Excerpts from Memorandum by Mr. John S. Service to the Chief of the Division of Chinese Affairs (John Carter Vincent)
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While in Yenan I discussed with Communist leaders the possibility of Communist policy becoming more radical in the near future, especially if they found themselves involved in a civil war. I suggested that the growing preponderance of peasants in the Chinese Communist Party might force them, for instance, to placate peasant demands for a more radical land policy such as confiscation of land-lords’ property.
Without exception the Communist leaders vigorously and emphatically rejected this possibility of their policy becoming more radical. Their reasoning was that their present moderate policy of preserving the interests of the middle class, including landlords and private business, and protection of the institution of private property and capitalism, was a most effective political weapon against the Kuomintang. They argued that under Chinese conditions for them to adopt policies serving interests only of the farmer would reduce them to the status of a peasant revolt or Jacquerie, which by numerous Marxist quotations they proved has never and cannot be successful .
Furthermore they insist that China will need large-scale foreign aid in her necessary economic and industrial development. China does not have the capital or experience to carry out this development her-self. Russia likewise will be too busy rebuilding and developing her own country. Aid therefore must come from other countries, particularly the United States, and the Communists say that it would be a mistake for them to adopt policies which would prevent or discourage foreign investment and hence retard Chinese economic development.
Finally, there is the familiar basic argument of the Chinese Communists, supported by Marxist doctrines, that a primitive country, such as China, with a basically agrarian economy and suffering from feudalism and foreign imperialism, cannot progress at one jump to socialism, but must go through a stage of democracy and private capital. Getting away from ideology, the Chinese Communists admit that Socialism or Communism simply will not work in China today with either the farmers or any other important class.
The question of leadership is probably basic. The European Communist parties with their united front policies are finding that the Socialists and other groups are becoming more “left” than they and hence threatening to take away progressive leadership. The Chinese Communist Party, however, with the minor exception of insignificant and powerless liberal groups, has a monopoly of the progressive leadership in China. They are neither small like the American Communist Party, nor one among many competing parties as in Europe. As long as their policies are considerably more progressive than those being carried out by the Kuomintang, it is unnecessary and not likely for them to turn toward radicalism. It is probable, therefore, that there will be little change in their present moderate coalition policies.
Recent evidence seems to show no change in international Communist approval of this Chinese Communist line. It was notable, for instance, in a recent article from Izvestia, reported in the New York Times of June 4, which generally supported the Chinese Communist Party and called for a coalition government.
The resolution of the American Communist group which set its new line also seems to support the present Chinese Communist policy. One of its “slogans of action” is:
“Press for a united and free China based upon the unity of the Communists and all other democratic and anti-Japanese forces so as to speed victory. Full military aid to the Chinese guerillas led by the heroic Eighth and Fourth armies.”
Although by this reasoning it seems likely that the Chinese Communist Party will not follow this general shift toward abandonment of the united front policy, it is also probably safe to assume that it will be less likely to go in the opposite direction by relaxing its present demands in order to reach a compromise with the Kuomintang. We may expect to see the Chinese Communists hold rigidly to their present position. Kuomintang-Communist reconciliation seems more than ever to depend on Kuomintang concessions.