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Carl Davis

Stalin Levies an Imperialist Peace on China

(10 September 1945)

From Labor Action, Vol. IX No. 37, 10 September1945, p. 1 & 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The treaty between Russia and China is another chapter in the long history of imperialism. It is accompanied by the same kind of misrepresentation and hypocrisy which attend the signing of all treaties between antagonistic powers. In the case of China and Russia, the antagonism is of long standing. It dates back to the days when Russian Czarism warred upon China and obtained territory and special privileges from the disunited and weak Asiatic country. For a brief period of years, when Russia under Lenin and Trotsky abolished all Czarist privileges in China, relations between the two countries were marked by mutual understanding. They began to deteriorate in the Stalinist epoch when the present “ruler of all the Russias” resurrected the imperialist aims of Czarism.

There are several aspects to the present Russo-China relations which have been obscured by the signing of the treaty. The treaty, for example, recognizes the “sovereignty” of China. It recognizes that the government of Chiang is the legitimate government. Russia obligates herself not to interfere in the internal affairs of the country and not to do anything that would violate Chinese integrity and sovereignty.

Among other things, Stalin has agreed to withdraw Russian troops from Manchuria as quickly as possible.

Coming simultaneously with the increasing tension between Chungking and the Communist armies of Yenan, the treaty was hailed asa forerunner of genuine internal peace, since Russia’s recognition of Chiang would halt the impending civil war.

Thus, we are told, the Atlantic Charter and its principles triumphed in Asia, just as they did in Europe. Stalin has shown his good will to China, just as he did to Poland, Eastern Europe and the Balkans!

A Tremendous Fraud

But all of this is a frightful deception of the peoples of Russia, China and the whole world. If one peers behind the obvious in the treaty, that is, the decorations which were cited above, it will be revealed that Stalin’s treaty with China is similar to the Russo-Chinese treaty of 1900. It reflects the same greed, expansion and imperialist aims of Russia’s old ruling class.

  1. The promise to recognize the sovereignty of China, to recognize the existing government and to refrain from interfering in the nation’s internal affairs has been given to China by every imperialist power which obtained special privileges and territory in that vast country. Great Britain, the United States, France, Czarist Russia and even Japan in 1931 have all, at one time or another, invaded the country to guarantee its integrity. In exchange for such “guarantees” China has always paid a price.
  2. Russia’s agreement to withdraw her troops from Manchuria after eleven days of war has its humorous side. But, of course, without an agreement and concessions from China; these troops would stay there as long as Russia’s new ruling class, desired.
  3. The recognition of the Chiang government is only formally a repudiation of the Chinese “Communist” regime of Yenan. Actually, the treaty said nothing about the Yenan regime or the Chinese Communists. Even if Stalin had formally repudiated his Chinese agents, it means absolutely nothing. Stalin once said to Pierre Laval, in reply to the latter’s question on the role of the French Communists during the Franco-Russian pact: “Shoot them!” This only means that Stalin may SAY anything about the parties. What he DOES is quite another matter.

    The dissolution of the Communist International in 1944 in no way meant the dissolution of the Communist Parties of the world, or their severance from Moscow, whose policies and interests they serve. No such formal ties are required by parties and movements which are the creation of the Kremlin. They have long ago learned to act automatically in Russia’s interest. As we shall show, the Chinese Communists did get a substantial concession from Chiang.
  4. But in exchange for these formal concessions to China – concessions made in agreement with Great Britain and the United States and mindful of the latter’s interest in China – Russia received some handsome payments.
  5. Old Czarist Russian interests in Manchuria have been re-established. The Chinese Eastern Railway and the South Manchurian Railway will be operated jointly by China and Russia under the name of the Chinese Changchun Railway. The re-establishment of Russian interests in the railways means an influx of Russian railway men, officials and the secret police. As in all such cases, that means special privileges for the foreign power.
  6. China grants special rights to Russia on Port Arthur, which will be used jointly as a naval base ‘‘at the disposal of the battleships and merchant ships of China and the USSR.” As everyone knows, Russia’s battle fleets will hardly be crowded out by the Chinese “navy.” But it does mean in real life, the control of Port Arthur by Russia. In addition, the port of Dairen is to be “free ... to trade and shipping of all countries.” The primary interest there will be Russian. Both Port Arthur and Dairen are a long distance from Russian borders.

    When Czarist Russia obtained these ports in her treaty of alliance with China, the latter represented the imperialist expansion of Russia and led directly to the war with Japan. This time, Russia entered the war against Japan in its final weeks for the purpose of re-establishing the claims of imperial Russia.

In addition to these concessions given to Russia, Chiang has agreed to allow in his government representatives of the Chinese Communist government.

Basis of Treaty

What pressures were exerted on China to sign this treaty? Undoubtedly Russia’s threat to take Manchuria and to support the drive of the Russian-subsidized armies of Yenan to seize other territories and centers in Northern China. These pressures came not only from Russia, but from the United States and Great Britain as part payment for Russia’s entry into the war against Japan.

The recognition of Chinese “integrity and sovereignty”and the renunciation of special privileges and territories in China by Russia is, of course, a fraud. Special interests in Manchuria, re-establishment of Russian interests in Port Arthur and Dairen belie any non-intervention in China. If you want to know what such concessions really mean, think of what integrity and sovereignty would mean if an American government signed a treaty with anotherpower granting it full and exclusive rights in New York harbor, special rights in the port of Boston and joint control over the New York Central Railroad!

That is exactly what the Russo-Chinese treaty means.

Such an imperialist policy was what Lenin and Trotsky fought against. It was one of the reasons for the outbreak of the Russian Revolution. Czarist Russia’s imperialist policies led to the Russo-Chinese War of 1904–05. Stalin’s imperialist policiestoday led to Russian entry into the recent war with Japan.

When the Russian workers took power in 1917 they renounced all special privileges in China and tore up all the Czarist treaties. Lenin called the seizure by treaty of Port Arthur, predatory Czarist imperialism. Russia under Lenin defended semi-colonial China against all the big powers. The famous slogan issued by Workers’ Russia was “Hands Off China!”

Russian Nationalism

Stalin has reversed all of this. He is today the great Russian nationalist, the purveyor of the imperialist demands of Czarism, the representative of a new class of bureaucrats who rule Russia in their own interests. Just as they exploit the Russian workers and peasants and falsely call this exploitation socialism, so they seek now to exploit European, workers and peasants, colonial peoples in Asia and call this exploitation “recognition of sovereignty,” “freedom and democracy.”

In all of this, Chiang acts as the servant of imperialism in helping to subordinate China to the great powers of the world.

It is time again to cry out: Hands Off China! Drive the imperialists out of the country! For a free and independent China! For a Workers and Peasants China!

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