Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Proletarian Cause

Jonathan Swift

China and Russia: Foreign Policy, a Contrast

What is the foundation principle of the foreign policy of People’s China? It is PROLETARIAN INTERNATIONALISM.

Can we say that the same principle is the basis of the foreign policy of the Soviet Union? No, we can not. The basis of the foreign policy of the SU is not proletarian internationalism; it is “peaceful coexistence” (in quotes).

The reason I put this peaceful coexistence in quotes is that the peaceful coexistence as practiced by the Russian revisionists is not the real, genuine, revolutionary concept of peaceful coexistence, first elaborated by Lenin and supported by all Marxist-Leninist forces in the world, including China and Albania. The Russian variety of peaceful coexistence is a perversion and distortion of the genuine article, one which makes a hollow mockery of its revolutionary significance. We will discuss this more later on.

Let us start off by examining the historical development of these differences. Up to 1953, while Stalin was alive and the Soviet Union was indeed a socialist country, the leading socialist country in the world at the time, the foreign policy of the SU was also based on proletarian internationalism, and there were no essential differences between the foreign policies of the Soviet Union and People’s China. Witness the close cooperation between the two countries in aiding the Korean people to defeat the US War of Aggression in Korea.

But after Stalin’s death, when the Khrushchev revisionist group seized power, the new Soviet ruling class began to change drastically all the policies of the country, both internally and externally, and to turn them into their opposites. Thus, from being a socialist country, the revisionists put the Soviet Union on the road of restoration of capitalism. From being a bastion of world revolution, the Soviet Union has become a center for world counter-revolution.

These differences became steadily sharper and more open, especially at the Moscow Conference of 1957, the Bucharest Conference in June 1960, and the 81st Party Conference in Moscow in November 1960. Finally these differences broke out into an open public debate in March 1963, when the Central Committee of the CPSU issued an open letter attacking the Communist Party of China, and the CPC replied with a whole series of articles, published in Peking as “The Polemic on the General Line of the International Communist Movement.”

The Polemics discuss in detail a whole range of subjects, including peaceful coexistence, war and peace, proletarian revolution, revisionism, neo-colonialism, Yugoslavia, Stalin, etc. Anyone interested in Marxism-Leninism would do well to study these Polemics. They are essential to a basic understanding of the differences between the world revolutionary movement and social imperialism.

The whole idea of peaceful coexistence as enunciated by Lenin is that the socialist countries can and should strive to coexist with the capitalist countries for a long period of time, provided the imperialists keep their hands off, which is indeed a big if. This in no way implied giving up support for the workers of the world in their struggle for national liberation or to overthrow capitalism.

Stalin always followed the policy of peaceful coexistence of Lenin, never abandoning support for the revolutionary struggles of the people around the world. At the 15th Congress of the CPSU (1927) he said that as long as the US followed a revolutionary line, “international capital will do everything it can to hinder our advance.” But if we follow a different line, if “we renounce our revolutionary policy and agree to make a number of fundamental concessions to international capital .. .(then) no doubt (they) will not be averse to ’assisting’ us in converting our socialist country into a ’good’ bourgeois republic.”

And that is precisely what has happened to the SU since the revisionists took power and denounced Stalin.

Stalin said further, “America demands that we renounce in principle the policy of supporting the emancipation movement of the working class in other countries, and says that if we made this concession everything would go smoothly. . .perhaps we should make this concession? . . .“ But his answer was a clear and sharp NO! “. . .we cannot agree to these or similar concessions without being false to ourselves. ..”

But the revisionists could and did agree to these concessions, and have proven themselves to be arch betrayers of socialism, of the Soviet people, of the revolutionary movements and peoples all over the world.

What is a correct foreign policy for a socialist country? The CPC puts it in three parts, all of which are essential and interrelated, and none of which can be left out:

1) Friendship, mutual assistance and cooperation among socialist countries; 2) Peaceful Coexistence on the basis of the Five Principles with capitalist countries, while at the same time opposing the imperialist policies of aggression and war; and 3) To support and assist the revolutionary struggles of all the oppressed peoples and nations. This is the line of Mao Tse-tung.

The general line for the foreign policy of the Soviet revisionists has been repeatedly proclaimed to be only one thing: “peaceful coexistence” (period). This means abandonment of support to the revolutionary struggles around the world, making concessions, to imperialism, cooperating and colluding with imperialism, suppressing revolution. They also want to make this “peaceful coexistence” of theirs the general line for the Communist Parties of the whole world, and for the oppressed nations. This means giving up the people’s revolution in favor of peaceful coexistence between the workers and their exploiters; giving up the struggle for national liberation in favor of peaceful coexistence between the oppressed nations and their imperialist oppressors.

Let us examine how this revisionist foreign policy has worked out in practice. An early example occurred in 1960 when the Congo was fighting for its national liberation. Patrice Lumumba asked the Soviet Union for arms to help fight off the counter-revolution organized by the imperialists. Instead of giving arms, the Soviet rulers gave him advice. They urged him to put his faith in the U.N. “peace force ” which was nothing but a tool of the imperialist powers. Everyone knows the results: the revolution smashed, Lumumba and his followers murdered, wholesale genocide, and the country turned back to the imperialist wolves.

In 1962, when the Indian reactionaries launched an unprovoked aggressive attack against China’s borders, the Soviet revisionists gave encouragement to the Indian reactionaries.

In 1963, the Cuban missile crisis erupted as a result of the stupid and unprincipled actions of Khrushchev. First he put missiles in Cuba, which the Chinese denounced as adventurous. Then he meekly withdrew the missiles again in response to the threats of the U.S. imperialists, and against the wishes of the Cuban people and leaders.

Let us take the question of Viet Nam. Up to 1964, the Russians were giving very little help to Viet Nam. But when Khrushchev was removed, the new Kremlin rulers decided to step up their aid to Viet Nam in order to establish their influence and domination in the area. But what kind of aid have they been giving? Let me quote from Prince Norodom Sihanouk, Chief of State of Cambodia, who said recently in an interview printed in the New York Times: “I have seen what the Russians give the North Vietnamese. . .None of this equipment is up-to-date. In terms of both quantity and quality, the Russians have not given Hanoi a quarter of what they have given the Egyptians. Why? Because the Russians don’t want Hanoi to win. They will give the Vietnamese just enough to keep them from losing the war, but not enough to enable them to win it. Speaking as an Asian, I feel that the Russians want to keep Asians in a state of subserviency. There is, in the Russian mind, a neurotic fear of an imaginary yellow peril embodied by China. By hindering the Vietnamese, the Russians are aiming at China. The Americans are also motivated by this same fear of China. Their intervention in Vietnam is aimed at China. They kill the Vietnamese because they are afraid of the Chinese. As for the Soviets, they do the same thing; they refuse to help the Cambodians because they are afraid of China. Ultimately, both the Americans and the Russians are motivated by a common racism, a common fear of a yellow peril embodied by China.

While there is no doubt that this racism does exist, the basic motivation of the Russians and the Americans is not racism, but the imperialist drive for expansion, control, and exploitation. The racism is only a secondary product of the basic imperialist economic and political compulsion.

Let us look briefly at the Cambodian situation. When the US imperialists instigated the Lon Nol clique in Pnom Penh to overthrow Sihanouk and seize power to set up a puppet regime for the American aggressors, Sihanouk was in Moscow, and he immediately asked for help to resist this foreign aggression. The response of the Soviet revisionist leaders was a cold refusal. Then Sihanouk flew to Peking. There he received a warm welcome and all possible assistance and encouragement to carry on a revolutionary struggle against the puppet regime.

Have the Russian revisionists given any help to the Cambodian revolutionaries? None at all. On the contrary, they immediately recognized the traitorous Lon Nol regime, and maintained their embassy in Pnom Penh in full force. They attack Sihanouk and the National United Front (NUF) and give support to Lon Nol. And they are playing with the idea of setting up a phony “communist party of Cambodia” that would be a loyal opposition to Lon Nol and would try to discredit the NUF.

When the Nixon administration expanded the war of aggression into Laos and Cambodia, the Chinese Government, with the personal attention of Premier Chou En-lai, played a positive role in bringing together the four parties (North Viet Nam, South Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia) in a summit conference which strengthened their unity and determination to fight on to victory. At that time China further increased its aid to the Indo-Chinese countries, while Soviet aid to Viet Nam actually declined.

During all this past period, the Russians have repeatedly crawled on their knees to the American imperialists begging for favors and concessions, asking for equal treatment as a co-partner. The “spirit of Camp David” and the “spirit of Glassboro” became household words expressing the rapprochement between American imperialism and Russian social-imperialism.

Now finally in May of this year, a big summit took place in Moscow between Nixon and Brezhnev. Here this whole policy of reconciliation, collusion, and cooperation was brought to a climax with a whole series of open and secret treaties designed to divide the world up into spheres of influence between the two super-powers, to maintain the “peace” of the world by suppressing all revolutionary struggles, to coordinate their war threats against People’s China, and to lessen the competition between them by means of mutual agreements.

Let us compare the Nixon visit to Peking with the Nixon visit to Moscow. While correctly and politely receiving Nixon, the Chinese leaders dealt with him as the representative of U.S. imperialism, the No. 1 enemy of the people of the World. The purpose of the invitation was to try to establish a basis for peaceful coexistence, in an effort to normalize relations. It was made clear in the communiqué that a fundamental requirement for the United States is to get out of Viet Nam completely, and to get out of Taiwan. This was made even more clear in the later interview of Chou En-lai with Felix Greene, where the question of Viet Nam was placed even ahead of the problem of Taiwan. Again this was made even more clear to Senators Mansfield and Scott. After returning from his China visit, Sen. Mansfield reported that there was no possibility of improving relations between the two countries until the US gets out of Indo-China.

Furthermore, the communiqué reaffirmed China’s revolutionary policy of support to all revolutionary movements around the world, and Tricky Dickie had to put his signature to it. Let me quote a few sentences:

Wherever there is oppression, there is resistance. Countries want independence, nations want liberation and the people want revolution–this has become the irresistible trend of history. All nations, big or small, should be equal; big nations should not bully the small, and strong nations should not bully the weak. China will never be a super power and it opposes hegemony and power politics of any kind.

Consistent with this evaluation of the world situation is the statement by Mao Tse-tung on May 20, 1970, that “the danger of a new world war still exists and the people of all countries must get prepared, but revolution is the main trend in the world today.”

Another important concept, linked with this, expounded by Chairman Mao is that either revolution will prevent another world war, or another world war will lead to revolution.

In the Nixon-Brezhnev communiqué, there is no talk at all of revolution. On the contrary, there is only talk of stopping small wars, in order to prevent big wars. “Small wars” means revolutions and national liberation struggles. The two big powers have thus agreed to maintain the status quo, to rule the world between them, in the name of peace and “peaceful coexistence.” Meanwhile, all kinds of business deals and military pacts were concluded in the back rooms, to the detriment of the interests of the Soviet and American people, and aimed at China.

How can the Russian revisionists justify the fact that they welcomed Nixon so warmly after he had mined the harbors of Viet Nam, stepped up the criminal bombing of civilian targets and dikes, on a scale which even Johnson before him did not dare to do? How can any revisionist hide the fact that Podgorny went running to Hanoi to urge the Vietnamese to surrender to the American terms? This is in contrast to the trip Chou En-lai made to Hanoi right after the Nixon visit to Peking, in order to reassure the Vietnamese of China’s continued all-out support for their just struggle to final victory. Here is a clear example of two lines in foreign policy. One line is revolutionary, principled, socialist, self-sacrificing. The other line is counter-revolutionary, betrayal, selfish, in short, social-imperialist.

It has been said that all Nixon got out of his China trip was two Panda bears (and perhaps he picked up some votes). The Moscow visit, on the other hand, has been compared to a big business convention. Aside from the secret war pacts aimed at China, there was no doubt some big business deals worked out also in secret. A hint of this was leaked out when “Dr. Strangelove” Kissinger went to Tokyo to soft-soap the Japanese imperialists. In a news item from Tokyo, we see that Kissinger told the Japanese that U.S. finance capital was negotiating with the Russians for large-scale investments of US capital in Siberian development, in competition with the Japanese financiers, who thought they had the field to themselves. This must have come as a severe shock to the Japanese imperialists, and no doubt this piece of American double-cross helped to bring down the Sato government.

Let us examine the US mining of the Vietnamese harbors. It is clear that the Russians have accepted it, and have made no move to defeat it. In fact, there is no doubt that they agreed to it in advance. They did not attempt to clear the mines, or to run the blockade, or to challenge the US in any way. They withdrew some of their naval forces from the area so as not to take a chance on any confrontation. At the same time they signed an agreement with Nixon to avoid any kind of friction between their forces anywhere in the air or on the seas. (Shades of the Cuban missile crisis!) Then they try to blame the Chinese for their own lack of support to the Vietnamese, making false charges about China’s refusal to pass Russian rail freight from Siberia to Viet Nam. This charge is an outright lie.

Meanwhile, what have the Chinese been doing? They have increased their aid shipments to Viet Nam. They are continuing to send their ships to Viet Nam, unloading them offshore onto small barges that then run into shore, into rivers and upstream, out of the way of the mines, and successfully dodging the planes. In addition, they have diverted many freight trains and locomotives from other areas of China to concentrate them on the Vietnamese front. Also they have sent in volunteer battalions of engineers to repair the roads and railway lines. In addition, the Chinese have helped the Vietnamese build a 4-inch pipe line for oil delivery from the Chinese border to the Hanoi area. In addition, the Chinese have repeated over and over again their all-out support to the struggle of the Indo-Chinese people, to final victory, regardless of what may develop and regardless of any national sacrifices that the Chinese people may be called on to make. If Nixon or Brezhnev thinks they are kidding, they should remember the lesson of the Korean War.

And what have the Russians done? They withdrew their naval ships from the Bay of Tonkin and sent Podgorny to urge Viet Nam to surrender. This is the difference between a revolutionary line and social imperialism.

Many more examples can be given of the imperialist policies of the Soviet revisionists, such as their role in the India-Pakistan-Bangladesh situation, or the Middle East. Let us take the Arab question.

The Russians have certainly given a lot of arms to the Arab countries, especially Egypt and Syria. But they won’t let them use these arms to regain their lost territories. Why? Because they have an agreement with the US to maintain the status quo in the area, on the basis of spheres of influence. A recent article from Beirut (NYT, June 29) reports that the Soviet leaders told the Syrian Communist Party leaders that the Arabs couldn’t fight Israel, and that the SU was not going to confront the US in the Middle East and risk a world war. Naturally.

And it’s clear too that they won’t risk a world war over Viet Nam either, or Cuba, or Korea, or anywhere else. It is clear then that any people fighting for national liberation or social revolution will have to be prepared to fight against the Soviet social imperialists as well as the American imperialists.

Meanwhile, by means of this “arms aid” to the Arab’ people, the Russians have been able to penetrate economically and financially, competing for the market, cheap labor, and natural resources with the other imperialists.

Another small side-light on the Middle East. Some time ago the Russians gave the Egyptians some small ground-to-ground missiles. The Egyptians used one to blow up an Israeli spy ship that was prowling along her border. The Russians then withdrew the missiles and won’t let the Egyptians fire them any more. A question arises: Why don’t the Russians give such missiles to Viet Nam, so she can chase the American warships away from her shores?

This is only a sketchy survey of the differences between the two lines in foreign policy. More studies and articles on this subject would be well worth while.

To come back to the question of peaceful coexistence, we must realize clearly that the policy of the Soviet Union is not peaceful coexistence at all, even though they use the words a lot. Peaceful coexistence applies to countries with different social systems. But the social system in the SU is not different. It is not socialist. It is social imperialist, it is bourgeois and imperialist with a heavy camouflage of socialist verbiage. In essence then these deals and agreements are not an example of peaceful coexistence; they are a model of imperialist big power cooperation and collusion to control the world (not to ignore the imperialist competition between them).

People’s China remains as the main bastion of revolution in the world, the powerful bulwark and rear area of all revolutionary struggles the world over. Together with Socialist Albania, it remains the hope of the future.

* * *

(Talk delivered July 7, 1972 at a forum at Columbia University in N.Y.)

Jonathan Swift is a pseudonym for a long time active member of the communist movement in the U.S. He has traveled to and worked in Albania and China. Presently active with the new emerging communist movement.