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James M. Fenwick

Off Limits

The Nationalist Defeats in China

(15 November 1948)

From Labor Action, Vol. 12 No. 46, 15 November 1948, p. 3.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the ETOL.

The stunning defeats administered the nationalist forces in China by the Stalinist armies in recent weeks are events of first-rate importance.

With the fall of Mukden the richest and most highly industrialized area in continental Asia fell into the hands of the Stalinists. Along with Mukden went 120,000 troops, bringing to 300,000 the number taken in the past three weeks alone.

The remnants are reported falling back on the Kalgan-Peiping-Tientsin line. It can at best be only a holding operation until troops can be deployed before Suchow, a key railroad junction 170 miles north of Nanking. But even Chinese nationalist sources admit that Stalinist troops are already south of Suchow.

We are witnessing a catastrophe.

The Chiang Kai-shek regime has approached the point where it has neither military effectives, the confidence of the people, or belief in its own efforts.

The Stalinist regime for the first time sees before it as a real perspective the prospect of securing all of maritime China.

United States Policy

At this date U.S. aid can be of only dubious value. It is coming too late. The $125,000,000 currently earmarked for nationalist China will meagerly equip five divisions – which represents about one-fourth of the men lost in the past three weeks. Further war material cannot be sent in large quantities because of the depletion of war surplus stocks and the low level of current armaments production. Even were such materiel to reach China, trained units capable of utilizing modern equipment do not exist in large numbers.

In any event, it is a platitude to note that what is basic to Stalinist success is a social program which the Chiang Kai-shek regime cannot match or exceed without negating its own reason for being.

There can be no doubt that aid will be poured into nationalist China. The recent statement of Roger D. Lapham, Chief of Economic Cooperation Administration in China, may be taken as foreshadowing future policy:

I cannot see that it is to our best interest to abandon China. China, particularly North China, is perhaps the most important part of Asia. We are trying to hold the Iron Curtain in Korea. There is every logical reason to spend the right proportion of ECA aid to hold it on the whole Pacific front, as well as the Atlantic.”

But even at best the war would be one long, grinding campaign after another. The Greek example is instructive in this respect.

Effects on Japan and U.S.

One easily predictable result of the recent events will be the military strengthening of Japan. The first step will be the retention of U.S. troops. When Gen. Eichelberger recently returned from Japan he spoke in diplomatic terms of the necessity of protecting Japan from Stalinism internally. Premier Yoshida openly asked for the retention of U.S. troops.

Following this will come the reconstitution of the Japanese economy, paring down of reparations, releasing of war criminals, and all the other requisites for making Japan an ally in the war against Stalinism.

Domestically, a heavy drain on the U.S. economy is indicated. If, as is probable, Stalinist successes in China inspire similar movements in other eastern colonies, the burden will become such as to accelerate tremendously the present inflationary terms.

And finally, the present events heighten the war tension – and illumine the monstrous problems confronting U.S. Capitalism as it prepares to assault its imperialist rival.

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