Ted Grant

Nixon-Mao—What Talks Mean

Written: March 1972
Source: Militant, no. 94 (March 3, 1972)
Transcription: Francesco 2008
Markup: Manuel 2008

The Nixon-Mao and Chou-Nixon talks mark a new stage in the grim game of world diplomacy and power politics. What do they mean, and what effect will they have on the lives of the people of Asia and the world? Militant, more than seven years ago, predicted the inevitability of the American imperialists and the Chinese Stalinist bureaucracy trying to arrive at some sort of agreement.

No real agreement was reached in Peking, unless a secret understanding, which has not been published, was made. The Chinese bureaucracy is determined to gain control of Taiwan (Formosa), which they consider as a province of China. But the first concession by America, though vague, was the agreement “at some time in the future” for the withdrawal of American troops from the island.

In the long run the Americans will have to sacrifice the Chiang Kai-Shek clique.

The basis of attempted compromise is that all powers, imperialist as well as Stalinist, are for the status quo and against social revolution in the West. A successful socialist revolution in any of the big industrialised countries would undermine not only the power of the imperialist states, but the Stalinist deformed workers’ state as well. It would, by the example of workers’ democracy, rouse the workers and peasants of Russia and China to carry through a political revolution and establish genuine workers’ democracy there too, as in the days of Lenin and Trotsky.

Despite all the attempts at agreement with the capitalist powers of the West, these must in the long run break down because of the fundamental antagonism between the capitalist states and the non-capitalist basis of Russia and China.

In the aims of the Russian and Chinese bureaucracies, are purely nationalist considerations.

The attempt by American imperialism at world overlordship has collapsed catastrophically in the jungles of Vietnam. At the same time the policy of isolation and confrontation with the Chinese People’s Republic has failed in its purpose. China is gaining massive strength industrially, with every year. The reactionary aim of overthrowing the Chinese regime and restoring Chiang Kai-Shek and capitalism on the mainland, the dream of Dulles, has been shown as beyond the power of American capitalism.


On the other hand, the clearly nationalist policy of Chinese Stalinism has been revealed more and more clearly by events. Nixon, in his State of the Nation message to Congress, preparing for a change of American policy on China, said:

“For centuries China dominated its neighbours, culturally and politically. In the last 150 years it has been subjected to massive foreign intervention. Thus China’s attitude to foreign countries retains elements of aloofness, suspicion and hostility. Under communism, these historically shaped attitudes have been sharpened by doctrines of violence and revolution, proclaimed more often than followed in foreign relations.”

In other words, the revolutionary mouthings from Peking are taken none too seriously at the State Department in Washington. The Peking leaders, like the Russian Stalinists, are now committed to a policy of power politics in the interests of the ruling caste of managers, bureaucrats, army officers and the other privileged people in China. They are not interested in world socialism or the interests of the Chinese workers and peasants, or the working class of the world, but engage in the same filthy game of power politics as the Russian Stalinists have done for decades. Their policy is dictated, both in home and foreign affairs, by considerations of enhancing the prestige, power, privilege and income of the ruling caste.

Supported Yahya

Hence while pretending to stand for the rights of national freedom of all peoples, in the recent suppression of the Bengali people of East Bengal they backed to the limit the shameful regime of Yahya Khan, and gave unstinting support to this reactionary theocratic-landlord-capitalist dictatorship in its war with India. In this reactionary stance they found themselves in the same boat as the imperialist United States. Russia, for its own ends, backed capitalist-landlord India. None of them were in the least concerned about the interests of the workers and peasants, or the peoples of the sub-continent, or for furthering the interests of world socialism.

The pleasantries exchanged between the representatives of China and Russia at the United Nations on the Indo-Pakistan issue were nauseating, coming from representatives of states where at least landlordism and capitalism have been abolished. This was much to the amusement of the imperialist powers. This was reflected in the press and radio of the two countries. Pravda on December 9th 1971, declared:

“The Maoists tried by every means to worm their way into East Pakistan and, with the help of agents, preached a people’s war there. On the other hand, they proclaimed their support for the military regime in Pakistan, trying to turn it into an instrument of their chauvinist Great Power line in Asia. They are profoundly indifferent to the Pakistani people’s real interests and regard Pakistan as just a puppet in their filthy game on the international scene…”

The Chinese Stalinists replied in kind.

Since the quarrel between the two mighty wings of Stalinism in China and Russia, they have ranted and raved against each other, and each has tried to arrive at an agreement with American imperialism at the other’s expense. In April 1970, Red Flag, organ of the Chinese Stalinists, declared that the Soviet Union had “intensified its transformation into a fascist dictatorship, and practices a policy of aggression and collusion with American imperialism, its rival in the struggle for hegemony.” Similar accusations of collusion have been put forward by the Russian Stalinists, especially during the talks in Peking.

It is the desire of Chinese Stalinism to preserve the world status quo in social relations, while improving the position of the Chinese State in world affairs, which makes the attempt at agreement and compromise by American imperialism possible. In international affairs the Chinese leaders, at this stage, adopt the stance of Uriah Heep: they are very “humble”, they do not wish to be a superpower, but on the contrary defend the interests of the small and defenceless powers. Their position on Pakistan is sufficient comment on these pretensions. But their calculation is to win the support of the small powers, especially in the forum of the United Nations.

Power politics

That they are playing the grisly game of international power politics is shown by their support of Romania against the Soviet Union. Despite the enormous needs of the Chinese economy, they promised complete technical assistance and even complete installations to the Romanians. General Huang Yung-Chen, the Chinese chief of staff, praised the Romanian army, which he said “…refused to take orders from the U.S.S.R.” Chou En-Lai declared on June 11th that both countries were “firmly opposed to the practice of power politics among nations,” and that China would support the Romanian Government and people, who had constantly opposed the bullying of small nations by a great one.” (i.e. Russia).

The split of Russia and China, despite the gloss put on their actions by the leaders of both countries, has nothing to do with socialism, but everything to do with the interests of the bureaucrats of both countries. Power and income and “face”, the preservation of their ruling position, is the main preoccupation of these rulers.

The incalculable achievements of the Russian and Chinese revolutions must not blind the workers to the criminal and totalitarian policies of both Russian and Chinese Stalinism. When thieves or bureaucrats fall out, facets of the truth are often revealed. The shameless attacks on each other show the real nationalist motivations of these regimes.

Lenin’s diplomacy

In world politics the scene is now dominated by the dance of the Three—the two super-powers of America and Russia, and the potential super-power of China. As they cavort and make postures in propaganda and manoeuvres against each other, one thing stands out: the diplomacy of both China and Russia has nothing in common with the diplomacy of Lenin! Lenin stood always for open diplomacy. One of the most popular slogans of the Bolshevik Government was “Publication of all Treaties”; the opposite of the secret talks between Chou and Nixon and Mao and Nixon.

The idea of Lenin’s diplomacy was to raise the level of understanding by the masses of the ghoulish and bloodstained policies of imperialism and capitalism, to raise the level of consciousness of the workers and their sense of social solidarity and internationalism. That was the prime purpose of diplomacy in the days of Lenin. This is entirely foreign to the policies of both the Russian and Chinese bureaucracies at the present time. In their blind nationalist thinking they are not in the least interested in the fate of the world working class; they seek only the aggrandisement of the Russian and Chinese States. In this, they ape the power politics of Western capitalism.

World is one

This presents enormous dangers to the workers of the world. The development of world technique and world economy has united the world as never before in history. The period since World War Two has seen the knitting of the world in communications and industry into a single commercial network. Events in any part of the world, nowadays, immediately have their repercussions, industrially and politically, in the rest of the world. That is why the principle of Socialist Internationalism is more relevant than ever before.

The Chinese would betray the revolution in Vietnam unhesitatingly if they could gain an advantage thereby. They would treat them as they have treated the national interests of Bangladesh. One of the few areas of agreement revealed in the communiqué was on the question of the national aspirations of Kashmir and the need for the troops of India to return to the former cease-fire lines in this area.

Of course, the Indian capitalists have played a shameful role in this area. But it is not delicate considerations of the democratic right of self-determination which bothers either imperialist America or Stalinist China, but the interests of their client state, or what is left of it, in West Pakistan. The interests of the nationally oppressed peoples of the world are so much small change to be bargained between Russia, China, and America and their imperialist rivals.

Socialist world

So far as the peoples of the world are concerned, no trips, agreements or pacts will serve the interests of peace. Only social revolution in the West and political revolution in the East can pave the way for peace and plenty for the peoples of the world.

A Socialist United States of Asia, of the Americas, and of Europe, joined together in a federation with the rest of the world, is the only road for this planet in the long run, if it is not to be destroyed by nuclear war.