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Henry Judd

Marshall Report and Chinese Civil War

(27 January 1947)

From Labor Action, Vol. 11 No. 4, 27 January 1947, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

The rejection by the Chinese Stalinists (Yenan government) of the new set of peace proposals, and the offer to send an envoy made by Chiang Kai-shek, has brought China’s civil war to a new stage. General Chou En-lai, Stalinist leader of the Yenan government, accompanied his rejection of Chiang’s offer by a denunciation of the recent statement of General Marshall on the Chinese problem. He made it clear that only, if the so-called National Government would give up its recently adopted bureaucratic constitution, and return large territories won from the Stalinists in military operations, would the latter consider a resumption of peace negotiations.

It is clear that the fighting will continue indefinitely, even if only on a minor scale due to heavy winter conditions. The Stalinists, now on the defensive, will attempt to consolidate and protect their holdings while the Chiang Kai-shek nationalist forces will maneuver into position, with vast help and supplies received, from America in preparation for heavy campaigning next Spring and Summer. China’s fratricidal strife continues, at the heavy expense of the Chinese people, and gives every indication of going on indefinitely, without any final issue.

Neither side has the forces needed completely to overwhelm the opponent at the moment. Whatever military strength and superiority Chiang has, thanks to American imperialism, is effectively cancelled out by the inefficiency, bureaucratic bungling, reactionary politics and corruption of his government.

In the light of this situation, the meaning of the recently issued report of General Marshall, former special Presidential representative to China, takes on fresh meaning. Marshall was no doubt fully aware of the hopelessness of a compromise arrangement for the moment, when he issued his report on January 7. Precisely with this understanding did Marshall write his shrewd, diplomatic and hypocritical statement, bent on showing American intervention in China in the best possible light. Marshall’s aim was to depict America as the staunch advocate of Chinese democracy, against both extremes of the right-wing Kuomintang and the “left-wing” Communists.

War Aid Continues

The Chinese government of Chiang contains, said Marshall, “a dominant group of reactionaries who have been opposed, in my opinion, to almost every effort I have made.” ... These men are interested “in the preservation of their own feudal control of China.” ... In almost identical language he condemns the Stalinists who “do not hesitate at the most drastic measures to gain their end.” From this condemnation of both sides he drew the conclusion that his mediation efforts failed, because of “extremist elements” on both sides and that, therefore, what is needed is the assumption of leadership by the liberals, “under the leadership of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.”

But his condemnation of the Kuomintang is highly qualified, because he accepts its recently adopted Constitution as “democratic” and expressed the belief that under its terms a democratic-constitutional government would be created. Yet, as is well known, the right-wing of the Kuomintang wrote this constitution. Nor can Marshall advance one step beyond unqualified support to Chiang Kai-shek, leading agent and spokesman for the Kuomintang and Chinese conservatism.

And finally, as is well known, there is no let-up in the extended military and economic aid being advanced to the Chinese government for its war purposes. While Chiang and his regime may be hard to swallow, it is clear that they will continue to get American support. Thus we must brand Marshall’s criticism of the Kuomintang as hypocritical. While America is still anxious to bring about a negotiated peace, if this cannot be obtained the reactionary Chiang regime will get the fullest support of the new Secretary of State.

On the other side of the fence, holding high the lamp of the Chinese Stalinists, sits Henry Wallace, now New Republic editor. If Marshall has some doubts about Chiang and the Kuomintang gang, Henry Wallace has none at all about the Chinese Stalinists and Russian imperialism! In the New Republic (January 20, 1947), we read the following in Henry Wallace’s Forum:

“We have abandoned, almost by default, the sponsorship of these changes to Russia. We have permitted the Russians to parade themselves before all the colonial peoples of the world as the only enemy of ‘imperialism.’ Almost without a battle we have yielded to the Russians the loyalty of millions of workers and peasants in Europe because they believe that the Russians and not ourselves are their only guarantors against hunger and war.”

These fantastic claims on behalf of Russian imperialism are the basis for Wallace’s denunciation of American policy as a purely “negative” one. That proves how little he understands the present wave of mass reaction in Europe to this very Stalinist imperialism whose praises he sings.

China’s civil strife continues, with no end in sight. Victimized by both sides who, in turn, are bolstered by the two great foreign rivals of the. world (America and Russia), the Chinese movement for national liberation must still find its way to that difficult path of freedom of action unbound by any foreign powers.

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