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Labor Action, 6 December 1948


Jack Brad

Regime Nearing Collapse; Prepares to Move South

Kuomintang Faces Decisive Defeat


From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 49, 6 December 1948, pp. 1 & 2..
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The armies of Chinese Stalinism are advancing on the Kuomintang capital at Nanking. Barring the intervention of some new, powerful force, the most serious obstacle to continued conquest and victory by the Stalinist armies is the limit of their own resources. The only source for a new, major barrier to them is possible American intervention, but that does not seem likely to be soon enough, extensive enough or sufficiently committed to Chiang’s regime.

A short time ago it was generally considered that the military aim of the Stalinists was to stop at the Yangtze. With eighty per cent of China’s industry in Manchuria, the arsenals of Mukden and Taiyuan, the major coal, iron and copper deposits, good ports, all the major cities except Canton and Hong Kong and the rich alluvial plains of the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers—with all this behind them, it was. expected that the Stalinists would pause to consolidate, regroup and reorganize an effective administration over the vast country they have already won.

Today this is no longer certain. It is always precarious to make predictions about military events, but the war in China is basically a social war. The big problem of the Stalinists is transport, lines of communication and supplies. This is a vast technical problem. But beyond this, the armies of the Kuomintang as such are no longer decisive obstacles. Nor is the winter weather. Last year the Communist Party launched its winter Manchurian offensive in forty degrees below freezing.

Kuomintang Disintegration

The extent of social disintegration of the Kuomintang is even more rapid than the advance of the Communist Party armies and this factor alters the picture. Never in modern times has a state been reduced to such an abject condition and lack of support as has Chiang’s. If this general collapse and inner rot is not slowed down once the retreat of the Kuomintang to the so-called “Southern Bastion” at Canton is made, the CP armies may find themselves advancing into an area of chaos empty of any political structure or opposition.

Even the bailiwick of T.V. Soong in Canton, which seemed so secure a few months ago, is no longer immune to the national tendencies. Of the hated Four Families who rule and plunder Nationalist China, T.V. Soong is perhaps the most favored by America. In his direction of ECA in China, Roger Lapham distributed the bulk of it to South China, mainly in Kwangtung province, of which Canton is the capitol and T.V. Soong the dictator. United States’ policy, in wavering and ambiguous fashion, seemed to aim at developing a strong point in this region in case of a northern debacle.

However, the disease spreads like a contagion. With the southward migration of government officials and the mass exodus of the rich and their families comes an intensification and spread of the blight. Inflation marches southward as Canton is mobbed with newcomers who consume the few commodities still available. These people bring money with which to command the Black Market. They also bring with them all the factional animosities of long standing, which, in the face of defeats, have increased. Inner disunity, power cliquism, self-seeking and venality are all increased as the arena for their exercise diminishes.

Strikes are spreading; inflation drives food out of all normal channels. Everywhere in the cities workers are forced to leave work to spend full-time getting rice. Thousands are abandoning the cities for the countryside and for the familial villages. Throughout Kwangtung province peasants in this rich rice region are taking up arms in guerrilla bands and expanding the Communist-controlled areas.

The government of Chiang flounders without a program or a hope except for its desperate pleas to the United States to which it now offers China on a silver platter in return for large-scale aid—that China which it no longer has. The sum total of Chiang’s program is to retreat under pressure but never to give up the war. He relies on the turn of the historic wheel when the United States and Russia go to war. Meanwhile he makes no concession, offers no fundamental change, insists on the maintenance in power of his intolerable regime even though the country be lost because of it. After the fall of Mukden, Chiang made clear his position: eight more years of war, but war to the finish.

Regime Loses Support

Alienation between the regime and the people grows daily. Neither the country nor city masses, neither middle class, industrialists, intellectuals, lower gentry nor foreign capitalists support it. The soldiers desert en masse and with them (over to the Stalinists) go officers and even generals and former war-lords.

There is a new premier, Sun Fo, son of Sun Yat-sen. But his is a tarnished name and can no longer be paraded as liberal. He is considered a very weak man and as president of the Legislative Yuan played the game of the extreme Right cliques. Sun’s elevation at this time is an indication of the weakness of the regime. He is not the man to lead any struggle in determined fashion. He is a secondary and dependent creature. His elevation, it is rumored, is by default since no one else could be forced into the job. Real power remains with the Chinese CC group.

Indeed it may be that the elevation of Sun will result in the strengthening of the CC group, through the advancement to the presidency of the Legislative Yuan of the notorious Chen Li-fu. Sun’s announced program is identical with Chiang’s. In his initial statement he offered a series of concessions in return for U.S. aid, which, if effectuated, would throw China back to the days of Treaty Ports. This regression in national sovereignty would be made in order to prosecute the civil war more effectively. Though battered and torn, the regime knows no other program than civil war.

The government cannot save itself. Its present condition is the direct consequence of its failure to solve a single one of the problems of the Chinese national revolution in which name it took power twenty years ago. As a consequence of this failure, the Kuomintang has been isolated socially so that it represents only and is supported only by the feudal elements and bureaucratic capitalists whose links with feudalism are crucial.

All the pressures of a thousand years which are now grinding up and destroying the long-rotted fabric of this outlived and by-passed social order are now operative against the Kuomintang as its chief political representative. Every class, except the feudalists, is bursting through the suffocating narrowness and undermining the Kuomintang in the process.

New Stage of Revolution

What we are witnessing in China is the culmination of that process, begun in 1925, but gradually repressed after 1927. In this sense Stalinism is the heir of the Chinese revolution, in its own bureaucratic, anti-democratic fashion and for its own sinister purposes. That is why Stalinism speaks of a national, patriotic revolution of unity of all classes including bourgeoisie, lower gentry, middle class, peasants, workers, commercial classes – all except the Kuomintang itself.

Everything the regime undertakes fails. This characteristic of a class which has lost all control over its environment is the hallmark of the Kuomintang today. It has expended about four million men against the Stalinists to no avail. Recently a huge financial reform was instituted to no avail and with it a great program of economic reform in the cities. The only consequences were the grinding down of the middle classes who were forced to surrender their small savings and forcing the workers into hunger strikes, further alienating urban classes from the Kuomintang. The economic reforms were so devastating that that well-preserved ace-in-the-hole Chiang-Kuo, Moscow-trained son of Chiang, publicly apologized for them.

In its own fashion, the Kuomintang has even attempted land reforms of a rather pitiful nature, in the province of Hunan. It may attempt more drastic steps before its final collapse but the sole effect can only be to further undermine itself. No one believes in its ability to do what is needed.

Another, more striking example of the blind alley of the Kuomintang is its selection of Sun Fo for premier. It is known that there were no candidates for the post. But of all the possibilities, Sun is perhaps the worst choice from the viewpoint of the regime’s basic aim at this time. The only possibility of a respite in defeats that Chiang can hope for is American aid. The Kuomintang has dispatched its best pro-American face, Mme. Chiang for this purpose. At the same time it puts Sun Fo in office, the same Sun who was the opposition candidate to General Li for the vice-presidency when Li was the candidate of Ambassador Stuart and the pro-U.S. group in the Kuomintang. Sun represents the anti-American faction.

Indeed a contradictory evolution has occurred in the Kuomintang circles. The greater their dependence on the United States because of defeats at home, the greater their antagonism and openly expressed distrust. So, while begging shamelessly for American aid, the Kuomintang circles openly talk about American imperialism. They have worked out a rationalization (which is indeed partly true) that if Roosevelt had not given Manchuria to Russia as a sphere of influence, and had not forced Chiang to sign the Sino-Soviet Pact then the present situation would not have occurred. This is considered the root cause of the crisis and this was compounded by Marshall’s policy of a coalition with the CP. Thus the Kuomintang even while offering all China in return for aid is turning on its potential savior in order to avoid accepting responsibility for its own follies and failures.

(Next week we will take up U.S. China Policy and the nature of Chinese Stalinism.)

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