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Labor Action, 4 July 1949


Jack Brad

Chinese CP Developing New Coalition
and New Bureaucratic Ruling Clique


From Labor Action, Vol. 13 No. 27, 4 July 1949, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


From Peiping last week the Chinese CP news agency announced completion of preparations for a definitive conference to be held late this summer to form a new national government.

This decision was reached after a five-day meeting of representatives of various CP and supporting organizations. The instrument for launching the new state will not be a popularly elected constituent assembly but a Political Consultative Conference of delegates from existing organizations in the CP-dominated coalition.

There is more than a touch of irony in this particular formula since it was General Marshall who, in 1945 and 1946, helped devise the PCC as the instrument for reorganization of the state. By reviving the PCC formula, the CP is able to claim legal sanction and political continuity with earlier efforts at national unity.

New Coalition Formed

The movement for a new PCC was launched last year in a call to all “democratic personages” to rally to the support of the “liberation armies” and to create a new unified-coalition center in opposition to the crumbling. Kuomintang. There was immediate response from many dissident groups, and as the CP armies advanced, this support increased. When the armies penetrated below the Great Wall and the Kuomintang’s debacle was clearly at hand many of these organizations migrated north. When the CP moved its headquarters to Peiping last month they followed suit.

At the preparatory conference last week there were representatives from 45 organizations. Besides the CP itself, the best known of these is the Kuomintang Revolutionary Committee headed by the former Nationalist general Li Chi-sen. Its function is to detach from the Kuomintang all those who can be induced to throw in their lot with the new regime but who cannot quite become Stalinists, or those for whom the Stalinists do not wish to take direct responsibility.

One of the aspects of the bureaucratic revolution is the Stalinist emphasis on continuation in office of the old functionaries of lower rank wherever possible. The CP seeks to win to itself whole sections of the old administration whom they desperately need to operate their governmental structure. Recently new schools were established where “ex-Kuomintang officials learn to serve the people.”

Beside the smaller fry CP, strategy is concerned with capturing whole Sections of the remaining KMT as splits in that dying organism increase and deepen. Li Chi-sen himself represents such a split. So does Chu Hseuh-fan, former head of the KMT-sponsored All-China Labor Federation and now in the same post under the new regime. It is rumored that Chu is in negotiations with Tu Yuen-san, farmer underworld boss of the Shanghai labor unions and a candidate for a list of the top ten most corrupt KMT leaders. General Li supposedly has good connections with the Kwangsi clique as well as the warlords of Yunnan, in the deep South.

Perhaps more important than these opportunist considerations is that the presence of Li in the CP-controlled coalition is a means of gaining’ the support of the urban bourgeoisie. For the commercial and industrial classes do not have political parties to speak for them.

In an indirect and ambiguous fashion Li Chi-sen acts as a symbol of coalition, that is, the representation of other interests than those of the CP, thereby making a claim for the confidence of the bourgeoisie. So long as the bourgeoisie is necessary to the Stalinists, General Li will have a place.

The Democratic League is the other major participant. This organization had real strength among students, teachers and liberals throughout the country in the early post-war days. Even now it has many adherents among Chinese students abroad. Raising the banner of political peace and national unity above partisan interest, the Democratic League engaged in sharp criticism of Chiang Kai-shek as well as of the Stalinists. It gave fullest support to the Marshall Mission and the first abortive PCC. It was the last attempt to form a political buffer between the extremes which were plunging toward civil war. General Marshall saw in the handful of liberals who formed the league the best hope for effectuating American policy.

Liberals in CP Coalition

In March 1947 the Chinese National Student Federation issued a New Year’s manifesto recording its equal opposition to the Stalinists and the Nationalists. It declared itself for “the Party of the Middle Way” and organized popular demonstrations against the civil war. Naturally, all these actions occurred in Nationalist areas; the Stalinists had succeeded in thrusting the onus for civil war on the KMT.

In retaliation Chiang Kai-shek illegalized the Democratic League and began police suppression of the students. KMT thugs murdered several league professors, who became political martyrs for the students, while the CP came to the political support of the students. Caught between blandishments on the one side and active terroristic hostility on the other, the league and the most politically alert students turned northward for salvation.

However, the Democratic League was never quite a political party. It never succeeded in becoming more than a collection of what the Stalinists call “democratic personages.” With KMT suppression these people came to accept the CP as bringer of peace and democracy. The League retains formal existence but its leading intellectuals increasingly tend toward political surrender of initiative and independence.

Students Join New Bureaucracy

In recent months these groups have acquired a new significance. As the CP began to occupy cities it called upon students and intelligentsia to march behind the armies to form the administrative corps of the new governments. On one occasion a call went out for 10,000 students, which was oversubscribed.

One reporter indicates the changed situation:

“In the last few weeks a steady stream of students has been quitting the various nationalist universities and middle schools to enter Communist territory. A significant example is. the University of Honan. The writer knew, some of the students there: they were , a timid, on the whole conservative, ‘provincial’ community. This summer, when the Communists temporarily occupied Kaifeng. the capital of Honan, they appealed for teachers and technicians. Two large groups from the university – professors as well as students – threw up everything they had and left for Communist territory.” (Eastern World, January 1948)

While there are some idealistic motivations involved, the great magnet for the Chinese intelligentsia is the place they can occupy in the newly created hierarchy. With deft use of flattery, the Stalinists make places of honor for the intellectuals. In the creation of the new bureaucratic class that is emerging to rule China the intellectuals and technicians will form a large stratum.

This development has further reduced the independence of the Democratic League. Its members and those Who would otherwise support it find it increasingly difficult to discover any distinction between their own desires and those of the CP.

There are other organizations involved in plans for the new PCC, such as the KMT Society for Promotion of Democracy, the Association for Democratic Construction, Peasants and Workers Democratic Party, and the National Salvation Society, whose luminary is the senile Mme. Sun Yat-sen.

All of them will have representatives at the PCC but will mean nothing. They have neither a distinctive program nor mass or even sectional appeal or support. The only military force on which all depend is the CP army. They can share the victory to the extent the CP needs them.

The rule which the CP has instituted in governmental organs is to limit itself to one-third representation. There is every likelihood that in the PCC and in the state that emerges from it this rule will be maintained to give a semblance of independence and coalition. Other delegations will come from organizations such as those listed above. But the largest number will claim mandates from functional groups such as trade unions, the newly created Chinese Student Federation, Women’s Congress, the army, and the various regional governments, all of which are CP-controlled. In this manner the party will hold de facto control over the assembly.

The PCC will be an attraction for hesitant elements, particularly since the party’s propaganda preparation will try to give it a democratic aura. But the nature of the PCC will not be altered by such propaganda. It will remain a meeting of top leaders, not popular representatives, and the party will be able more easily to apportion posts among them.

Federalist Pattern Emerging

A significant omission in the call for the PCC, or in any of the published speeches at the preparatory conference, is any reference to the regional governments other than acknowledgement of their right to representation. To date the administrative form established by the CP consists of nine inter-provincial regional governments which legally have considerable political and economic power. In practice the Politburo of the party has formulated basic laws while the regional governments have administered them. Each of these governments, is, of course, also a coalition with the distribution of offices in accordance with the national formula. Most likely the party will maintain this structure in any new central state, which will thereby assume a federalist form.

Such a federalism would have several useful functions. Immediately, it would permit the CP to set its own pace in continued military conquest while creating a state to which future adherence could be made without disruption. This has particular applicability to the huge outlying provinces such as Sinkiang, Sikan, Tibet, the great Northwest – that is, those peripheral areas of China which have enjoyed either semi-autonomy or outright independence throughout Chinese history, depending on the power of the central government.

Unlike China proper, which is racially homogeneous, there are Tartars, Turkis, Manchus, Mongols and scattered primitive tribes in these areas. By contrast with China proper many of these people are Moslems and Lamaists in religion. A federal structure could be the bait for adhesion to the central regime with “cultural autonomy” of the well-known Stalinist variety.

There is, in addition, a larger consideration. Russia’s interest in Central Asia has expanded considerably since 1941 when she began to relocate her industry.

Huge new industrial structures have been erected in formerly barren wastes. Only a few weeks ago, Russia negotiated a new monopoly of air traffic over Sinkiang. It is suspected that; this new treaty will reorient Sinkiang economy, westward toward Russia and that many special rights, including control of magnesium deposits, have been recognized.

Russia’s interests extend to China’s northwest provinces and to the two Mongolias. Most important,, and possibly decisive to China’s industrialization is Russian economic and strategic interest in Manchuria. With regard to Manchuria there are some indications that in recent weeks understandings have been reached between Russian and Chinese Stalinists as to the division of economic control.

A federation of regional governments would be part of the formula for a modus vivendi with the Russians. Varying degrees of Russian interest could be protected locally while the Chinese CP bases itself on the central regions. Under such a formula the Sinkiang Treaty, with its recognition of Russian spheres of influence and special prerogatives in Manchuria, would receive the sanction of the Chinese CP. If the above analysis proves correct, such a federalism could be one of the means of exorcizing the ghost of Marshal Tito from China for a short period at least.

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