Li Fu-jen

Chiang Kai-shek Moves Against
8th Route Army

Only the Aroused Agrarian Revolution Can Defeat Chiang’s Reactionary Onslaught

(March 1941)

From The Militant, Vol. V No. 10, 8 March 1941, p. 4..
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Marxists’ Internet Archive.

Having attacked and decimated a large part of the Stalinist-led New Fourth Army in central China, Chiang Kai-shek has now but out to liquidate the Stalinist-controlled Eighth Route Army in the Northwest, according to Japanese reports relayed by the China correspondent of the New York Times on Feb. 26.

In this spreading civil war there can be no doubt where the Trotskyists stand. We land unconditionally with the Stalinist-led peasant soldiers, all of them heroic lighters against Japanese imperialism. The Chinese Trotskyists, as always, stand with the Chinese masses. We will unite with them to smash the murderous moves of the hangman Chiang Kai-shek in order to develop the movement for China’s national and social liberation.

Without reservation we endorse the main demands which the Chinese Communist Party has submitted to Chiang Kai-shek following the attack on the New Fourth Army (see last week’s Militant) – the demands for annulment of the government orders disbanding the New Fourth Army, for the release of its Commander, Gen. Yeh Ting, for the release of other prisoners and the return of munitions seized by Chiang’s troops, for compensation to wounded fighters of the New Fourth Army, for destruction of the blockade against the Stalinist-controlled areas etc.

But these demands will remain on paper unless they are backed up with mass pressure against the Chiang Kai-shek regime. The Trotskyists are ready to unite with the Stalinists in building this mass pressure, in building a mighty protective movement around the New Fourth and Eighth Route armies. Only in this way can the reactionary moves of the sinister hangman of the Chinese revolution be halted.

In putting forward their demands, however, the Chinese Stalinist leaders stated that they were designed to remove friction in the “united front” to make possible “further cooperation” between the Stalinists and Chiang. By this the Stalinist leaders have indicated that they are ready to continue their fatal policy of class collaboration which, more than anything else, aided Chiang in the preparation of his attack on the New Fourth Army.

Honeyed words will not serve to stay Chiang’s hand. Bolstered by American loans and military supplies, and promises of more to come, Chiang has decided to disengage himself from the Stalinist embrace and to stamp out the independent peasant armies. For these forces, despite the class-collaborationist policies of their leaders, represent a threat to Chiang’s dictatorship and to the interests of the landlord-bourgeois class. Chiang realizes, perhaps better than the Stalinists, that these peasant soldiers will some day be forced along the path of revolutionary action – if not with their present leaders, then against them.

In this situation it would he criminal t seek new agreements with Chiang, for this can only mean hamstringing the activities of the Eighth Route Army (and the remnants of the New Fourrh Army) and the worsening of their position in relation to the Kuomintang forces.

And in the end Chiang Kai-shek will have been helped to strike more telling blows than those recently dealt the New Fourth Army. There will be a complete decimation of the revolutionary forces – unless a mass protective movement is built up around them. Such a movement cannot be created, by the Stalinist leaders if they insist on dickering with Chiang Kai-shek instead of turning to the people.

In order to effect a turn toward the people, a program for the people is necessary. The banner of the agrarian revolution must be raised again. The cry “Land to the Peasants!” must resound throughout the land. The people must be shown the indissoluble connection between the agrarian revolution and the struggle against Japanese imperialism.

The reported attacks on the Eighth Route Army coincide with renewed talk of a Moscow-Tokyo pact in connection with the rumored forthcoming visit to Moscow by the Japanese Foreign Minister. Yosuke Matsuoka. Moscow’s diplomacy thus aids Chiang Kai-shek in his reactionary moves. This should not be forgotten.

Last updated on 2 October 2015