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New International, January–February 1950



China Policy at Work


From The New International, Vol. XVI No. 1, January–February 1950, pp. 6–8.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The Republican Party’s campaign over Formosa has done more than put its reactionary leaders out on the edge of a very precarious limb. The blast of accusations of “treachery,” “betrayal” and “Munich” let loose by Hoover, Dewey, Taft et al., would appear to have transformed itself into welcome ammunition in the hands of the Truman administration.

Not only is there something hypocritical in witnessing these traditional champions of “isolationist” policy proposing immediate intervention by American naval and military forces to defend and occupy an island much more obscure and remote to the American people than Europe itself, but it is hard to imagine anything more laughable than the sight of Senator Taft discovering the right of the Formosan people to self-determination. The Republican leadership thought it could not miss a splendid opportunity to cash in on the Truman administration’s gigantic failure in its China policy, but ended by tightly tying the “knot of confusion” around its own throat. Its leadership could not decide whether it wanted an open intervention in the most high-handed imperialist fashion, to bolster up the pitiful Chiang, or whether noble Wilsonian idealism was its answer. Secretary of State Acheson who, despite the licking he has had to accept from the Chinese Stalinists, has some understanding of what is happening and has a half-worked-out policy and strategy in mind for American imperialism, was easily able to ward off these clumsy attacks.

Facing reality is always a good starting point, and from the standpoint of American policy Acheson has had the capacity to face two fundamental realities in the world of the East.

  1. The knell of white man’s imperialism, rule and domination has sounded. The day when a telegram could announce the “landing of the Marines,” or the arrival of a “punitive expedition,” or the “shelling of a city by naval forces” – that day has departed. Whatever hope Truman retains of saving something from his China debacle would be destroyed by any precipitate move which would solidify anti-imperialist hatred as never before. In fact, much of the tactics employed by Chinese Stalinists in needling the American government surely has such purposes in mind and, in turn, reveals how the twin souls of Titoism and Russian Stalinism dwell within the single body of Stalinist China.
  2. If the world has ever seen a bankrupt, hopeless and spiritless regime, it is the tiny remnants of Chiang Kai-shek’s Kuomintang system. What idiocy it would be for American imperialism to bind itself, in the slightest way, to the numbered days of this remnantl Both the character and the dismal perspective of this criminal crew has long been understood in Washington. Acheson, to be sure, would quickly overlook the social and moral degeneracy of this feudal- landlord-bourgeois “government” if he thought it had the slightest hope of carrying on a sustained war with the ultimate chance of a return to power. But who believes this? Is it even possible that Taft-Hoover-Dewey hold out such a hope? Do they actually cling to the incredible belief that Chiang and his Madame can yet make a comeback? In any case, the responsible molders of American foreign policy have definitely decided that the liquidation of Chiang and whatever remains of his policy is not only inevitable, but desirable from the viewpoint of future American policy. The man is only an embarrassment and an encumbrance now.

With the complete conquest of China by Stalinism, what kind of a perspective remains? If we understand and accept the fact that the “revolt of Asia” in general, and the destruction of Kuomintangism in particular, have altered the picture as a whole, then it is easier to understand the confused and often contradictory policy of American policy makers. They are largely improvising and attempting to find their way in a changed Oriental world. Men like Acheson understand a little of what has happened, but the tactical and strategic responses their understanding permits are shaped and influenced by their imperialist outlook. At bottom, they must attempt to answer one question: given these fundamental changes, how shall American imperialism now function in the Far East?

Although they have no thoroughly worked-out answers, it is possible to see already the beginnings of a “grand strategy.” It is far different from the impulsive and not-to-be-taken seriously proposals of the Republican leadership. In the first place, disturbed as they may be by Stalinist advances in Asia, the truly responsible spokesmen for American imperialism know that these victories are not conclusive, considered internationally. The struggle for Western Europe still commands major emphasis and will continue to do so. Stalinism cannot expect any Formosas in the West, as the example of Berlin long ago indicated.

Secondly, despite the noise, exchange of protest letters, closing of consulates, etc., the U.S. fully intends to do business with Stalinist China, The difference between Washington and London over the issue of recognition of the Mao regime was a matter of propriety and tactics, and American recognition – if not de jure, then de facto – will come. In what other possible way could the U.S. expect to exert any influence upon the development of this new regime, to encourage whatever Titoistic tendencies may exist, etc.? If Russian Stalinism offers to China the dubious prospect of absorption of its outermost border regions, and a primitive agrarian exploitation of what remains, then American imperialism will surely snap up this opportunity to offer a brighter perspective to the Chinese Stalinist government involving capital, machinery, trade and commerce. Far from a hands-off, isolating policy, this demands the renewal of full relations, in all spheres.

Finally, just as the European Marshall Plan implied a policy of containment of Stalinism by the creation of a powerful Western bloc, so Acheson conceives of an Asiatic containment policy, by the creation of a strong Asiatic bloc based upon India, and including Indo-China, the new East Indies regime, etc. In passing, we might note the obvious effect that a cold-blooded occupation of Formosa would have had in such lands as India, Burma, etc. From Acheson’s standpoint, it will be difficult enough as it is to create an Asiatic bloc against Stalinism because of the whqle history of white imperialism. Caution must be therefore .exercised to an even greater degree. Acheson’s eyes are fixed upon Jawarlahal Nehru, not Chiang Kai-shek and his consort.

This, it seems to us, is the broad strategy American imperialism now has in mind. The sweep and scope of change in the Far East has been particularly striking by contrast with the Western world. One of the prime tasks of The New International in the future will be to probe and analyze the new Asiatic world from a socialist viewpoint.

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