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Anthony Massini

Character of China’s War

China Is Fighting Against Imperialist Domination

(25 April 1942)

From The Militant, Vol. 6 No. 17, 25 April 1942, p. 7.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The current (April) issue of the magazine, Fourth International, contains a complete and detailed Marxist analysis of the questions raised in Myra Ward Beech’s letter on China. We recommend that all readers of The Militant who are interested in this very important question read that article, entitled Why We Defend China by John G. Wright. Here we make only a few remarks on the question.

China’s war is the struggle of a semi-colonial country for its national independence. China’s main enemy today is Japan, the imperialist invader; Japan today is the chief obstacle to the right of the Chinese nation to rule itself. The victory of China over Japan in this war would be a powerful blow against the whole imperialist world and an inspiration to all the oppressed peoples to throw off their chains of imperialist slavery. For this reason Marxists consider China’s war as progressive and have supported it since the beginning of the Japanese invasion.

Our support of China’s war has nothing in common with political support of Chiang Kai-shek, or the Kuomintang, which he leads, or the Chinese capitalist class whose interests he represents. On the contrary, we have supported China in spite of and against the reactionary policies of Chiang Kai-shek’s regime.

Question of Material Aid and Alliances

We unceasingly criticized and exposed the reactionary policies which drowned the 1925–27 Chinese revolution in blood, established a military dictatorship oyer the people, demoralized the masses and thus opened wide the doors for Japanese invasion and still obstruct the successful prosecution of the war against Japan.

It is clear therefore that our position in support of China’s war was not arrived at because of the slightest confidence in Chiang or his policies.

We do not oppose acceptance by China of aid from Anglo-American imperialism; we do not oppose an alliance of China with one imperialist power against another – neither of these in and of themselves would change thy situation so as to warrant a change in the policy of the Marxists, for neither of these by themselves could transform the character of China’s War against Japan. What we oppose is any subordination of China’s war for freedom to the aims and strategy of imperialist allies of China.

To determine the correct position toward China’s war today, it is therefore necessary for those who supported China’s war before December 7 only to look at what has happened since then and to ask: Has China or China’s war come under the control of China’s imperialist allies, has China’s war become subordinated to the strategy and aims of those allies? If it has, then Marxists can no longer support China. If it hasn’t then Marxists, while remaining aware of future dangers, must continue to support China.

What has happened since December 7 and the extension of the world war to the Pacific? The struggle for national liberation in the most important colonial and semi-colonial countries in the Southwest Pacific has become stronger and bolder, rather than weaker. The grip of Britain on India, for example, has been loosened. London and Washington now find it necessary to make overtures and promises to the Indian nationalist movement: and the answers they receive from the native capitalists are not the subdued and respectful ones they used to be.

China Bolder Now

Similarly, the grip of Washington and London has been loosened on China. The Chinese regime feels freer than ever before to resist dictation of China’s military struggle by the United States and Britain. Even less than on December 6 do the wishes and desires of Roosevelt and Churchill today determine the course of China’s war. The Chinese government is demanding more, not less.

Win. P. Simms, Scripps-Howard Foreign Ed., told on Apr. 18 of “the rising demand on the part of the Chinese, Indians and others for a Pacific Charter.” He reports:

“In the East, observed Ta Knius Pao, one of Chungking’s leading newspapers, ‘many nations are of a colonial or quasi-colonial status. The Roosevelt-Churchill declaration (Atlantic Charter) is applicable to independent nations which were overrun by the Axis powers. It has made no provisions concerning the postwar positions of such countries as India and Burma.’

“The spirit of the proposed Pacific Charter,” paper said, “should aim at the liberation of Korea, the Liuchu Islands and Formosa from Japanese domination and the freedom from Allied control of India, the Dutch East Indies, Malaya, Australia, New Zealand and the Philippines. China, it added, ‘is certainly not helping one imperialism fight against another imperialism.’”

One can hardly imagine such statements coming from the Chinese capitalists five months ago. And one can easily imagine what Washington and London think when they hear such things. There is no question but that China’s hand in the war has been strengthened, that it is more independent of Anglo-American control than ever before.

What Chiang’s Role Is an Argument For

In other words, it is completely false to reduce the question of China’s war to the reactionary policies of Chiang Kai-shek. We condemn Chiang’s intervention in India because it was a blow at China’s struggle, because its effect was to alienate the sympathy of India’s masses for China’s war. It . is another example of how the Chinese capitalists hamper the struggle for independence.

But this is no argument against supporting China’s progressive war – it is only an argument against placing any confidence in Chiang, it is only an argument for the continuation of the political struggle against Chiang by the Chinese masses, while they continue to direct their fire at the main enemy of Chinese national existence, Japan.

Problem of Ethiopia

The situation of Ethiopia is not at all like the situation in China today. It is more like the situation in India, because Ethiopia is today a colony of Britain.

In 1935 we supported Ethiopia’s war against Italy as the war of a backward country for independence from an imperialist power. We said it was correct for the Ethiopians to accept aid from the British in order to drive the Italian conquerors out of their land. We warned the Ethiopian people then, as we warn the Chinese masses today, to be on guard against their imperialist “allies,” We predicted the Ethiopian people would have to fight the British who would try to take over. That Britain was not fighting for Ethiopian independence was shown two months ago, when Britain forced the signing of a British-Ethiopian treaty which gives Britain control of the police, courts, military forces, railroad, etc.

In other words, Ethiopia has been reduced to the status of a British colony; and under such conditions the only kind of war in which Marxists could support Ethiopia would be a war against Britain, Ethiopia’s main enemy today.

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