Bela Kun

Preface to Fundamental Laws of the Chinese Soviet Republic

Written: 1934;
Source: Fundamental Laws of the Chinese Soviet Republic
Publisher: International Publishers, New York, 1934.
Transcription/Markup: Brian Reid


ONE-SIXTH of China is far from one-sixth of the globe. None the less it is a vast territory. One-sixth of China is occupied by the “stable” (i.e., consolidated) Soviet districts of the Chinese Soviet Republic. The area of France is equal to only 88.6 per cent. of the territory of Soviet China. The area of Germany is equal to 65.9 per cent., of Japan (without colonies) 61 per cent., of Great Britain (without colonies) 23 per cent. of this extensive Soviet territory. The Central District of the Chinese Soviet Republic alone is twice the size of Holland and Belgium taken together. The young Chinese Republic of Soviets must be regarded as quite a sizeable state not only in the light of these comparisons with European countries, but also when compared with whole continents. The “stable” and “unstable” districts of the Soviet government constitute no less than one-fourth of China.

The Chinese Revolution which has victoriously defended the independence of the Soviet districts has become a most important international factor. Six imperialist expeditions sent by Chiang Kai-shek against the young Chinese Soviet Republic have foundered completely. The might of the Soviet districts of China is expanding and strengthening. The international importance of Soviet China has grown to gigantic dimensions. Even the imperialist powers are forced to take Soviet China into account as it disarranges the plans of the imperialists in the East.

The Commission of the League of Nations headed by Lord Lytton which investigated the Japanese invasion into China was compelled to place on record:

“Communism in China not only means, as in most countries other than the U.S.S.R., either a political doctrine held by certain members of existing parties, or the organization of a special party to compete for power with other political parties. It has become an actual rival of the National Government. It possesses, its own law, army and government, and its own territorial sphere of action. For this state of affairs there is no parallel in any other country.

“ . . . In the summer of 1932, important military operations, having for their object a final suppression of the Red resistance, were announced by the Government of Nanking. They were commenced and, as stated above, were to have been accompanied by a thorough social and administrative reorganization of the recaptured regions, but up to the present no important results have been announced. . . .” — (Lytton Report, pp. 22-3.)

The fact that “no important results have been announced” by the Nanking Government as the Lytton Commission shame-facedly expresses itself, denoted a victory for the Chinese Soviet Republic, which, after the grand successes which it has attained, has become not only a powerful support of the social and national liberation of the toiling Chinese masses, not only the vanguard of the national struggles for liberation of the colonial peoples, but the pride of the whole international revolutionary proletariat.

The relationship of class forces in China is such that the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and the peasantry is no short episode, but has become the Soviet form of a revolutionary government, the form in which the bourgeois-democratic revolution passes over into a proletarian revolution. The Constitution of the Chinese Soviet Republic defines the content and character of the Soviet national revolution at its present stage in the following precise and unequivocal formulation:

“1. It is the purpose of the Constitution of the Chinese Soviet Republic to guarantee the democratic dictatorship of the proletariat and peasantry in the Soviet districts and to secure the triumph of this dictatorship throughout the whole of China. Our goal is the establishment of this dictatorship throughout China. It is the aim of this dictatorship to destroy all feudal survivals, to annihilate the might of the war lords of China, to unite China, systematically to limit the development of capitalism, to build up the economy of the state, to develop the class consciousness and organization of the proletariat, to rally to its banner the broad masses of the village poor in order to effect the transition to the dictatorship of the proletariat.

“2. . . . All power shall be vested in the Soviets of Workers, Peasants and Red Army men and in the entire toiling population. Under the Soviet Government the workers, peasants, Red Army men and the entire Soviet population shall have the right to elect their own deputies to give effect to their power. Only capitalists, landlords, the gentry, militarists, reactionary officials, tukhao, [1] monks — all exploiting and counter-revolutionary elements — shall be deprived of the right to elect deputies, to participate in the government and to enjoy political freedom.”

The Land Law provides for the expropriation of the estates of all the feudal lords, big landlords, militarists, tukhao, the gentry, monasteries and other big private landowners. Taking into account the special position of the Chinese big peasants, the majority of whom are big landlords or usurers, the land law likewise provides for the expropriation and distribution of big peasant lands; however, after the big peasant has been deprived of his property, a parcel of less fertile land is to be allotted to him, such as he is able to till by his own labour. The Land Law rejects the proposal of the more substantial peasants to have the land divided in accordance with the quantity of farm implements possessed and prescribes that the local Soviets adopt that mode of land distribution which will be most advantageous for the local rural poor and the middle peasants, as the special circumstances of each village may require. This Land Law is applied not only in the Soviet districts already in existence, but must also be expanded immediately to any district conquered by the Soviet Government.

The Labour Code fixes eight hours as the maximum working-day for adults, six hours for adolescents from sixteen to eighteen years of age and four hours for children from fourteen to sixteen years of age. A regular weekly rest interval which must amount to not less than forty-two successive hours is also fixed by law. Every half year the Commissariat of Labour subjects the minimum wage rates to revision. The principal of equal pay for equal work is consistently carried out in this law. Special provisions regulate the conditions of female and child labour. Collective agreements are recognized by law and a maximum duration of one year is fixed. Labour legislation which is advanced in every respect has been passed in all Soviet China. This legislation, although it must take into consideration the more primitive industrial conditions, surpasses everything which the Social-Democratic Party and the Social-Democratic governments of the highly-developed capitalist countries extolled to the skies during the postwar boom.

The provisions of the law concerning the economic policy of the Soviet Government are of exceptional interest. “In order to guarantee the full independence of China,” all economic key positions now in the hands of the imperialists must be nationalized (concessions, customs, banks, railways, shipping, mines, factories and mills).

“Until other provisions shall have been made by law, foreign industrialists may however continue production when they have concluded concession contracts, on condition of compliance with all the laws of the Soviet Government including the eight-hour working day.”

Industrial and handicraft enterprises of the Chinese capitalists will remain their property, and not be subject to nationalisation, but are subordinated to the control of the factory trade union committees and the trade unions. All sabotage by the capitalists, any attempt at counterrevolutionary activity, any overt act against the Soviet Government, whether committed by a native or foreign capitalist, will be punished by the immediate expropriation of the enterprise, and the transfer of its possession to an artel, handicraft co-operative or a Soviet Government body according to the concrete circumstances of the case.

In the domain of trade, freedom is guaranteed and the Soviet Government does not interfere with the daily transactions on the market. But the law provides that speculation, exorbitant prices and monopolist price agreements shall be energetically combated by the Soviet Government. Consumers’ co-operatives enjoy the aid of the Soviet Government in every respect and are exempt from all taxes.

The law institutes a single progressive tax; Red Army men, workers, rural and urban poor are exempt from all taxation, so that the bourgeoisie must bear the burden of all taxation. The law likewise frees toilers and exploited strata from all indebtedness.

All laws, especially the law concerning Soviet construction and the Red Army, aim at developing the mass initiative of the toilers, their whole-hearted support of the Soviet Government, and widening its mass base by drawing all the exploited of town and country to the side of the proletariat, the hegemon of the Soviet revolution.

To what extent this policy of the Soviet Government mobilized the broad masses of the Chinese people to the support of the numerically still weak proletariat in Soviet China and of its Communist Party of China may be gathered from the major successes of the Chinese Red Army in its heroic struggle against Chiang Kai-shek and against the international imperialist intervention.

* * * *

The sixth expedition of Chiang Kai-shek, the plan for which was worked out by General von Seeckt and two other German generals, and in the prosecution of which seventy officers of the German general staff and one hundred and fifty American aeroplanes manned by Americans participated, has failed disgracefully. The Red Armies of China have grown immensely. They have strengthened both in numbers and technically during the course of one year. According to bourgeois sources the number of soldiers in the regular units of the Chinese Red Army rose from 200,000 in 1932 to 350,000 persons. The irregular units of the Red Army, which are armed with rifles of the old and new model, during the same period of time grew numerically from 400,000 to 500,000 persons. The number of industrial and agricultural workers as well as of Communists in the armies is mounting continually. Three model divisions consisting of Communists and another one consisting of Y.C.L. members have been formed; the Central Council of the All-China League of Trade Unions organized two workers’ divisions. The day-to-day leadership of the Red Armies exercised by the regimental commanders acting under the guidance of the C.C. of the C.P. of China discloses generalship which borders on that of geniuses.

There is nothing surprising in the fact that Soviet China in the eyes of the whole toiling population, even of Kuomintang territory, is the only force capable of achieving the national liberation of China, of ridding it of the yoke of international imperialism — primarily Japanese imperialism. The victories of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army of young Soviet China are explained in part by the fact that, as the editorial of one English newspaper puts it, “in some instances the refusal of the government troops to fight against the Reds is a protest against the policy of the government with reference to Japan.”

This came to light, for instance, in the conduct of the Nineteenth Army of the province of Fukien at the time of the sixth expedition.

After the Chiang Kai-shek’s fifth campaign had been repulsed, the creative work of the Soviet Government began to develop successfully in all domains, especially in the defence of Soviet China. The territory of the Soviet Government expanded and the economic policy as well as the cultural and educational activities of the Soviet Government acquired a high importance and attractiveness in the eyes of the whole people of China. The successful carrying out of the spring and autumn agricultural campaigns, the rapid growth of the cooperatives, the good harvest, the pursuit of a rigid tax policy and currency stabilization have raised the authority of the Chinese Soviet Government even far beyond the confines of Soviet China. The development of public education may well be characterized by citing a few figures. For instance: in the Sin-Kwei district where at the most twenty-three primary schools existed before the Soviet Government had been established and those almost exclusively for the children of the wealthy strata there are now three hundred and forty primary schools, called Leninist schools, twenty-five evening schools, four hundred and forty-nine circles to liquidate illiteracy and eighteen clubs. In all schools instruction is free of charge and the children of toilers are fed free while a charge is made for feeding the children of big peasants. The Soviet Government in China has become a genuinely popular government, loved and defended by all the toilers. It is precisely due to this fact that the Chinese Red Armies from the very beginning of the sixth Kuomintang expedition which was supported by the imperialists conquered fifteen new districts and occupied two great industrial centres (the city of Yan Ping in the province of Fukien and Wang Hsien in the province of Szechwan). During the past year the supplies of the Red Army have considerably increased due to the capture of rich military booty in battle. During the first four months of this year alone the Chinese Red Army took from the counter-revolutionary Kuomintang troops, 140,000 rifles, 1,390 heavy and light machine-guns, 20 sets of radio apparatus, 100 heavy and light guns and 6 aeroplanes. More than 30,000 soldiers came over to the side of the Red Armies during this period. All these operations of the Red Armies were carried out successfully thanks to the support rendered the Red Armies by the population in the Kuomintang districts as well as in the Soviet areas.

In the counter-revolutionary camp vacillation was caused by the victories of the Red Armies. One Chinese bourgeois newspaper, the Ishi Bao, wrote the following under the impression created by the victory of the Chinese Red Armies:

“On the question of the internal conflict in China we have always been of the opinion expressed in the old proverb: ‘What the Chinese lose the Chinese themselves will gain.’”

In China, as Lenin said with reference to Soviet Hungary:

“The bourgeoisie has shown the whole world that when a severe crisis approaches, when the nation is in danger, the bourgeoisie is unable to rule. There is only one really popular government, only one government really beloved of the people and that is the government of the Soviets of Workers’, Soldiers’ and Peasants’ Deputies.”

The time has passed when the bourgeoisie of the whole world could look upon the Chinese Soviet Government and the Chinese Red Armies as a gang of bandits. Alongside of Chiang Kai-shek who in his manifestoes continually upbraids the “Red bandits,” only Trotsky continues to abide by his former conviction that Soviet China and its Red Army is a band of robbers. Even a great part of the bourgeois press is now compelled to speak of Soviet China as a state. The New Republic, a monthly magazine issued in New York, in its issue of September 27, 1933, writes in an article entitled “Red China”:

“In the back-country of China, far from steamships, railroads, telegraph lines and foreign correspondents in pith helmets, the Chinese Soviets continue to struggle and, in general, to advance. The few brief reports we read of their defeats and victories come from altogether hostile sources. Even the Communists who lead hunted lives in the big Chinese seaports have no direct communication with their comrades fighting in the interior (of Soviet China — B.K.). Nevertheless, it is becoming possible to construct a rough picture of what has happened to the Red Armies during the last twelve months. . . .

“ . . . The Communists had maintained a stable government a state bank of issue, an arms factory and a school system that had made immense progress towards its goal of providing universal free education. All these fell before the Nationalist invasion, but the Red Army escaped, part of it retreating westward and another part hiding its arms and going back to work in the fields. Correspondents (foreign — B.K.) of the Chinese papers were invited to visit the area that had been held by ‘Communist bandits.’ To their surprise they found that in spite of the ravages of an invading army, the Soviet regions were measurably more prosperous than adjoining regions ruled by respectable war lords. The harvests were bigger, the taxes lower, the dykes along the river banks much higher. It is probable that some of these benefits to the peasants will be maintained for a time even under the Nanking Government, if only to prevent the district from revolting again and calling back the Red Army.” (New Republic, Sept. 27, 1933, p. 170.)

A report from the Hupeh-Hunan-Anhwei Soviet District dated December 1, 1931, which describes the frustration of a counter-revolutionary plot, concludes as follows:

“At that time we already knew that the counterrevolutionaries had their central organization in our midst. Thereupon the State Political Department (G.P.U.) exposed several ‘re-organizationalists’ who were members of rural Party committees. In the Red Army, in its units stationed in Western Anhwei, an important counter-revolutionary organization was uncovered.

“This conspiracy was completely exposed, as a result of which we succeeded in breaking up anti-Soviet parties in the fourth corp, in the Party and Soviet bodies of the Hua Nang-Machen District and in Western Anhwei, likewise among the local armed forces.

“We therefore made a radical change in the entire district Soviet and Red Army. Utilizing the experience of the Fukien revolt, we were able to combine the struggle against counter-revolution with political agitation.

“A purging of alien elements commenced in the Party. In the Hua Nang region, for instance, more than a hundred politically alien persons were expelled from the Party. Several hundred persons were censured. The morale of the Red Army men improved. We greatly augmented the proportion of workers and peasants in the Red Army, especially among the higher commands. The Red Army men now say the present Red Army is the genuine workers’ and peasants’ Red Army.

“The leading military workers are all staunch and steeled Communists. They link up the struggle against counter-revolution with our agrarian policy and the reconstruction of the Soviet and Party apparatus. The activity of the worker and peasant masses has increased tremendously. In the Party and Soviet organizations many improvements have also been made, although of course we must still do quite a bit before we shall have attained a fully satisfactory internal political situation in our district.”

Another report from the same province reads:

“In liquidating counter-revolutionary organizations another circumstance was also of great importance. The correct line of the Communist Party in its struggle on two fronts within the Party gradually strengthened the class front and the leadership of our Party on Soviet territory and raised the practical and theoretical level of our Party. Our Party works most energetically on the fulfilment of the tasks of the agrarian revolution. It carries out most vigorously and determinedly the allotment of land to the peasant poor and agricultural labourers in the Soviet districts, works intensively on the organization of the exploited masses and unites the broad masses of the agricultural proletariat and peasant poor under the banner of the Soviets. All this has contributed to the fact that the broad masses of the agricultural proletariat and peasant poor have refused to be baffled by the counter-revolutionary moves, have not wavered and have been of assistance in rapidly disposing of the counterrevolutionary secret intrigues.

“The dangerous sallies of the counterrevolutionaries came to nought due to the revolutionary vigilance of the broad masses. This defeat of our class enemy undoubtedly dealt a heavy blow to the fourth punitive expedition of the Kuomintang against our Soviet territory. Victory is on our side.”

Trotskyists also take an active part, alongside the adherents of the Kuomintang — the “re-organizationalists” — in the organization of the counter-revolution. The report of the Party Committee of Western Fukien for the month of July, 1931, contained the following characteristic remarks on the counter-revolutionary Trotskyists:

“Lately we likewise discovered an organization of Trotskyists. From their depositions we learned that the Trotskyists united with the Social-Democratic Party on the following conditions:

“(a) The Social-Democratic Party shall render material support to the Trotskyists, however the Trotskyists may retain their independent organization in the Social-Democratic Party;

“(b) The Trotskyists may abide by their political convictions.

“The Social-Democratic Party and the Trotskyists acted in the following manner to counteract our Party’s fight against counter-revolutionaries: the Social-Democratic upper ranks gave away the lower organizations of the Socialist-Democratic Party in order to gain the reputation of determined fighters against counter-revolution. On the other hand the Trotskyists, who fought with the Social-Democratic Party for the control of this gang, gave away even the highest bodies of the Social-Democratic Party. When we began to detect the organizations of the Social-Democratic Party, we likewise called attention to other reactionary political groups (the “AB” group, the Trotskyists and so forth). Of late one Trotskyist organization after another has begun to break up and at the present time it can be said that the collapse of the Trotskyists has already begun.”

The counter-revolutionary Trotskyist band are evidently worthy of their “leader.”

The correct policy of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China, especially in the domain of agriculture, the great mass work of the Communist Party and the Young Communist League, which unshackles and organizes the initiative of the toilers, of course taking into account the special features of the cultural and historical development of the population, and the raising of the standard of living of the formerly starving and pauperized masses — all these factors guard the Soviet Government against any internal counterrevolution. Soviet China has become a powerful factor in all of China during the last three years, a force which no encroachments, no intertwined attacks of domestic and foreign counter-revolution could check.

This circumstance led to the point where Soviet China — true enough, in a special way — was “recognized” even by the imperialist powers. For the time being this “recognition” has found expression in the increased support they gave to the unsuccessful sixth campaign of Chiang Kai-shek. Our late Comrade Katayama, a great fighter for the liberation of the oppressed nations of the Far East, shortly before his death in a letter to Henri Barbusse summarized the participation of the leading imperialist powers in the sixth counter-revolutionary expedition against Soviet China as follows:

“(1) Piratical Japanese imperialism, the inveterate foe of the Chinese workers and peasants, has concluded a sham armistice with Chiang Kai-shek. . . . But this armistice enabled Chiang Kai-shek to undertake the sixth expedition against the Reds, this time better prepared, with the assistance of American and British imperialism. . .

“(2) The U.S.A. . . . granted Nanking the so-called wheat loan in the amount of fifty million dollars and credits for the purchase of American aeroplanes to the value of forty million dollars. A great many of Chiang Kai-shek’s flyers are Americans. Not so long ago the U.S.A. supplied China with a hundred and fifty bombing-planes specially for the sixth punitive expedition against the Reds. A short time past Nanking received from the U.S.A. a great number of bombs charged with poison gas.

“(3) England also did not sit idly by, arms folded. Calculating upon receiving the part of China adjoining India and North Tibet as well as Sinkian, British imperialism granted a loan of twenty million dollars to Lu Hsien, a Szechwan war lord, to fight against the Reds. The Chinese Revolution has gained a firm foothold in the province of Szechwan, while British imperialism is interested in having the revolution go to pieces and in extending its power to part of China. . . .

“(4) French imperialism has occupied some of the Caroline Coral Islands, and is preparing to seize parts of the provinces of Kwangsi and Yunann.

“(5) German imperialism supplies Chiang Kaishek with military advisers. At the present time seventy German military experts help Chiang Kaishek organize the sixth punitive expedition.

“(6) The League of Nations with its so-called plan of technical collaboration with China as a matter of fact helps the Nanking Government fight against the Chinese Soviets and the Red Army.”

The actuating motives for the interventionist activity of the various imperialist countries are diversified, but they all can be reduced to the fact that Soviet China is not only a barrier, an obstacle to the partition of China and its further colonial exploitation, but represents a stronghold in the war of liberation of all colonial and semi-colonial peoples of the Far East. American imperialism fears the further shrinking of its Chinese markets as a result of the further development of the Soviet revolution. French imperialism, frightened by the prospect of having its South Chinese “sphere of influence” involved in the revolution, is apprehensive of the fate of its Indo-Chinese colonies. British imperialism shudders at the thought that the union of China under the standard of the Soviets will tremendously accelerate the development of revolution in India. The Japanese militarist-fascist clique is directly interested in completing its negotiations with Chiang Kai-shek concerning their further joint moves against Soviet China.

In the event of their prosecuting a counterrevolutionary war against the Soviet Union, a Soviet China in the rear of the Japanese armies would multiply the already great risk, and this circumstance figures very prominently in all these motives. These considerations likewise explain the increased interest of the leading imperialist powers in the young Soviet state in China.

But the imperialist powers are not the only ones who are interested in Soviet China: the eyes of the international proletariat are turned with heart-felt sympathy upon Soviet China. The appeal of the Central Executive Committee of the Chinese Soviet Republic to the toilers of the world against shipping arms to the interventionists, against supplying aeroplanes, pilots, war chemicals to the counter-revolutionary Kuomintang armies, meets with increasingly wide response among the toiling masses of the capitalist countries. Even the bourgeois press can no longer deny that the Chinese Soviet Government, which relies upon the broadest democracy for the workers, peasants and urban petty bourgeoisie fight for the new, free life which is already being realized, for the culture which is already being created, for the national liberation of a people almost half a billion strong. Soviet China is moving more and more into the centre of public interest and is gaining more and more the sympathies of the toilers of the world.


1.  Big peasants, the capitalists of the countryside.