Li Fu-jen

The New Fourth Army’s Fate

Stalinists Now Admit That Chiang Kai-shek Himself Slaughtered It

(March 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 9, 1 March 1941, p. 5..
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Tardily and cautiously the Stalinists have been compelled to admit that which Earl Browder at first sought to conceal – namely, that the recent attack upon the New Fourth Army in China was conceived, prepared and executed by Chiang Kai-shek.

Without a single glance back at the statement by Earl Browder in the Sunday Worker of Feb. 2, in which he asserted that “it is utter nonsense to speak as if this break originated in China, or with Chiang,” the Daily Worker last week printed reports from Hongkong in which Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang regime are clearly made responsible for the military action in which several thousand peasant fighters of the New Fourth Army were slaughtered for alleged insubordination. A Stalinist report on Feb. 19 referred to the action as “a brutal and murderous massacre ... by overwhelming numbers of well-armed Government troops,” that is, by troops of Gen. Chiang Kai-shek. A second report, appearing Feb. 22, informed the world that the Chinese Communist Party had submitted “a forthright demand that the Chungking government of Chiang Kai-shek rescind its order disbanding the New Fourth Army and at once set Gen. Yeh Ting free and restore him to his position as head of that army.”

Twelve Demands

The Chinese Communist Party, it was revealed, has submitted a series of twelve demands to Chiang Kai-shek which are designed to remove “friction in the united front” with the Central Government, “insisting on their immediate and full acceptance as the only basis for further cooperation.” The demands are as follows:

  1. Cessation of provocative steps leading toward an anti-Communist civil war.
  2. Annulment of the government orders of Jan. 17 disbanding the New Fourth Army and providing for court-martial of Yeh Ting, commander of the New Fourth Army. An apology in the name of the government.
  3. Punishment of Ho Ying-ching. Minister of War; Ku Chu-tung, Commander of the Third War Zone, and Gen. Shankuan Yun-hsiang, under whose general command 80,000 government troops attacked 10,000 members of the New Fourth Army.
  4. Restoration of Yeh Ting’s freedom and his reappointment as commander of the New Fourth Army.
  5. Return of the ammunition and prisoners taken by the government in southern Anhwei.
  6. Compensation for the wounded and dead of the New Fourth Army in southern Anhwei. Immediate steps to stop anti-New Fourth Army operations in central China.
  7. Immediate destruction of the blockade along the border regions.
  8. Release of political prisoners, including: Chiang Hsueh-liang and Yank Hu-chin. Commanders of the Manchurian Army responsible for the detention of Chiang Kai-shek in Sian in December 1936.
  9. Abolition of one-party dictatorship and the improvement based on democratic principles.
  10. Realization of the will and principles of Sun Yat-sen.
  11. Purging of pro-Japanese groups, arrest and court-martial of their leaders.

Same False Policy

These demands, taken together, reveal a continuation of the fatal class-collaborationist policy of the Chinese Stalinists which, more than anything else, facilitated Chiang Kai-shek’s attack on the New Fourth Army. Instead of indicting Chiang and his reactionary regime as assassins of the people and saboteurs «f the war against Japan; instead of revealing the true character of Chiang’s regime and mobilizing the broadest mass action against it, the Stalinists submit a series of demands which Chiang, as the representative of the reactionary ruling classes, is totally unable to fulfill. By this means they continue to deceive the Chinese masses and render surer the destruction of their own forces.

Can one imagine Chiang voluntarily ending his (“one-party”) dictatorship when this dictatorship, and nothing less, is essential to the preservation of the power and privileges of the ruling class? And why demand “realisation of the will and principles of Sun Yat-sen”? Was it not Sun Yat-sen himself who, having no faith in the masses, prescribed a period of “political tutelage” for China, meaning thereby the dictatorship of the Kuomintang which he founded?

More ludicrous is the demand for punishment of War Minister Ho Ying-ching and the generals who directed the action against the New Fourth Army under Chiang’s orders; likewise the demand for purgation of pro-Japanese groups in the government. Ho Ying-ching himself is one of the top leaders of the pro-Japanese faction in the Chungking government’. Another is H.H. Kung, Finance Minister and brother-in-law of Chiang Kai-shek.

A New Revelation

Browder’s effort to portray the action against the New Fourth Army as something in the nature of a momentary aberration, a temporary straying by Chiang Kai-shek from the straight path of “united front” rectitude under the baleful influence of foreign powers, breaks down completely in the light of the eighth demand submitted to Chiang by the Chinese Stalinists.

In demanding that the blockade “along the border regions” be destroyed, the Stalinists reveal for the first time that Chiang, having destroyed the New Fourth Army, is preparing for action against the Eighth Route Army in the Northwest.

Effective resistance to Chiang Kai-shek’s reactionary moves is totally incompatible with the Stalinist efforts to placate and come to terms with the sinister hangman of the Chinese revolution, for such efforts only deceive the masses and make it impossible to mobilise them against this reactionary satrap. It is necessary first of all to speak out the facts, to speak them plainly and boldly. Instead of painting Chiang up. as the “great” (if temporarily misguided) leader of China’s struggle against Japan, he must be exposed as the bloody monster who. crushed the masses in the revolution of 1927; the executor of the infamous “non-resistance” policy which enabled the Japanese imperialists to occupy all of Manchuria; the representative of the Chinese bourgeoisie and landlords who have fattened on the very life-blood of the Chinese masses while sabotaging China’s war struggle.

This comes first. The fiction of the “united front” with Chiang must be consigned to the political garbage pail. In its place must come a real united front of the exploited masses, directed

against Chiang Kai-shek and his regime, against the landlords and capitalists, against Japanese imperialism.

The Stalinists face a choice of alternatives from which there is no escape:

  1. They may continue their efforts to patch things up with the hangman of the Chinese revolution. If this line is pursued to the very end, it can only mean a fresh capitulation to Chiang, who will then prepare to strike at the Eighth Route Army at a time and under circumstances he will himself choose.
  2. They can end their “united front” with Chiang, assume their independence on the China scene, appeal to the masses, build a mighty movement of support for their armed forces.

One or the Other

These alternatives are mutually exclusive. It is one or the other. Probably it is too much to expect that the Chinese Stalinist leaders, politically poisoned in the Moscow school of class-collaboration and treachery to the masses, will be capable of taking even one step along the revolutionary road. Chiang, however, seems determined to disengage himself from the embrace of his Stalinist “allies.” The attack on the New Fourth Army was only the beginning. Chiang himself may terminate the spurious “united front.” In that case the Eighth Route Army will be obliged to fight for its very life.

Despite the false policies of the Stalinist leaders, we stand wholeheartedly with the peasant fighters under their command – against the foul hangman of the Chinese revolution, against the bourgeois-landlord class whose interests he upholds. As always, we stand ready to collaborate with the Chinese Communist Party in a united front of struggle in defense of the Eighth Route and New Fourth armies against the Kuomintang regime, against Japanese imperialism, for the national and social liberation of China.

Last updated on 2 October 2015