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Labor Action, 2 May 1949


Jack Brad

CP Gets Ready to Take All China

Low Ebb of Western Imperialism Symbolized by Amethyst Incident


From Labor Action, Vol. 13 No. 18, 2 May 1949, p. 1.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


With the crossing of the Yangtze there can no longer be any doubt that the Chinese Communist Party intends to take all of China. Its ability to accomplish this is unquestionable. Any obstacles arise from its own deficiencies and not from the strength of the discredited and routed Kuomintang.

There are no doubt many battles still in the offing and it may be a relatively long time before CP rule spreads over all of the almost four million square miles of China. But no one can now doubt its inevitability. Russian-style totalitarianism will rule China.

One fact certainly stands out: the Kuomintang is finished, discredited completely both among its own people and with its Western “allies.” It has been unable to rally the will of its supporters even to their own defense. The abandonment of Nanking, and probably of Shanghai, without a struggle, the desertion of the government from its. posts, the pitiful wooden fence around Shanghai – all these are the answer to the question why U.S. policy in China has failed. These hollow men were the instruments of this policy.

Symptomatic of the Kuomintang’s suicidal policy is its bombing of Nanking several days after having given up the city. This is not an act calculated to endear it even to its staunchest supporters.

The important questions which now arise more sharply than ever – estimation of the political consequences and historical significance of this event – will be dealt with in Labor Action in subsequent issues.

Amethyst Mystery

The incident of the British ship Amethyst, which inaugurated the Yangtze crossing, is an adequate symbol of the present estate of Western imperialism in China. Just why the Amethyst was fired on remains a mystery. It is known, for instance, that CP propaganda has attacked the U.S. almost exclusively. Indeed the British have made several overtures, which were warmly received by the CP, aiming at the replacement of the pre-eminent trade position of the U.S. by Britain.

The possibility seems to be that local commanders, under orders to keep the river clear for crossing and flushed with expectation of victory, fired at the ship without higher orders or much deliberation. The Nationalist batteries on the south bank also fired but missed. The Nationalists, however, may have had mixed motives. Aside from military considerations, they would desire nothing so much as an anti-foreign imbroglio.

Once the incident occurred, CP headquarters quickly saw in it a Bevin-sent propaganda weapon, and their attitude toward the British hardened. Mao Tse-tung issued a demand on the United States and Britain to withdraw “all land, naval and air forces quartered on the territory and waters of China.”

The response to this was the departure of the imperialist fleet from Shanghai. This has been an auspicious and cheap propaganda victory for the CP. The biggest losers in this incident are the British Stalinists, who will not recover quickly from its effects.

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Last updated on 3 August 2019