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International Socialist Review, Spring 1962


Chien Chuo

A Chinese Trotskyist Views the Moscow-Peking Debate


From International Socialist Review, Vol.23 No.2, Spring 1962, pp.42-43
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


The following excerpts are translated from a pamphlet, The Sino-Soviet Dispute, by Chien Chuo, published by the Hi Yen Publishing Co. in Hong Kong. Though written in September I960, when the Moscow-Peking conflict was far less advanced than it is now, Chien Chuo’s analysis of the source and meaning of that conflict remains, we believe, of interest today. As can be seen, Chien Chuo, while a supporter of New China, is by no means an apologist for the Mao Tse-tung regime but a severe critic. This, we think, invests his pamphlet with particular significance.

* * * * * *

The latest views of the Chinese Communist party leaders on “peaceful coexistence,” differing from Khrushchev’s views and from their own pronouncements and deeds in the past, still do not thoroughly and honestly uphold the genuine Marxist-Leninist principles of international working-class solidarity. They are based, rather, on narrow nationalist interests and on the interests of the Chinese ruling bureaucratic strata.

Indeed, the CCP has not, at root, abandoned “peaceful coexistence” but pushes it forward in practice (for instance, with the nationalist leaders in Asia and Africa, such as in Burma). The CCP does not oppose all imperialists on principle but differentiates among them according to Stalinist criteria – at present they direct their opposition only at American imperialism. Because of Washington’s steadfast refusal to “coexist” with China the CCP was compelled to put up this militant gesture. Hence the difference between the CCP leaders and Khrushchev is mainly one of method to be used for pushing forward “coexistence.” The Chinese emphasize struggle while Khrushchev emphasizes peaceful parley. Should American imperialism feign acceptance of “peaceful coexistence,” the CCP’s tactics will undergo change.

Nevertheless, there are many progressive features to the CCP’s current stand on “coexistence,” and they deserve the support and welcome of revolutionary socialists. For example, the CCP leaders have exposed the US government’s policy of preparing for war while pretending to favor negotiations for peace. They have also restated Lenin’s theory that imperialism is the root of war, proposed a vigorous struggle against American imperialism, and rejected extreme expressions of revisionism, counterposing to them citations from the authentic Leninist writings. But we should understand that only by overcoming basic errors – which the CCP has not done so far – can the CCP effectively fight against Khrushchev’s extreme revisionism.

What induced the CCP to change its foreign policy? First, the aggravation of contradictions between the two big camps in the world today, and second, the increasing bankruptcy of the traditional Stalin-Khrushchev-Mao diplomacy.

After World War II, most imperialist countries emerged weakened from the holocaust, while a number of countries in Europe and Asia rose on the basis of socialist property forms. The contradictions between the socialist and capitalist systems became primary, replacing the contradictions among the imperialist countries. The countries in the imperialist bloc are united for the sole purpose of destroying the socialist property forms. This has resulted in the expansion of armaments and the intensification of international conflicts. As revolutionary movements spread in Asia, Africa and Latin America, and as the imperialists have not yet completed their war preparations, Western political leaders are obliged to put on a peace-loving masquerade in order to try to paralyze the consciousness of the workers and peasants throughout the world. But thinking people are more and more aware of these facts. While Khrushchev and Eisenhower shook hands and toasted each other on the eve of the summit meeting in which the former pöaced all his hopes, the latter’s war preparations were being stepped up. Half a year later they exploded in the U-2 incident. There is thus a sharp contrast between the illusions about an international compromise and the actual preparations for war.

It is now clear to many people that to entertain illusions about an international compromise cannot stop war but only helps the imperialists to prepare for it. Threatened with the danger of war, the masses are indignant at the imperialists and dissatisfied with Khrushchev’s policy of compromise. This trend is reflected within the CCP, forcing its leaders, for the sake of political self-preservation, to face up to the crisis ...

New China has always met with the most malignant hostility from American imperialism. Washington bolsters the fading political power of Chiang Kai-shek with arms, enabling him to maintain occupation of Taiwan and the other off-shore islands. It sent its army to China’s border during the Korean War. It blockades China with an embargo and refuses to allow the People’s Republic of China to be seated in the United Nations although the Peking regime is entitled to hold China’s seat. This series of hostile acts by American imperialism has in turn produced more vigorous anti-American sentiment in China. The fact that Khrushchev tried to compromise with American imperialism, disregarding the interests of China, was like pouring kerosene on the Chinese people’s smoldering anger. The emphatic manner in which the CCP denounces US imperialism is the reflection of the sentiments prevalent among the Chinese people.

The growing revolutionary movements in Asia, Africa and Latin America indicate that the world revolution is at high tide. Thus the conditions that gave rise to Stalin’s conservative policy of “socialism in one country” have disappeared, and the policy fails to appeal to the Chinese people. The international situation favors a course of trying to force the capitalist countries, headed by American imperialism, to accept peaceful coexistence. In order to pursue such a course the CCP must adopt – or at least seem to adopt – a more left theory in order to win the support of people in Asia, Africa and Latin America.

New China was born on a very backward economic foundation which had suffered from the destruction of a prolonged period of war. With the help of a superior social system China has recovered rapidly from the wounds of war and has greatly developed her productive powers. But having started from an extremely low level of productiveness (much lower than Russia’s in 1917), China is constantly faced with difficulties and needs constant international help for her socialist construction ...

But, in fact, the help given by the Russian leaders to the Soviet-bloc countries, including to China, has been very limited. Take China for example. In a report entitled Balance Sheet of the Ten Years’ Finance, Li Shen-nin, chief of the Finance Department, stated, “The capital which is badly needed in economic construction has been, from the very beginning, dependent on internal accumulation except for a low-interest loan extended by Russia.” The Soviet leaders boast about how they have helped China build and reorganize heavy industry. But “only 113 out of the 166 big industrial projects mutually agreed upon to be built within the First Five Year Plan, were fully or partially completed at the end of 1958” [one year after the close of the plan period]. After that, the completion of 125 big industrial projects, mutually agreed upon to be built or enlarged, was put off until 1967. The important point is that the projects are all paid for according to the “barter formula” – that is by shipments of agricultural raw materials and finished-work products. China’s exports to Russia increased three-and-a-half times from 1950 to 1958 and have reached 45 per cent of China’s total exports.

We have not yet seen any official material disclosing unequal exchange between Russia and China. But judging from information revealed at the time of the Tito-Stalin split and from the accusation of unequal trade relations made against Russia by Poland’s Gomulka four years ago – this accusation was published in the Peking People’s Daily at the time – the same kind of unequal trade relations, though different in degree, might well obtain be-teen Russia and China today. In addition the Chinese can never forget the removal by Russia of a great quantity of machinery from Northeast China immediately after World War II. It is very difficult not to grumble and be disappointed about this stingy and even selfish “aid.” . . .

The above analysis and facts prove that the Sino-Russian dispute has great theoretical and political significance which discloses the following points:

The sudden departure from China of large groups of Russian specialists and advisers indicates that relations between the two countries have deteriorated even further. The official reason for the departures – “completion of contracts” – hardly explains the facts. The “great leap forward” movement is continuing and the technical assistance plan, mutually agreed upon, is far from fulfilled. There is no explanation for the departure of Russian personnel except that the relations between the two countries have become worse, as in the case of Yugoslavia and Russia before their split in 1948 ...

Stalin thought that he could suppress a small country like Yugoslavia by smearing it politically, by economic punishment and by military threats. His plan was smashed to pieces. Khrushchev later admitted Stalin’s errors on this score. Today, faced with American war-mongering, Khrushchev is unable to use Stalin’s methods in dealing with a big country like China. Precisely because he knows this, Mao has displayed an unyielding attitude. He tries to force Khrushchev to make concessions, such as to offer China more material aid and a more equal position in the Soviet bloc. If the dispute can be adjusted in this direction, it will be hushed up.

According to Marxist-Leninist theory, the workers are the ruling class in a socialist country. They should enjoy full class democracy. All important ideological problems as well as external and internal policies should be discussed before them, because these issues have decisive significance in the development of their countries and of the whole world. If these problems are only discussed and decided by a few people, it is very difficult to avoid errors which will bring disaster. Therefore, both sides should openly publish the documents in the dispute. It is also necessary to publish all past documents such as those dealing with disputes within the Russian Communist party between 1920 and 1930. The masses will then be able to fully understand what is involved and think seriously about presenting their views. This will help the development and execution of policy.

The imperialists are elated about the Sino-Soviet dispute. But their attempts to take advantage of it will not succeed. Disputes between various sections of the working class leadership will never weaken the revolutionary movement. On the contrary, the re-establishment of a new revolutionary leadership with correct theory and practice will be helped by serious discussion and ideological struggle.

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