Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

Bolshevik League of the United States

Interview: “Chiang Ching is a Racist!”


First Published: Workers’ Tribune, No. 2, April-May 1981.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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Workers’ Tribune, recently conducted an interview with a long-time American activist who visited China in late 1971 and met with the late Premier Chou En-lai (Zhou Enlai), Mao’s wife and the cultural revolution leader Chiang Ching (Jiang Qing), and the cultural revolution chief propagandist Yao Wen-yuan (Yao Wenyuan). Below, for the first time in print, is an account of that meeting.

* * *

WT: How did you get to go to China?

Answer: They wanted activists from the U.S. student movement to show that they were not only inviting Nixon, but were also inviting the “Left”. I was part of a delegation of these student activists.

WT: What were your overall impressions of these leaders?

Answer: Even though I was a supporter of Maoism at the time, I was not impressed. One incident that stood out was at the beginning of our meeting. One of the leaders of our delegation was a Black woman from the student movement. The Communist Party of China (CPC) leaders began by asking her to explain why she was relatively light-skinned and her hair was straight! We all got embarrassed, especially the woman. Here we expected to find guidance from world-known figures whom we considered the revolutionary leaders of the international communist movement. Instead they came off as backward and chauvinist. It really startled me to find out that such a key leader of the cultural revolution, and who was Mao’s wife, Chiang Ching, was a racist. When I read today that Black African students get beaten and tarred in China, I know that this is not something new, but that the top leaders have always been promoting such racism.

WT: What happened next?

Answer: The main part of the discussion was on the international situation. Chou did most of the talking here. We were in China just before Nixon’s first trip. Chou tried to say that the main reason for the trip was to discuss Taiwan. Yet besides the taking place during the time of the Vietnam war of the brutal B-52 bombings, the issue of the India-Pakistan war was important then. As it turned out, Kissinger’s secret trip to China was arranged through Pakistan. Then both the U.S. and China sided with Pakistan, and the Russians with India and Bangladesh. All this has got to be more than a coincidence. I think Nixon’s trip actually sealed what had already secretly been worked out by Kissinger, Mao, and Chou – a U.S.-China alliance. Chou was just trying to get us to fall for his rhetoric, which, unfortunately, we did. He went on to speak a lot about the India-Pakistan War. He said that they could not support Bangladesh because then there might be a Tibet “Desh” or a Taiwan “Desh” Looking back on it now, I think they were aware of massive discontent among their own minority nationalities and were afraid of secessionist movements gaining popular approval. Indirectly Chou admitted that China was in the same position to its different nationalities as was Pakistan to Bangladesh, and that there was inequality of national groups within China.

WT: What did they say about Russia?

Answer: What was most striking was that they tried to link the activities of the present imperialist rulers of Russia to what Comrade J. V. Stalin did. For instance, they criticized Stalin for sending the Red Army to liberate Europe from Nazism! They saw this as related to the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia. They said that since the Red Army liberated Eastern Europe, these countries were never really independent and “self-reliant”. Such a position was amazing and could only be called treachery and sabotage that would have only aided Hitler.

WT: What about their attitude towards the Russians at the time of your visit?

Answer: I think that they were promoting all the essentials of the counter-revolutionary theory of “three worlds” even then. They said the U.S. was already defeated in Vietnam. This was in late 1971, when U.S. imperialism was still bombing and murdering the Vietnamese. The implications for us American activists was that since the U.S. was defeated and pulling out anyway, we should not fight their new-found allies but instead should focus on Russia. They said that since the main U.S. and Russian investments were in Europe, that this was the focus of their rivalry. But this goes against my understanding of Lenin’s teachings on imperialism that the imperialists’ rivalry to re-divide the world focuses on re-dividing the colonial, semi-colonial, and dependent countries. As with Pakistan, they also favored a division of the world favorable to the U.S. There had been a coup attempt in the Sudan before our trip. It had been led by pro-Russian forces, who were put down and their leaders executed. They said they would not protest these executions since these people were doing something they should not have done in the first place. In other words, they were not just saying that they would not support a pro-Russian coup. They were saying it was wrong for anyone to overthrow this reactionary government since it was part of the “third world.” This shows what a lie it is for the Maoists to claim that Mao and his closest comrades like Chiang Ching never opposed revolution.

When you look at the present line of Deng Xiaping, I think, it is fair to say that it is basically the same social-chauvinism as Chou, Chiang, and Yao pushed to us almost ten years ago. In later years, most of those who went on our trip remained faithful to the theory of “three worlds,” so the CPC leaders had an audience, in the main, ready, willing, and able to be out-and-out social-chauvinists.

WT: Did they mention the Party of Labor of Albania?

Answer: Oh, yes! They had nothing but praise for the Albanians. Chou said Albania was a genuine socialist country and praised them for supposedly liberating themselves without Soviet aid. He said this was why they were independent of Russian imperialism. He compared them to Romania and Yugoslavia in this regard, although he said that Yugoslavia was not socialist. This was at a time when the leaders of China and Albania were still friendly, and the CPC revisionists saw common ground between their chauvinism and Hoxha’s nationalism. The foreign language bookstore in Peking (Beijing) was filled with works by Hoxha and the PLA in many languages, and our guides encouraged us to study them. So all of Hoxha’s bluster that the CPC opposed them is another lie, since Hoxha and the PLA got the official stamp of approval from the highest levels of the Chinese party and state apparatus.

WT: What was their view of the U.S. Communist movement?

Answer: They tried to play games with us about this. On the one hand, they told us that this was our affair, that they would not tell us what to do, and so on. On the other hand, they more subtly put forward their views and pushed us in certain directions. They said, for instance, that Progressive Labor Party, who they once recognized as their fraternal party in the U.S., was revisionist because it opposed the talks with Nixon. But they did not say if PLP was always revisionist or not, whether anything else in its line was correct or incorrect, or anything. This kind of attitude directed us away from open polemics and doing a thorough analysis of all forms of revisionism. We discussed the national questions in the U.S. a lot with them. But they seemed concerned with struggling against the narrow nationalism of some of the oppressed nationality members of the delegation, which certainly existed. To this they countered with a liberal, integrationist line. They did not once mention the teachings of Lenin, Stalin, or the Communist International on the Black question in the U.S. as a national question. Not once did they mention the right to self-determination. I think all of these CPC leaders helped promote the social-chauvinist liquidation of the national questions in the U.S. by all the opportunists. In a more informal part of the meeting, they actually put out the view that ultra-“Leftism” was the chief danger in the U.S. movement. This was at a time when the movement was so openly tailing the spontaneous movements that there was even very little lip service paid to party-building. We all were engaged in our little, reformist coalitions and the most economist work. They must have wanted to get us to be openly supporters of Nixon, and to prevent any motion towards a real revolutionary party. We had asked our guides, with whom we talked a lot of politics, about the question of forming a new Communist International. At first we thought they would downplay it since so many forces were so small and weak. But they told us they would have to discuss it first before they answered us, meaning that they had to discuss it with their leadership first. They came back a few days later with the answer that they were against a new International. They said the First International did not help the Paris Commune and then dissolved, that the Second International became corrupted and there was the Russian Revolution anyway, and that the Third International was dissolved and there was the Chinese Revolution anyway. So why, they asked, should there be a new one? By this they totally negated the vast contributions of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin through these Internationals. It also became obvious later that they opposed a new Communist International since this would disrupt their bourgeois nationalist dealings with imperialism. Later, in a published interview, Chou came out openly with these anti-International views.

WT: Why were no accounts given of this meeting before?

Answer: That is a good question. The Chinese press reported the meeting. But for obvious reasons, the CPC leaders did not want an account of it made public. They even told us to destroy our notes before we left China, which we did. Thus, I have no exact quotes but only brief notes written shortly after the meeting. Beyond this, because of our own Maoism, we applied the conciliationist “unity-criticism-unity” position to these Maoist leaders themselves. This means unity at any price with revisionism. Some of their remarks were so blatantly reactionary that we could not defend them. I gave accounts of these to friends and comrades, but never publicized them. Although this shook my confidence in what we later learned were the various factions of the CPC leadership, because of my own political inexperience and the pernicious influence of Maoism, I did not break with Maoism until some years later.

WT: What lessons does all this have for today?

Answer: That is the main lesson for today. If you want to stop defending all these underhanded deals and all the treachery by the CPC leaders, then you have to break with Maoism and all other forms of revisionism, and follow the revolutionary path of Bolshevism. Otherwise, we would all still be in the same swamp as the chauvinists Chou, Chiang, and Yao. I personally heard these treacherous social-chauvinist words roll off their lips. When I see groups like RCP (Revolutionary Communist Party of the U.S.) defending Chiang Ching and even wearing buttons with her picture on it, it turns my stomach that they are promoting such revisionists. All they want to do is promote the same social-chauvinist defense of U.S. imperialism and liquidation of the national question covered over by some left-sounding phrases. Instead of looking to revisionists like Chiang Ching for leadership, I think all genuine Communists should support the “Appeal to all Revolutionary Communists” and follow a truly internationalist path. Only in this way can we defeat all the imperialists and reactionaries, and not support one against another.