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Henry Judd

China: Is U.S. a Friend of Chinese People?

(July 1942)

From Labor Action, Vol. 6 No. 29, 20 July 1942, p. 4.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Last week America commemorated the fifth year of China’s resistance to the invasion of that country by Japanese militarism. The United China Relief Association opened a drive for the collection of many millions to be sent to China for war relief purposes.

“Six rickshaws, banked with flowers donated by florists ... were drawn beneath the flags of the United Nations yesterday in Rockefeller Plaza ... The rickshaws were then distributed to points throughout the city,” reports the New York Times. They have forgotten that a rickshaw – a carriage pulled by a MAN, a Chinese coolie – far from being a symbol of a “Free” China, has always been a symbol of an imperialist-dominated China, whose people are forced to pull and haul for the ruling foreigner, the white and yellow imperialist.

When the rulers of America celebrate the fifth anniversary of China’s resistance to the Japanese invaders it is with an entirely different meaning than will be given that event by China’s 450,000,000 people. Among the Chinese MASSES there is an indestructible impulse toward independence. It is for such independence that they fought so valiantly until Chiang completely subverted their struggle to the interests and dominion of Allied imperialism. And if the end of their fight today is not independence, it is not because the masses do not desire it, but rather because China’s fight is in the hands of imperialist powers. So that what was once decidedly progressive has ceased to be.

Wendell L. Willkie – whose election ambitions make him the most hypocritical and insincere politician in America today – heads the list of prominent Americans who heap praise upon the Chinese people. Aware of Asia’s huge marketing potentialities and immense wealth, they are disturbed by Roosevelt’s concentration on defeating Hitler in Europe and the Middle East. They would have America pay far more attention to China, particularly in view of the fact that China is now virtually cut off from all oversea supply routes and that the Japanese campaign to isolate its capital, Chungking, is perilously close to succeeding.

But Roosevelt, primarily concerned with Germany – his enemy No. 1 – pays little heed. Result: China celebrated its fifth anniversary with an outcry of terror and a warning of approaching defeat and collapse. One by one, beginning with Chiang Kai-shek and his invaluable wife, Mme. Chiang, and ranging down through the entire collection of generals and ambassadors, there came a plea for planes, munitions, machinery, troops, etc. But, so far as can be determined, the cry for help has gone unanswered by Washington, and China stands close to being ousted from the war before the sixth year rolls around.

A History of Imperialist Policy

This behavior of Roosevelt and the leading American imperialists toward China gives us the key toward a realistic analysis of American relations with that country. Like everything else in this capitalist-imperialist world, our relations are determined first and last by economic and political motives, based upon capitalism. The “natural” bonds between us and China – so often cited by the clique of Willkie supporters – is rather an imperialist love for the resources of China and a strong yen for the right to exploit, its 450,000,000. (THEY do not mean the genuine natural bonds which unite Chinese and American workers.) For our entire history of dealings with the Chinese consists of one reactionary crime on top of the other.

Today, when we seek to use China’s masses and China’s soldiers in the imperialist war (the use of Chinese troops to retain Burma for the British Empire is an excellent example of what we have in mind), we are merely completing a 50-year-old period of participation in the game of who can swindle China “mostest and firstest.”

  1. American imperialism – side by side with Japanese, German, English and French – aided the suppression of the “Boxer Rebellion” in the 1900’s, when China first began to be divided up among the Western powers.
  2. Side by side with other imperialist powers we deprived the Chinese people of their independence, brought slums, factories, exploitation to China, subjected the nation to white rule.
  3. When the Chinese workers and peasants struck out for their independence in the great 1925–27 period, American gunboats, destroyers, airplanes and troops fought them on the Yangtze and Pearl rivers.
  4. When Chiang Kai-shek, leader of the conservative Chinese ruling class, turned on the revolutionary workers at Shanghai and Hankow during the 1927 period, we threw our full support to him and aided his criminal assaults upon the revolutionary centers.
  5. When Japanese imperialism invaded China five years ago we rejected a policy of boycott (it was to appease Japan in those days) and continued to sell oil, scrap metals, munitions to these militarists who were shooting down “our friends” on a dozen Chinese fronts. “Business was business” then.

After Pearl Harbor things changed. We stopped sending munitions to Japan, and we found Chinese troops were mighty handy for use in Malaya, Burma and a few other points. They could serve well in the imperialist struggle with Japan – so Roosevelt became still more friendly to China. But the Chinese people have learned to be suspicious of such friendships.

The relation between Washington and China is based upon imperialism and its perpetuation; the relations that should (and will) exist between the American people and the Chinese workers and poor peasants will be based upon common understanding and concord in the mutual struggle against all imperialists and forms of imperialism. The American workers should stand for China’s COMPLETE INDEPENDENCE from both Washington and London as well as Tokio.

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