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The Militant, 31 January 1949

Imperialists in Shanghai Fear Workers’ Uprising

From The Militant, Vol. 13 No. 5, 31 January 1949, pp. 1 & 2.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.


With the collapse of Truman’s attempt to keep Chiang Kai-shek in power in China and the flight of the former dictator from Nanking, American and British business interests in China are now seeking the earliest possible understanding with the Chinese Stalinists.

This is clearly indicated in a Jan. 20 dispatch from Shanghai to the conservative N.Y. Herald Tribune which reveals with unusual frankness the current attitude of Anglo-American imperialism toward the Chinese Stalinists.

“Far from admiring Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek for his continued stubborn battle against the Chinese Communists,” declares the Herald Tribune, “leading representatives of big British and American capital here today are cursing him openly for his failure to recognize that the war has long been lost and for the incapacity of his Kuomintang clique to rule.”

Chiang’s refusal to capitulate and his transfer of the capital to Canton, “thereby prolonging the struggle, has only exasperated foreign business men here still further. They were absolutely convinced that complete victory for the Communists under Mao Tse-tung is only a matter of a little time, and are already reconciled to it. They profess to believe they can do business with the coming Communist government, and are principally worried here in Shanghai at what kind of brief interim there will be between the hours when Nationalist rule collapses and Communist rule is established.”

This on-the-scene report of the news of American and British imperialist representatives reveals their acute consciousness of the class forces operating in the Chinese revolution. They place above all other considerations retention of their holdings. Every move they make is designed to tighten their grip; or if their grip is being loosened, to retain a finger-hold as long as possible.

Imperialists Convinced

Continued association with tlie Chiang regime now endangers their holdings. They must seek a new point of support. This is offered by Chinese Stalinism. Quite apparently Mao Tse-tung and his associates have succeeded in convincing the British and American imperialists that they really intend to safeguard foreign investments and imperialist exploitation of China.

It must be noted that a deep fear has helped incline British and American business toward putting their trust in the sincerity of Stalinist assurances. As the Chinese revolution develops, ii will tend more and more to spread from a strictly peasant overturn of the landlords toward a working class overturn of the capitalists.

The Herald Tribune formulates the fears of the representatives of British and American capital in Shanghai this way: “The big question in the back of their minds is whether mobs of poverty-stricken proletarians will loot this city, which today is bulging with merchandise and reeking with riches.”

The nightmare of the American and British imperialists now is the revolutionary rise of the working class in such strategic cities as Shanghai. An uprising of this character would bring into operation a great, new dynamic power that would tend to shift the axis of the revolution away from the peasantry toward the city proletariat and to displace Stalinist leadership with a revolutionary leadership like that of Lenin and Trotsky in Russia in 1917.

Policies Coincide

The policy of the Chinese Stalinist leaders is to try to confine the revolution to the peasantry and to prevent a working class uprising. Consequently, at this particular juncture their policy and that of British and American imperialism in China coincides. That is why the Shanghai representatives of London and Washington not only welcome the Stalinists but burn with impatience for their arrival.

This explains the great bargaining power of the Chinese Stalinists in dealing with British and American Big Business and their native representatives. In return for doing their utmost to restrain the socialist revolution they are in position to demand a higher price than the Stalinists did in Italy and France at the close of the war when the workers in those lands were on the march. Instead of a minority position in a coalition government with the Chinese capitalists, they are demanding a majority.

The speed with which the Kuomintang officials in Nanking have reduced their asking price in haggling with the Stalinists indicates how weak they are. Their fate for the time being hinges on the will of the Stalinists.

Chiang Kai-shek, meanwhile, with $300,000,000 in his pockets, according to Shanghai banking circles, is trying to consolidate a base of operations in South China with Formosa as his redoubt. Other members of his entourage, evidently thinking of the fate of Mussolini, are reported to be getting ready to flee to the United States where, under the protection of the Truman administration, they will be safe from the wrath of the Chinese people.

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Last updated on 5 March 2024