International, September-October 1950.

97. Tsu Ti-tsin, La Voie Economique de la Chine.

98. See Neue Zürcher Zeitung, October 1, 1950. Le Soir, September 2, 1950, etc.

99. La Situation Interieure de la Chine II, p.28.

100. Speech of Liu Shao-chi, May 1, 1950, op. cit.

101. Report of Kao-kang, op. cit.

102. Problemes Economiques, June 13, 1950.

103. New China News Agency, daily bulletin, August 15, 1950.

104. Problemes Economiques, December 5, 1950.

105. The Times, London, June 7, 1950. New China News Agency, daily bulletin, October 27, 1950.

106. Report of Chen-yun before the National Committee of the PPCC, June 15, 1950. In La Situation Interieure de la Chine I, p.25.

107. Problemes Economiques, December 5, 1950.

108. New China News Agency, daily bulletin, June 5, 1950.

109. Report of Chen-yun before the National Committee of the PPCC. In La Situation Interieure de la Chine I, p.24.

110. New China News Agency, daily bulletin, July 21, 1950.

111. At present there are six administrative regions and one autonomous region (Inner Mongolia) each of which has a regional government.

112. Ibid., August 19, 1950.

113. Ibid., July 21, 1950.

114. See Part I of this article.

115. See the government declaration in the New China News Agency, December 6, 1950.

116. La Situation Interieure de la Chine II, p.20.

117. La Situation Interieure de la Chine I, p.9.

118. Ibid., p.15.

119. La Situation Interieure de la Chine I, p.9.

120. Pour une Paix Durable ... (Cominform paper in French) July 21, 1950.

121. Ibid.

122. Ibid.

123. Ibid.

124. Text of the Law on Agrarian Reform in La Situation de Chine I, pp.11-18.

125. It appears nevertheless that cases are strictly limited where the Army repressed movements of the workers by violence. These were only due to the initiative of certain “field commanders” and not to directives of the CP. In these cases the peasant nature of the Army came into collision actually with the opening of the proletarian development of the revolution.

126. Among others: Jack Belden, China Shakes the World; Economist, September 16, 1950. Jean-Jacques Brieux in his book La Chine du Nationalisme au Communisme (p.392) speaks flatly about the present “unpopularity” of the government among workers. This is all the more remarkable since he espouses in general all the propaganda theses of the Chinese CP and is strongly influenced by Stalinism in all his views on the labor movement and Marxism.

127. Report of the deputy-mayor of Shanghai. In La Situation Interieure de la Chine II, p.23.

128. The Neue Zürcher Zeitung of October 1, 1949, mournfully describes how the workers and employees of the American and British general consulates in Shanghai used similar “methods of blackmail.”

129. Li Li-san gives the total number of workers in Shanghai in an article reprinted in the New China News Agency, September 22, 1960. The figures on the unemployed are derived from the statistics on employment published in La Situation Interieure de la Chine II, p.25

130. Speech, March 8, 1950, at the first conference of the Chinese Department of Labor. In La Situation Interieure de la Chine I, p.37.

131. New China News Agency, May 12, 1950.

132. La Situation Interieure de la Chine I, p.37.

133. Ibid.,, p.32

134. Op. cit., p.37.

135. New China News Agency, daily bulletin, July 9, 1950.

136. Dr. Jovan Djordjevic, New Management System, in New Yugoslav Law, No.2-3, 1950, p.27.

137. La Situation Interieure de la Chine II, p.9.

138. Ibid., p.10.

139. China Weekly Review, January 21, 1950.

140. Reprinted in On the Party by Liu Shao-chi (Foreign Languages Press, Peiping, 1950, pp.155-204).

141. Cited by Harold Isaacs, The Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution, London 1938. Seeker and Warburg. p.185. Isaacs tells how this speech was suppressed in the official publications of the USSR after events had so cruelly contradicted Stalin ...

142. Jack Belden, China Shakes the World, Harper & Brothers, New York, 1949, p.69.

143. Ibid., p.375.

144. Tanjug Bulletin, April 4, 1950.

145. Belden, op. cit., p.68.

146. New China News Agency, bulletin, Oct. 2, 1950.

147. Pour une Paix Durable... (Cominform paper in French) Feb. 17, 1950.

148. See the revelations of Kyril Kanov in The Reporter for Sept. 26 and Oct. 10, 1950, published in The Militant, Oct. 16, 1950. Also see the articles by C. Sulzberger in the N.Y. Times, May 5, 1950 and by Eric Downton in the London Daily Telegraph, June 19, 1950.

149. Mao Tse-tung, Le Strategie de la Guerre Révolutionnaire en Chine, Paris 1950. Editions sociales. p.33.

150. Belden, op. cit., p.169.

151. Reprinted in J.J. Brieux, op. cit., p.329.

152. Liu Shao-chi. On the Party, op cit., p.37.

153. New China News Agency, bulletin, March 29, 1949.

154. This note is missing – MIA.

155. Liu Shao-chi, On the Party.

156. Cited in Le Developpement du Communisme en Chine II, pp.28-9. (Edited by La Documentation Francaise, June 29, 1950).

157. Resolution adopted by the Central Committee of the Chinese C.P., March 1949, New China News Agency, March 29, 1949.

158. According to the 1934 statistics republished in Le Developpement du Communisme en Chine II, p.45.

159. Quatrième Internationale, May-July, 1950.

160. New China News Agency.

161. Ibid.

162. Ibid., Sept. 22, 1950.

163. Highly characteristic of the transformation of China: it is no longer raw materials, but semi-finished products and cotton goods which today head the exports of Tientsin, China’s foremost port. Problemes Economiques, Dec. 5, 1950.


Contact webmaster

Avec le soutien de la Formation Leon Lesoil, 20, rue Plantin, 1070 Bruxelles, Belgique