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American Intervention in China

Resolution Adopted by the Executive Committee of the Fourth International
March 31, 1941

Adopted: March 31, 1941.
First Published: May, 1941
Source: Fourth International, New York, Volume II No.4, May 1941, pp.105-07.
Authors: Frank Graves & Harold Isaacs (according to Robert Alexander’s History).
Transcribed/HTML Markup: Daniel Gaido and David Walters, December, 2005
Public Domain: Leon Trotsky Internet Archive 2005. You can freely copy, distribute, display and perform this work; as well as make derivative and commercial works. Please credit the Marxists Internet Archive as your source, include the address of this work, and note the transcribers & proofreaders above.

The task of China’s emancipation from the yoke of imperialism rests with the Chinese proletariat, supported by the peasant masses. Just as the national bourgeoisie is unable to pull the country out of stagnation, so it cannot conduct a successful struggle against a single imperialist power (Japan), much less make a consistent fight for China’s liberation from foreign domination, Its struggle against one imperialist power only leads it into the orbit of another.

For a number of years the national bourgeoisie, personified in Chiang Kai-shek, employed the policy of “non-resistance” in face of Japan’s banditry, preferring to turn its forces against the Chinese workers and peasants. Having embarked on war against Japan when no other possibility remained open, Chiang Kai-shek has never forgotten the struggle against the Chinese people (opposition to even the most modest social reforms, the crushing of every independent movement of the masses). Chiang’s recent attacks on the New Fourth and Eighth Route armies show that his reactionary policy cannot tolerate even the timid democratic reforms introduced by these Stalinist-controlled forces.

If, in spite of this policy of social reaction, the Japanese advance could be halted and the war brought to a stalemate, it can be said with assurance that Japanese imperialism would long ago have been forced to abandon the scorching earth of China if only the agrarian revolution had set the country aflame. The fact that today Chiang Kai-shek is forced more and more to turn toward American (and British) imperialism, thus preparing a new oppression for China, is the direct consequence of the fear of the national bourgeoisie before its own people and the impossibility for it to mobilize the revolutionary forces of the nation against the Japanese invaders.


American imperialism, pursuing its “manifest destiny,” is preparing to take over British Empire positions in the Far East, including China, and to bring about the defeat of its Japanese rival in the Pacific. Washington plans to subdue Japan in war, to expel the Japanese imperialists from China, and to assume the overlordship of the Chinese people. Preparatory steps in this direction are the military, naval and aerial moves in the Pacific and the increased “aid” given to Chiang Kai-shek in the form of loans and war supplies.

The revolutionists, while recognizing the necessity for China to accept American material aid in the war against Japan, cannot ignore the dangers hidden behind it. They must combat all suggestions that American imperialism is actuated by benevolence toward China and explain to the broad masses the real motive of this aid—the preparation of a new slavery for tomorrow.

If the “friendly” imperialists demand payment for their aid with preferential economic rights, concessions, military bases, etc., the revolutionists must oppose such transactions, which in the end would mean the displacement in China of one imperialism by another, the change being paid for in the blood of the Chinese masses.

Should the Chinese bourgeoisie make any such bargains, revolutionists must denounce them as a betrayal of China’s struggle for emancipation. But they will not “punish” Chiang Kai-shek by declaring themselves “defeatists” in China’s war against Japan. They will continue to stand for the defense of China in spite of, and against, the Chinese bourgeoisie.


Imperialist rivalries in the Pacific are leading directly to an armed clash. When, and possibly before, the United States makes war upon Japan, a military alliance between Washington (and London) and Chungking will be on the order of the day. However, the fact that the war between Japanese and American imperialism (in which Chiang Kai-shek will be a subordinate ally of the latter) will possess a purely imperialist character, does not wipe out the problems of China’s struggle to expel the Japanese invaders. Revolutionists must explain to the Chinese masses that the alliance of their national bourgeoisie with American imperialism is the inevitable consequence of Chiang Kai-shek’s reactionary conduct of the war against Japan; that the crushing of every independent move for social reforms, and later the alliance with Washington, are two sides of a single policy; that this policy is neither able to assure the emancipation of the country nor to push forward the social liberation of the Chinese people. Countering official enthusiasm for the American imperialist “liberators” and their mission, the revolutionists must expose the real aims of dollar imperialism and show the great danger that is in store for China, the danger of a new enslavement. To the reactionary policy of Chiang Kai-shek, they will oppose the program of a revolutionary war based on drastic social changes (land to the peasants, workers’ control of production, etc.).

This, however, will not prevent the revolutionists from continuing to stand for the victory of the Chinese armies over the Japanese invaders. The Washington-Chungking alliance and the flood of American material assistance to the Chiang Kai-shek regime will not erase the task of driving the Japanese imperialists from Chinese soil. But alongside this task it becomes increasingly important to explain to the Chinese masses the real character of American intervention and to show them that the eventual outcome of the war against Japan will depend upon the means by which victory is gained. Victory obtained by selling to another imperialist power the riches of the country can only prepare new forms of oppression for the Chinese people.

The growing collaboration between Chiang Kai-shek and the American imperialists has already had repercussions in the attacks by Chiang Kai-shek on the Stalinist-controlled peasant armies. While condemning the class-collaborationist policy of the Chinese Stalinist leaders which facilitated these attacks, the revolutionists proclaim their solidarity with the brave peasant fighters under Stalinist leadership and their readiness to join with them in resisting the counter-revolutionary moves of Chiang Kai-shek.


Washington’s alliance with Chungking for war against Japan will afford the American imperialists the opportunity of covering their enterprise in China with democratic and liberationist phrases. But the American workers cannot entrust to their exploiters—the most powerful imperialists in the world—the task of liberating China from the clutches of imperialist Japan. The “defense” of China by American imperialism is in reality the preparation of a new slavery for that country. A “sacred union” of the American proletariat with its bourgeoisie in the name of China’s defense, and the abandonment of the proletarian struggle for power, would mean that tomorrow China would be plundered by Wall Street. American imperialism would be strengthened at the expense of the Chinese masses and the American working class. The surest guarantee of China’s independence, of her emancipation from social backwardness, and of her development toward socialism, is the Soviet United States of America. To prepare for this, the class struggle cannot be halted for a single minute.


If even with greatly increased American material aid the Chinese armies should prove unable speedily to expel the Japanese invaders, the American imperialists will seek to land their own troops in China and to take over China’s struggle against Japan through the creation of a single command under their own control. It will be the duty of the Chinese revolutionists to oppose the subordination of Chinese military operations to the strategy and war aims of American imperialism. China, moreover, is in no need of additional manpower to expel the Japanese invaders. The landing of American armed forces in China must therefore be condemned by the Chinese revolutionists as a purely imperialist enterprise and they must mobilize the Chinese masses in opposition thereto. In this they must receive the support of the revolutionists in the United States, who must oppose with the greatest vigor the sending of American armed forces to China and demand the withdrawal of those already in the country. If American forces are sent to China, the revolutionists must strive to unite the Chinese and American soldiers against the reactionary imperialists and their Chinese bourgeois allies.


The tendency for increased American control over China’s struggle is bound to be accompanied by an intensification of all the political and social antagonisms inside the Chinese armies as well as throughout the country. Centers of anti-imperialist resistance, in the armies and among the workers and peasants, will spring up to confront Chiang Kai-shek and his gang, who have led the war against Japan in order to sell themselves to Wall Street on more advantageous terms. In these conditions, the revolutionary program of defense for China—workers’ and peasants’ militias based on serious social reforms in town and village—will become more and more a, reality.


Any major military defeat which Japan suffers as a consequence of American intervention in the Far East will create revolutionary movements of the masses in Japan and the Japanese colonies of Manchukuo, Korea and Formosa, and will stimulate a revolutionary revival in China. The American imperialists, confronted with this spreading revolutionary upsurge, will grow less concerned about the struggle against Japan than with crushing the independent movement of the masses which will threaten their entire position. Just as the war against Japan has led Chiang Kai-shek to become a tool of American imperialism, so the masses of China, in alliance with their class brothers in the Japanese Empire, will be led to the social revolution.

March 31, 1941


Last updated on 2.2.2006