To: Hermann and Greta
Who cooked after me so were in the final stages of writing this book, with every best wish and thanks, in friendship
11. Nov. 1947
THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY
Indianapolis Publishers new YORK
COPYRIGHT, 1947, BY FREDA UTLEY
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
By FREDA UTLEY
Lancashire and the Far East
Japan's Feet of Clay
Japan's Gamble in China
China at War
The Dream We Lost: Soviet Russia Then and Now
To P. M. A. L.
It would be impossible for me to list the names of all the Chinese and Americans to whom I am indebted in writing this book. Some of them are mentioned in its pages; others to whom I owe as much are not referred to since one cannot always quote those from whom one has learned most.
For interviews and hospitality and other kindnesses I wish to thank Generalissimo and Madame Chiang Kai-shek, Dr. H. H. Kung and Dr. Wang Ch'ung-hui. Foreign Minister Wang Shih-chieh and Vice-Foreign Ministers Kan and Liu Chieh, Chen Li-fu, K. C. Wu, Wu Te-chen and my old friend Francis Yao who was working with him at Kuomintang Headquarters, Chang Kuo-san of the Chinese Central News Service, Cheng Ming-shu and Ma Yin-Ch'u, S. Y. Wu, Secretary of the Executive Yuan, Generals Tang En-po and Li Tsung-jen, Dr. Wong Wen-hao, Premier Chang Chun, Yu Ta-wei, Wang Yun-wu, Chu Chia-hua, Fu Ssu-nien, Y. C. Koo, T. F. Tsiang, K. C. Wu, Carson Chang, Hsu Tao-liu, Shu Shen-yu (Lao-shu), Lo Lung-chi, Wei Tao-ming, Dr. Robert K. S. Lim, Mary Chen and Loo Chi-teh; "Sinmay" and other Shanghai friends too numerous to mention.
I am particularly indebted to Counselor Chen Chih-mai of the Chinese embassy in Washington (a former collaborator of Dr. Hu Shih's on the Independent Review in prewar days), who combines a profound understanding of China's political and economic problems and culture with a Western liberal outlook. My thanks are also due to Dr. Hu Shih himself, the former Chinese Ambassador to the United States who has been my friend for many years and first helped me to understand the Chinese attitude toward life. I am also particularly indebted to Dr. Fu Ssu-nien, the distinguished historian who combines the learning of China with that of the West and who, while fearlessly criticizing the government of his country, has a deep understanding of its difficulties.
I wish also to express my gratitude to my Communist hosts in
Yenan who received me with every courtesy in spite of my pronounced anti-Communist views. Although we are on opposite sides of the barricades, so to speak, General Chu Teh, Ching Ling my interpreter, the editor of the Emancipation Daily, Chiang Lung-chi, the doctors at the International Peace Hospital, and many another Chinese Communist made me welcome in Yenan, showed me everything I asked to see and spent hours talking to me. I am especially grateful to Chou En-lai, the Communist representative in Chungking, who made it possible for me to visit the Communist Northwest.
Among the Americans to whom I am indebted for information and assistance are General Albert C. Wedemeyer, Colonel "Bill" Mayer and Captain Gates of the Public Relations office, Generals George E. Stratemeyer and Paul Caraway and George Olmsted, Colonel Pendleton Hogan, Brigadier Middleton, Colonel Don Scott, Colonel Ivan Yeaton, Admiral Daniel E. Barbey, General Worton of the U.S.M.C., his aide Captain Tom Watson who died in China, and other Marine officers, Colonel Kellis of the O.S.S., Dr. Logan Roots of UNRRA, Walter Robertson, the United States Charge d'Affaires, Bland Calder of the United States Embassy, and John L. Kullgren of the War Department, Tillman Durdin of the New York Times and Arch Steele of the New York Herald Tribune.
My special thanks are due to Dr. J. Lossing Buck, the foremost American expert on China's agrarian problem who gave me invaluable assistance in writing the chapter on "Poverty and the Land."
I have also to thank General Victor Odium, the Canadian Ambassador and perhaps the best informed and wisest of all the diplomats I met in China; also Sir George Sansom, British Representative on the Far Eastern Commission. Finally I must express my gratitude to Dr. Paul Linebarger of the School for Advanced International Studies in Washington for his help in the preparation of this book; his personal encouragement has been as valuable as his readiness to answer my inquiries.
My thanks are due to the authors or publishers who have given me permission to quote from the following books and articles: Random House: Battle for Asia, by Edgar Snow; William Sloane Associates: Thunder Out of China, by Theodore White and Annalee Jacoby; Doubleday & Company, Inc.: Wrath in Burma by Fred Eldridge; The Macmillan Company: China's Destiny, by Chiang
Kai-shek; Harold Isaacs: The Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution; Lin Yu-tang: The Vigil of a Nation; Paul Linebarger, for permission to quote from his books and his article in the Yale Review; Emily Hahn, for permission to quote from one of her articles; the Associated Press, for allowing me to reproduce extracts from the dispatches sent by Richard Cushing and Spenser Davis about Manchuria.
I have not attempted to follow Sinological academic style in the rendering of Chinese names into English; I have used the spelling employed by the persons referred to or by the American Press.
While I acknowledge my indebtedness to others the opinions expressed in this book are my own, unless otherwise clearly indicated by quotations. My acknowledgments are a record of thanks and in no way attribute responsibility for the views I have expressed.
Martha's Vineyard, Mass.
July 25, 1947
Table of Contents
LAST CHANCE IN CHINA
"We Want to Go Home"
he flight traffic clerk asked me in mid-Atlantic why on earth I was flying from America. It was October 1945 and I was on my way to China via India. The giant Air Transport Command plane carried only three passengers from the United States to Calcutta.
Why, indeed, was I flying to the Orient now that the war was over?
If I had replied that I wanted to learn who had won the war, this GI would surely have thought me mad. Like most Americans he no doubt considered that the war was won once the fighting stopped, and that after victory one simply went home.
Nor could I have truthfully told him that I wanted to write an impartial book on China. The test of a tale is the teller thereof. Everyone's views are the result of prejudice and experience, and behind cool, so-called neutral books there often lurks a deceitful author whose real aim is to show that the world ought to be run according to his own pet ideas or illusions. I am fully aware that my own views are the result of the life I have led, and that I am not at all impartial in the world-wide struggle between Communism and democracy.
I simply replied that I was a writer and earned my living that way.
To have explained further why the fate of China seemed to me so important, I would have needed to tell him the story of my life. That would certainly have taken too long. Moreover my past experiences in Russia, Japan and China would have been as incomprehensible to this young American as a life lived on another planet. So I did not mention that I had left behind, in a boarding school in Connecticut, a son born in Moscow, who was all I had left from the days when I lived under the Communist dictatorship with my Soviet husband. Nor did I tell him that my husband had been carried off one night by the secret police to disappear without trial into one of Russia's concentration camps.
16 Last Chance in China
It is also difficult to explain in a few words why my feeling about China has remained constant through all my experiences and disillusionments. In my childhood and youth the Chinese appeared as a people victimized by Western imperialism in general, and in particular by England, the country of my birth. Nearly twenty years ago I had come overland from Russia to China believing that only Communist leadership could free the oppressed people of Asia and the rest of the colonial world from exploitation, oppression and grinding poverty. The year I had spent in Japan with my husband in 1928-1929 had given me an inside view of Japanese tyranny and conditioned me to champion China. In Russia where I lived from 1930 to 1936 I had learned to know a despotism more cruel even than Japan's. This new "progressive" Soviet imperialism was now menacing China as Japan had formerly done.
The Chinese seemed fated to be forever the victims of injustice and aggression. For them the Allied victory in World War II had only opened the door to a new menace. Had the long war of resistance against Japan been fought in vain?
In 1938 I had come to America for the first time to speak for the American Committee for Non-Participation in Japanese Aggression. In those days I had spent my energies trying to get America and England to stop war supplies to the Japanese aggressors. Now America, my adopted country, was blindly helping Russia by giving encouragement to the Chinese Communists. It seemed to me that history was repeating itself. First Japan had been helped to conquer China. Now Soviet Russia, through her agents the Chinese Communists, was being assisted by America to get into position to acquire dominion over China. One had to start all over again the struggle to awaken American public opinion to the issues at stake in the Far East, lest a worse Pearl Harbor befall us in the future.
At Casablanca, where we stopped four hours during the night for the plane to be checked over, the Red Cross hall was filled with soldiers waiting their turn to go home. Most of the other rooms and buildings were empty. It was like wandering round the stage of an empty theater after the actors had all gone.
Next morning in bright sunlight we breakfasted at Tripoli. Late that afternoon, after hours of flying over blue seas and brown deserts, the green ribbon of the Nile Valley appeared in the distance. On the
We Want to Go Home" 17
desert's edge we saw the Pyramids below, and the Sphinx seemingly no larger than a cat.
Impossible to stop in Egypt even for one day of sight-seeing. The plane traveled day and night, never stopping for more than the scheduled forty minutes or four hours.
Everywhere we were asked why we were flying to the Orient and not away from it. The men one talked to eating a quick meal in the Army mess halls had only one desire, to get the hell out of Africa or Asia and be home.
American demobilization and its results were apparent in the spring of 1946 when I left China to return to the United States by the Pacific route. I traveled then by Marine plane to Hawaii. Neither the Marines nor the Navy nor the Air Transport Command could any longer send their giant transports by day and night over the oceans. The shortage of personnel made it impossible to service the planes after dark.
From Newfoundland to the Azores, from Casablanca across North Africa and the Holy Land, over the burning sands of Arabia, across Persia, on to Karachi and Calcutta, across Burma to Kunming and Chungking, across Central China to Shanghai, up to Marine territory in North China, on the islands and atolls of the vast Pacific Ocean everywhere were the unmistakable signs of American power, American efficiency and American prestige. But everywhere too the visible power of the United States was fading away as its soldiers and sailors returned to their homes.
Passing over the Dead Sea in the moonlight, with the lights of Bethlehem far away to the west, I thought: The devil can take you to the top of a high mountain and tempt you with dominion over all the kingdoms of the earth only if you come from a desert or from an overpopulated, backward and poor or misgoverned land. Not if you come from a prosperous and free country with an abundance of resources and little poverty. Americans, sailing in their great ships high up over the earth, are not even aware of any temptation to dominate the world. They just want to go home. . . .
Empires have been built by merchants and adventurers leading paupers, or by tyrants seeking to keep their own people enslaved by diverting their thoughts away from dreams of liberty to the "glories" and rewards of foreign conquest.
18 Last Chance in China
Ancient Rome conquered the Mediterranean World after her peasants had lost their lands to the rich while fighting for "security." Britain began her empire-building in the days when freebooters like Drake plundered the galleons of Spain in the Atlantic. Next came the colonization of America by men and women escaping religious persecution, or seeking freedom from feudal restraints, longing for liberty, opportunity and enough to eat.
But the greatest expansion of Britain's power came in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when her dispossessed peasants were impressed into the navy, or enlisted in the army to avoid starvation, while trade followed the flag in Africa and Asia.
Today the British Empire is contracting and the British people are too weakened to maintain the world order they established in the nineteenth century. Germany lies in ruins but a new imperialist power has arisen. Soviet Russia is driven to expand by incentives which are both new and very old. The Communist ideology is new and the world order which Moscow seeks to impose is radically different from the old British concept. But the economic and political motivation for Russian expansion is similar to that which drove the Czars or ancient Persia and Assyria to conquest: the need of tribute from abroad in order to maintain tyranny at home.
Russia has abundant raw material resources and a starved internal market. But the Soviet economic and political system, which they call Socialist, is too oppressive and cumbersome, and therefore inefficient, to give the Russian people tolerable material conditions of existence. The loss of freedom under the Communist dictatorship has therefore not been compensated for by the gain of security.
The Kremlin is driven to a policy of conquest by the permanent crisis in the Soviet economy. A complete breakdown can be avoided only if Russia can obtain goods from abroad without the necessity of paying for them.
Before the war the younger generation of Russians knew nothing better than their own subsistence scale of living. Today many Red Army men have had a glimpse of the far higher standard of living in the "capitalist world." Stalin and the Communist bureaucracy can never sleep easy if outside the confines of the Soviet Union there are prosperity and freedom. Imperialist expansion offers the only hope of stilling the longing of the Russian people for liberty and better material conditions. If the capitalist world can be first weakened and
"We Want to Go Home" 19
then destroyed, the Communist dictatorship can be made secure. If other nations can be forced to work for Russia her people may obtain the necessities of life which the Soviet system fails to produce. If there is no freedom anywhere the Russian people can be expected to accept their lot. As Stalin himself has written:
It is inconceivable that the Soviet Republic should continue to exist interminably side by side with imperialist states. Ultimately one or the other must conquer.*
To the Communists all capitalist states are by their very nature "imperialist," and they regard the United States as the leading "Imperialist Power." Yet in the United States, which combines the natural resources of Russia with the freedom and efficiency which can make full use of them, there is no social basis for imperialism nor much economic need for itas yet. America's resources are still great and her land not overpopulated. Above all, the American people participate in and control their government.
Foreign trade, which is a question of life and death for Britain as for Germany, still seems unimportant to the majority of Americans. American exports for three decades have represented, in the main, gifts to foreigners in the form of unrepayable loans, Lend-Lease or UNRRA contributions. The fact that the United States tariff has prevented repayment except in gold is a proof of America's near self-sufficiency.
Why should the American people accept the responsibilities of empire since they neither need nor desire its profits and glory? This was the basic truth which gave American isolationism its strength. Today, however, the terrible march of science has created such long-range and devastating weapons of destruction that the United States has lost the security which geography once afforded her. Today also there exists a great power determined to extinguish America's attraction for Europeans and Asiatics, and confident that American policy can be rendered nugatory by domestic pressures manipulated from abroad while her potential allies are dragged one by one into Russia's sphere in anticipation of the battle of the giants to come. Each country unable to resist Russia or weakened from within by the Communist
* Problems of Leninism. International Publishers, New York City. This book is circulated in thirty languages to millions of people.
20 Last Chance in China
disease is not only a lost ally, it is also a potential ally of the enemies of democracy.
America is the only country strong enough with her allies to impose universal peace, and possessing both the resources and the political freedom not to be tempted to enslave other peoples. But whoever heard of, or imagined, a country giving peace and security to others without oppressing and exploiting them? How is it to be expected that any nation will give the world the benefits of imperialism without its curses? This is the dilemma of our age. Those who want power want it for bad ends. Those who reject power are the only ones who could use it for the good of mankind.
In China I saw America's power and prestige being whittled away and her hands tied by misunderstanding of the international situation and the strident demand to "bring the boys home." America's strength was also her weakness. However privileged their position abroad, Americans long for home. In the nineteenth century the British Tommy, born in the slums of London or some other city of the Empire over which the sun never sets, lived better in India or elsewhere in the Colonial Empire than in England, and he could enjoy feeling superior to the "natives." But the attitude of most Americans was summed up for me in the words of GI's I talked to in Kunming. Parked waiting in the warm sun of lovely Yunnan they said: "China! Let the Chinese have it; we want to go home."
It may be different if mass unemployment comes following the postwar boom, and foreign trade seems a solution for economic crisis and a substitute for the vanished frontier. America's lavish use of her raw material resources has already created some shortages. We are no longer free of the necessity to import vital strategic materials. There may soon be an economic basis for American interest in free trade and a free world obtainable only through the exertion of American power.
Already many demobilized men look back on their life in the Army, Navy or Marine Corps with some faint regret. Or so at least I was told by some of their buddies in China. Some few re-enlist without going home, saying they "never had it so good." Certainly it is better than a civilian job at $25 a week. The soldier, sailor and marine has no housing difficulties to contend with. And there is always the type of man who cannot settle down again to work on the farm, or in
We Want to Go Home" 21
a factory or office, after a war. But so long as the American people control their own destiny, so long as neither demagogues nor dictators deprive them of freedom, world power is not likely to attract them. This is the tragic paradox of the world situation. By rejecting their historical opportunity to establish an American world order the American people may leave a free field for those whose every effort is bent toward the attainment of world hegemony.
You have here a strange situation, a situation without historical precedent. While other nations strive, or have striven, for empire or world domination, the United States refuses the prize which her arms and her industrial might have won. No one could challenge the United States if her people desired empire over the earth. Their power is predominant. If the eagle felt like screaming the other nations would listen and obey. Without America there would have been no German or Japanese defeat. But, having fallen into the war, the American people hastened only to scramble out of the lands which would gladly have seen them stay.
It is understandable that every American soldier wants to go home. It is less comprehensible that the American people, having proclaimed themselves overwhelmingly opposed to an isolationist policy, should have demanded that we "bring the boys home" and refrain from using our power to make secure the aims for which we fought.
Wars are not football matches fought only to be won. They would be senseless unless an effort were made to achieve an objective and insure a lasting peace. As Congressman Walter Judd said shortly after V-J Day, "It is most unfortunate that so many Americans concluded that the war was over and we had won it when as a matter of fact all we had done was to defeat the Germans and the Japanese. Who wins the war depends largely on what we do from here on. It will be won by whatever forces and ideas dominate in the reconstruction of Europe and the development of Asia."
The issue of world hegemony is most clearly presented in China. Here is the arena where a clash could occur which would lead to a third world conflagration as surely as Japan's rape of Manchuria in 1931. The Far Eastern policy which the United States has pursued more or less consistently for decades, here comes into conflict with a Russian policy as inimical to it as was Japan's.
Russia today, even more positively than Japan yesterday, threatens
22 Last Chance in China
the complete extinction of American rights and interests in China. Not only this. A Russia dominant in Asia with bases in the Kuriles and in Siberia facing Alaska constitutes a far greater threat to American security than Japan ever did.
Since the end of the nineteenth century the United States has opposed the domination of China by any one power, has sought to preserve the integrity of China and insisted upon the open door for the commerce of all nations. This policy has, however, been negatively rather than positively applied. Principle has time and again been sacrificed to expediency.
Up to Pearl Harbor neither national interest nor security was ever thought to be sufficiently involved for the United States to take a positive and strong line of action in defense of either China's integrity or American interests in China. Japan's territorial conquests were not "recognized" but Americans continued to do business with her at China's expense. The United States, like the British Empire, supplied the Japanese with oil, scrap iron, machinery and anything else needed for war, confining her protests to the infringement of American rights, not China's.
For four decades the United States strove to avoid war over China by giving only lip service to the principle of maintaining China's integrity. War came nevertheless in December 1941. This was not only because Japan had allied herself to Germany. It was also because there came a moment when principle and self-interest required the same action, when it was no longer possible to maintain the second without the first. Thus American insistence on the preservation of China's integrity and national independence was the immediate, although not the basic cause for her involvement in World War II. If the United States had not refused to sanction the territorial gains of Japan's long series of aggressions against China, Japan would never have joined with Germany and Italy in a military alliance, nor have challenged the United States in December 1941. On the other hand, if the United States and Britain had firmly and actively supported China, there would have been no Pearl Harbor.
The essential weakness in United States Far Eastern policy has not been inconsistency but vacillation as regards the means to be adopted to achieve its aims. Over and over again we have failed to take strong diplomatic action in time to save the necessity for future mili-
We Want to Go Home 23
tary action. It is obvious now that the war with Japan which cost so many American lives in the bloody battles on the islands and atolls of the Pacific could have been avoided had we applied economic sanctions against Japan when she first attacked China. We know that Japan was ready to surrender before the atom bomb was launched on Hiroshima. Once cut off from imports of oil and other war materials she had no chance at all to survive.
Today we are faced with a very similar situation to the one we failed to cope with in the thirties. Russia has stepped into Japan's shoes. She has inherited the "divine mission" of keeping China disunited and powerless. Russia today, like Japan in the early thirties, exploits the centrifugal forces in China in order to convert her into a satellite.
President Roosevelt at Yalta promised Stalin to bring pressure upon the Chinese Government to force it to give up to Russia the imperialist privileges in Manchuria which China had struggled fifteen years to deny to Japan. In so doing he not only disregarded China's legitimate interests, but he forgot that Japan had originally been raised up and supported by his relative Theodore Roosevelt as a counterweight to Russia whose Czars, at the end of the nineteenth century, threatened to acquire hegemony over the whole of China. The elimination of Japan and the unnecessary concessions made at Yalta to Stalin's imperialist ambitions have put Russia back into the position she occupied at the beginning of the century. The great game begins anew. The conflict between the West and Russia for predominant power over the body and soul of China has been resumed, following the episode of Japan's rise and fall. But today it has become part of the world struggle between the opposing forces of Communist Russia and democratic America.
In the nineteenth century Britain and Russia met face to face in China, but Britain supported by the United States managed to push Russia back by building up Japan. Today it is America, not the weakened British Empire, which faces Russia across the huge body of China. Today the conflict between the West and Muscovy in the Far East is primarily an American-Russian conflict. The Russians understand this only too well and act accordingly. But Americans are loath to see in yesterday's ally the enemy of today and tomorrow. Japan never really had a chance to establish control over China.
24 Last Chance in China
Her armies could advance and do untold damage, but too few Chinese were ready to co-operate with her to establish effective rule over the occupied areas. Russia enjoys great advantages over Japan in this respect. Her resources are much greater, she has a land approach to China and she has something more than a Fifth Column in the shape of the Chinese Communists with their own army controlling large territories in the North. Moreover, Soviet Russia, never having gone to war against China, can hope to succeed where Japan failed. She may be able to revive and exploit the latent anti-imperialist and anti-Western sentiments of the Chinese people so skillfully used by Russia from 1924 to 1927 when she almost succeeded in shutting out the Western Powers from China. Her failure then was due to Chiang Kai-shek and the moderate elements in the revolutionary Kuomintang which he represented. Stalin has never forgotten or forgiven the Generalissimo for orientating China toward the West. Now, twenty years after, it is a primary object of his policy to destroy China's national leader and National Revolutionary Party.
How few Americans today remember that only two decades ago Russia, not Japan, constituted the greatest menace to American, as well as British, interests in China! The struggle with the USSR from 1922 to 1927 was the bitterest that American influence had ever faced in the Far East. If the alliance between the Chinese Nationalists and Russia which existed in the twenties had been continued, it would have proved irresistible. The threat of a Russian hegemony over China led America, from 1927 onward, to join with Britain in strengthening the non-Communist majority in the Kuomintang, led by Chiang Kai-shek. Only eighteen years later General Marshall came to China to try to revive in the name of unity and democracy the Kuomintang Communist coalition which America had been intent on destroying in 1927.
My three visits to China have coincided with three distinct phases of her history and her relations with the West.
In 1928, when I visited China for the first time, I had come from Moscow to Shanghai across Siberia bearing secret messages from the Comintern. It was shortly after the split between the Kuomintang and the Communists and the establishment of the Nanking Government headed by Chiang Kai-shek. The Communists who had sur-
We Want to Go Home" 25
vived the massacre in the spring of 1927 were either in hiding or with the Red Army in Kiangsi.
The documents, which I carried "in my bosom" in the style of old-fashioned melodrama, had to be delivered in Shanghai with elaborate precautions. My instructions were to register at the Palace Hotel and telephone to a certain "Herr Doktor Haber" saying I had arrived with "the samples of silk stockings." When he came I handed over with relief the sealed and silk-encased package which contained I know not what secret instructions for the furtherance of Comintern aims in China. I had been chosen to bring them because I was English and the holders of British and American passports were least likely to be searched at the border. Nevertheless I was glad my mission was accomplished, for I am not the stuff of which conspirators are made.
Before sailing for Japan with more secret messages I was allowed to spend an evening with the leaders of the Shanghai underground. We met after midnight in a whitewashed cellar somewhere off Nanking Road. The Comintern agents plied me with questions about happenings in Moscow, which in my innocence I was unable to answer. The men I met, Americans and Germans or German-speaking Europeans, must have been, if not Trotskyists, at least extremely unhappy revolutionaries. They had witnessed Stalin's sacrifice of the Chinese Communists and were watching with dismay the beginnings of his transformation of the Comintern into a suboffice of the Russian state.
Exactly ten years later I was to meet two of them again. In October 1938 when about to leave Shanghai for America, I was awakened early in the morning by the telephone ringing. A man's voice asked me if he could come up but would give no name. I was still half-asleep when a white-faced, emaciated and shabbily dressed man entered the room. I did not remember him but he gave me such full details of my visit to Shanghai in 1928 that I was convinced. He was pitifully nervous and begged me to come and visit him and his wife that evening.
They were the once famous couple called Noulens who had been arrested as Comintern agents around 1933 and made the headlines when they went on a hunger strike.
Last Chance in China
I agreed to visit them but I was nervous because Noulens had insisted on my telling no one. For all I knew he might still be Moscow's agent or he might even be working for the Japanese, and both might want to have me quietly disappear.
I took Randall Gould, editor of the Shanghai Evening Post, into my confidence. He offered to wait for me in his car at the end of the street and to come and rescue me if I did not rejoin him in an hour's time.
The Noulens told me they had been released from prison in 1937 and Madame Sun Yat-sen was supplying them with enough money to exist. But they had been warned to see no oneor so they said and I believed them. They said they had so longed to speak to someone they had once known and trusted that they had risked asking me to their home. They were obviously terrified. They were Austrians without passports and with nowhere to go, for it was clear that they feared to be liquidated if they returned to Russia. They knew too much. I urged them to meet Randall Gould, who was a liberal and a kindly man and who I knew would try to help them. But they dared not.
Poor devils. I left full of pity for these two white-faced derelicts of an age in Comintern history long past. They had left one prison only to fear incarceration in another. Rejected by everyone, they were too broken in spirit to save themselves and start a new life. I had known men and women like them in Moscow, old revolutionaries whose hopes were dead but who could not break with their past and waited only for death.
"Dr. Haber" seems to have had better luck and more sense. He had organized a real import business as a facade for his Comintern activities and developed it into a flourishing enterprise. Some of his employees acted in the double capacity of traveling salesmen and agents of the Comintern with their salaries halved between Moscow and Haber's business account. According to the account given of him in Pattern for World Revolution by the former Communist "Ypsilon," Haber, whom he calls Comrade L, decided in the early thirties that the Revolution was dead and he would henceforth become simply a businessman. His business was by then netting him a hundred thousand dollars a year profit. He calmly returned the amount of the original capital advanced to him by Moscow, arguing that this was
"We Want to Go Home" 27
all the Comintern had a right to expect since he had all along paid ten percent interest besides performing his duties as a Comintern agent.
I had not seen much of the Chinese on my first brief visit in 1928. Hatred of the "Western Imperialists" was then still so great that my Communist friends warned me against walking in the streets of the city. I spent most of my time investigating the cotton industry as a bona fide research student of the London School of Economics. I also tasted Shanghai's gay and opulent social life with Britishers who were shocked to hear that I was writing articles for "that Red rag," the Manchester Guardian. All values are indeed relative. Five years later in Moscow in one of the periodic "cleansings of the apparatus" it was brought up against me as a sign of bad bourgeois connections that I had once worked for the Manchester Guardian !
The attitude of most white people in Shanghai toward the Chinese twenty years ago made me understand and sympathize with the burning desire of the Chinese people to throw them out of China. Now as I write, in 1947, Communist-inspired anti-American demonstrations prove how easy it is to revive latent hatred of the West among the ill-fed, ragged masses of the Chinese cities.
On my second visit to China, in 1938, I had come by sea from England. By that time I was anti-Communist, having lived for six years in Soviet Russia. The change in China was as great as the change in me. I had learned that, compared with the tyranny and oppression, misgovernment and poverty under Russia's Communist Government, British imperialism is enlightened. The Chinese, far from wanting to oust the British and Americans, were hoping against hope that the West would come to her aid to rout the Japanese. The attitude of the British and Americans in China had undergone a similar transformation. The old China hands who had once seen Japan as a useful junior partner in the business of holding China down and preserving foreign rights and privileges, were now cheering on the Chinese. Of course, they still did business with Japan, but they recognized and admired the stubborn courage of the Chinese and hoped that China would continue to resist Japan in spite of the material help the latter was getting from the United States and the British Empire.
28 Last Chance in China
Then as now the Western democracies were backing both sides. From 1937 to 1941 America and England had tried to avoid antagonizing Japan while giving China just sufficient aid and encouragement to keep her fighting. Following V-J Day, they tried to conciliate Russia and the Chinese Communists while giving strictly limited aid to the Chinese Nationalists.
In spite of all the changes in international alignments, China on my third visit seemed as far as ever from her goal of national liberation. As so often in the past hundred years she had exchanged one aggressor for another. Russia instead of Japan held Manchuria and was seeking to keep China disunited and powerless until she should submit and "co-operate."
Because the odds against her had been too great, victory had found China too weak to profit by it. Her people had borne too-heavy burdens for too long. The "diseases of defeat" had taken too heavy a toll for her to have strength to resist either Russia or the Communist infection unless aided by Western science, Western supplies and the heartening medicine of American sympathy and support. But America was vacillating once again. She refused wholly to repudiate the Communists as she had formerly refused to cease all aid to Japan.
At the time of my arrival in China it seemed that the policy of the United States might be taking a logical course. The clamor of the Left coupled with the overriding desire to "get along with Russia" had not succeeded in stopping aid to the National Government of China in its postwar efforts to re-establish its control over the provinces formerly occupied by Japan.
One of the best-informed diplomats in Chungking, General Victor Odium, the Canadian ambassador, told me he was inclined to believe that the United States had decided upon a courageous and far-sighted Far Eastern policy.
"There are," he said, "Russian clouds on the international horizon. The only sound American policy would be to strengthen China, dominate the internal armed strife, improve Chinese communications and help train her army.
"If the United States does not vacillate in its support of the National Government, economic recovery will be rapid and the Communists will no longer be in a position to disrupt Chinese unity in Russia's interests. Time is flowing against the Communists. It will
We Want to Go Home
increase their difficulties and their problems, provided only that American policy does not switch back to the Stilwell line of favoring and encouraging Communism."
General Wedemeyer, whom I interviewed two months later in Shanghai, was convinced that the security of the United States required a strong China freed from the Communist menace. In private conversation he said to me:
"Were the United States to abandon China now, all our costly sacrifices in the war against Japan would have been in vain. Both the honor and the interests of the United States require that we continue to support our most faithful ally and greatest potential friend, the Republic of China.
"China is the sincerest friend of the United States, for the simple reason that, whereas American interests and those of her other great allies are often in conflict, the interests of the United States and China coincide. It is only natural that other nations should try to get as much as they can out of America, while at the same time competing with her. China is the least involved in such an approach.
"Russia's goal is the establishment of puppet or satellite regimes along her Asiatic borders as well as in Europe. Stalin wants to have the psychological as well as the political and military initiative in Sakhalin, Korea, Manchuria, Jehol, Chahar, Hupeh, Inner Mongolia and Sinkiang, as well as in Persia. If the Chinese Communists are not forced to give up their private army and autonomous administration, Russia will get what she wants."
Both during and since my last visit to China there has been a continual seesaw in the relations between the National Government of China on the one side, and Russia and the Chinese Communists on the other side, depending on the amount of backing China received from the United States.
The Chinese Government never knew whether, in a showdown, America would use her power to prevent Russia from encroaching on China or whether China would be abandoned to her fate.
When America appeared to be taking a line of strong and uncompromising support of China, Russian pressure on China was relaxed and the Communists became less intransigent. In the summer of 1945 when General Hurley and General Wedemeyer represented the United States Government and armed forces in China; when Amer-
30 Last Chance in China
ica's hands were about to be freed by the collapse of Japan and there was a prospect that President Truman would not continue the Roosevelt policy of giving Stalin everything he asked for, Moscow ceased denouncing the Government of China and negotiated the Soong-Molotov Treaty of August 18. Thereafter, however, General Hurley's recall again gave Russia and the Communists hope that America was vacillating in its support of China. The Chinese Communists broke off negotiations in Chungking and started to tear up railroad lines and grab as much territory as they could.
From the Communist point of view, the greater the economic chaos and misery in China, the better their chance to dominate. Moreover the worse communications became and the greater the difficulties of the government in reviving trade and industry, the greater the disillusionment of the Americans with their ally China and the greater their desire to "leave China to the Chinese."
The Japanese had comforted themselves all through the war with the belief that even if they lost, China could not win. In August 1937 The Oriental Economist had written:
In any event before Japan could fall in the struggle, China's movement to mould herself into a modern state and her programme of economic reconstruction would both go crashing down, leaving little of such Central Government as there is at present.
The Japanese were a little too optimistic. This dire prophecy has not been quite fulfilled. But since V-J Day China has moved perilously close to the abyss of disintegration. Economically and politically she is far worse off than in 1937, and the Communist menace which Japan pretended to see in the thirties is now a grim reality.
Can the United States, and will the United States, give China the necessary backing and assistance to prevent her crashing down? When I first arrived in China it seemed that we should.
When I left China in the spring of 1946, it appeared far more doubtful that America would pursue a policy to her own and China's advantage.
Gray Dawn in China
he large and luxurious C-54 which had carried me so quickly from Washington to India terminated its flight at Calcutta. I was not, however, able to stay in India, even for a few days. The British authorities after keeping me waiting two months for a visa had given it to me only on condition that I fly straight through to China. No doubt the fact that I had been a Communist two decades ago was recorded and I was still a suspicious character.
After a day's sight-seeing and a much needed night in bed, I left Calcutta in the early dawn, sitting now on a bucket seat in a smaller plane filled to capacity with UNRRA personnel and other civilians.
We had expected to fly over the Hump and were disappointed that with the war's end the Army Transport Command had abandoned the beautiful if perilous route over the Himalayas. We flew instead over the vast green jungles of "liberated" Burma to Yunnan province.
The C-47's did not travel by night and the traffic in as well as out of China was still heavy, so we were delayed twenty-four hours in Kunming among bored GI's waiting their turn to go home.
In the evening Dr. Logan Roots, who had been my fellow passenger from Washington and who was a friend from Hankow days, took me to visit missionary friends who had lived in China through the whole war. We talked far into the night and then drove back through the old city to the army post at the airfield. Here I found the English doctor who shared my hut asleep with DDT powder liberally scattered on the blankets and floor. I reflected that she was going to find life insupportable in the interior of China if she feared vermin even in the spotlessly clean U. S. Army billets.
Next afternoon we reached Chungking, just seven days out of Washington, and seven years after I had left China in the second year of her war against Japan.
32 Last Chance in China
The road from the Chiulungpo airport to the city was inches deep in mud and rutted. At each hairpin bend up and down the steep hillsides I clung to the jeep with both hands. The rain veiled the beautiful hills of Szechwan in mist. In my tired and melancholy mood I felt that the heavens themselves might weep for the tragedy of the Chinese people. Though they were patient, intelligent, industrious, tolerant and good-humored, history had not given them a break for over a hundred years.
First Britain and France, and on their heels Germany, Russia and Japan, had taken advantage of China's military weakness to despoil her; to wrest territories, concessions and privileges by force from a people who wished only to be left alone.
Now even in victory the Chinese were tasting only the fruits of defeat. Russia, instead of Japan, had control of Manchuria. The extraterritorial rights in China given up by the Western Powers had been revived in Russia's favor in the unequal Sino-Russian Treaty of August 1945.
The Chinese people seemed never able to acquire a breathing space. If they quenched the flames on one side of their house, they had immediately to turn to battle a conflagration on the other side.
I remembered how, when the Sino-Japanese War began, China's optimists and pessimists had alike believed that China could not hold on unaided against Japan's overwhelming military might unless she soon acquired allies. Both had been wrong. China had resisted alone longer than anyone had believed possible in that long-ago summer of 1937. Yet help when it came had been too little and too late. Japan, not Germany, had attacked the United States in December 1941, but America decided that Germany was the greater menace. Blockaded China was told to go on sticking it out while we defeated Hitler first. China's situation had become ever more desperate. The British loss of Malaya and Burma left her completely blockaded. The flow of Lend-Lease, denied to China, when it could easily have reached her, was turned over to Russia. Paeans of praise arose in America for the valiant armies of Stalin, armed by America. Adding insult to injury, scorn was heaped on the Chinese, the flower of whose armies had been cut down years before in the three-months' battle for Shanghai and the nine-months' struggle to save the Wuhan cities.
Gray Dawn in China 33
It was almost dark when we arrived in the suburbs of Chungking and I looked down for the first time on the calm clear waters of the Chialing River far below. We rushed through the narrow streets miraculously avoiding accidents. The danger from speeding American trucks and jeeps in the narrow crowded streets was an old story by now to the people of Chungking. To me the vehicles and the American soldiers offered a striking contrast to the China I had known. If only a little of this American aid had been given sooner! In 1937 and 1938 it could have saved China from the long series of defeats and retreats which had broken her people's morale.
I had never before been in Chungking. In 1938 when I had reported the war for the London News Chronicle, Hankow, or rather the three Wuhan cities on the Yangtze, had been China's temporary capital. I had left them on the eve of their capture by Japan. Canton had fallen ignominiously a few days later, adding the terrors of cowardice and treason to the burdens, already heavy, of the invasion.
The heroic days of China's long war of resistance had ended when I sailed to the United States in the fall of 1938. The coastal cities and provinces were all in Japanese hands. China was settling down to a weary, grim and seemingly hopeless struggle for survival.
The much-bombed city of Chungking came to symbolize the patience and courage of the Chinese people. But it was also a byword for corruption, misgovernment and misery.
I was returning to a China cleared of the "dwarf robbers from the East," but a strange nostalgia gripped my heart for the Hankow days when China had been battered but proud in her determination to go on fighting alone at whatever cost. Now although victorious she was regarded by her allies more as a victim saved than as the oldest fighter of them all against aggression.
Drained dry both by the Japanese and the demands of the long war on her primitive economy, the Chinese were still unable to undertake the gigantic tasks of reconstruction and reform. An undeclared civil war was raging in eleven provinces. The destruction begun by Japan was being completed by the Communists, who were busy destroying railroads, bridges, industrial equipment and mines.
Communist military strategy required that they thus prevent the Nationalist Armies from taking over the provinces liberated by Japan. But it also seemed that they were counting upon economic collapse
34 Last Chance in China
to bring about the fall of the government and the establishment of their own dictatorship.
Nor was China threatened only by the breakaway of the North under a Communist administration. The Russian Army was still in occupation of Manchuria. Moscow was already violating the Sino-Soviet Treaty of August 1945, in which Russia had promised not only to evacuate China's Northeastern provinces within three months but also to give moral support and material aid only to the National Government of China.
China was once again threatened by a choice between partition and submission. Russia and the Communists, in place of Japan and her collaborators, menaced her integrity and independence. The Communists were playing a role which was compared by some Chinese to that of the war lords in the past, or to that of the Japan-sponsored "autonomous" regimes in North China in the thirties. China was even less united than before the Sino-Japanese War began. As for a century past, foreigners were taking advantage of her weakness. As one Chinese newspaper expressed it, China had seen the dawn but not yet the sun.
My first two weeks in Chungking I felt like a Rip Van Winkle in the Press Hostel. I had hoped to find a few old friends, for I knew that some of the "Hankow Last Ditchers," as we used to call ourselves in the fall of 1938, were back in China. But no veteran correspondents of China's war were then in Chungking. I got involved in fierce and futile arguments with young men who, in the days when China fought alone with little besides flesh and blood to oppose the modern armaments of the invaders, had probably hardly known there was a war going on in the Far East.
They had forgotten that, whereas the Poles, Danes, Norwegians, Belgians and even the French had gone down to speedy defeat, the ragged, ill-armed, badly led Chinese had continued year after year to deny victory to Japan's military machine.
These correspondents had arrived too late on the scene and they knew too little history to understand or sympathize with China. Like most Americans they had not been looking while the Chinese were fighting bravely in the early stages of the war, without adequate arms, without allies or any hope of outside aid. All they had seen, or
Gray Dawn in China 35
knew about, was the exhausted and demoralized China of the last four years of the eight-year war.
It was, in any case, natural that these young Americans, fresh from the most prosperous, free and technologically advanced country in the world, should attribute all the ills of China to its government. They lacked even the smattering of knowledge of medieval history which Europeans acquire in school. Nor had they ever seen the poverty of Eastern Europe. Their experience and knowledge were in general as remote from the bitter realities of life for nine-tenths of mankind as those of an inhabitant of Mars. Seeing for the first time the age-old poverty of Asia and the corruption which is so much more obvious in a poor country than in a land flowing with milk and honey, they had concluded that the Chinese people were worthless. Or they belonged to the Teddy White-Edgar Snow school which believed that the Communists were the hope of China.
A few months later when I returned to Chungking from Shanghai, the whole atmosphere of the Press Hostel had changed and I felt as much at home as with the intelligent, well-informed, cynical, but sympathetic and realistic Americans I had known in Hankow. But in October of 1945 the American correspondents, with the exception of Spencer Moosa of the Associated Press, were the type to whom the following words of Colonel Linton, published in Stars and Stripes, might have been addressed:
It is almost tragic that American soldiers have eyes and do not see, ears and do not hear, minds and do not understand. They see the poverty, the filth, and humanity serving as beasts of burden, but they do not see how all these things are inherent in the history of a great nation struggling to emerge from the days of handicraft to the day of modern technology. They hear a strange language, but they do not hear the voice of a people singing faith and hope for its future. Their minds tell them that China is different, very different from the life they know, but they do not understand that, like ourselves, and like all peoples, China must begin today from where she is.
In the old days before China became our ally by action of Japan, American correspondents had lived on about the same level as middle-class Chinese or foreign missionaries. Moreover their attitude had not been one of lordly superiority. They had been ashamed that these
36 Last Chance in China
poor, inadequately armed pacific people were fighting to hold off Japan's tyranny while Americans aided the aggressors by letting them buy all they needed in the way of war materials and machines.
Now American correspondents had the privileges, as well as the uniforms, of United States Army officers. They received the same rations and PX privileges and had little contact with ordinary educated Chinese.
Sitting at our all-too-abundant meals at the Press Hostel, warmed by a roaring fire in a country where few Chinese even of high rank had fuel, the correspondents would comment on the venality of Chinese officials and the general rottenness of China. The idea never struck them that, possibly, on the salary of a Chinese official inadequate to provide the barest necessities of life for a family, they too might not have been so pure. As a Chinese official in the Executive Yuan said to me one day: "The Americans in China are Sons of Heaven; what can they know of our trials and our temptations?"
Yet I found American officers and men in Chungking, Kunming and Shanghai who, having served in the interior and being themselves inured to hardships, had a quite different attitude toward the Chinese. There were, for instance, the two happy and handsome young officers I had met at the Red Cross Club in Kunming. One, a Major Bohlen from Indiana, had walked two thousand miles along the Burma road in charge of a convoy of mules. The other, a Texan, had served as an artillery instructor with the Chinese Army in Hupeh. Both told me they had started by thinking the Chinese hopelessly backward and uncivilized but had soon changed their minds after living and working with them.
"My God," said the Texan, Captain Wilson, "I don't know how they do it! Their guts and good humor, the way they smile in pain and the dreadful conditions they endure so cheerfullyit makes one feel ashamed to complain."
He told me how the soldiers, half-starved themselves, often had to carry the guns because the animals were too weak through underfeeding to bear their burdens. Yet the Chinese soldiers had been apt pupils. Both these officers criticized those who thought that the American way of doing things was always the best. They had learned what the Chinese were up against and had marveled at their ingenuity in coping with difficulties which had seemed insurmountable to the Americans.
Gray Dawn in China 37
In Shanghai when dining with General Tang En-po, the commander of the area, I met a certain Colonel Don Scott who had been chief American supply officer in the South in the last year of the war. An elderly, hard-bitten regular officer and a former Olympic champion, Colonel Scott was certainly no sentimentalist. But he was anxious to impress on me that "there are some good Chinese."
"General Tang En-po," he said, "used our equipment right. He corrected many abuses. His soldiers were properly taken care of. General Tang, he's a man. He does things right."
Colonel Scott came to see me next day because he wanted to give me information to counteract some of the calumny against the Chinese Army in the American papers. He painted a vivid picture of the difficulties the Chinese had had to contend with. On his way to Kunming from Chungking he had seen the starved recruits prodded on with bayonets. In Kweichow he had been impressed by the contrast.
Colonel Scott and General Tang En-po had had "rice sessions" once a week. Tang did the procuring and the Americans supplied the transport. Kweichow was the poorest province in China and rice had to be brought clear from Chungking. Seventeen thousand U. S. Army trucks were used to haul the rice for hundreds of miles. Tang En-po saw to it that there was no "squeeze"; that all the rice went to feed the Chinese soldiers.
"I've seen what the Chinese have done; how they're coming along," said the colonel. "But how could any Chinese general feed his soldiers until we gave them transport?"
I had met General Tang En-po at the front in 1938 and liked him. But I also knew that he had got himself a bad name in Honan in the 1943 famine. He had roused the violent hostility of the peasants because he forced food out of them to feed his soldiers.
A country such as China, with poor communications or none at all, with a backward peasant economy and her few industrial cities and all her ports in the hands of the enemy, simply did not have the means to supply her huge armies and her refugee-swollen city population. It could be done at all only by squeezing the peasants. There were many Chinese generals who cared nothing either for their soldiers or the common people and used their power only to enrich themselves. But some of the best generals had sometimes been forced to oppress the people to secure food for their men.
The foreigners who cried loudly that the government should have
38 Last Chance in China
instituted land reforms in the midst of the war, thereby ensuring the good will of the peasants and their willing support of the war effort, ignored economic realities. If the landowners had been expropriated and the land divided, it would have been impossible to supply China's armies and the population of the cities with even the meagerest rations. Since blockaded Free China could produce few manufactured goods, the peasants would not voluntarily have sold their grain to the government. China would have been in the same state as Russia from 1919 to 1922, the period of "War Communism" when the peasants, after acquiring possession of the land, refused to sell their produce for worthless paper and had to be forced to give up their grain at the point of the bayonet.
Land reform in China in the years 1938 to 1945 could have led only to a similar situation. Instead, China kept her old agrarian system and used the landowners as tax collectors. Grain was forced out of the peasants as rent and as taxes through the machinery provided by the old land system. It was not a pretty process, but no more was War Communism in Soviet Russia. Since the war in China was also financed by the government's printing presses, mounting inflation tended to improve the lot of the peasants in some places. Many were at least freed of their old cash debt burdens.
Of course there was and is a lot of cheating. The landowners pass as much as possible of the burden of taxation onto the peasants. But they themselves could not escape the government's exactions. China's financial system during the war was, and had to be, a so-called "feudal" one. The government used the landlords to squeeze the peasants and in turn squeezed them.
The Communists place all the emphasis of their propaganda on redistribution of the land. But an examination of Chinese resources shows that expropriation of the landowning class could not afford a lasting solution of the agrarian problem. China's situation is entirely different from Russia's. The Soviet Union has vast territories and a comparatively small population. There is no lack of land. China on the other hand has even less arable land than India and a larger population.
My first week in Chungking I looked up Dr. Robert Lim with whom I had visited the front in 1938 when he was head of the Chinese Red Cross Medical Commission. In those days he had been working
Gray Dawn in China 39
without government funds and with precious little help from anyone in authority. Together with a group of Western-trained Chinese doctors and with funds supplied by overseas Chinese and a few foreign friends he had been trying to create in the midst of war a medical service to save some of the wounded soldiers.
The grim sights I had seen at the front in the days of Japan's offensive against the Wuhan cities were indelibly burned on my mind. The wounded limping back from the front. The men dying in the hovels called collecting stations. The complete absence of ambulances or even trucks to move them. The gallant efforts made by Bobby Lim and his helpers and by his friend, Dr. Loo Chi-teh, the surgeon general, to provide dressing stations, to train first-aid workers, to acquire a few trucks from abroad to move the wounded.
Bobby Lim had to contend not only against the callous indifference, incompetence and corruption of the old-style Chinese generals who did not consider it worth while to save the wounded but the International Red Cross had also refused him aid because it had to be "neutral" in the war, and would only help civilian victims of the air raids.
The New Life Movement under the direction of Colonel (now General) J. L. Huang and others in Madame Chiang's confidence had hindered rather than helped him. They constantly interfered with serious relief work by publicity stunts and had been jealous of Bobby Lim's success. Since he is not a Christian he had no contact with Madame Chiang through foreign missionaries and I had myself secured him his first interview with her in 1938, following which she had allocated funds to his organization from the foreign donations she received.
Since Bobby Lim, whenever able, had sent medical supplies and doctors to all the fronts, his enemies had accused him of Communist sympathies. He had been regarded as a hero by Agnes Smedley, the American whose heart and soul are with the common people of China and who believes that the Chinese Communists are China's hope.
I had always regarded Lim as one of the best Chinese I had ever met, a man with the highest medical qualification who had given up an easy living abroad or in Shanghai to give all his talents and energies to his country at the worst period of her fortunes. It was therefore to me a proof that everything is not now so wrong with the state of
40 Last Chance in China
China as her critics maintain, that such a man as Bobby Lim had become surgeon general of the National Armies while Dr. Loo Chi-teh was now in charge of the training of army medical personnel. The redoubtable Tai Li, the almost legendary figure who headed the Chinese secret police and co-operated with the American OSS in intelligence work during the war, had cleared Lim of any suspicion of Communist sympathies. And the Generalissimo himself had recognized Lim's worth, talents and devotion to his country, by putting him in charge of the army's medical services, backing him in his efforts at reform and making him a two-star general.
Bobby Lim came to fetch me at the Press Hostel as soon as he got my message that I was back in China. After my first two depressing days in Chungking it was wonderful to spend a week end at the army medical headquarters at New Bridge, fifteen miles outside Chungking. With Bobby I found another old friend, Mary Chen, whose husband had recently been reunited with her after nearly four years as a guerrilla fighter in the Philippines. There was also Dr. Wang, one of the few survivors of the original Changsha group, who now also was a general but just the same unassuming, honest doctor I had known in the old days.
Mary cooked us a Chinese dinner and Bobby opened a bottle of Scotch whisky which he had been saving for just such an occasion. Sitting on the terrace, with the flooded rice paddies in the valley below faintly illuminated by the moonlight, we talked far into the night. There was a lot of "do you remember?" but I also learned a good deal about what had happened in the years between. Next day we talked again, but Bobby was as busy as he had been in Changsha in 1938, when he had not even a secretary or a typist to help him with his administrative work and his appeals for medical supplies from abroad. Now he had a large staff and smart sentries guarded his headquarters. But he still gave his talents and his time and energies as unstintingly as before to the service of the Chinese soldiers.
An American Medical Service officer arrived in the morning and spent his day with us. It was, he said, his pleasure and his relaxation to come out to Lim's headquarters. Other days he came out on duty; on Sundays he came out to enjoy himself. This Major Puy was one of the many American officers I met who showed understanding, appreciation and sympathy for the Chinese, and felt completely at
Gray Dawn in China 41
his ease with them. The Chinese doctors, for their part, were only too happy to be receiving expert advice and help from the United States Army.
Bobby told me that many reforms had been carried through in the army. He now had authority to reform the formerly hopelessly inefficient and corrupt Army Medical Service. Wounded soldiers in the later stages of the war had had a far better chance of surviving. Reforms in the methods of recruiting soldiers and in their treatment had been inaugurated. They were now somewhat better fed. Abuses whereby the commanding officers could profit by misappropriating the funds which should have bought food for the rank and file had been remedied by the direct issue of rations. American officers had helped a great deal. Above all Lend Lease, scanty as it was, had been of great help in improving the Chinese soldier's lot. For, after all, it was China's extreme poverty and the loss of resources to Japan which had been the root cause of the miserable plight of the Chinese soldier.
Bobby Lim was one among many old Chinese friends and acquaintances with whom I spent my time in Chungking. I was surprised and moved to find myself still remembered, after so many years, as the author of Japan's Feet of Clay. This book, which attempted to expose both Japan's basic weakness and the falsity of her democratic pretensions, and to awaken the Western world to the need to call her bluff and stop her aggression, had been translated into Chinese and widely sold. Even now, nearly ten years after its publication, I was remembered as a friend by both "reactionaries" and liberals because I had been one of the few foreigners who had tried to help China in the early days of her war of resistance when most Westerners were indifferent to her fate.
General Chen Ming-shu, who had commanded the Kuomintang forces which took Hankow in 1926, who had been a member of the Wuhan Government the following year, who had fought with the Nineteenth Route Army from Fukien against the Japanese in Shanghai in 1932 without Chiang Kai-shek's support or encouragement and who was now an unemployed general and one of the government's bitterest critics, often invited me to dine at Chungking's "Canton restaurant" of which he was part owner. Chen Ming-shu himself, no longer young but slim and handsome with the eyes of a dreamer, had
42 Last Chance in China
been a friend of mine in 1938. He represented to a greater degree than any other Chinese I knew the hopes, the fire and enthusiasm and the sincerity which had inspired the Kuomintang in its early days.
I could not but agree with him that China's primary need was the separation of civil and military power, and that there can be no democracy until civil liberties are secured. It was obviously true that as long as the provinces were governed by military men with armies at their disposal there could be no civil liberty or popularly elected administrations. It was perhaps true that Chiang Kai-shek considered China's armies as "his" rather than the nation's. It was undoubtedly true that many able, experienced and honest men in China were not employed by the administration because they failed to give allegiance to Chiang Kai-shek personally while many "blockheads" belonged to the Central Executive Committee of the Kuomintang. I could also well believe that Chen Ming-shu was right in saying that the National Government had become a "clique which stands together," and that many Kuomintang members were dissatisfied and sympathized with the opposition. I hoped that he was right in believing that "the democratic elements in the Kuomintang" now out of office and impotent would soon become powerful and "show the world" a real implementation of the San Min Chu I.
But it seemed to me that Chen Ming-shu, like other sincere and honest liberals, ignored the terrible compulsions of the international situation. How could a civil government be established, the armed forces drastically reduced and democratic liberties be made a reality as long as China was threatened with destruction by the internal and external enemies of democracy?
Chen Ming-shu and others like him were not Communists but they practically ignored the Russian threat to Chinese independence. They were still living in the world of twenty years earlier.
For all his criticisms of Chiang Kai-shek's dictatorial nature and desire for personal power, Chen Ming-shu was still not his enemy. "If only," he exclaimed, "his attitude were different! Chinese of all parties, in particular the able and sincere men of the Kuomintang, would sympathize and co-operate with him. But Chiang is like Louis XIV who said 'I am the state.' He considers himself to be the law, justice, everything. He kills men without trial. Even provincial magistrates may not be appointed without his consent.
Gray Dawn in China 43
"Chiang Kai-shek," he continued, "has two natures. The one is lawless since he himself transgresses the laws and destroys them. The other side of his nature is good. He sincerely loves his country and desires to lead China to independence and good government. He could be a great leader if only he would not insist on everyone in the government being a 'yes man.' I myself still love Chiang from the bottom of my heart. I wish I could help him to be China's George Washington."
Chen Ming-shu and his friends all lived in the simplest fashion with the exception of some of the wealthy members of the Democratic League. But so also did most of the government leaders except for a few millionaires like T. V. Soong and H. H. Kung and some others who had inherited or married money.
In few of the Chinese homes I visited did I find what would have been considered in America as tolerable conditions of living. Some of my old acquaintances, even those holding positions in the government or in the Kuomintang Party organization, were so poor that they had sold almost everything they possessed to buy food for their children.
I was often reminded of Moscow in Chungking because both the similarity and the differences were so striking. The Chinese capital was as dilapidated as the Russian, and the majority of the people lived in the same squalor and poverty. There were the same scarcity of manufactured goods and lack of housing except for the leading members of the bureaucracy. But, in Chungking, human ingenuity had free play. Every little bit of everything was used either to repair the bomb damage or to make something useful. Discarded American cans and other refuse were manufactured into all sorts of implements and utensils. Every bit of land outside the town was intensively cultivated. The hillsides were green with vegetables almost all the year round. Nothing was wasted.
In China you are not rated a capitalist or an enemy of the state if you try to help yourself by hard work and ingenuity. The bureaucracy might control large-scale enterprise, but at least the dew of freedom allowed small enterprises to burgeon and grow and hide the scars of war.
I dined often in restaurants and private homes with high officials. Never once did I find anything approaching the luxury and wealth
Last Chance in China
of the Soviet bureaucracy. Of course, one must reckon with the difference in culture or lack of it. Display, luxury and barbaric ostentation are as alien to Chinese civilization as they are natural to the Russians. Nevertheless it was obvious that belonging to the top ranks of the ruling Kuomintang Party in China conferred nothing comparable in the way of privilege and material advantage to the perquisites of the leading members of the Communist Party in Russia.
Nor was the contrast between the living standards of rulers and ruled nearly so great. Many people are starving or living on the border line of starvation in both countries. But the difference in living standards between the majority of the people and those of the bureaucracy is far greater in Russia than in China.
No doubt the Chinese bureaucracy is as self-seeking as the Russian. But its income and its powers are far more limited. A Chinese government official can live in comfort only if he takes bribes; can get rich only through speculation and the manipulation of the country's finances. In a developed Communist society such as the Soviet Union the corruption of the ruling class is both of a subtler nature and more far-reaching. The Communist big shots simply allocate to themselves an inordinately large share of the national income. The high Soviet functionary is paid a huge salary and also has the right to the free use of all kinds of so-called state property: apartments, country houses, automobiles, hospitals, special schools for his children and other services. Like an aristocrat or a millionaire he is not subject to temptation.
In China, which like Russia does not produce enough of the bare necessities of life to go around, the bureaucracy has not been lifted up into such a high-income bracket that it is above temptation. The inflation which was the unavoidable result of the long war, the blockade and the civil war, has reduced the value of an official's salary so low that only the most high-principled and honest men, or those with private incomes, abstain from some method or another of supplementing their inadequate salaries.
At the time of writing (June 1947) the salary of a divisional chief in a Chinese Ministry is around 600,000 CN a month plus a rice allowance while a skilled worker earns about 800,000 without a rice allowance. In Soviet Russia when I lived there the average wage for the working class was less than 300 rubles a month as against ten
Gray Dawn in China
or more times that sum for the director of a state enterprise, and up to 10,000 rubles for commissars and other big shots.
During the war years in China only payment of salaries and wages in kind, rationing and the severest regimentation could have prevented gross inequalities and have produced uniformity in poverty. Rationing is well-nigh impossible in a loosely organized and economically backward country, and price control without rationing has proved unworkable even in countries where the government exercises far greater power than in China.
It should be remembered that during the first eight months of the Sino-Japanese War the value of China's currency had been maintained in terms of foreign exchange. This was no mean achievement and bears testimony to the confidence of the Chinese people in the National Government. But, following Japan's occupation of the coastal provinces, the government was deprived of the customs dues, which had been its main source of revenue. There was no way of preventing the depreciation of the yuan with foreign trade drying up, military expenditures increasing and trade and industry stultified. Once the government could no longer afford to give foreign exchange for the great quantity of yuan offered, a flight from the currency began. The demand for goods as the only stable store of value continually decreased the value of the currency and pushed the price of the small available supply of goods to greater and greater heights. The spiral of inflation which no country avoids in wartime naturally proceeded at an accelerated tempo in blockaded China whose war lasted so much longer and was fought with so much less American help than that of other countries.
The Chinese Government should, no doubt, have made a greater effort to impose direct taxes on the rich. The political results of forcing the Soongs, Kungs and the other few rich families in China to disgorge a part of their American-invested fortunes would have been excellent. But it would not have ameliorated materially the basic causes of inflation, at least so long as China was blockaded. The basic problem of how to feed the army and the officials out of a diminishing revenue would have remained.
The National Government might perhaps have been able, if it had tried harder, to finance the war in part by internal loans. But since the Chinese middle classes had for the most part lost their sources of
46 Last Chance in China
income through Japan's occupation of the coastal provinces, there was in fact little possibility of selling war bonds.
Inflation as a method of financing war expenditures has its compensations. At least China faces the future without a huge internal debt, while the blockade also precluded her burdening herself with future interest payments to foreign countries. If the rise in prices had been uniform and affected all classes equally, the depreciation of the currency would not have been harmful so long as the inflation was kept within bounds.
During the war years the inflation does not, in fact, appear to have had generally injurious effects. Some elements in the population suffered greatly but the workers and a substantial proportion of the peasants seem to have positively benefited by it.
Collection of the land tax in kind, instituted by Dr. Kung in 1941, enabled the government to collect a revenue which, if it did not keep pace with the advance in prices, followed closely behind. But the land tax could not produce sufficient revenue to finance war expenditures so that prices rose continually through the ever-increasing quantity of paper currency put into circulation, as well as on account of the scarcity of commodities. Naturally everyone who could "invested" in goods as the only stable store of value, and hoarding and speculation further intensified the inflation.
Nevertheless Dr. H. H. Kung's so-called feudal methods kept the inflation within what were to seem moderate limits a year or so after he was succeeded in the management of Chinese finances by Chiang Kai-shek's other brother-in-law, T. V. Soong. Moreover, by supplementing the salaries of government officials with rice payments, the much maligned Dr. Kung did something toward checking the graft which riddles the administration. Not all officials succumbed to temptation once they were no longer driven to be venal by the impossibility of feeding their families on their almost worthless money salaries.
The postwar attempt to adopt Western fiscal policies, at a time when civil war was wrecking the country and American financial support was lacking, resulted in far worse inflation and social injustice, less production and more misery. It was after V-J Day that the Chinese yuan plunged catastrophically.
Taking the period January to June 1937 as 100, the price of all commodities in Szechwan in terms of Chinese currency stood at 1,950
Gray Dawn in China 47
by June 1945. But by April 1947 the index of wholesale prices in Nanking had risen to 18,000.
When I arrived in China in October 1945 one could get only about 1,000 yuan for an American dollar. Six months later one could obtain 2,000 in Shanghai. At the time of writing (May 1947) the free or black-market rate has jumped to 23,000. The most spectacular fall in the exchange value of the yuan followed General Marshall's recall at the beginning of 1947 and the subsequent announcement of the withdrawal of U. S. armed forces from China. There is little doubt that the many indications of withdrawal of full American support from the Chinese National Government have diminished confidence in the currency equally with growing Chinese distrust of the administration.
Nor should it be forgotten that the cessation of dollar expenditures of American soldiers, marines and sailors in China constituted a severe blow to the exchange.
Some foreign experts, notably Dr. J. Lossing Buck, attribute the present inflation in large part to the government's mistaken exchange policy. According to his view the government's policy increased the intensity of the blockade during the war years and has created an artificial blockade since V-J Day. For, because the exchange rate of the yuan was set artificially high instead of being allowed to find its natural level, Chinese goods became too dear to export. Thus, he argues, the pegging of the exchange rate, far from curbing the inflation, probably intensified it by cutting off the source of foreign credits. Exports are naturally discouraged when the foreign buyer can obtain too few yuan for his dollars to buy Chinese products at a price at which they can be sold abroad. The artificially high exchange rate also cut off remittances from Chinese overseas who saw no sense in sending dollars to their relatives so long as the dollars could be exchanged for so few yuan as to make the gift almost worthless.
Although the government insisted on maintaining the exchange value of the currency in order to import and in order to maintain confidence, there is evidence that it actually defeated its own purpose.
In economics as in politics China fell between two stools. It was neither liberal enough nor sufficiently totalitarian. Either a policy of free trade and free exchange, or complete control of the national economy, could have prevented the present disastrous situation. The
48 Last Chance in China
mixture of the two has stymied the whole economy. The government has neither the power nor the machinery nor the will to control and direct all economic activity in the interests of the state or the ruling party. But, at the same time, it interferes enough with private business, trade and exchange to hamper and destroy independent private economic activity. China hangs suspended between the capitalist democratic world and the Soviet so-called socialist world of state-administered production and trade.
Unless China receives American loans and American technical aid she cannot afford a laissez-faire economy. Nor is it possible to imagine that graft can be eliminated until there is a middle class independent of state patronage and free from the dreadful fear of sinking back into the abysmal poverty of the masses. Insecurity is so widespread and the fear of destitution so strong in China that even the comparatively well-to-do are obsessed by it.
Unless outside aid is forthcoming to help solve China's economic problem and set her on her feet, she faces disintegration or colonization by Russia or regimentation by her own rulers on Communist, National Socialist or state capitalist lines.
Nothing could be farther from the truth than to call China's National Government a "fascist tyranny." If Chiang Kai-shek had been a dictator and the Kuomintang a totalitarian party, China would have fought a better war. It would have been possible to force equality of sacrifice and equal poverty on all except the members of the ruling party. Everyone would have been compelled to fight or work for the nation.
China has, it is true, a secret police and men are sometimes imprisoned without trial. But speech is comparatively free and everyone is not terrorized by fear of condemnation to forced labor. Even its worst enemies have never accused the National Government of keeping millions of political prisoners in concentration camps. There is nothing comparable in China to the slave labor which has become an integral part of the Soviet economy.
I spent a morning at the university with Professor Ma Yin-ch'u, who is represented by Communist sympathizers as a martyr who spent two years in a concentration camp for his wartime diatribes against the government. He told me himself that he had never been ill-treated. He had simply been under house arrest in a remote district. He
Gray Dawn in China 49
laughed as he related how he had made his guards climb mountains with him, and how he had lectured to them on economics and made them take notes. The young men of the secret police, he said, were decent fellows and he had proposed that they all be given university tuition at government expense. This large, robust and happy ex-Yale man bore no resemblance whatever to the tortured and starved inmates of a Russian or German concentration camp.
To everyone who has lived under a totalitarian tyranny as I did for six years in Soviet Russia, it is absurd to describe the National Government of China as such. Of course, China is not yet a democracy. But there is no sign of the all-pervading terror which bows down the Russian people. The Chinese criticize the government to their hearts' content, meet and talk to foreigners without fear of the secret police, go about their business without being haunted by dread of arrest and the concentration camp.
The main defect of the Chinese Government is not its dictatorial character but its failure to govern, the graft with which it is riddled and its inability to check abuses and carry out the reforms to which it is pledged. Its impotence is partly due to the wide variety of political and economic theories held by the leading members of the Kuomintang Party. In an administration where some want to go Right, some Left and some to stay where they are, there is practical immobility or utter confusion.
The principal complaint I heard from Chungking businessmen concerned the uncertainty caused by the government's vacillating economic policy and the contradictory orders given by various branches of the administration. T. V. Soong, who was Premier and also controlled the Central Bank of China, was issuing one set of instructions, while the Legislative Yuan headed by Sun Fo passed laws which went directly against them.
Mr. T. A. Hu, managing director of the China Industry Company, told me that his most difficult problem was not knowing what degree of freedom of enterprise was to be allowed to private business in the future.
"Look," he said, pointing to his company's sprawling factories across the river from his downtown office. "During the war we produced pig iron, steel, cement and china. When Mr. Donald Nelson came to Chungking he congratulated us on our achievement in build-
50 Last Chance in China
ing up an efficient industry here in wartime. Our steel mill employed three thousand people and produced ten thousand tons of steel a year. Now we may have to stop production altogether."
"Your factories are still working, aren't they?"
"Yes, but only to about half their capacity and soon we may have to shut down."
"Why?" I asked. "Is it because you no longer receive orders from the government? Surely there must be a huge peacetime demand for your products?"
"That's the whole trouble," replied Mr. Hu. "We don't know where we stand. Not long ago the Executive Yuan passed a resolution that China should in general have a free economy. Subsequently strong opposition to this policy in certain government circles led to its modification in favor of more government control of industry. An Executive Yuan decision today may always be countermanded tomorrow. No Chinese industrialist can be certain that if he invests his capital in what has been declared a free field for private enterprise, he may not wake up one morning and find it has been declared a government monopoly."
Other Chungking businessmen told me the same story. They were all waiting anxiously to know what kind of private undertakings were to be allowed to survive and develop. There were rumors that the textile industry would be nationalized. The former Japanese or puppet-owned Shanghai mills were being organized by T. V. Soong into a state corporation. Fears were expressed that the native cotton growing and manufacturing developed in Szechwan during the war might be jettisoned in favor of the Eastern mills using imported cotton.
At a small meeting of Chungking industrialists arranged for me by the Democratic League I heard bitter complaints concerning T. V. Soong's policies. T. V., as the Generalissimo's Harvard-educated brother-in-law is called, although well known and liked in America where he is regarded as a liberal, seemed to be regarded as a Chinese J. P. Morgan by these Western businessmen. They all considered that the native industry they had built up in the Southwest during the war was being ruined by the "Eastern financiers." Everyone knew, they said, that T. V. had a tremendous fortune salted away in America and that his interests lay with the Shanghai bankers and
Gray Dawn in China 51
merchants allied to foreign financial and merchant interests. An executive of the West China Development Company said:
"The government has spent three hundred and fifty million Chinese dollars to send workers home to the East, when only fifty million would have sufficed to start us up again here following the post-war depression in Szechwan. T.V. Soong knows how to make money so he is regarded as a specialist in economics. But it is production which is important, not financial speculation. Here the mines and mills are closing because there is no money to carry on; and the government is trying only to resurrect the industries in the liberated coastal provinces instead of also preserving those built up here during the war."
The attitude of the politically impotent Chinese industrialists toward the Soongs seemed not unlike that of a Midwestern American toward "New York financiers" or the big corporations operating from the Atlantic seaboard. Most of the Chungking industrialists, I was told, would welcome Kung back as the lesser of two evils. In their view, although unable to curb graft among his subordinates, Old Man Kung was at least not a monopolist who used his power as Minister of Finance to squeeze the independent businessman out of existence. He "broke no one's rice bowl" if he could help it.
The resignation of T. V. Soong in 1947 did not surprise me in view of what I had heard in Chungking. He was hated even by the Leftists inside and outside the Kuomintang. This was brought home to me forcibly one evening when I dined with my old friend S. Y. Wu, Secretary of the Legislative Yuan and Sun Fo's "brain truster," and some Chungking businessmen.
"We'd rather have the old man back" was their unanimous opinion. "Kung had his faults but Soong is far worse. Kung at least gave the small manufacturer and merchant a chance to live. But T. V. is trying to get into his own hands control over the whole Chinese economy. He is like an American trust magnate; he is trying to establish his own monopolies in textiles, shipping and anything else he can lay his hands on.
"Kung had some regard for China's interests even while promoting his own. But Soong is concerned primarily with his private interests. Even now while the Political Consultative Council is sitting in Chungking to decide the political future of China, T.V. Soong who
52 Last Chance in China
is Premier is not participating. He is not even here. He is too busy founding his huge personal monopolies in Shanghai."
"Why then," I said, "does Chiang Kai-shek keep him in office, since it is generally thought that the Generalissimo does not like or trust T.V.?"
"Soong is America's favorite. The Americans like and trust him, so Chiang keeps him in office as the price of American support, hoping he will get China a big loan."
Perhaps it was the feeling that H. H. Kung at least adhered to more traditional and easily understood methods of acquiring wealth which made him less unpopular than T. V. Or perhaps it was just that in China's wretched situation whoever was responsible for the public finances was bound to be hated.
This was the picture of "Daddy Kung" given me by a Chinese newspaperman who had formerly worked under him.
"Kung," he said, "is the descendant of generations of Shansi bankers, which means the only bankers in existence among us before Western civilization opened our doors. The bankers of Shansi were the Jews of China. Shansi is a poor province and many of its sons went elsewhere to make a living. They stuck together and pooled their credit. Eventually they spread over the whole of China, their business depending upon mutual trust. But they were disinclined to trust anyone but men from Shansi. Kung likewise trusts men from his ancestral province first; it is easiest to get a job with him if you are from Shansi. But he also favors graduates of Oberlin College and of Yenching University because he was a student at the former and is President of the latter.
"Once you get a job with Kung he trusts you. So naturally people take advantage. If they make mistakes or are caught in wrong doing, they know it is their wisest course to confess to the old man. This impresses him with their honesty and he just says, 'Don't do it again, my boy.'
"He treats his own employees very generously; he overpaid his staff when in office. So he is naturally popular with those who work for him.
"On the other hand he is henpecked by his wife and is too indulgent to his children who are spenders. Thus despite his patriotism and his own personal honesty he was not keen enough or strong enough to
Gray Dawn in China
stop corruption among those near to him or who worked under him. He was weak too in his dealings with the Generalissimo. He just couldn't say 'no' when the latter demanded money, and of course it had to be raised somehow."
In other words Dr. Kung seems to have both the virtues and vices of an old-style Chinese in his loyalty to his family, friends and associates and his inability to be as hard in his dealings with individuals he knows personally as China's situation demands. His methods of acquiring wealth may be suspect in Western eyes, but they are old and well-established in China, and he was always ready to "share the wealth" so to speak, by helping his subordinates and his friends.
T.V. Soong, on the other hand, is hated for his arrogant manner, and his methods of acquiring personal wealth being those of Western executives or trust magnates, not those of an old-style Chinese official, seem more reprehensible in Chinese eyes.
Even Leftist journalists liked Kung personally while inveighing against him. Like Emily Hahn I have a warm regard for him, but perhaps I am prejudiced by the fact that it was Kung who circulated my Japan's Feet of Clay among the delegates to the Brussels Conference of the signatories of the Nine Power Treaty, and tried to make Nevil Chamberlain read my book to awaken him to the necessity of stopping Japan.
Soong is hard and Kung is soft, and China needs hard men now. If Soong had been successful in his efforts to curb corruption among his subordinates, his unpopularity in China would have been proof of his virtue. But he was found to be no more capable than Kung of curing the disease which debilitates the Chinese Government. He was accused of showing favoritism to corporations with which he or his friends were connected and in general of ruining small business.
Nor can Soong be said to have done anything to promote democratic government in China. He showed disdain for the Legislative Yuan, refusing to account to them later for his actions while Premier of China. Impatient and arrogant, he has few friends and is disliked in particular for his un-Chinese rudeness of manner. Professor Fu Ssu-nien, the distinguished historian, wrote of him, "I would request the chemists to have his body analyzed and see if there is one molecule that gives a trace of Chinese culture."
In his speech to the Legislative Yuan on March 1, 1947, following
Last Chance in China
his resignation as President of the Executive Yuan (Cabinet), T.V. made a spirited defense of his actions in a speech which graphically described the insurmountable difficulties faced by anyone in charge of the finances of a country in as desperate a situation as China. He justly claimed that the managed currency system which he had inaugurated in 1935 had enabled China to stand the eight-year war against Japan, but that the system also "contained the germs of the poison that the country is suffering from now." "When expenditure exceeded receipts," explained T. V., "the only resource was the printing presses. On the part of all agencies of the Government the argument became: Why should the Ministry of Finance limit expenditures when it has only to print a little more currency?"
Whatever T. V. Soong's personal faults, no one could deny the truth of his words when he said:
When the war ended, the course of inflation could have been stopped, that is, if there had been internal peace. Military expenditures could have been cut down, and revenues increased, and with the assistance of receipts like the Government sales of enemy property and gold, further issue of notes could have been avoided, and prices stabilized.
We know what did happen. Instead of peace and reconstruction the country was plunged into a state of war and destruction by the Communists that was even fiercer than during the Japanese occupation. With the Japanese, destruction of property was largely incidental to the war, with the Communists it was deliberate and conscious, and their aim was to destroy the economic system so that the Government would collapse, and they could then introduce their Communist system. Hence railways were destroyed, factories dynamited, mines flooded, and where they could hold they erected their own administration, set up their economic blockades and issued their own currency. Instead of the healing process of peace that the people looked forward to, they were plunged into civil war cumulatively more exhausting than the war with Japan. Revenues could not increase as rapidly as we hoped, more and more appropriations had to be given to the repair of railways, mines and industries, and military expenditures swelled to huge proportions.
This is the answer to the question raised in the beginning of my talk. Compared to the Communist war, the civil wars in the past were child's play. Those were the wars between rival armies, there was not the deliberate destruction of all means of communications
Gray Dawn in China
and production, and the disruption of the social system which the Communists have as their conscious aims.
Even more important, as I have already pointed out, in the days of specie-backed bank notes, there were natural limits to inflation that were lost when we adopted the managed currency system. From the resulting unchecked increase in bank note issue came rising prices, speculation, and high interest rates; in fact, all the evils that the Legislative Yuan is contemplating today.
During my years as Minister of Finance, I was the watchdog of the treasury, I was the one who stood up against expenditures that could not be borne by the Treasury. When I became President of the Executive Yuan, events unfortunately made me the first and only line of resistance to demands for more and more money.
I have nothing but sympathy for our people who have suffered during eight years of war, and who ask for some surcease from pain now that the war with Japan is over. But facts are facts, and when the Ministry of Finance could not raise the necessary funds it had to be a struggle with me every time a larger appropriation was asked for. I had to help the Ministry of Finance to devise new sources of receipts such as the sale of enemy property and the organization of the China Textile Industries, Incorporated. I need only mention in passing that although there were charges of corruption in the disposal of enemy property practically every case related to the time before the Executive Yuan took over the assets and set up the Alien Property Custodian. Last summer an investigation body made up of the Control Yuan, the People's Political Council and representatives of public organizations organized many teams and went over the Alien Property Custodian operations throughout the country with a fine comb. Not a single case of corruption was discovered among the responsible heads of the organization. There were cases of petty larceny, and that was perhaps inevitable, but not a single one of the responsible men broke his faith with the country.
I shall also mention in passing the China Textile Industries, Incorporated. Had I listened to public clamors and sold the Japanese cotton mills, I would have enriched a few persons at the expense of the nation, I would have secured perhaps 200 or 300 billions sale price for the Treasury. Last year the net profit of the China Textile Industries, Incorporated, was 400 billions, this year it will reach 1,000 billions. If as the Government intends to do so now, the China Textile Industries, Incorporated, is offered for sale to the public, it will have an asset worth between 3,500 and 4,000 billions. No, I do not have to apologize for organizing the China Textile Industries, Incorporated.
I have often been accused of being arbitrary. I have only striven to conduct affairs of the state without fear or favor. From my own
56 Last Chance in China
point of view, indeed I have looked upon myself as the most oppressed person in the whole country. The Ministry of Finance turns in very limited amounts of revenues and to meet Government expenditure it has to resort to the printing press. I know what that adds up to and night and day my colleagues and I worried over the situation. I have striven time and again to limit expenditures because I knew the danger that confronted us. Nearly all Government agencies, be it military or civilian, came to look upon me as the man responsible for frustrating their wishes for increased appropriations. When I asked for reconsideration on some item of expenditure forthwith there were inspired articles in the newspapers that while everyone had sanctioned the increase the President of the Executive Yuan was holding it up. I have borne this unpopularity because I considered it was in the line of duty.
The truth can be told in one sentence. The present economic crisis is the cumulative result of heavily unbalanced budgets carried through eight years of war and one year of illusory peace, accentuated to some degree by speculative activities.
T. V. Soong used to be well liked by the Communists and is always classed as a liberal by Western writers antagonistic to the National Government. Yet Dr. Lo Lung-chi, the voluble spokesman of the Democratic League, described him as a "comprador." The explanation undoubtedly lay in the League's tie-up with the small businessmen of Szechwan and Yunnan left out in the cold since the liberation of Shanghai and the coastal provinces. The Democratic League, for all its friendship with the Communists, was financed by such men as Miao Chia-min who owned some forty factories in Yunnan.
Although my first interviews with Chungking industrialists were arranged by members of the Democratic League, I found a wide divergence in the views expressed by the League's leaders and Chungking's businessmen. They had been brought together only by a certain community of interest in opposing the government. The heavy hand of the administration, coupled with the inflation and the transfer back to the East of China's capital, was ruining the industrialists who had flourished in wartime fulfilling government orders. It was natural that the Chungking businessmen and Szechwan bankers should now consider that government best which governed least, and support the opposition.
However, the Democratic League's alliance with the Communists was alienating its capitalist supporters. It was also alienating the best
Gray Dawn in China 57
elements inside the League. Dr. Carson Chang, leader of the Social Democratic Party, when I interviewed him in Chungking, made it very clear that he had no sympathy with the Democratic League's policy of trying to ride to power by hanging onto the Communist Party's coattails. Carson Chang is an intelligent liberal, an economist and a patriot, not a politician mainly interested in securing a cushy job in the government. According to him China had other alternatives than the present administration or a coalition with the Communists.
There were, he said, plenty of good men in China and efficient administrators who could cleanse and rejuvenate the government. The Democratic League was making a great mistake in identifying liberalism with Communism which was antiliberal and totalitarian.
Nor did Carson Chang think that the choice for China in the administration of her finances was one between Kung and Soong. China, he said, had several able and honest bankers who could run the Finance Ministry and the Central Bank far better than Kung, who was incapable of eliminating corruption, or Soong, whose main interest was the accumulation of a fortune in U. S. dollars.
It seemed to me after talking to them that the leaders of the Democratic League had no more right to call themselves representatives of the people than the Kuomintang. According to its own claims the League's membership in Yunnan and Szechwan was only five thousand, and elsewhere it had even less support. They appeared to be a small group of "outs" hoping to force their way into office through an alliance with the Communists, and equally ready to ally themselves to old style war lords if this could help them to acquire power.
The Democratic League was linked up with some of the most "reactionary feudal" elements in China. It had been protected by "Tiger Lung," the war lord of Yunnan, who encouraged all dissident elements in his attempt to remain independent of the Central Government. In Chungking the League's meeting place was a large and beautiful mansion owned by a bearded old gentleman of the old school who had made a fortune in opium in his younger days as a petty war lord.
In my first meeting with the Democratic League leaders I had been surprisedalmost shockedto hear them describe Tiger Lung as a democrat whose deposition by Chiang Kai-shek had been an outrage.
58 Last Chance in China
For Lung's oppressive and corrupt governorship of Yunnan Province had been responsible for the bad impression of China received by the many American soldiers and airmen stationed at Kunming, the provincial capital, during the war.
One afternoon in Chungking at a Democratic League press conference after listening to a long dissertation against the government for its failure to make way for a "democratic" government, I asked a simple question: "How would you hold an election in China? There is not even a reliable estimate of China's population, let alone an electoral register. And how could the peasants possibly know who to vote for, given their ignorance of everything outside their village, the lack of communications and newspapers and informed public opinion?"
My question obviously stumped the leaders of the Democratic League. They had never considered the practical difficulties. To them, it is not unfair to say, democracy meant giving them jobs in the government.
During the Political Consultative Council negotiations in January and February 1946, which proposed to draw up an agreement for a coalition government, it was obvious that the Democratic League, like the Communist Party, was not interested in anything like a general election. The Communists frankly admitted that they wanted the coalition government then envisaged to continue, not majority rule by elected representatives. Hence their opposition to the summoning of a National Assembly.
A coalition government is not, in the nature of things, democratic. If all parties are represented in the government there is no opposition. Moreover, except in times of grave national emergency such as war, a coalition government can be counted upon to be impotent, since it must be pulled all ways by the contending parties within it. A coalition government in China, far from giving her better government, would probably be even worse than the present one.
We should understand China better if we recognized that Chinese parties and factions are little more than organizations of individuals, not popular movements. China is still too backward, economically, politically and in social organization, for the mass of the people to play a role in politics. It is not even generally correct to describe the parties, factions and cliques inside or outside the government as representing
Gray Dawn in China 59
any particular class or interest. To a limited degree they stand for certain political ideas or economic and social policies but they are far more representative of powerful individuals or families. In China they don't usually say, "So and so has such and such political convictions." They say, "So and so is a Kung man" or a "Soong man," or one of "Sun Fo's group," or "So and so belongs to the Szechwan group."
Various cliques and groups inside and outside the government are connected with certain banking, merchant and industrial interests, or with a particular provincial faction and so forth. Other leaders are connected with the conservative or "feudal" elements in society, such as the reconditioned war lords or quasi-independent provincial governors or generals of provincial armies. Some leaders are more representative than others of the old-style literati, the scholar rural gentry. But one cannot truthfully say that any faction inside or outside the Kuomintang represents a particular class or a clearly defined vested interest. Too many government officials act in the interests of their relatives and friends but it is hard to point to any who act in the interests of a class.
Individual loyalties, family connections and personal striving for power play the predominant roles in Chinese politics.
Even before the long war ruined the young, independent middle class in China, industry and trade were largely dependent on the government which alone had large capital resources and the possibility of obtaining foreign credits. It depended even then very largely on government orders and subsidies or on credits from the banks whose directors were also government officials influential in its councils.
During the war the bureaucrats inevitably acquired both more power and greater opportunities for graft. It was perhaps always easier to acquire wealth through obtaining a high position in the government than by enterprise. Today with the government in control of almost the whole economy the independent capitalists find it harder than ever to exist. Hence the opposition to the government and the outwardly curious alliance at times between such reactionary elements as ex-war lords and "progressive" capitalists, and between both and the Communists.
Basically the trouble in China is that the war led to government control over the national economy, while not at the same time develop-
60 Last Chance in China
ing the democratic techniques for popular control over the administration.
During my first two weeks in Chungking, I heard enough and learned enough, to realize that the pattern of Chinese politics is too confused for anyone to be able to pronounce simple judgments concerning right and wrong as between the ins and the outs, and the good and the bad inside and outside the government. The views of Professor Chen Chih-mai, Counselor of the Chinese Embassy in Washington, seem sound. Speaking to the Harvard Law School he said:
It seems to me that many experts have treated the problem of China much as they would treat a mathematical problem, which is to be solved by arranging correctly the symbols involved. They would classify Chinese politicians into reactionaries, progressives, liberals, democrats, fascists, landlords, Communists, friends of America and foes of America . . . labels which are just as meaningless in China as they are in other lands. Having done so, they proceed to propose solutions by rearranging these individual groups, just as a mathematician would rearrange his symbols. . . .
I may go one step further in saying that I do not consider China as a problem, both in her internal and external relationships. China is, rather, a mass of problems, just like any other country, problems which assume ever-varying shapes and relationships in accordance with the subtle and complex laws of human character and the ever-changing colors of the general world scene. These problems are highly intricate, and must not under any circumstances be viewed in isolation from each other. . . .
We wish that you would pass judgment upon us not with your own yardstick but with one which fits in with the historical tradition and present conditions of China.
he late Dr. Coué taught that when sick you could make yourself well by saying over and over, "Every day in every way I feel better and better." Although he failed to convince many people that will power and optimism are worth more than medical advice, his theory is constantly applied in international affairs. In the year following the defeat of Germany and Japan its adherents practically monopolized the press and radio, and the statesmen of the victorious nations seemed convinced that the world's ills could be cured by refusing to believe they existed.
The newspapers and statements of public men were full of optimism and we were continually reassured that international relations were getting better and better. When Russia began to roar like a lion we insisted that she was cooing like a dove. The more clearly Molotov and Stalin revealed in their speeches that Russia's conception of collaboration was that of a boa constrictor with the lamb it has eaten, the more ruthlessly the Soviet Union extinguished the liberties of its small neighbors in preparation for the war between the Communist and capitalist worlds, which the Kremlin proclaimed to be "inevitable," the more determinedly cheerful the American press became.
As the red danger signals multiplied the greater became the public rejoicing at Russia's "expressed desire" for international collaboration.
The United States being strong and healthy was able to survive the Coué treatment. It diminished her influence, lost her friends and allies, and made well-nigh impossible the fulfillment of her war aims without another war, but she remained the arbiter of the world's destiny.
China, weak and sick, hungry and poor, desperately required a scientific diagnosis of her illness and healing medicine or perhaps
Last Chance in China
a major operation. But the United States insisted that all China had to do was to wish herself well. We told her she could become united and strong by persuading herself that she alone was responsible for the civil war which ravaged her.
In the winter of 1945-1946, not one word was released by the Chinese or American authorities about Russia's "preventive wrecking" of China's industrial base in Manchuria, or her refusal to get out of the Chinese Northeast. American diplomatic and intelligence officers had ample reports, but none of these was allowed to reach the public. A few columnists of the Right, such as Constantine Brown and George Sokolsky, hinted at the truth, but for the most part the American press was silent.
By ignoring Russian looting, America gave tacit acquiescence. The Soviet Government cannot be blamed if it regarded the United States State Department as both naive and silly for failing to protest during the process of robbery, only to bleat a meek "Alas!" upon revelation of the crime.
It was made clear to me in my conversations with Chinese Government leaders in Chungking and Shanghai that they were hoping against hope that if China pretended that the Soviet Government was friendly, it would in fact become friendly; that if no word of protest was uttered against Russia's breaking of the Sino-Soviet Treaty, Russia would begin to live up to it; that if it were assumed that the Chinese Communist Party did not take orders from Moscow, it would in fact become a Chinese party and make possible a political settlement and an end to the civil war.
When it had been Japan who filched territory from China, set up autonomous regimes and said that all she wanted was a "friendly" Chinese Government which would "co-operate," no one had believed her. When Japan said she was not committing acts of aggression but merely extirpating Communism in China, everyone realized it was a lie. But now that Russia was doing the same sort of things as Japan had done and making the same kind of excuses, there was a conspiracy of silence.
Even the terminology used by the Russians was similar to that formerly employed by the Japanese. The Soviet Union also said she merely wanted "friendly" governments on her borders. The Communists did not, of course, claim to be endeavoring to prevent China
Coué Diplomacy 63
going Communist They said instead that they were trying to make China "democratic." But the underlying purpose was the same and the hypocrisy equally blatant.
When Japan was the aggressor, China received little help, but at least she got sympathy. Now she was deprived even of that. Those who should have been her allies took Communist professions seriously and belabored the Chinese authorities with abuse.
The Chinese Government did its best to make Couéism work. In November 1945, at the very time when Russia had refused the Chinese National armies the use of the Port of Dairen (which according to the Sino-Soviet Treaty was to remain Chinese, unlike Port Arthur which was to be "shared" with Russia), and when the Chinese were being prevented from landing at Yingkow by Russian-equipped Chinese Communist forces in whose favor the Red Army had vacated the port, Dr. Sun Fo and other members of the Chinese Government were speaking in the warmest terms of Sino-Soviet relations. And Shao Li-tze, former Chinese ambassador to Russia, declared categorically that China's internal imbroglio was "not influencing Sino-Soviet relations."
The make-believe was, of course, transparent. When I returned to Chungking in mid-January 1946, every correspondent knew more or less what was happening in Manchuria. Stories of the Red Army's looting of the Chinese provinces were rife, and it was no secret that the Soviet Government was demanding a codominion over all Manchuria as the price of peace in China. Yet even in off-the-record press conferences General Marshall, like the Chinese Government spokesmen, refused to answer questions or comment on what was going on in Manchuria.
The American correspondents in Chungking early in 1946, unlike those I had met the preceding October, were for the most part men of experience and knowledge who knew the score. But when they tried to get information at the press conferences the government spokesmen had nothing to say. Poor "Wordless Wu," as the then Minister of Information was nicknamed, together with his colleagues from the Foreign Office and Executive Yuan, had to parry all enquiries and profess complete ignorance of what everyone in Chungking was talking about privately.
In an interview with the press in Chungking I gave what it seems
64 Last Chance in China
to me is still an accurate description of China's position. "China," I said, "is like a little boy being bullied by a big one. He fears that if he cries out no one will come to his assistance and the big boy will just beat him harder."
The Chinese Government issued no word of protest at the Soviet Government's breaches of the terms of the Sino-Soviet Treaty of August 1945. In that treaty the government of the USSR promised not only to respect the sovereignty of the National Government over the whole of China, including Manchuria; not only pledged itself to "noninterference in China's internal affairs," but also agreed:
To render to China moral support and aid in military supplies and other material resources, such support and aid to be given entirely to the National Government as the Central Government of China.
China had paid a high price for this promise. She had given up Port Arthur to Russia as a naval, army and air base; she had agreed to make Dairen a free port to and from which Russia could move goods without inspection or the payment of customs dues, and in which Russia would own half the harbor installations and equipment; and she had also been obliged to give Russia "joint ownership" of the railways of Manchuria. Since a Soviet citizen was also to be manager of the railways, China had in fact given Russia de facto control of her Northeastern provinces. In addition to all this China had agreed to recognize Outer Mongolia as an "independent state."*
The wheel had come full circle. In 1905 Lenin had welcomed the defeat of Russia by Japan and denounced the Czar's government for laying "its greedy paws upon China." In 1919 the Bolshevik government had voluntarily annulled all the treaties which "through force and corruption enslaved the Chinese nation." But in 1945, at Yalta, Stalin insisted on the restoration of the imperialist privileges on Chinese territory which Lenin had denounced. Following World War I the Western Powers had refused to relinquish their special rights and privileges in China, but in 1943 they released China from
* According to the terms of the treaty a plebiscite was to be held in Outer Mongolia. Since Soviet Russia had been ruling there for years no one, of course, had any illusions as to the result of the voting. Russia's MVD (secret police) would attend to any citizen of Outer Mongolia who would dare vote against "independence" under Soviet control.
Coué Diplomacy 65
the unequal treaties. Yet, while abandoning imperialist privileges for themselves, the British and Americans promised Stalin to wring such rights from the Chinese Government on Soviet Russia's behalf. History affords few examples of such complete reversals of policy in so short a period of time.
The reversed roles of the Western Powers and Russia was not immediately apparent to the Chinese public, since the government in its efforts to make Couéism work did its best to keep the Chinese people unmindful of the re-establishment of Russian imperialist rights on Chinese soil. This was brought home to me in somewhat amusing fashion when, together with Tillman Durdin of the New York Times and George Weller of the Chicago Daily News, I followed a students' demonstration in Chungking in February 1946.
The marching students had banners protesting against practically everything wrong in China and everywhere else in the world. They wanted peace, democracy and economic reconstruction at home and international collaboration. They wanted the British to give up Hong Kong, the Portuguese to give up Macao, and the French to abandon the extraterritorial rights in Shanghai, which they, alone among the Western Powers, were trying to retain. But the students carried no banners demanding the return of Port Arthur and Dairen.
George Weller, with the disarmingly innocent air which is his greatest asset, asked one of the student leaders to explain this omission. The youth was nonplused. There was a buzz of talk. Finally a young man from the head of the procession came over to us as we stood outside the British Embassy. In halting English he explained, "Russia's rights in Port Arthur and Dairen were given to her by treaty."
I remarked softly, "So also were Hong Kong and Kowloon given to Britain by treaty."
"Ah," said the boy, "but that was an unequal treaty."
A few weeks later Chinese students had become aware that the new imperialists had taken from China far more than the old retained, and there were huge demonstrations demanding that Russia "quit Manchuria." But the National Government was not responsible. It was still trying to make Couéism work and to restrain public protest at Russia's breaking of the Sino-Soviet Treaty for fear Stalin would deliver some new blow at China.
The Chinese Government had had no choice but to sign the Sino-
66 Last Chance in China
Soviet Treaty since President Roosevelt had promised Stalin that his claims against China would be "unquestionably fulfilled," and China had been in no position to refuse a United States demand. But by failing to protest at the Soviet Union's failure to honor its commitments in that treaty, the Chinese Government weakened its position at home as well as abroad.
This was amply demonstrated in 1947 when huge student demonstrations demanded an end to the civil war. Many of these students, had they realized that Russia menaced China and that the Communists were Moscow's agents, would not have come out against the National Government. But the pretense, so unwaveringly kept up by the government, that China's civil war was an "internal affair," had been all too successful. Naturally if the civil war was simply one between Chinese factions, the students were justified in believing that it would be stopped if the government would make concessions. How could they realize that the price of internal peace was subjection to Russian domination since the government and most of the press maintained the fiction that the Soviet Union was not interfering in Chinese internal affairs ?
Although China had been forced to sign the Sino-Soviet Treaty of August 1945, the more optimistic members of the government had evidently persuaded themselves that the Soviet Government would honor its promise not to give arms or other support to the Chinese Communists. T. V. Soong, who negotiated the treaty, may have been primarily concerned with pleasing America, but he and others like him seem to have genuinely believed that it guaranteed internal peace in China.
The so-called Left Wing of the Kuomintang, led by Sun Yat-sen's son Sun Fo, had for years been in favor of a Russia-orientated foreign policy, and there were others who had argued that if China had to make concessions to Russia she had best make them herself in return for tangible benefits. "Why," it had been said in 1944 and 1945, "should the United States receive the quid pro quo for Chinese sacrifices; why should we let the American Government barter our rights and territories for what Roosevelt wants from Stalin; why not see if we can get a better deal by negotiating ourselves ?"
The members of the National Government who put no trust in Stalin's word had to go along with T.V. Soong and Sun Fo and accept the Sino-Soviet Treaty at its face value. They had no choice
Coué Diplomacy 67
on account of China's dependence on American support and America's insistence on amity with Russia at almost any price. But in private the "reactionaries" expressed to me their complete disbelief in Russia's promises and their conviction that China's ostrich like diplomacy was senseless and self-defeating.
The treaty proved worthless to China. Moscow refused to vacate Manchuria until it was thoroughly wrecked, and started arming the Chinese Communists and fostering disunity in China immediately after V-J Day. The Red Army prevented the Chinese Government from getting its troops into Manchuria until the Communists had been so well ensconced there that Russia could expect them to be able to keep control and convert it into a Russian "Manchukuo."
If the United States had continued the realistic support of China pursued at the time of Japan's surrender, the National Government might have regained Manchuria in spite of Russia's cynical disregard of the terms of the Sino-Soviet Treaty. The Japanese had then been ordered to surrender themselves and their equipment only to the National forces, and the United States China Theater Commander had moved these forces rapidly by air to occupy the liberated areas ahead of the Communists. But in the fall and winter of 1945 General Wedemeyer, who was being attacked in the Communist press, found himself restricted in the use of American sea and air transport by certain officers in the Far Eastern Division of the State Department who placed their own interpretation on United States policy to the advantage of the Communists.
On November 2, 1945, Vice-Admiral Barbey, in command of American ships transporting Nationalist troops to Manchuria, withdrew from the port of Yingkow after a conference ashore with Soviet representatives, and after viewing several thousand Chinese Communists digging trenches under Russian protection. A few days earlier Barbey had retreated from another Manchurian port, Hulutao, after Communist riflemen had fired on a launch from his flagship.
Dairen and Port Arthur, Yingkow and Hulutao were the only ports in Manchuria; so the American Navy, retreating before the Russians and the Chinese Communists, finally landed its convoy of Nationalist troops at Chingwangtao in North China, whence they proceeded overland to capture Yingkow. A little later Yingkow was retaken by the Communists with the help of Russian tanks.
Ammunition and other necessary supplies were also denied to the
68 Last Chance in China
Chinese Government, this embargo continuing until June 1947, when it was at long last allowed to buy some ammunition and arms in America.
The United States, having forced China to sign away vital economic and strategic rights in Manchuria in the Sino-Soviet Treaty, did nothing to compel the Soviet Government to honor the treaty and left China almost defenseless in the face of Russian aggression.
The attitude of the United States was a severe blow to China, but the greatest disappointment of all to the Chinese people was the fact that all the concessions made to Russia had not brought internal peace.
There is little doubt that a word from Stalin would have caused the Chinese Communists to come to terms with the National Government, preserving the unity of China. This was apparent following the December 1945 Moscow conference of the Big Three which issued a communique pledging Russia as well as Britain and the United States to promote "a unified and democratic China under the National Government."* At once the Communists, after months of refusal to negotiate, came to Chungking to talk peace.
China then as now was up against the problem which the United States and Britain also face: that of dealing with an aggressor nation which has two hands to use in international diplomacy. Stalin's right hand is the Russian Foreign Office and its diplomatic representatives abroad. His left hand, the Communist Parties and fellow travelers in all countries, can always take over the implementation of Moscow's policy when it seems advisable that the Soviet state should beat a retreat.
The Chinese Government was itself largely to blame for the predicament in which it found itself. During the war years it had refrained from answering the Communist accusations which had been given so much publicity in America. The Chinese Government and the Kuomintang Party rarely issue blanket orders to their press and information organs, but throughout the war they adhered with suicidal naivete to the prohibition of anti-Communist propaganda. Occa-
* In the March 1947 Conference at Moscow, Molotov endeavored to falsify the record by saying that in December 1945 there had been agreement on the necessity for "the unification and democratization of China under a (instead of the) National Government."
Coué Diplomacy 69
sionally the realists at Kuomintang Party Headquarters would get out a schedule of Communist outrages, and the government would circulate a top-secret memorandum to its own officials, informing them of current Communist provocations. These were never released for publication. The Chinese public heard little of them; the world public, nothing. This was at the time when the Communists were ruthlessly sabotaging the National Government in the midst of its life-and-death struggle with Japan, and Communist irregulars were following Imperial Japanese divisions in occupying National Chinese territory. The Chinese Communists never actually allied themselves to Japan but they made Japanese positions secure in many places by preventing the Generalissimo's guerrillas from operating behind Japanese lines. All this occurred behind the silence of Chungking, either self-imposed or inspired by Washington's orders.
Either because he believed that it was futile to appeal to the American public over the head of the Roosevelt administration, or because he was under contrary orders from Chungking, the Chinese ambassador in Washington never tried to counteract the Communist propaganda which gave the American public an erroneous conception of the situation in the Far East.
One of the Vice-Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Chungking, from whom I asked an explanation of China's inept treatment of the Communist issues, explained it somewhat differently. "If," he said, "we were to admit that the Chinese Communists are Moscow's subordinates, we might land ourselves in even more trouble. Russia would have an excuse for interfering in our internal affairs. Since Russia says she has no interest in the Chinese Communists, she will not be in a position to protest or interfere when we set out to deal with them in earnest. Moreover, during the war years, we were always in deadly fear that the Russo-Japanese friendship pact might lead Moscow to take active measures against us. Our Communists were a sufficient problem as things were. It would have been even worse if they had actually joined hands with the Japanese against us."
Perhaps, however, the truest explanation I heard of Chungking's inept diplomacy was given me by General Wu Te-chen, former mayor of Shanghai and at that time in charge of the Kuomintang Party Headquarters in the capital.
"Our Chinese mentality was the cause of our mistake. We were
70 Last Chance in China
ashamed that the world should know of our internal disagreements. The desire to save face was the primary reason why we never met Communist propaganda abroad. We thought that if we ignored it we would be able to cover up the split in China which was such a disgrace to the Chinese people."
If General Wu Te-chen was right, it means only that the Chinese share the rest of the world's inclination to deny realities if they are unpleasant and harmful and cause loss of face. The American and British people, who for so long went on pretending there was no fundamental disagreement between the democracies and "their gallant Russian allies," were behaving just like the Chinese. The falsity of wartime propaganda would have become too apparent to the voters if it had been recognized that victory meant merely the substitution of one totalitarian tyranny for another.
It was true that since the Chinese Communists were not openly recognized as Moscow's allies or subjects, Russia could have no valid objection to their being crushed in an all-out military campaign. The Soviet Government itself would not for a moment have tolerated the existence in Russia of a dissident party complete with its own army, challenging Stalin's authority. It could have had no shadow of an excuse for coming to the rescue of the Chinese Communists if Chiang Kai-shek decided to liquidate them by force. But Moscow had no need to intervene openly in China for the purpose of saving the Communists from destruction. Americans performed this service for her.
Prior to the appointment of General Marshall as special envoy to China in December 1945, it had seemed as if the United States might at long last face up to the realities of the situation in China and decide on a clear and unequivocal policy.
General Patrick Hurley while ambassador to China had learned by his experience in trying to bring unity to China that the Communists could not be trusted to keep their word, that every time he persuaded Chiang Kai-shek to agree to their demands they asked for more. He had returned to the United States convinced that the only way to unite China was to back the legitimate government recognized by Russia as by all the other United Nations.
Like most other Americans who have come into close contact with the Generalissimo, Hurley believed that Chiang Kai-shek was sin-
Coué Diplomacy 71
cere in his reiterated statements that he was determined to solve the problem of Communism by political, not military, means; that he did not want to be a dictator and was ready to relinquish his powers as soon as a democratic government could function in China. On the other hand, it was clear to Hurley that the problem could never be solved if the United States continued its backhanded encouragement of the Communists. Naturally, as long as the Communists believed that they had the support of many State Department officials as well as of a large section of the American press, they would continue to be intransigent.
Chinese hopes that General Hurley would convince America that she must adopt a strong realistic policy in China were doomed to disappointment. The fiery general from Oklahoma did not have the historical perspective necessary to statesmanship of the long view. He accused his enemies in the State Department of "sabotaging" United States policy by privately advising the Communists that "his efforts to prevent the collapse of the Nationalist Government didn't represent the policy of the United States." But he seems to have taken Stalin at his word when assured by him in Moscow that the Soviet Government had no interest in the Chinese Communists. Or he considered himself bound to support the general American line of policy, that of seeing, hearing and speaking no evil of the Soviet Union. In any case, when he resigned he said that there was "no question" but that the Soviet as well as the British Government supported the United States' policy of unifying China.
In thus exonerating the Soviet Government from responsibility for the intransigence of the Chinese Communists General Hurley left himself without any strong argument against those who wanted the United States to favor neither of what they called "the two factions" in China, or against those who hoped to make a Mikhailovitch out of Chiang by the transfer of American support to the Communists. I myself in Shanghai had General Hurley's words quoted against me by the Russian press to prove I was wrong in blaming the Soviet Union for the actions of the Chinese Communists.
Clever propaganda in America had convinced a large part of the public that the Chinese Communists were liberal reformers and the best men in China, and that the Chinese National Government was a bunch of "fascists," "reactionaries" and what not. If the Chinese
72 Last Chance in China
Communists were not Moscow's puppets but sincere democrats, then General Hurley's opponents in the State Department had a good case for urging that the United States abandon Chiang Kai-shek and support the Communists instead.
"Love me, love my dog." General Hurley's mistake in thinking that he could be lacking in affection for the Chinese Communists without incurring the violent opposition of their masters was immediately apparent. The Daily Worker shrieked imprecations and consigned him to the "fascist" limbo to which critics of Russia are condemned.
Editorial opinion in the American press showed little or no awareness of the issues at stake in China. To judge from the extracts published by the United States Information Service in Shanghai, the newspapers which did not favor the Communists advocated a hands-off policy in order to avoid a clash with Russia. One of the very few informed comments was made by the Philadelphia Record which wrote:
Withdrawal of our support would mean a full-scale civil war in China. Continued support of Chiang Kai-shek may help China on her difficult road toward democracy. We don't want an Asiatic Spain as the prelude to another world war.
The tide of appeasement was at this time running strong in the United States. Even those who had no sympathy for Communism wanted us to let Russia have her way in China. Distinguished "internationalists," such as Walter Lippmann, took a similar line in 1945 to the one they had advocated in pre-Pearl Harbor days. Mr. Lippmann had then urged noninterference with Japanese aggression and a settlement of American-Japanese differences at China's expense. He now advocated a "united political front" of Russia, Britain and the United States to force the reorganization of the Chinese Government on a "broader democratic basis" by inclusion of the Communists. Lest there should be any doubt that what he meant was forcing China to become a Russian satellite, he wrote that the "formula" for such a united front "is clearly indicated and is in principle like that made at Yalta for Poland." The New York Herald Tribune, among other newspapers, published editorials suggesting that the "same degree of sanity" should be shown by the United States in dealing with China
Coué Diplomacy 73
as President Roosevelt had displayed at Yalta with regard to Poland.
Since the first country to take up arms against Nazi Germany had been sacrificed by Roosevelt and Churchill in their attempt to buy Stalin's good will, why should not China, the first country to resist Japanese aggression, suffer the same fate for the same good cause ?
For China the policy favored by Mr. Lippmann and other less distinguished advocates of Realpolitik was all too familiar. For a hundred years the European Powers had settled their differences at her expense. Now with Poland's unhappy fate to warn them, the Chinese saw no course but submission to American-Russian demands. Whenever I argued with members of the Chinese Government in Chungking that their policy of silence was disastrous, they answered: "The Polish Government protested and look what happened to Poland. It is better to be patient and make sacrifices than risk extinction. We can't fight Russia, so our only hope is that the United States will restrain her if we follow American advice."
Viewed in historical perspective United States policy in 1945-1946 was a continuation of the line followed not merely for a decade, but for fifty, even a hundred years. To risk a little but not too much. To stand for the integrity of China but with reservations. To accept compromises at China's expense, if only the aggressors or imperialists or disruptors of Chinese unity could be induced to pay lip service to the principles which the United States supports, and to guarantee the preservation of American interests.
This was not due to hypocrisy or duplicity or a Machiavellian purpose. It was simply that Americans were not sufficiently interested in the Far East to commit themselves to a strong and definite policy and take the consequences. They would put one foot into the stormy Chinese sea, but they saw no valid reason why they should plunge right in and sink or swim with China. Moreover the real issues at stake in the Far East had been confused by the flood of writings in favor of the Communists and lack of understanding of Chinese problems, even on the part of anti-Communists.
The foreign policy of every country is largely determined by domestic politics. This is particularly true of the United States because it has the most democratic form of government of any people. Inevitably the administration responds to pressure groups at home and
74 Last Chance in China
determines its course abroad according to its calculated effect at the next election. The ambiguity of American policy in China was the direct result of the confusion and misconceptions in the minds of the American public, and the administration's efforts to please everybody.
President Truman's statement of policy on December 15, 1945, told China that there must be a cessation of hostilities and a broadening of the government to accord "fair and effective representation" to all political elements. He promised that as China "moved toward peace and unity along these lines, the United States would assist the National Government in every reasonable way." China was told that she had a "clear responsibility to all the United Nations to eliminate armed conflicts within her territories."
The whole statement assumed that the Chinese civil war had nothing to do with Russia's policy of expansion by revolution. It also assumed that the promise of American loans and other aid in the reconstruction of China, once unity was achieved, would act as a powerful inducement to both sides to come to terms. In a word America's Far Eastern policy was based on the idea that the United States was in a position to mediate by putting pressure on both sides in the civil war.
In fact we had no means of exerting pressure on the Communists to come to an agreement or to honor their pledges if an agreement were worked out. Only Stalin was in a position to do this.
America's compulsions could be exerted only against the National Government. By ignoring the ties which link the Chinese Communists with Moscow and insisting on "unity" by agreement with the Communists, we immensely strengthened Stalin's hand. Since unity could not be achieved unless Moscow willed it, the Chinese Government was put in a position in which it seemed to have no choice but to make concessions to Russia if it were to retain American sympathy and obtain American economic assistance.
The Soviet Government was thus left free to impose unrestricted pressure on China. The Communists could keep the central authorities weak and deprived of full American support while Russia sequestered or destroyed all that China had sought to save in the eight-year war against Japan.
General Marshall's "veto power" over loans to China was accord-
Coué Diplomacy 75
ingly worse than useless as a means to exert pressure on the Communists. Far from desiring that China receive credits for reconstruction, they were counting on economic decay to bring down the National Government and enable them to seize power.
By withholding economic aid from the National Government until it came to terms with those who profited from China's economic crisis, we put the Communists into a position in which they could blackmail the government.
One after another America's representatives in China, civil and military, had learned through experience that there is no middle way in China between support of the recognized government and support of the Communists. General Stilwell had looked with favor on the Communists; Generals Hurley and Wedemeyer had become convinced that effective support of the National Government was the only way to bring peace to China.
Instead of profiting from past experience General Marshall also had to learn the hard way. For months he tried with extraordinary patience and energy to mix oil and water into some new element. He confessed his failure long before he left China.
The Chinese people paid the price for the education of the United States representatives in China and of the American public.
As might have been expected the Communists welcomed General Marshall's assignment to China. A year later they admitted that he was not partial to Chiang Kai-shek "during the first two months of his stay in China."
Immediately following President Truman's December 1945 statement, the Communists suddenly, after months of refusal, announced their readiness to talk peace in Chungking.
This was not because of any change of heart or purpose in the Communist Chinese leader, but because it was necessary to convince America of their sincere desire for unity, and because a move toward reconciliation with the National Government synchronized with Stalin's policy.
The Red Army had already pretty well completed its dismantling of the factories in Mukden and Changchun and the removal of this machinery to Russia, and Moscow had promised to withdraw its forces by January 3 and to facilitate the entry of the Chinese Nation-
76 Last Chance in China
alist forces. It was not known what further concessions China had made to Russia but Stalin was demanding joint ownership of all Manchurian resources and industries. He evidently expected to get what he wanted, because General Chu Teh, the commander in chief of the Chinese Communist armies, had announced on December 5 that the Communist Party did not dispute the Central Government's sovereignty over Manchuria.
The Chinese Communists themselves were in need of a breathing space. In Southern Manchuria they had learned that even when equipped by the Russians with modern arms they were no match for Chiang Kai-shek's soldiers. They needed time to be trained by their Russian instructors. In Lenin's classic phrase, one step backward would enable them to take two steps forward later on.
The truce arranged by General Marshall, effective from January 13. gave the Communists exactly what they required to consolidate their gains, extend their power and get ready to play their part if and when Russia failed to extort what she wanted in Manchuria from the Government of China.
It "froze" the existing positions of the Communist and government forces in North and Central China. Mixed teams, composed of one American officer, one Chinese and one Communist representative, flew out from the Executive Headquarters established by General Marshall in Peiping to stop the civil war.
There was a last-minute hitch in the truce negotiations overcome by General Marshall's intervention. This episode is worth relating, because it demonstrates how the Chinese Government gave way to American representations, even when the Communists were clearly in the wrong.
According to the truce agreement Nationalist forces were to be allowed, without Communist interference, to take over from the Russians as the Red Army vacated the Northeastern provinces. On January 9, however, a dispute arose as concerns Jehol, the province adjoining Manchuria which had been administered by Japan as part of Manchukuo. The government insisted that since no Chinese and only Soviet troops were in Chihfeng, a railway junction city in Jehol, it should be occupied by the Nationalist armies under the agreement covering Manchuria. The Communists insisted on a standstill agreement there as in North China, and claimed that their forces had already taken over Chihfeng from the Russians.
General Chou En-lai that evening, according to Arch Steele of the New York Herald Tribune, was very depressed. He told the press that the government was insisting on its right to occupy both Chihfeng and Tolunan important trading and communications center in Chahar just outside Jehol's western boundary. Occupation of these two strategic points by the Nationalist forces would throw a barrier across the middle of Jehol and effectively block Communist connections with the Red Army in Manchuria, threaten the Communist stronghold at Kalgan, and sandwich Communist-held Chengteh (capital of Jehol) between government armies north and south of the Great Wall. The Communists declared they would never agree.
At 10:30 that night General Marshall visited Chiang Kai-shek at his home and stayed there till midnight. At 12:30 Chou En-lai had a telephone call telling him to come to Marshall's house at 8:00 a.m. to meet Chiang Kai-shek. By 10:00 a.m. a truce draft had been worked out and given to the press. The Communists had won. Chihfeng, and with it control of Jehol, was theirs.
Soon afterward it was learned that the government's contention had been correct. The Red Army, not the Chinese Communists, had been in Chihfeng when the truce was signed. But the Chinese communists kept the town until driven out in the new phase of the civil war which began the following summer. As an official of the Chinese Foreign Office said to me, "General Marshall need not have forced us to give Jehol to the Communists. It was not necessary as part of the appeasement of Russia since it was covered by the Sino-Soviet agreement."
When I returned to Chungking a week or two after the truce had been signed, the Political Consultative Council meetings were in full swing. The government, Communists, Democratic League, Chinese Youth Party, and nonparty representatives were trying to hammer out an agreement for a coalition government. Marshall's truce had been signed as the preliminary for such an agreement, and everyone hoped that the civil war had ended.
Maybe it might have if Russia's policy had not changed, or if the Communists had not conceived themselves strong enough to try the military game again soon after the agreements were signed. The liberals or Westernizers were in the ascendant in the Kuomintang during the period of the Political Consultative Council negotiations. Chiang Kai-shek showed himself ready to make very great conces-
78 Last Chance in China
sions for peace and a chance for reconstruction and reform. Even the most pessimistic Chinese had a little hope in January and February 1946.
Chou En-lai played an important role in this period. He must have convinced certain key personages that he represented a section of the Communist Party which sincerely wanted peace, unity and a democratic development for China. He almost convinced me in the hour and a half's conversation I had with him in Chungking. He avoided the subject of Russia and at the end he patted me on the shoulder, told me I might visit Yenan and, looking me straight in the eyes with an expression which made his last words significant, said: "The Chinese Communist Party is grown-up now and no longer needs assistance from anyone."
'A' day or two later I asked one of the Chinese Ministers who is very close to Chiang Kai-shek whether he and others believed that Chou En-lai was actually sincere in wanting collaboration. After a moment's thought he replied, "In strict confidence 'yes.' That accounts for the weakness and delicacy of his position in his own party." It soon became evident that Marshall's policy was based on the assumption that it was possible to "detach" the Communists from their Russian affiliation; or at least "bring together the Right Wing of the Communists with the Left Wing of the Kuomintang," and thus create a real democratic party.
Walter Robertson, the United States charge d'affaires in China, said to me in Peiping just before I left China: "Make no mistake about it, Marshall is a great man and he is doing a wonderful job in which I think he will succeed."
"Have you changed your mind about the Communists then?" I said. "When I talked to you a few months ago in Shanghai, you put no trust in them at all and believed they were Stalin's puppets?"
"No, I don't deny the Russian connection. But, after all, what are the Chinese Communist leaders but men with an army out for power ? Why should they not get what they want on our side? Some of them would prefer it."
I remembered then how once at a press conference in Chungking, Chou En-lai had replied to a question whether Mao Tse-tung was about to visit Russia "for his health," by saying, "He would prefer to visit the United States."
Coué Diplomacy 79
There were rumors in the capital that Mao had in fact declined an invitation to come to Moscow. Soviet Russia's ex-puppet war lord of Sinkiang, who had gone over to the Kuomintang a few years before and never went outside his house without a bodyguard, told General Odium that Mao had once said he would never go to Moscow because he was afraid he might be kept there. All this rumor and hearsay may have had some basis in fact. It could as likely have been deliberately encouraged by the Communists for their own ends.
Chou En-lai and others must have thrown out hints to make the Americans believe that there was a real possibility of Kuomintang-Communist collaboration. We may never know what was said between him and Chiang when they met alone. We shall probably not know for years what Chou said to Marshall and how much of what he said General Marshall believed.
Certainly Chou En-lai's attractive personality, his intelligence and wit and charm played a considerable part in convincing America's representatives in China that the Communists meant what they said.
It is impossible to say whether he was sincere or not. Historically it is of little importance. The Comintern record shows that it makes no difference when there is a section of a Communist Party which wants to follow the democratic path. It can never swing the whole party because of Moscow's control.
In the years preceeding Hitler's rise to power there was a considerable section of the German Communist Party which opposed the Comintern policy of regarding the Socialists and liberals as the main enemy and concentrating Communist efforts on the overthrow of German democracy to the benefit of the Nazis. All that resulted was their excommunication. Either you toe the Moscow line or you cease to be a Communist.
When I asked S. J. Wu, secretary of the Legislative Yuan and Sun Fo's close friend, whether it was actually believed that the Chinese Communists wanted to break with Russia and collaborate with the liberals and America in reconstructing China as a democracy, he replied without hesitation: "They would like to but they can't."
This was an acute observation. The Chinese Communists have no particular reason to love the Soviet Union. It disorganized and betrayed them in 1926 to the exigencies of Russia's domestic politics. Their success in later years in establishing a provincial government
80 Last Chance in China
and army of their own was due to their own efforts, to the shortcomings of the National Government and to Moscow's inability to subject them to the same tight control as the Comintern exerted over Communist Parties in other countries. Their strength is undoubtedly largely due to their past geographical and political isolation. But today they are in close contact with their Russian masters through Manchuria.
Kungchantang representatives had, I was reliably informed in Chungking, been cold-shouldered by the Russian Red Army dignitaries in Manchuria following their poor showing against the Nationalist armies in the fall of 1945. The Russians, it was said, had been disgusted with them for their military failures against the Nationalists and had favored the ex-Japanese (Manchukuo) puppet forces. In a sense Russia had treated her Chinese as America treated hers. Both had been expected to accomplish the impossible task of winning battles without arms against well-armed adversaries: the Nationalists against the Japanese, and the Communists against the National armies. After my return to America, in the spring of 1946, Michael Lindsey, who is one of the warmest foreign friends of the Chinese Communists and who lived among them for years and married a Chinese, told me that his wife feared that the Chinese Communists were once again being sacrificed by Moscow.
One could almost sympathize with the Chinese Communists at times. Moscow was always ready to place them in the forefront of the battle, and retire and let them be killed if it suited her world strategy. Intelligent men like Chou En-lai, possibly Mao Tse-tung himself, probably understood very well that Russia would no more welcome a strong Communist China than a strong Kuomintang China. The function of the Chinese Communists, in Stalin's plans for world conquest, was to weaken China, prevent her unification and reconstruction and prepare her for absorption into a Russia-centered Soviet bloc. The last thing that Russia desired was their sincere co-operation with the liberal elements in the Kuomintang to convert China into a democracy and a strong united nation.
The Chinese Communists were only pawns and the more intelligent ones must have known it. In the tragic drama being played out in China, Chiang Kai-shek was not only the adversary of the Communists but was also the prop which sustained them. If Chiang could
Coué Diplomacy 81
have been induced to play an anti-American role, there is little doubt that Stalin would have embraced him as readily as he had General Peron. The Soviet Government would not have scrupled to sacrifice the Chinese Communists if in so doing an advantage could be won over the United States.
Chiang's loyalty to the democracies, in the face of all the insults and injuries they had inflicted upon him, was the Chinese Communist guarantee of continued existence. Their usefulness to Russia depended on the National Government's loyalty to the United States. On the other hand, there was no way out for the Chinese Communists even if they understood the situation. They might not love or trust Stalin but they dared not give up their army and submit themselves, defenseless, to the government of Chiang Kai-shek. Too much blood had flowed since 1927; too many promises had been broken and too much mistrust engendered. How could either side believe that the other would forgive and forget ?
The Kuomintang could not believe in the sincerity of the Chinese Communist conversion to the principles of Sun Yat-sen until they broke with Moscow. The Communists could not prove their sincerity by breaking the tie with Moscow unless convinced that the National Government would not exterminate them if they did.
Chiang Kai-shek tried hard to break the deadlock, and maybe Chou En-lai did so too. It was Chou En-lai who had brought about a temporary reconciliation at Sian in December 1936, when war with Japan had become inevitable. Chou, who had lived in the national capital all through the war as the Communist representative, had a far better understanding of China's problems and the government's difficulties than the Communists far off in the mountain retreat of Yenan. He was an old companion in arms of the Generalissimo and the two men respected each other, perhaps liked each other.
I found it hard to believe that Chou En-lai, who charmed me as he did everyone else, is a liar and a cheat. He may have only been carrying out a clever stratagem in Moscow's interests, but it is barely possible that for a short period of time he saw a possibility, through American support, of cutting the umbilical cord which binds the Communists to Moscow without killing his party.
If, in fact, this was the case, any such outcome was prevented by America's vacillation and weakness in her dealings with Russia in
Last Chance in China
both Europe and Asia, and the fading away of American military might.
Whether or not there was in fact ever any possibility of "detaching" the Chinese Communists from Russia, the only hope of success lay in America's strength and her readiness to use it. Our attraction would be powerful enough to pull the Chinese Communists into our sphere only if we appeared as stronger than Russia and as willing to protect our friends. Otherwise the Chinese Communists must of necessity remain attached to Russia. They must have known that should they ever join sincerely in a coalition government under American auspices, Russia would repudiate them and denounce them as fascists or Trotskyists or "running dogs of the imperialists." Russia is close to them while America is far away. And it was clearly demonstrated in Europe in 1945 and 1946 that, whereas Russia protects her own, the United States was willing to sacrifice millions of people on her side in order to avoid a clash with Russia.
There were all the elements of a Greek tragedy in China. Neither the Kuomintang nor the Communists could escape their fate. It was no simple conflict of right and wrong but one between two opposite principles. Chiang Kai-shek and Chou En-lai might both be noble men, but the stature of the protagonists on either side could not solve the irreconcilable conflict. No real compromise was possible. The past of both Kuomintang and Communists determined their future. Neither could escape from the impasse into which their different loyalties, aims and beliefs had brought them. Both sides were equally convinced that the path they desired China to follow was the only way to salvation, and neither dared trust the other.
The coalition government which America was so anxious they should form could not, in the nature of things, be more than an armed truce, or a "marriage of convenience in which both sides hoped to cheat the other."
General Marshall had been catapulted into the midst of a situation with which even Solomon could not have coped. Maybe the Gordian knot could be cut; it certainly could not be unraveled by an American general whose experience and knowledge were so far removed from the titanic struggle in China. He did his best to understand it, and he labored diligently, but he never had a chance to succeed. He not
Coué Diplomacy 83
only had to try to solve in China alone the world-wide conflict between the United States and Russia for domination over the earth but he also had to pretend that the problems of China had no connection with the wider conflict. Coué diplomacy was still the order of the day in China, even after the United States had begun to face the facts of the international situation in Europe.
he Air Transport Command flights to Shanghai from Chungking were being canceled day after day on account of bad weather, so I decided to try the Chinese line. The pilots of the Chinese National Aviation Corporation, many of whom are Americans, must be among the best in the world. In the war years they could only fly when weather conditions precluded the danger of Japanese attack. So CNAC flights are rarely canceled.
On the other hand traveling by ATC is so simple that I had not anticipated the complications involved in traveling by the Chinese line. The Chinese have passport control and customs inspection and the airport is crowded with all the relatives of all the passengers.
I had undertaken to bring with me some baggage belonging to a correspondent who had left his possessions in Chungking when rushing to Shanghai for the Japanese surrender. His bags were locked and at first the customs would not pass them. This caused a long delay. The CNAC baggage allowance is much less than the ATC, and I had already wasted time among the crowd at the airport exchanging United States dollars for Chinese currency in order to pay the excess baggage fee. Now I found my passport missingsome official had demanded it from me earlier and not returned it The plane was about to depart and I got into a panic. Trying to hurry through the crowds carrying my heavy bags, I tripped and fell over an iron weighing machine on the floor which I had not seen in the dim light.
I got up and found that I could not lift my right arm. I managed to explain to the customs people that I was in great pain, and got my stuff lifted into the plane. The passengers were all Chinese so I sat in dumb misery for hours, hoping against hope that my arm was only dislocated. To the left, to the right and in front of me were women
and children sick most of the way. The smell was unpleasant, there was no food or water, and I had left the Press Hostel breakfastless at 5:30 a. m. Altogether it was an ordeal.
By the time we got to Shanghai after a stopover in Nanking it was late afternoon and I was dazed with pain and exhaustion. I could hardly get out of the plane much less climb up onto the truck to get to the town. One of the pilots, speaking English, came to my rescue and drove me in his car to the Cathay Hotel.
Here I hoped to find my friend, Cornelius V. Starr, publisher of the Shanghai Evening Post. Thanks to him I was soon in bed at the Shanghai Country Hospital with a shot of morphine. I had a double fracture where the arm joins the shoulder.
Next day my arm was set and strapped and for five weeks I was kept on my back with strict instructions not to move. I was disconsolate at having to waste so much time but Cornelius Starr, for whose insurance companies I had formerly worked in New York as Economic Adviser, produced a secretary for me and asked me to write a regular column for his newspaper. I had never before had the opportunity to write anything I liked and get it published, and this gave me a satisfaction which enabled me to forget the pain and the prospect of never again having completely normal use of my arm.
This was in November and December 1945 when the fiction that the Chinese Communists were just a liberal party unconnected with Moscow was being maintained in almost all the newspapers. It was then still fashionable to pretend that Russia was a democracy and a friend to China, who had no intention of trying either to take over Manchuria or establish a puppet government there and in North China.
I pulled no punches. I showed how Russia's actions paralleled Japan's in the thirties. I wrote of what was happening in Manchuria, from what I had learned in Chungking and from Chinese friends who visited me in the hospital. I demonstrated the connection between Chinese Communist acts and Moscow's policy. I insisted that in helping the Chinese Government to move its troops, guard communications and otherwise prevent anarchy or the partition of China, the United States was defending its own interests and seeking to ensure that the war should not have been fought in vain.
When I was at last able to get up and go out I found myself
Last Chance in China
warmly received in United States Army and Navy circles for having written what many officers thought, but about which there was a conspiracy of silence in the American and Chinese press. To my considerable satisfaction I found also that I had managed to annoy the Communists. My articles brought down on my head the wrath of the Russian press and radio in Shanghai and gave my views greater publicity than they would otherwise have had.
The Soviet Government had captured the formerly "White Russian" (emigre) newspapers in Shanghai; they published also an English-language propaganda sheet; and they had one of the main radio stations which they had run all through the Japanese occupation. The articles and radio talks in which they denounced me contained little substance and much verbiage and abuse. I was smeared as "illiterate," "reactionary," "childish," "fascist," an "enemy of the toiling masses," "an agent of reactionary capitalism," and "working in the interests of the war provocators." I have preserved one typical example, by Lev Grosse in Novosty Dnya of December 12, which as translated from the Russian under the heading Illiterate, Intransigent Miss Utley read as follows:
Many local newspapers pay much attention to a certain Miss Utley, arrived here to carry on anti-Soviet propaganda. This "emancipated" creature obviously has no understanding concerning the Soviet Union. But thisto the foreign reactionary point of view doesn't matter.
The doubly impervious ignorance of this woman can be judged by the fact that she puts the Soviet Union in the same class with Germany and Japan. Russia, it seems, also is imperialistic and aggressive as was formerly Japan and Nazi Germany. The USSR wishes to exploit China, prevent China from becoming a powerful nation, and wishes to get from China all possible concessions and privileges for the purpose of weakening her (China) and provoking civil war.
It appears that this stranger imagines that the whole world consists of idiots who do not know that the USSR is, first of all, a country of toilers, the country which protects the interest of the working class. It seems that Miss Utley has overlooked the October revolution, all of Stalin's 5-year plans, and the meaning of Soviet Socialism. It seems that she has not emerged from the kindergarten of elementary political education. Even elementary school children would laugh at the articles she writes about the Soviet Union because they know more about it than she does. For instance, they
know that the Soviet Union sacrificed 20,000,000 of her sons and daughters to save the world from the infection Nazi-ism and Samurai-ism, that Russia returned Manchuria to China at a cost of 10,000 lives, and that Russia wants to create a stable peace for the whole world and for the workers of the whole world, of which, it seems, Miss Utley does not consider herself a part. It appears that Miss Utley belongs to the enemies of these toilers and answers to some other interest, but not to the interest of humanity. She serves world reaction, provocators of war and the fascist beast. . . .
It is useless work, Miss Utley! Every honest Chinese as well as every honest American will say that the Soviet Union cannot be an aggressive country because of its internal structure, because of its Soviet ideologythe ideology of the toilers, who do not wish to shed the blood of their children for the interest of egoistic and extravagant reactionary capitalists. I have no doubt that Miss Utley will receive deserving gratitude for her activity from her mastersin the form of a proposal (recommendation) to leave China as soon as possible. . . .
Really isn't it clear to you, Miss Utley, that it is not Russia which is a menace to China . . . but you and your brother reactionaries? In fact it is you, but not Soviet Russia, who wants China to be a backward country and wholly dependent on the capitalists of all nationalities, on the industrial magnates who are afraid of losing their market in China! China will stand on her own feet and will create her great industry. In that the Soviet Union will lend her strong support.
No, Miss Utley, you are not worth the blood of our people, you do not merit the respect of humanity!
Having no citizenship and being fearful that the Soviet Government might soon be in a position to force them to return to Russia or have them thrown out of China, the majority of Shanghai's huge Russian colony were most anxious to do nothing to offend the Soviets. Some became Moscow's abject tools prepared to say anything and do anything to please their masters. The more actively anti-Communist they had been in the past the farther they now felt it necessary to go in adulation and subservience to Stalin in order to redeem themselves.
Lev Grosse is a son of the former Czarist consul general in Shanghai, and had once been bitterly anti-Bolshevik. Yet it must have been easier for a former loyal servant of the Czar to believe that Stalin can do no wrong, than for a liberal or Socialist "White Russian."
88 Last Chance in China
Many former reactionaries, conservatives, even aristocrats, had been enticed or driven to embrace the Soviet Union and act as its propagandists, spies and informers. The Social Democrats and Social Revolutionaries for the most part remained unreconciled and had the courage to defy the Soviet Government which was trying to force or persuade all Russians to become Soviet citizens.
There were some young people among the Russians in China who sincerely believed that Soviet Russia was all the propagandists said, and who having had their patriotic fervor aroused by the war longed to return to the fatherland. They had been born in China or having left Russia as young children had no memories of the Revolution. The background of their lives was one of hardship, humiliation and distress. "White Russians" were looked down on by the English, French and Americans as inferiors, and they had had to struggle in the labor market and in small business enterprises against their Chinese hosts. It was little wonder that they longed to believe in the New Russia and to live in their own country instead of as exiles or refugees in a world in which they belonged nowhere. Others again found it pleasant to be able to bully the Chinese who were in such mortal fear of the Soviet Government that the Shanghai police dared not arrest Soviet citizens when they got drunk and disorderly or committed other misdemeanors.
For the most part the former "White Russians" who had fled to China during or shortly after the Revolution were proving as useful to the Soviet Government as they had formerly been to Japan. Most of them had collaborated wholeheartedly with the Japanese and for that very reason were now ready to save themselves by jumping on the Soviet band wagon. Today they constitute valuable Communist auxiliaries. Most of them speak Chinese and few have any affection for China. In any case they are all terrorized by fear of being dragged back to Russia.
I was told in Tientsin that some of them were being used as dummies for the acquisition of Chinese properties by the Soviet Government. According to Vincent Torossian, a United States Marine Intelligence officer, there was evidence that Tientsin Russians both pumped the marines for military information to pass on to the Communists, and offered them fantastic prices to steal American arms, ammunition, trucks and jeeps.
Farther north, in Harbin and other Manchurian cities, the large,
formerly "White" Russian colony was forced to act as Soviet citizens. The Chinese who have a facility for apt description called the emigre Russians radishesred outside and white inside.
As Sergeant Dick Wilson, of the Stars and Stripes, reported in February, 1946, from Mukden, "Once again the threat of railroading to the Siberian salt mines is haunting Russians in Manchuria who years ago fled the Soviet Union." "Hounded residents" of Mukden and Dairen revealed to this young United States correspondent that their lives were "shadowed by NKVD (Soviet secret police), their every move noted, recorded, and interpreted by skilled agents who keep them in line with a program of terror, espionage and intrigue." Both the longings and fears of the Russians in China were brought home to me when Alla, my secretary, told me she did not dare to continue working for me, now that I was being attacked in the Russian press. I was sorry to lose her as we had become very friendly, and she was efficient, intelligent and amiable. It was hard to make out whether she was moved more by fear or by the wish to return to her native land. She did not want to believe the terrible things she had read and heard about the Soviet Union. Her mind told her they were true; her heart longed to disbelieve. She kept on saying that she must go and see for herself even if they killed or imprisoned her when she got there.
In any case she was fearful of the consequences of incurring the anger of the Soviet authorities by working for me, their enemy. She spoke and thought and felt like a character out of Dostoevski, ready for martyrdom, deliberately letting her heart instead of her head guide her actions; longing for love and happiness but believing she was doomed to sorrow, and feeling an inner compulsion to help the fates destroy her. She was clever and well qualified and quite nice-looking, but so sensitive and proud and self-sacrificing that her whole life had been spent in letting herself be victimized. She had for years supported her mother and her brother and her husband, but the last was now happily dead after having lived on her earnings without even being faithful to her.
It was a satisfaction to me before I left China to find she had become engaged to an American officer, and had finally decided against offering herself as a sacrifice to Mother Russia, and for emigration to the United States.
There could be no greater contrast than that between the mystical
90 Last Chance in China
and unpractical old-style Russians, exemplified by Alla, and my Chinese nurses. The nurses had little to make them happy from a Western point of view. They worked very hard, they had little free time and very little money; several of them had been cut off from their families for years by the war and did not know if their parents were dead or alive. But they thought they were lucky and they were always smiling, cheerful and ready to go to any amount of trouble to make one comfortable. They were extremely fond of the matron, an exceptional English woman who spoke Chinese fluently and had devoted her life for twenty years to training nurses in China. Miss Bowerman astonished and pleased them by promoting her nurses according to their qualifications and their capacities instead of according to whether they were English, Russians, Eurasians or Chinese, as had been the custom in Western hospitals in China. I am sure that one could not have been better nursed anywhere, and in addition the whole atmosphere of the place was kind and friendly instead of stiff with discipline.
My favorite nurses were a charming and very pretty girl called Gloria, who had nursed in an American Army hospital during the war, and Miss Wu, an older, sadder woman who had worked in Shanghai all through the Japanese occupation. Neither of them wished to marry. Why, said the vivacious Gloria, should she exchange her pleasant useful independent life for that of a Chinese wife ? And she would tell me what a dreadful life her mother had had with her father who spent his time and money on concubines while his wife slaved at home.
Without conscious cynicism Gloria told me how her father "being a patriot" had gone off to Chungking with all the money, and left her mother to manage anyway she could to support the family in Shanghai.
The hospital I was in was being run by a British Red Cross unit for the sick who had been in Japanese concentration camps, but there was one floor for paying patients. On the whole, the ex-prisoners told me, they had not been brutally treated. But they had always been hungry and had suffered terribly from cold. It was chilly enough in the hospital, but we were among the lucky few in Shanghai whose radiators had not been carted off by the Japanese and we had enough coal to have heat for three hours every day.
Miss Bowerman had been in the retreat with the Chinese Army in Kweichow the previous winter. She had slept on the ground in the snow and shared all the hardships of the Chinese soldiers. She had organized a hospital for the children among the starving frozen refugees and saved many lives with food obtained from Australia by the Red Cross. She was one of those rare people whose motivating force in life is healing and helping. She wasted no time condemning the Chinese for all the misery around her, but at once set out to do something about it. She loved the country and the people, understood their philosophy and recognized their qualities as well as their defects. Her sane and merciful attitude, her cool competence, sense of humor and kindness made her a most satisfactory person to talk to. When the time finally came for me to leave the hospital I departed with regret.
"The Chinese now are in a very suspicious mood after their long ordeal. Everybody is suspicious of everybody else. There is suspicion of the capitalists, of the foreigners, of the landowners, of the government; the people who lived through the occupation hate those who come from Free China; the Chungking people accuse the people of the liberated areas of having been collaborators. Hate and jealousy are today the driving force of politics."
This was the melancholy verdict of an old Chinese friend I talked to in Shanghai. In formerly Japanese-occupied territory as in the countries which Germany had occupied, liberation had brought neither bread nor warmth nor justice and freedom. It was a bitterly cold winter and coal was almost as precious as gold. The Communists had destroyed the railways and stopped the mines from working. Finally the Americans and the British brought fuel to Shanghai by boat but most of it had to be used for light and power. Broadway Mansions, where the United States Army Air Forces and the press lived, and where I secured a room when I left the hospital, was about the only building in Shanghai with regular hot water and heating. The majority of the Chinese had neither heat nor warm clothing nor enough to eat. Since organization and distribution of supplies was worse than under the Japanese the people were suffering even more now than before the liberation. The most bitter disappointment was the behavior of the liberators. There was not, it is true,
92 Last Chance in China
anything in the nature of the wholesale killings and executions which marked the return of the emigre government to France. It was not in the Chinese character to condemn as traitors all who had in any way "collaborated" with the Japanese in order to earn a living. But much property was confiscated and there was some outright robbery of the people of Shanghai by the "patriots" or carpetbaggers from Chungking.
As always in China, there was more corruption than persecution. In Europe, lust for vengeance rather than desire for money motivated the atrocities and injustices perpetrated by the "liberators." In China many were dispossessed of their property or ruined by exactions but few were murdered "legally" or by mob violence. What was most shocking was the fact that the representatives of the Chungking Government used the opportunity to enrich themselves either by taking possession of or selling to others the property of the "collaborators," or letting real collaborators or ex-puppets continue to enjoy their ill-gotten gains in return for fat bribes.
The Chinese, left to themselves, would probably never have had the idea of confiscating private property. They might also have been expected to have the common sense to encourage every factory in Shanghai to continue working instead of confiscating the Japanese and puppet-owned ones, thus closing them down. If they had followed their natural rational behavior pattern, they would not have treated as collaborators, whose property had to be confiscated, those who had merely bowed to necessity and kept themselves and their workers alive through the long hard years of the Japanese occupation. But their allies were continually criticizing the lack of democracy in China, and vengeance was now held to be a primary democratic virtue. If they had not sealed up enemy and puppet property, if reconstruction had been recognized as more immediately important than retribution, the factories would have been kept working and there would not have been such wide unemployment and such a steep rise in commodity prices. But there would have been a storm of criticism from the Left. Thus the debased standards of Western democracy gave the worst elements in China a good excuse to feather their own nests to the hurt of the nation.
The best as well as the worst aspects of the Chinese character as of their government were to be seen in Shanghai. The Chinese are venal,
but they lack the revengeful and self-righteous spirit of the West. They showed themselves more humane and rational in their national and individual behavior toward the vanquished enemy than we, the Americans, British and French. The Chinese were capable of saying, "There but for the grace of God, go I," even when they had had at their mercy the people whose soldiers and government had ravaged and oppressed China for eight years. To the Chinese, the Japanese and Germans remained individual people. The conception of collective guilt which we have taken over from the Nazis and the Communists is foreign to their ethics and their reason.
China's essentially civilized attitude toward the defeated was often misconstrued. There were not wanting American correspondents in Shanghai who interpreted it as "sympathy with the fascists" and continually urged the Chinese to adopt the maxim, "Do as you have been done by," instead of adhering to the Confucian and Christian saying, "Do unto others as you would that they should do unto you."
One of the most unpleasant manifestations of the so-called Christian Western world's attempt to teach the Chinese how to be civilized and modern was the reiterated demand that they lock up every Japanese and German in Shanghai. Several of the American correspondents seemed to think that the main purpose of a victorious "democratic" nation was to extract an eye for an eye. They were indignant when they visited the camp for interned Germans and found that the prisoners had plenty to eat and were not otherwise ill-treated. They thought the Chinese very remiss because the Japanese civilian population of Shanghai was allowed freedom of movement in Hongkew, the former Japanese concession. When Chiang Kai-shek came to Shanghai in February 1946, the only question the Scripps-Howard correspondent had was one concerning the freedom of some Germans in China. The Generalissimo in his answer showed both courage and a truly democratic outlook. He said, "The Nazis who were our enemies are imprisoned. We do not consider every German national an enemy."
Thus in spite of their failure as yet to establish a democratic government, in some respects the Chinese have shown a greater regard than the Western powers for the moral and legal precepts which are the foundation of democratic government. We have abandoned the concept of equality before the law in favor of racial discrimina-
94 Last Chance in China
tion in our treatment of the conquered. As Anne O'Hara McCor-mick reported in the New York Times, there is an "interallied convention that the word of a German shall never be taken against that of an ally."
The Chinese, having themselves suffered so long by being treated as racial inferiors, might be expected to abhor such race distinctions. But it is not always that a people has the fairness and wisdom to recognize that the precepts it wishes applied to itself must also be adhered to in the treatment of others.
The Chinese are also loyal people. They remembered that in the early stages of Japan's war against them Germany had been a main source of China's armament imports, and that even when the Nazi Government withdrew the German military mission in the summer of 1938, some German officers had braved Hitler's wrath by remaining in Chiang Kai-shek's service.
It was more than a little ironical that the same Americans who had continued for years to help Japan by letting her buy scrap iron, oil and machinery, now insisted that even Germans who had helped China should be interned or sent to a ruined Germany. It was one of the best traits of the Chinese that, at a time when America held over them the power to save them from Russia or abandon them, their government refused to treat all Germans as "war criminals," and to hand over the individual officers who in 1938 had refused to return to Germany, sacrificed their careers in the German Army and risked the loss of their citizenship in order to continue serving China.
One evening in Shanghai I was invited by General Tang En-po, the commander of the Chinese forces in the area, to a dinner given by the Japanese interned in Hongkew. There were five American officers present and a few Chinese. Our Japanese "hosts" served a Japanese dinner in a Japanese room and afterward gave us an excellent concert. When I arrived and seated myself on the floor with the others, I felt ill at ease. For years I had inveighed against the Japanese for their bullying of China, their aggression, the atrocities they had committed and their hypocrisy. But now they were defeated, broken and defenseless. The last thing I wanted to do was to crow over them now that they were the oppressed instead of the oppressors.
In a very short time I ceased to feel uncomfortable because the Chinese were so courteous and unconstrained. As the sake flowed
and the geishas sang, the American officers also came to feel at ease. Brigadier General Middleton who was so huge and genial that I thought he must be a Texan, but who actually came from Connecticut, sang an American ballad following the Japanese songs. Tang En-po congratulated the Japanese performers, asked about conditions in the camp and in general behaved as Europeans once did, or are supposed to have done, in the Age of Chivalry. Altogether it was a heart-warming occasion which showed up the best qualities of victors and vanquished alike.
Left alone, the Chinese would probably have had the common sense to make use of the technical capacities of the defeated enemy. One reason why Chinese industry is today in such a parlous condition is the lack of engineers, mechanics and other qualified personnel. The factories taken over from the Japanese, or liberated after having been confiscated by Japan, are of little use without competent people to run them. And China's claim to reparations from Japan proper are often met with the argument that the Chinese could not make much use of machinery taken from Japan. Having defeated her, the Chinese would have done well for themselves to utilize Japanese talent and training in Chinese interests. I am not advocating that China should have copied the Russians, French and even the English, who are keeping millions of German ex-prisoners of war as slave laborers in farms and factories. It would have been easy for the Chinese to hire, on a voluntary basis, thousands of Japanese technicians now jobless and homeless. The Chinese cannot afford to employ Americans or British on a wide scale, but they could afford to employ Japanese and even Germans. A wonderful opportunity was indeed open to China to reverse the prewar relations with Japan by using the Japanese and exploiting their talents and training instead of being used and exploited by them.
It seemed to me that what prevented the adoption of such an intelligent and rational policy was mainly the attitude of China's allies in the war. An outraged protest would have arisen from Americans, British and Russians and in particular from the so-called liberals of the Western world if China had used her ex-enemies to help her reconstruct and rehabilitate her economy. Mr. Clarence E. Gauss, the former United States ambassador to China, now an official of the Export-Import Bank, was in fact reported in the Shanghai news-
96 Last Chance in China
papers to have given as a reason for refusing a loan to China the possibility that some Japanese and German technicians might be employed to help build up China's industries.
The cost of vengeance is always high. China was forced to pay it in order to appear "democratic." One result is that some American military men now look on Japan as a better bet than China as a counterweight to Russia's aggressive imperialism in the Far East.
Although extraterritorial rights had been given up by the Western powers in 1943 the "Shanghai mind" had not fundamentally changed. The imperialist-minded members among the foreign community in Shanghai, although they had perforce to accept the new situation in which theoretically and legally the white man and the Chinese were equal, were no more willing than in the past to see China united, fully mistress in her own house, and helped by American capital and know-how to develop into a strong and independent nation.
Since the Communists were now the one element in China which could be counted on to prevent China from becoming united, independent and strong, it was perhaps not really surprising to find that many old China hands regarded them favorably.
The situation was ironical to anyone who remembered how, in 1927, the Shanghai taipans had hailed Chiang Kai-shek as their deliverer from the Communist menace. Their changed attitude toward the Communists and Russia could be understood only if one remembered how the die-hard racists, or simple seekers for easy profits, had at one time also been benevolently neutral toward the Japanese.
When the Japanese, in 1932, fought the Chinese Nineteenth Route Army in Shanghai, the prevailing sentiment among the foreigners there had been that it would be a "jolly good thing" if Japan taught China a lesson. They had made excuses for, or had no objection to, the rape of Manchuria and Japan's subsequent setting up of so-called autonomous regimes in the North, and encouragement of any and every separatist tendency in China. Their attitude had not changed until the Japanese started attacking Western interests, privileges and treaty rights. Why, therefore, today should one expect them to worry about what Russia and her agents were doing to China ?
The really remarkable transformation which had taken place was in the attitude of foreign liberals.
In the twenties all who called themselves liberals had demanded that China be freed, helped to reconstruct her economy and attain unity and national independence. Now, however, many self-styled liberals voiced strong disapproval of the American Government's support of China in its efforts to attain precisely these objectives. A decade earlier the liberals had condemned Japan for setting up so-called autonomous regimes in North China, and for using force and intimidation to encourage every separatist tendency which would prevent Chinese unity and render Japan's aggression easy. Now some of the very same individuals who had condemned both Japan and the "Shanghai-minded" foreigners who sympathized with her, were all in favor of the Communists setting up autonomous regimes, maintaining a private army and laying China open to Russian aggression. They failed even to condemn the manner in which Russia was taking advantage of China's internal difficulties to try to extort concessions in Manchuria which would have given Russia the same absolute control as Japan had enjoyed after 1931.
General Hurley had sensed the unity of outlook and aim between the reactionary foreigners and the Communists when he said in November 1945: "Professional American foreign policy sided with the Chinese Communist Party and the imperialist bloc of nations whose policy it was to keep China divided against herself."
The Russian newspapers also recognized that there was a limited short-term community of interest in the Far East between the old and new imperialists. Hurley had specifically exonerated the British Government from blame and obviously referred to British, American and other foreign die-hard opponents of Chinese unity and independence. The Russian press, however, spoke of "the disquiet in England over the intentions of American politicians of General Hurley's type to take advantage of the American dissatisfaction with British behavior in India, Palestine and the Dutch East Indies, in order to squeeze England out of those places and strengthen the American position there." (Pravda, December 1, 1945)
The curious similarity in the views of old China hands unreconciled to the loss of their imperialist privileges, and those of the Communist sympathizers who called themselves liberals, was continually apparent in conversation and in the foreign press. Like the Japanese before the war, the die-hard conservatives and the neo-liberals con-
98 Last Chance in China
sidered the Chinese Nationalists unfit to govern and damned them on all counts. The only difference between them was that the former thought all Chinese unfit to govern themselves while the latter thought that the Chinese who accepted Russian tutelage would rule wisely, justly and well. Both were equally convinced that there is something so rotten in the state of China, or of her government, that she is undeserving of support and sympathy. Anyone who remembered that Mr. Gauss had been United States consul general in Shanghai in 1926-27, when the Shanghai taipans had wished to crush the Chinese Revolution by force of arms, could not be but amused to find him warmly praised by the Left in 1945, when he urged the United States to "go slow" in giving loans to China.
If one viewed the situation in historical perspective the amazing thing was that so few foreigners saw the parallel. One might have expected that men without Communist sympathies, some of whom had themselves suffered years of imprisonment in Japanese camps, would by now have realized that they stood to lose as much by the overthrow of the Chinese Government by Russia's puppets as by the former Japanese conquests. Instead they wittingly or unwittingly gave aid and comfort to the Communists.
To me it seemed like an old play revived with a new set of actors under new management. In the years 1936 to 1940, when one spoke in favor of strong diplomatic action and economic measures to stop Japanese pressure or aggression, one was not only denounced and vilified by the Japanese, one was accused of "wanting war" between the United States or Britain and Japan. How often had I been told, both in the United States where I had lectured for the American Committee for Nonparticipation in Japanese Aggression, and in England where I spoke for the China Campaign Committee, that I ought not to "provoke war" by suggesting that action be taken to stop Japan! We should, one was told, continue to be friendly to Japan and continue to supply her with war materials with which to fight the Chinese, since any other course would lead to war.* Now it was argued that we
* In 1938 the United States supplied Japan with 90.9% of her copper imports, 90.4% of her scrap iron and steel, 65.6% of ferroalloys, 76.9% of her aircraft and aircraft parts, 65.6% of vehicles and parts and 45.5% of her lead. Following the outbreak of the war in Europe the percentages became higher still. Although finally in July 1941 Japanese funds in the United States were frozen, thus precluding further large purchases, no complete embargo had been placed on war-material exports to Japan when she attacked Pearl Harbor.
must avoid a clash with Russia at all costs and bring about peace in China by concessions to the Communists.
Cynics say that the only lesson history teaches is that mankind learns nothing from history. The reason is, no doubt, that in each epoch the roles of "villain" and "hero" are played by different actors. Moreover human beings are naturally inclined to condone actions taken by a seemingly friendly power, or an ally, which they condemn when committed by a hostile or rival country. Only a minority recognizes that in international affairs, as in society, there can be no lasting peace and security until universal principles of justice and rules of conduct are established and enforced.
All this is not to say that the American and British community in Shanghai did not contain many people who not only welcomed the end of extraterritoriality and other lost imperialist privileges in China, but also understood very well that their own and their country's best interests would be served by the emergence of a strong and independent China. There were not wanting businessmen, as well as Embassy and Consular officials and army and navy officers, who appreciated the difficulties of the National Government and sought to give aid in the solution of its well-nigh insoluble problems.
General Olmsted, Chief of G-5 at United States Army Headquarters, said to me in an interview that he divided foreign businessmen in China into three categories:
The old China hands who had never put anything into China but just taken out profits. These would like to have China still in effect a colonial territory, and did not wish to help her reconstruction. (He would like to see all these sent home.)
Those who had done business in China in the past but recognized that the old privileges and easy profits were of necessity gone forever. They hoped, however, to be able to enjoy the same profits as in the "good old days" because the venality of Chinese officials might be expected to enable them to enjoy as privileged a position in postwar China as in the days of extraterritoriality.
Those whose first approach to China had not been through the prewar residents in Shanghai and other treaty ports: businessmen and others who had entered China through the back door, so to speak, in Chungking during the war yearsthese, he said, were ready and willing to treat the Chinese as equal partners and friends. A good
100 Last Chance in China
example was the CNAC which was a profitable undertaking. The Pan-American Airways people had been willing to have Chinese as chairmen and vice-chairmen but had themselves supplied, or helped to train, the technicians, and had given the Chinese the know-how so badly needed. C. V. Starr, although an old China hand, was another example of enlightened foreign business interests since he had built up a huge insurance business before the war by taking in the Chinese as equal partners.
It was General Olmsted's opinion that the Chinese Government had acted eminently fairly as regards foreign property. It was willing to restore it in the former Japanese-occupied territory, only insisting that an end be put to the old privileged status of foreigners in China.
Many Americans did not agree with General Olmsted. There was in particular much bitterness on the automobile question. The Japanese had taken possession of every automobile they could lay their hands on. After the surrender these had come into the possession of the Chinese Army. The former residents of Shanghai coming out of internment or returning to China from abroad were indignant when they failed to obtain possession of their property. Most of them eventually got their cars back but it often took a long time, and there was great indignation when a certain United States Army colonel said that the Chinese Army had greater need of the automobiles than the foreign businessmen and should be allowed to keep them.
Since new cars could not be bought, and transport in the huge city of Shanghai with its streetcars filled to overflowing was a real problem, the automobile question caused a lot of ill feeling. According to the conception of the rules of war as applied by the Russians in Eastern and Central Europe the foreigners in Shanghai would have lost much more than a few old automobiles. Everything ever in Japanese possession, however acquired, would have been accounted Chinese "war booty." Every building, business and factory formerly owned by foreigners and taken over by the Japanese during the occupation would have become Chinese property.
The Chinese, unlike the Russians, were scrupulous in this regard. Only such properties as, for instance, the towering near-skyscraper Broadway Mansions sold to Japan by the British before Pearl Harbor, were taken over by the Chinese Government. Properties seized by Japan after she was at war with Britain and America were recog-
nized as belonging to their former owners. Yet the foreigners in Shanghai were far more voluble in their resentment over the loss of their automobiles than the American investors who have lost factories and mines, buildings and equipment in Rumania, Bulgaria, Poland and the Russian zone in Germany. As usual a different standard was applied in dealing with China and Russia. The very same journalists who persisted in adopting a friendly attitude to the Soviet Union and the Chinese Communists wrote angry diatribes against the Chinese authorities on the automobile question.
On the bigger question of the administration of Shanghai, the foreigners had much more serious matters to complain about than the restitution of a few old automobiles. It would have been better for China if the transition from foreign to Chinese control of the International Settlement and French Concession could have been gradual. Shanghai is one of the largest cities and ports in the world, and China's main industrial center. It was by no means a simple task to administer it, and the few Chinese who had the necessary qualifications were not fully made use of. Those who had stayed in Shanghai through the occupation had little chance of getting jobs in the administration. And the type of official sent down from Chungking after Shanghai's liberation was too often of the carpetbagger type. Many regarded their jobs as an opportunity to make up for the lean years in the interior at the expense of those they considered as having failed to sacrifice for the nation by their failure to come to Free China.
The better part of Shanghai had formerly been the International Settlement and the French Concession. Since extraterritoriality had been abolished the former international police force was now replaced by Chinese police who were inadequately trained, poorly paid, and unable to cope with the gangsters and robbers of the city. Foreign merchants complained with justice of the serious robbery and pilfering of their goods in warehouses. UNRRA officials were often dismayed at seeing stolen supplies in use or on sale in Shanghai.
On the other hand some of the horrible sights one used to see in Shanghai were absent. I never saw Chinese policemen beating the rickshawmen and coolies as the Sikh police of the International Settlement had been used to do. There seemed to be less bullying of the poor and favoritism of the rich, even if there were more robbery and thieving than in the past. Many foreigners who complained loudly
102 Last Chance in China
concerning conditions in Shanghai were in reality expressing their resentment at the loss of their former privileged status as men and women of the white race. They considered it intolerable to have to ride in streetcars together with the Chinese, and they would not willingly adapt themselves in any way to the new conditions of equality of race.
It must, however, be admitted that the transformation of Shanghai from a foreign city on Chinese soil into a part of China showed up as under a neon light the shortcomings of the Chinese Government. In the old days foreigners, secure in the foreign-administered "Treaty Ports," had not cared much what went on in the interior of China. Now the state of China as a whole was their immediate concern since there were no more foreign enclaves of security, order and good government. If China were in disorder the foreigners suffered with the Chinese. And few foreign businessmen had the tolerance and wisdom to be patient and to take into account the tremendous problems faced by the Government of China. Instead they gloated over China's failures as demonstrating the unfitness of the Chinese to govern themselves, and as a proof that the old and dead "unequal treaties," giving foreigners special privileges and the right to their own settlements on Chinese soil had been justified and should never have been annulled.
As John Kullgren of the United States Military Intelligence said to me, "The Chinese Government should have realized that Shanghai is China's great show window. Many foreigners judge China entirely by Shanghai. If a great effort had been made to put on a good show there, few people would have cared what was happening in the interior."
Morally, as in France, the war and foreign occupation had left deep wounds. A people who have lived long in conditions in which there is no respect for law because the government is an alien tyranny, naturally take time to come back to law-abiding habits and regard for the interests of the community. Shanghai, which used to share with Suez the reputation of being the most immoral city in the world, had always had more than its share of gangsters and racketeers; and the Chinese had never had much respect for government or national obligations. Small wonder that speculation, illegal deals, corrupt
practices, black markets and robbery under the guise of patriotism flourished even more luxuriantly than in France.
It had always been a Chinese contention that the foreign concessions fostered and encouraged gangsters and prostitution, and that the evil example of the West destroyed "the law-abiding nature of the Chinese." It would have been more correct to say that the impact of the Western world on China had destroyed the old morality of her people without giving them a new one in exchange.
It was too much to expect that the Chinese, after having for so long been the underdog in their own country, should suddenly be able to take over and administer a Western-created metropolis, which ranked among the first half-dozen cities of the world in size and as a port and industrial center. As one of England's wise old China hands, Mr. Findlay Stuart of Butterfield and Swire, said to me in Shanghai, it would have been far better for the Chinese, as well as for the foreigners, if the process of abolishing extraterritoriality had been gradual, as had been planned before the Sino-Japanese War. The Western Powers had then been prepared to abandon their special rights and privileges as the Chinese became ready to administer Shanghai and other Treaty Ports. Now, instead of a slow transition from foreign to Chinese control, the difficult problems created both by liberation and by the change-over from foreign to Chinese administration confronted a government whose main energies were engaged in seeking for a solution of the Communist problem, and on recovery of its Northern provinces.
The National Government was also far less capable than in 1937 of administering Shanghai and other former Japanese-occupied areas. Its cadres of experienced administrators had been destroyed or dispersed during the war. Those who remained had lost their contacts and influence, since in some places the Japanese, in others the Communists, had broken the web of government by executions and expulsions of both patriots and "collaborators."
The Chinese Government would have lost face but it would undoubtedly have gained materially if the foreigners who had formerly administered Shanghai and the Chinese Customs Service had been asked to do so again until such time as the National Government was prepared to take over the task. Shanghai might then have become
104 Last Chance in China
an enclave of security and good administration into which capital could flow instead of seeking shelter abroad or in British-administered Hong Kong. Trade would also certainly have been easier to revive. It was no doubt politically impossible for Chiang Kai-shek to leave Shanghai temporarily under partial foreign administration. But his government could at least have employed some of the foreigners emerging from Japanese concentration camps at their old jobs in the customs, police and other services until there were enough qualified Chinese personnel to take their places.
That Chiang Kai-shek realized the difficult tasks created by the abolition of extraterritoriality was shown by the speech he made in Shanghai in February, in which he stressed the responsibilities which freedom brings equally with his satisfaction that the Kuomintang had at long last fulfilled the first principle of the San Min Chu I: national independence.
Shanghai was an example of the paradox that the war for China had lasted both too long and ended too quickly. The well-nigh insoluble economic problems which face China today are the legacy of the long war which imposed too great burdens and of the Japanese occupation which weakened the moral fiber of the nation. At the same time Japan's sudden collapse so soon after Germany's defeat was a disaster for the Chinese.
If the war had ended in a series of victorious campaigns, driving the Japanese out of China and re-establishing the authority of the Central Government over the lost provinces one by one, there would have been time for gradual recovery under the stimulus of victory. All the economic and political problems of a great but poor country suddenly liberated would not have been dumped into the lap of the Central Government at once.
China, it seemed to me in the winter of 1946-47, was like a man wounded and starving and long confined to prison who was suddenly required to stand up and cope with the responsibilities of a free life and faced at the same time with a new enemy seeking to put him in another prison.
Both politically and economically there was no transition period from war to peace. Economically China would have benefited enormously if the breaking of the blockade had come many months before victory instead of immediately preceding it. For her Lend-Lease of
necessity never constituted more than a trickle of supplies.* It came to an end at the moment when it was about to turn into a flood. Consequently the country which fought first and longest against the common enemy faced the future with incomparably less accumulated American supplies than Britain or Russia.
To take only China's greatest need, transport: She received a inert fraction of the hundreds of thousands of trucks given to Russia and England. True, she was now getting UNRRA supplies, but in view of her huge population they contributed only a drop in the bucket of her misery. UNRRA allocations to China amounted to only about $1.25 per capita, as against $20.70 to Poland; $27.50 to Yugoslavia; $6.40 to White Russia, and $4.60 to the Ukraine.
Greece with a population about equal to that of the city of Shanghai had received a toal of $700,000,000 of UNRRA and British aid by the end of 1946 as against China's total of $535,000,000. Little Czechoslovakia which neither fought in the war nor was devastated received $270,000,000 from UNRRAhalf of what was given to China.
The unexpected manner in which the war ended was also politically disastrous. For years China had been leaning all her weight to hold back a pressure now suddenly removed. Small wonder that she toppled over and moved perilously close to disintegration! The expectation of a great land campaign against Japan in the south had caused the concentration there of China's best troops and left the North open for the Communists to flood following Japan's surrender.
Even if the administration of Shanghai had been all that could be desired many foreign businessmen would still have been hostile to the National Government. For a hundred years the white man, backed by his governments, his banks and the treaty privileges wrested from China by force, had reaped the main profits from China's foreign trade. Now he had to compete with the Chinese on something less
* Following the Quebec Conference Winston Churchill said in Parliament that "after all the lavish aid which America has given to China, these defeats in China are most disappointing and vexatious." This singularly unfair and ungracious remark was made at a time when about 98% of American supplies were going to Europe and the Chinese were receiving only two-tenths of 1% of Lend-Lease. The Chinese could rightly ask whether the British Isles would not have been conquered by Hitler if England had received as little help as China from America.
106 Last Chance in China
than equal terms. Conditions which would have seemed natural in South America or Europe were considered an outrage in China.
During 1946, when little control was exerted over trade and exchange and China's imports rose above the 1936 level, there was profitable business for all, but many foreigners already felt the keen competition of Chinese traders. By the end of the year, when China's adverse balance of trade, depletion of foreign-exchange reserves and ever mounting inflation forced the government to ban luxury imports and institute import quotas and licenses for all imports, many foreign firms found themselves squeezed to the wall. Whether or not they were right in saying that licenses to import were unfairly allocated, there was not nearly enough trade to go around among old and new, foreign and Chinese importers.
Moreover China's scarcity economy was inevitably leading to increasing state control of her economy. Such controls were in fact even more necessary than they had been in America during the war, but it was not to be expected that many foreigners would see the matter in that light. Before I left China loud complaints were already being raised against the unfair competition and "monopolistic tendencies" of the Chinese Government agencies set up to buy commodities abroad and distribute them in China. The Chinese Universal Trading Company in New York was likened by some Americans to Russia's Amtorg and accused of supervising and controlling the whole China trade. As early as February 1946 the American National Foreign Trade Council and the China-American Chamber of Commerce and Industry appealed to the State Department to concern itself with "the drift toward increasing State control of industry and trade in China."
Of course, if the Chinese Government had not instituted such controls and had let Chinese and foreign merchants buy and sell as they pleased, there would have been no less of an outcry from the Left at home and abroad that the government was doing nothing to check profiteering, stabilize exchange and prices, and ensure the use of available foreign exchange for the import of necessities for the people and capital goods for reconstruction.
Since China had neither a free economy nor a competently and honestly administered controlled economy her government was, as usual, blamed by both conservatives and "progressives," capitalists
and Communists, advocates of laissez faire and advocates of a planned economy. And the least prejudiced observer had to admit that the remedies instituted by the government with the aim of restoring China's disintegrating economy often proved worse than the disease. The venality of public officials, nepotism and the tremendous power and influence of the Soongs and Kungs and other financial magnates and their clients, combined with the lack of a competent civil service, balked even the best meant efforts to revive industry and exports, stabilize prices and ensure that China's small foreign-exchange resources be used as economically and usefully as possible.
The net effect of stringent exchange controls and the licensing of imports was not to curb speculation, divert capital into productive enterprise and halt the rise in prices. Precisely the reverse effect was accomplished. Merchants and government officials, who had previously speculated in foreign exchange and imported luxury goods, now speculated instead in the necessities of life, thus pushing prices ever higher. The insecurity created by the civil war and the runaway inflation naturally discouraged productive investment and encouraged the use of capital in hoarding of commodities and speculation. Nor did the rich and powerful find much difficulty in circumventing the foreign-exchange regulations in order to export capital for investment in the United States or South America instead of in China.
On February 16, 1947, Chiang Kai-shek announced that all individuals and corporations with holdings abroad must report them and at once sell them to the government or to the Chinese banks. But no one seriously believed that top-ranking government officials would be forced to obey this order. Chiang Kai-shek might tell them that "the survival of the nation is at stake" and call upon "all patriots" to join him in "working out the salvation of the nation," but he did not, or could not, give the new Premier Chang Chun the power to compel them to liquidate their huge foreign holdings and bring their capital back to China. If he were to do so Chiang would inevitably be forced to rely more than ever on the Kuomintang "reactionaries," since, generally speaking, it is Westernized "liberals," not the so-called reactionaries and land-owning classes, who have accumulated fortunes abroad.
Nor could it be expected that confidence in the security of investment in China would be restored by exhortations or decrees promising
Last Chance in China
that hoarders and profiteers would be "punished as severely as the crisis requires." The flight of capital abroad or to Hong Kong, or its use in harmful speculation, would continue until the civil war ended, until revenue commensurate with expenditures could be raised, the printing presses cease to be the main source of government revenue and the government's credit restored.
While lack of confidence precluded the possibility of raising revenue through the sale of government bonds, lack of competent and honest administrative personnel made it impossible to raise enough through direct taxation in the cities. Chiang Kai-shek, when announcing in February 1947 that "rough and ready justice" would henceforth be applied in the collection of taxes, admitted that "since we have not developed a modern accounting system, collection of income and other direct taxes has proved very ineffective."
It seemed to me doubtful whether the disapproval of the Chinese National Government voiced by the foreign business community, and its opposition to a United States loan to China, was due to its disapproval of the corruption and ineffectiveness of the Chinese administration. In days gone by foreign businessmen in China had not worried themselves about the shortcomings of the Chinese Government, provided it left them a clear field for profit-making. The real grievance of both old and new China hands was state interference and participation in trade on the part of both the United States and Chinese Governments which cut out the foreign middleman's profits. This was evidenced by the attitude of Shanghai businessmen toward UNRRA.
True that CNRRA, the Chinese distribution agency for UNRRA goods, was not without the usual failings of Chinese Government agencies. But the real complaint of American businessmen was that UNRRA was giving away goods to the Chinese which they would have liked to sell to them. This was demonstrated in April 1946 when the American Chamber of Commerce at Shanghai submitted to UNRRA proposals of ways in which nonrelief goods could be marketed through commercial channels. It may also be suspected that the tender solicitude for the Chinese Communists in the distribution of UNRRA1 goods, displayed by many American capitalists in China, was not unconnected with their desire to see noncommercial imports
to China distributed as far away as possible from their own hunting grounds.
Incidentally it should be noted that a quite different standard was applied by UNRRA officials themselves in dealing with the Chinese and with the Russians and their satellites.
No one ever suggested that the Polish Government should be required to distribute UNRRA supplies to the underground opposition, or that the Soviet Government should see to it that a due proportion of UNRRA goods be allocated to the millions of political opponents of the Soviet regime in Russian concentration camps. But in China it was insisted that the government should send UNRRA goods to the Communists who were fighting against it. Moreover, in Yugoslavia Marshal Tito's government was permitted to sell UNRRA relief supplies in shops at prices so high that the people, unaware that they were buying American gifts, complained of the high prices charged by the United States. Tito was thus able to accumulate huge profits to maintain his antidemocratic army as well as obtaining the use of UNRRA trucks and construction goods for military purposes. Similarly in the Ukraine and White Russia UNRRA supplies were sold to the people by the government. But in China the practice of selling UNRRA goods through commercial channels, followed in other UNRRA countries, was banned. The reason given was the impossibility of establishing a rationing system and price controls,* but this explanation hardly holds water. The very fact that China has no rationing system and effective price control made it the more necessary to allow sales to bring down prices by natural economic processes. In countries where rationing was in force, it would have been both more practicable and fairer to allocate UNRRA supplies free.
But when China, in February 1947, asked permission to convert her remaining UNRRA allocation into consumer in place of durable goods and to be allowed to sell cotton and grain to bring down prices, rectify the unfavorable trade balance and promote an industrial revival, an outraged protest was raised in the American press which accused the National Government of wanting to sell relief on the
* Statement by General Lowell W. Rook, Director General of UNRRA in China, on February 10, 1947.
Last Chance in China
"black market." And the UNRRA office in China protested that since UNRRA was a "nonpolitical agency" it should give no direct aid to the National Government's efforts to bolster China's shaky economy.
I have not so far mentioned the British in Shanghai, although I met more English people than at any time since leaving England to become an American.
No longer the lords of the universe, now resigned to taking a back seat and to the shrinking of their Empire and their influence, but also happily absolved from responsibility in the Far East, the British in China are not doing so badly. For one thing they are satisfied with small profits and no longer expect to make a fortune in a few years as some Americans still do. For another their goods arrive to be sold, while no American can be sure whether strikes or gifts to the world will hold up his shipments. Lastly old China hands who know the old ways, while ready to adapt themselves to the new, are to be found mainly among the British.
The British, never having expected the people of China to stop being Chinese, are less disillusioned than Americans and more realistic in their dealings. As one of them said to me in Shanghai: "We can sit back and wait for the Americans to break their necks. Some by now want only to clear out. And the Chinese who expected miracles from America will turn to us when trade ceases to depend on politics and handouts. Moreover we understand finance and trade much better than the Americans, and are also less conservative.
"Funny how the Americans who are so up-to-date in industrial techniques, are rigid conservatives when it comes to finance and banking. There's still life in the old British lion, and he is better at learning new tricks than the American eagle."
It was perhaps a symptom of the changing times that the British North China Daily News was more realistic about China's economic and political problems, and far less inclined to exonerate the Chinese Communists, than the American Shanghai Evening Post. My association with the one American daily paper in Shanghai had come to an abrupt end when its former editor, Randall Gould, came back to China in late December. Although personally friendly he had no lik-
ing for the views I had been freely expressing while the paper was edited by Charles E. Miner. Not that Charlie Miner agreed with me eitherlike the GI's in Kunming he wanted to leave China to the Chinese, but he was a Midwestern American without Communist sympathies and with old-fashioned ideas about free speech.
I thought that the course of events would soon change Randall Gould's tune. He was not a Communist and he would be sure to change his views once he realized that Russia threatened America. He was typical of the kind of liberals who consider that to be progressive you must be kind to Communists. Also he was a good journalist who went with the tide. Later on, as I relate in a subsequent chapter, Randall Gould began to take a different line following the revelations concerning the Red Army's reign of terror in Manchuria.
The British-owned North China Daily News asked me to write for them as soon as my column stopped appearing in the Shanghai Evening Post. But I was anxious to get back to Chungking while the Political Consultative Council meetings which followed the January 13 truce were proceeding. Moreover I was by this time the accredited correspondent of Reader's Digest and could now travel free on U. S. Army planes to visit the several other places I had in mind.
Although I had enjoyed Shanghai's cosmopolitan cocktail parties and excellent Chinese food, and had made some good friends there, I had had more than enough of the metropolis on the Yangtze. It seems to me to combine the worst features of both Chinese and Western civilization, with an admixture of the less pleasing characteristics of all other cultures. The massive buildings along the Bund, the luxurious hotels, great department stores and elegant shops, the innumerable prostitutes of all racesthe largest number of any city in the world, they saynight clubs, dance halls, cafes and restaurants, gangsters, pimps and speculators, all side by side with a starving, ragged, overworked or unemployed mass of coolies, workers and the human flotsam and jetsam which pours in from all over China as a river flows into the sea, are an ever-present reminder of man's inhumanity to man. As my French friend Claude Rivière said: "Shanghai before, during and after the Japanese occupation always presented the most terrible combination of civilization and barbarism, culture, cruelty and indifference. Children die of hunger
Last Chance in China
in the streets and men work like horses dragging heavy loads, while the rich, the prostitutes and other hangers-on feast and dance, indifferent to the condition of humanity."
Although no longer the citadel of Western power and privilege on Chinese soil, Shanghai is a monument to the white man's greed, aggressiveness, arrogance and racial pride. And nowhere are the unpleasing characteristics of the Chinese more in evidence. All races threw off the restraints of their codes of behavior in this city of corruption, which is neither European nor Chinese, and where fortunes were made in a few years by the few while the masses lived in squalor.
CHAPTER V Last Days of Chungking
Last Days of Chungking
hungking in its last days as China's capital was not unlike Hankow before the fall. For a few weeks there was, if not a united front, at least a free intermingling of all parties and an ephemeral hope of peace. The truce of January 13 was being observed and the Political Consultative Council appeared to be hammering out an agreement for a coalition government.
The atmosphere was charged with optimism, and even the weather, about which I had heard so much ill, had evidently decided to reform shortly after V-J Day. After Shanghai's bitter cold the climate of Szechwan seemed mild and benign. The sun shone on most days in January and February 1946, and only occasionally was the city wrapped in damp mist or drenched with rain and its streets deep in mud. Victory weather they called it and already there was a hint of spring in the air.
In spite of the lack at the Press Hostel of the usual amenities of a mechanized civilization I felt happy. My arm still pained me a little but I rested better on my springless bed and rocklike pillow than in Shanghai's luxurious Broadway Mansions.
To my great joy I found two of the "Hankow Last Ditchers" at the Press Hostel. Arch Steele of the New York Tribune and Till Durdin of the New York Times were back in the city whose long agony they had experienced in the days when the Japanese planes bombed it at will.
The thin and scholarly Durdin, in whose company I had experienced my first air raid long ago, was considered by his Chinese friends to be practically one of them, so well did he understand their thought processes and their problems. Oddly enough he was also a great favorite with the marines as I discovered later in Peking. In the years since I had first known him he had been in Burma, India and
114 Last Chance in China
the Pacific and had accompanied the Doolittle fliers in the first bombing of Tokyo. But he had returned to China as to his home.
Steele, with whom I had walked many a weary mile visiting the front in 1938, had also traveled far and wide in the intervening years. Since he had spent nine months in Russia our political views were not dissimilar. An adventurer and a thinker whose cynicism is mixed with humor and pity, Steele's respect for truth and energy in seeking it out have justly given him the reputation of being the most accurate and best informed correspondent in China.
Renewing old friendships I also made new ones. George Weller, of the Chicago Daily News, was probably more responsible than anyone else for the friendliness and good humor which now prevailed among the Chungking correspondents. A Pulitzer Prize winner for his Pacific War reporting, Weller was not an old China correspondent, but he had that rare quality of understanding and sympathy for all mankind, combined with intelligence and a knowledge of history and philosophy, which enable a man to get to the heart of a problem and make fair judgments.
Witty, good-natured, and always ready to share information or even to write another correspondent's dispatches for him if he wanted to leave Chungking for a few days, Weller made it difficult for anyone to display a meanly competitive spirit. He also prevented our frequent political discussions over breakfast, lunch and dinner from degenerating into personal wrangles.
The only woman correspondent, Charlotte Ebner of the I.N.S., had acquired a looking glass and a cupboard, but for the most part the correspondents lived in monastic surroundings. Each "rabbit hutch," as Steele called our rooms furnished only with a trestle bed, a desk and a couple of chairs, had a window onto the connecting veranda, or covered way, as well as to the outside. So everyone knew, more or less, what everyone else was doing.
If you wanted a wash you hailed the Chinese "boy" who brought you a tin bowl of water. For a shower you walked, rain or shine, across the central garden courtyard hoping that there might be hot water, but never certain whether the primitive apparatus would be working. Every bit of water at the Press Hostel, as in most other places in Chungking, had to be carried on men's shoulders. You saw the rows of coolies or soldiers with their wooden buckets waiting in
Last Days of Chungking 115
line at the bottom of the hill morning and evening. There were, of course, no flush toilets.
The greatest drawback was the poor electricity supply. Chungking's power plant had been constructed to service a small backward provincial town. It could not supply enough current for the swollen population of the capital. From sundown to about 10 p.m. the lights were so dim one could hardly read or write.
We were all within hailing distance of one another and met regularly for meals and almost as frequently for parties. It was a gregarious life, luxurious in comparison with that of most Chinese, but primitive as compared with Shanghai or Peiping, where the correspondents lived in Western-style hotels and ate in their rooms or in restaurants. The camaraderie and good-fellowship and our close and frequent contacts with the Chinese inside and out of the Press Hostel gave the life there a quality all its own.
Probably not one American in ten thousand had ever heard of the Political Consultative Council. But we became so absorbed in the efforts of the Chinese to work out a solution of their political problems that we tended to forget how little interest there was in them at home. It was as if we imagined that millions of Americans when they opened their newspapers at breakfast would anxiously scan the pages to find out what had happened the day before in the P.C.C. Had the government given way as regards the proportion of votes in the State Council required to override its veto? Had the independent members sided with the government or the Communists on this or that particular issue? Had the political barometer risen or fallen in respect to the prospects for unity in China ? "My God," said the newly arrived Time correspondent, John Walker, "even when you go to the movies you talk P.C.C. all the time!"
Chungking, in its last days as the capital of China, had become a vast forum for the discussion of political and economic theory and constitutional principles. Nowhere else in the world can people of all parties have mingled so freely. One met representatives of every faction at its parties. I even found myself talking to Soviet embassy officials.
At first I did not accompany the other correspondents when they visited Communist Party Headquarters for news, since I feared I would be turned away or cause embarrassment to my colleagues. But
Last Chance in China
I soon found that even the Communists were not averse to talking to me.
I had been on friendly terms with General Chou En-lai in 1938 but in those days I was known only as the author of Japan's Feet of Clay. The books I had written since had been published in China as well as in England and America, so I had no doubt that Chou En-lai was now well aware of my attitude toward Soviet Russia and Communism in general. Moreover, my articles in the Shanghai Evening Post and the attacks on me by the Soviet press and radio could have made my views emphatically clear to him. I was therefore astonished and somewhat embarrassed when at the first press conference I attended at Communist Headquarters, he advanced with hand outstretched and a broad smile. His cordial greeting disarmed me and made it impossible for me to question him in anything but friendly tones.
I could not but admire Chou En-lai's masterly conduct of his press conference. Standing in the middle of the small crowded room he turned to face each questioner, never hesitating in his replies, correcting his interpreter when the latter failed to convey his exact meaning, thrusting here and there in verbal repartee like a skilled fencer.
There could have been no greater contrast between this dynamic man arguing the Communist case and the poker-faced government spokesman who stalled off the reporters with meaningless replies, or
a curt "no comment," at the dreary weekly press conferences at the Ministry of Information.
"Well, what do you think of him?" my friends asked after they had waited while Chou En-lai fixed a time for an interview with me.
"What do you expect?" I replied. "All right, I admit it. Even I was impressed. It is hard not to believe that he means what he says. I understand better now why so many foreigners believe that the Communists mean what they say when they talk about democracy."
"When Chou En-lai came to town," said George Weller, "I knew what would happen. It started with tea parties. By now he has us all eating out of his hand. How could it be otherwise since poor Wordless Wu and the other government representatives are so afraid of saying too much that they don't tell us anything."
Although Tillman Durdin's political sympathies are Leftist, it was he who was least impressed by Chou En-lai. "At the beginning," he
Last Days of Chungking 117
said, "Chou overwhelms you by the force of his personality and his clever arguments. But after hearing him month after month and year after year, you realize you can't trust what he says. He has contradicted himself too often."
Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes. All that I knew and had experienced had taught me to beware of all Communists, even as Aeneas distrusted the Greeks. But Chou En-lai is hard to resist. He is witty, charming and tactful; he avoids Communist cliches and you find it hard not to believe in his sincerity and good intentions. His handsome countenance, intelligent eyes, still youthful figure, well-groomed appearance, vitality and apparent candor, all predispose you in his favor. The morning fixed for my interview was cold and raw. Chou En-lai, dressed in an immaculate white sweater and American-style brown leather windbreaker, was plainly very tired. He had been up working most of the night and he shivered as we sat down in the unheated, barely furnished reception room at Communist Headquarters. I had an irrational feeling that I ought not to make him waste his energies on an unconvertible heathen like me. Soon, however, I was entirely absorbed taking notes on his replies to my questions. I was trying at the same time to watch his face and catch the real meaning behind his words.
I began by asking if he considered that Chiang Kai-shek's willingness to make concessions to the Communists was, in his opinion, due to American pressure. In reply he paid a tribute to the Generalissimo which few men have ever received from a political opponent.
"Partly, yes; but Chiang would never have met us halfway on account of any external pressure if there had not been in his heart a real desire for unity and peace."
Although he hastened to add that the Communists also had made great concessions, this did not detract from the Communist leader's substantial admission concerning Chiang Kai-shek's motives and character.
"What concessions," I asked, "has the Chinese Communist Party made?"
"We have compromised on matters of vital importance. In the first place, we have agreed to terminate the civil war, which has been going on for eighteen years, and to let our army be nationalized. Secondly, as regards the reorganization of the government we have
Last Chance in China
abandoned our original proposal based on our experience in the liberated areas. We no longer insist on the 3:3:3 systema one-third Kuomintang, one-third Communist and one-third nonparty administration. We have agreed to let the Kuomintang have a majority in the Executive Yuan (Cabinet) of a coalition government. We have agreed to a draft constitution similar to the British and American systems. Moreover, we have gone so far as to agree to tolerate the validity of the old elections to the National Assembly although this means it will be dominated by the Kuomintang."
"Are you really, then," I asked, "prepared to give up your private army once a coalition government is set up?
"As a matter of fact," he replied, "not only the Communist armies are led by a party, the Kuomintang Party similarly controls the government armies. Do you agree?"
As the interpreter finished speaking, and before Icould reply, Chou En-lai broke in to say in his own halting English: "If I were in the government, I also could control armies in a more mellow way."
Then he spoke again in Chinese, which was translated for me as follows:
"The reorganization of China's armed forces must be accomplished by both sides simultaneously, in order that there may be a complete separation of army and party on all sides. All armed forces must be placed under control of civil organs of government. In order to reach this aim both parties must do the same. Whatever the Kuomintang can and will do, we also can do, and will excel.
"The Chinese Army system," he continued, "should be modeled on the American and British systems. Restrictions should be imposed. The movement of troops should not be ordered by any individual, only by the government. Then no party would be able to promote civil war. In the interim period of coalition government prior to the constitutional period to follow, the Army should be under the control of the State Council, and thereafter under that of Parliament.
"In this way, which is the American and British way, the utilization of the troops by any party for purposes of civil war will be prevented." General Chou next proceeded to outline the scheme for the amalgamation of the Communist and National armies then being worked out by a special committee presided over by General Marshall. In the first stage there was to be a parallel reorganization of both armies
Last Days of Chungking 119
and the Communists had agreed to limit the Red Army to twenty divisions if the government limited its forces to ninety. In the second stage, then being discussed, the objective would be the gradual elimination of the "line of separation" between the armies. This, he stressed, "must be done gradually in a unified way so that no difficulties or confusion should arise." How this was to be accomplished he could not specify, as the question was still under discussion.
"But," he added, "in order that the two opposing armies may be fused together educational work is very important. The fusion of the educational plan should begin at once. Both armies should enjoy a democratic and national education. Once we have introduced a new system of enlistmentwhen the old soldiers have been replaced by new recruitsit will be possible to wipe out all trace of the present lines of demarcation."
All this made it perfectly clear that the Communists were not for a moment considering the submission of their army to the government. Chou's whole argument was based on the assumption that the Nationalist and Communist forces were to be treated as equals. He continually stressed the word "fusion" and regarded the problem as one of amalgamating two party armies, not of negotiating the terms and guarantees on which the Communist Party would give up its private army.
I inquired whether the government had its own reservations about the desirability of "fusing" the armies.
Chou smiled broadly and said, "The Kuomintang is in fact just as averse as we are to immediate fusion; they are afraid of their soldiers being converted into Communists if the armies are immediately merged into one. The government wants to use the Kuomintang armies as the cadres of a National Army, fitting in our soldiers as individuals. This would be unfair to us. We insist on the fusion of the armies on an equal basis, maintaining our own units as at present constituted. The Kuomintang does not like this idea at all. It says there would be confusion on both sides if such a scheme were adopted before the educational problem had been readjusted. It is true there would be a lot of quarrels. Somehow we have got to work out a method and decide on the concrete steps which must be taken."
All this did not sound very promising. The situation obviously gave the Communists the opportunity to stall indefinitely. There
Last Chance in China
could be no unity as long as both sides distrusted each other so much that no scheme of amalgamation of the armies would ever be agreed on. So I asked, "When will you consider the National Government to have become sufficiently democratic for you to trust it and to give up your private army?" Chou En-lai's reply was open to the interpretation that the Communists would postpone recognition of the "democratic" nature of the government until it agreed with them as to the meaning of the word. He said, "The reorganized coalition government which we are now discussing in the Political Consultative Council would constitute only a start in China's democratic development. It would have to be gradually tested in its practical work before we should trust it. Nothing can be predicated beforehand and everything would depend on how the democratic process was implemented after the constitutional government is set up.
"As regards our army, our attitude and policy would be determined not only by proof of the government's truly democratic nature, but also by the character of the army system in peacetime. I cannot answer your question in a mechanical way. We should need to have proof that no single individual controlled the National Army in peacetime. A lot would depend also on the kind of education given to the soldiers.
"China is in a stage of transition and it is of little use to discuss principles and theoriesactions are what count. But the present reorganization of the government and the armies is moving toward our goal."
"How long," I asked, "do you think it will take for the nationalization of China's armies?
"It may take years," he replied. And again he repeated, "We shall have to be satisfied as to the truly democratic nature of the government before we give up our army."
In spite of all the hopes aroused in China during this period of the P. C. C. negotiations Chou En-lai's remarks made it abundantly clear that there was no real prospect of an end to the civil war. "Democratic" in the Communist lexicon, as we have learned in Europe, does not mean free election, representative government and civil liberties. It is an adjective used to describe only such governments as are dominated by the Communists or are "friendly" to the Soviet Union. Chou En-lai was, in effect, informing me that the nationalization of
Last Days of Chungking 121
the Communist Army would, in all probability, be postponed until China has a Communist-dominated or Russian puppet government.
I tried to draw him out on the subject of Russia, saying, "I want to understand what you mean by the word democratic. Do you consider that Soviet Russia has a democratic government?
Chou spoke rapidly and emphatically in Chinese to his interpreter who then said to me, "General Chou asked me to tell you that we have not met here to talk about Russia. Please confine your questions to Chinese affairs."
I lighted a cigarette and self-consciously sipped my tea. They were making me feel that my question had been in bad taste, and that it was outside the unwritten terms on which the interview had been given me to bring up the question of their attitude to the Soviet Government.
Chang Wen-ching, who was acting as interpreter, was a thin scholarly young man dressed in a long Chinese gown. He had an excellent command of English, perfect manners and an air of studious detachment. He rarely smiled and never raised his voice or gesticulated, unlike Chou En-lai whose expressive hands help him to convey his meaning. I had met Chang Wen-ching before, but I don't think he knew that his aunt, Mary Chen, was a good friend of mine, and that I knew all about him and his family. His grandfather Chu Chi-chien, whom I was to meet a few weeks later in Peking,* had held high office at the Manchu court but had joined with Yuan Shih-kai to overthrow the Dragon Throne in 1911. Yuan Shih-kai had become the first Premier of the Republic of China, and died when he failed to make himself Emperor. The grandfather of Chou En-lai's young colleague had become Minister of the Interior and had continued to be so loyal a member of the Kuomintang that when Chiang Kai-shek visited Peking in 1946, he chose the venerable Mr. Chu Chi-chien to sit at his right hand at the state banquet held to celebrate the liberation of China's ancient capital.
Mr. Chu's ten daughters had all married well and his grandson in the Communist camp had relatives in almost every political faction. One of his uncles was a close friend and associate of T.V. Soong, another was the brother of the "Young Marshal" Chang
* Both names, Peking and Peiping, are used in the text, since, although the city is now called Peiping, the old name of Peking is more familiar to the Western reader.
122 Last Chance in China
Hsueh-liang and another a prosperous Shanghai businessman who had lived there comfortably all during the Japanese occupation. One of Chang Wen-ching's cousins was the Vice-Minister of War, Yü Ta-wei, who in 1947 became Minister of Communications. Chang Wenching was himself the son of the ex-comprador of the Chase Bank in Tientsin, now assistant manager of a Chinese bank.
Chou En-lai himself is also the scion of a great Mandarin family, so it was not surprising that the two aristocratic Communists I was talking to were able to make me feel gauche.
Nevertheless I returned to the attack, although not again alluding to the forbidden subject of Communist Russia. I asked instead whether the Chinese Communist Party desired that the proposed coalition government should continue after a new constitution had been promulgated by a National Assembly and elections held.
His answer made it clear that the Communists had no liking for the idea of a popularly elected majority government and sought a more or less permanent coalition government. He said, "As the second party in China we are prepared to maintain this status during the initial period of reconstruction. We don't want quarrels or alternative governments according to popular vote. We propose long-term co-operation in a coalition government. We expect to be in a minority position for a long time. A coalition government would be the Chinese democratic way."
When I asked how a coalition government could function in view of the basic differences between the Kuomintang and the Communist Party, Chou said there was no difference in principle and aims since both adhered to Sun Yat-sen's Three Principles of the People. "The difference lies in the implementation of these principles."
Later in our conversation when I asked what economic policy the Communists would stand for when they entered a coalition government, Chou En-lai gave me an answer which constituted an admirable exposition of the fallacy of considering state ownership an improvement over capitalist private enterprise so long as there is no political democracy in the Western sense.
"The point is," he said, "that if the state enterprises were really in the hands of the nationof a democratic governmentthey could be effectively operated by the Chinese people, with perhaps some assistance from foreigners. We could then get quicker and better results
Last Days of Chungking 123
than through private enterprise. But, in practice, so-called state-owned enterprise is run by government officials who do as they like and are usually both inefficient and corrupt. Some consolidate their own personal economic power under the cloak of state ownership. Thus in some respects the Communist Party and the independent capitalists now make common cause against the practices of the government.
"Even if the state enterprises prove to be a success they should not monopolize industry. China is too backward. The government can't do everything. We need competition and free enterprise at this stage of China's development.
"Besides, I know from experience how stultifying bureaucratic management is. Why, I, when I used to be in the government in the days of the United Front, found myself affected by it. Save us from government control of everything!
At the end of this interview I could well grasp that many foreigners and some Chinese believed in the sincerity of Chou En-lai's democratic professions. I almost believed in them myself after hearing him dissert upon the evils of bureaucratic administration of industry, and listening to his kindly sentiment towards capitalists.
But once removed from his presence I remembered that this soft-spoken, attractive, intelligent Chinese had at one time been a Communist official when dissidents in the Party were shot. I also reflected that whether or not he believed his own arguments made little difference. Let him once arouse suspicions in Moscow that he had really been converted to democratic principles, and he would be excommunicated if not executed.
Whether or not Chou En-lai in fact represented a liberal element in the Chinese Communist Party, he convinced many foreigners that he did. It seems probable that General Marshall was thinking of him when, in January 1947, the Secretary of State announced his conviction that besides the "dyed-in-the-wool Communists" there "is a liberal group among the Communists which would put the interests of the Chinese people above ruthless measures to establish a Communist ideology in the immediate future."
As stated in an earlier chapter, not only Americans but some Chinese Government representatives believed in Chou En-lai's sincerity. Certainly the Nationalist Government at this time was acting on the
124 Last Chance in China
assumption that the Communists were negotiating in good faith and that unity could be achieved with American aid provided the Kuomin-tang agreed to a coalition government and made concessions to democratic demands.
The government negotiators in the Political Consultative Council were almost all liberals. They were led by General Chang Chun, the most prominent member of the Political Science clique, who became Premier in 1947, and who has always favored the solution of the Communist problem by political, not military means. The government's eight representatives in the P. C. C. also included Sun Fo and Shao Li-tse, who might be described respectively as China's Henry Wallace and Joe Davies. Sun Yat-sen's son, Sun Fo, like his stepmother Madame Sun, was known for his friendly attitude toward both the Soviet Union and the Chinese Communists. Shao Li-tse, who once attended a Comintern Congress as the Kuomintang's fraternal delegate, and who more recently was China's ambassador in Moscow, is so pro-Soviet that he was nicknamed the Russian ambassador to China.
It was clear that as long as there was any hope of achieving unity by compromise Chiang Kai-shek was holding the Right Wing members of the Kuomintang in check. Chen Li-fu was also a delegate in the Political Consultative Council, but he was outnumbered by those prepared to make every possible concession to the Communists for the sake of peace.
The Communists had seven representatives in the Political Consultative Council as against the Kuomintang's eight. There were besides : five representatives of the Youth Party, two representatives each of the Democratic League, the National Socialist (subsequently rechristened Social Democrat) Party and the National Salvation Association, and a representative each for the Vocational Education Association, the Rural Reconstructive Society and the so-called "Third Party."
The Youth Party, whose members are no longer youthful, but which is the third largest party in China, usually, but not always, sided with the government. The Democratic League always, and the National Salvation Association usually, sided with the Communists.
The remaining nine members of the P. C. C. were nonparty men of various shades of opinion, drawn in the main from among the most
Last Days of Chungking 125
eminent scholars in China. Among them were Fu Ssu-nien, acting president of Peking University; Mo Teh-hui, a Manchurian and a friend of the Democratic League; Wang Yun-wu, founder and head of the renowned Commercial Press of Shanghai; and Kuo Mo-jo, the Left Wing dramatist and poet, who had formerly been a Communist. I had known Kuo Mo-jo in 1938, when as a returned exile from Japan he was prominent in the National Salvation Association and a friend of Chou En-lai's. I had once spent a day picnicking with them both and other Communists and Left Wingers in the halcyon time of the United Front. The fact that he and Mo Teh-hui were representatives in the P. C. C. was a proof that the nonparty representatives had been picked impartially from among China's best-known public figures or learned men.
In an interview he gave me during the negotiations, Chang Chun convinced me that the government was ready to risk a great deal on the slender hope for internal peace held out by the Political Consultative Council Agreements. "There is a chance," he said, "that the Communists will now compete only politically and economically. We believe that the truce may be the first stage in the agreement."
General Chang Chun, who was to become Premier of China early in 1947, is a large, amiable and patient man with the reputation of being a "fixer" in domestic politicsa Chinese Jimmy Byrnes. It had been his thankless task, as Foreign Minister from 1935-1937, to negotiate with the Japanese and stall for time; to hold them off from swallowing all North China while avoiding war, to take the rap when impatient students called for an end to appeasement before China was prepared to resist the aggressor. Like Byrnes in his dealings with Russia, Chang Chun finally took a firm stand and refused to budge, so that the negotiations collapsed. Later it had been Chang Chun who prepared the way for Chiang Kai-shek and the National Government when they were forced to retreat to the southwest following the fall of Hankow. The semi-independent war lords and landowners of Szech-wan had not been at all partial to the establishment of the National Government's authority over them. Chang Chun, as Governor of Szechwan from 1940, had been successful in asserting the Central Government's control and transforming this fertile province into the main base of Free China.
Talking to him in Chungking, I realized that his experience in
Last Chance in China
negotiating with the Japanese had fitted him for his present task. China's problem now is basically the same as before 1937: that of holding off their foreign aggressors while bending every effort toward weaning the Chinese agents or dupes away from their foreign allegiance. From 1935 to 1937 Chang Chun had managed to prevent the complete breakaway of the northern provinces under the "autonomous" regimes set up by Japan. Now he had to try to prevent the Communists, who held most of North China, from bringing these provinces into the Soviet sphere. To achieve this, it was worth while making great concessions to the Communists, as formerly it had been worth while treating the northern war lords or puppets with the utmost consideration in order to keep them at least nominally under the control of the Central Government.
Foreign Minister Wang Shih-chieh, who is also a patient man and one ready to bear the brunt of popular misunderstanding in carrying out a difficult policy, told me that the government was making "a real and dangerous test of Communist sincerity." What he did not say, but was implied in his conversation, was that the government had had no choice but to make the test, since the United States had exerted the necessary pressure by the double threat of withdrawing American forces from China and refusing a loan to China. When I asked him if he thought that General Marshall would now press the Communists also to make concessions, he replied :
"What pressure can the United States exert? In General Stilwell's day America still had the bargaining power of Lend-Lease, but today she no longer has it. Today the United States has no means to exert pressure on either the Soviet Union or the Chinese Communists."
The arguments in the P. C. C. centered around the composition and powers of the new State Council which was to supersede the National Defense Council in the proposed coalition government to be set up pending the convocation of a National Assembly to draw up a new constitution. The Communists and their allies in the Democratic League fought for the right of a one-third minority in the State Council to veto the actions of the President. After long debate it was finally agreed that on all important questions the acts of the Executive must be approved by a three-fifths majority of the State Council.
Since the State Council was to be composed of twenty Kuomin-tang members and twenty from the other parties, the Kuomintang had
Last Days of Chungking 127
agreed to let itself be overruled by a minority. Chiang Kai-shek's powers as President would have been severely curtailed. Should the alliance between the Communists and the Democratic League continue they would together be able to hamstring the Administration.
The final agreements on these and other matters were announced to the public in a solemn final session over which Chiang Kai-shek presided. It was an impressive sight, and few of us present will ever forget hearing Chou En-lai shout, "Long live the San Min Chu I!" at the close of the meeting.
Had words meant what they said, the long conflict between those who had inherited Sun Yat-sen's mantle, and those who had formerly repudiated his principles in favor of Lenin's, had ended. China was, at long last, to know peace. Together they had brought about the annulment of the "unequal treaties" and fulfilled the first of Sun's principles. Now they had to implement the other two: livelihood of the people and democracy. For a moment that winter evening, in the dim light of the conference hall, with the rain falling steadily outside, one could almost believe that it was not a farce played out for America's benefit, but a solemn burying of hatchets and a true reconciliation.
Unfortunately for China, nothing fundamental had been settled. The really knotty problems had not been solved. The Communists still had their private army and their autonomous area, and the two sides still held entirely different views as to the path which China ought to tread. The coalition government which it had been agreed to set up would have been even more impotent than the present one. The strong minority position won by the Communists and their allies would have enabled them to cripple the administration, and the State Council would have resembled a United Nations Assembly. The real liberals, as before, would have been crushed between the upper and nether millstones of reaction and Communism.
The Kuomintang Government, although ready to let its powers be curtailed, would not relinquish them. So the Communists were not satisfied. They were uneasy concerning the continuance of their alliance with the Democratic League. They knew that its leaders, once they had acquired jobs in the government through the alliance with the Communists, might abandon their erstwhile allies. Thus the Communists were not at all confident that they had won a sufficiently
Last Chance in China
strong position from which "to bore from within" a democratic government. It had not even been decided how the twenty non-Kuomin-tang seats in the State Council were to be allocated. In the months that followed the P. C. C. paper agreements the Communists accordingly started to insist on a minimum of fourteen seats for themselves in the State Council, since only thus could they be sure of their veto power in a coalition government.
Although the Communists were soon to show that they would not honor the P. C. C. Agreements it was the ruling Kuomintang Party which had made all the real concessions both in the military truce and in the political negotiations. The Communists had gained a great deal and given up nothing.
Previously Chiang-Kai-shek had been adamant in insisting that the Communists give up their private army before being admitted into a coalition government. Now at Marshall's insistence he had agreed to let "democratization" of the government precede the nationalization of the Communist armies.
As one of the Chinese Central News reporters said to me at the time: "Thanks to the United States, the Communists have won their greatest victory to date at negligible cost. After two decades during which they tried to seize power by armed force they are to be installed in the government without it being required of them that they first abolish their autonomous 'Border Governments,' or their independent currency, or their private army; or that they cease suppressing civil liberties and liquidating all opposition in the territories they control. True that the Generalissimo said at the final meeting that the Communists would be expected to respect the rights of others to the liberties they claim for themselves. But who believes that any such assurance from the Communists is worth a nickel?
Were the Communists "not real Communists;" were they the "liberal agrarian reformers" that they are pictured to be in innumerable American articles and books, there is little doubt that they would have settled down peacefully to exploit their gains and win power in China through the democratic process. Instead, at the end of February, they broke the truce and made their bid for control of Manchuria and North China.
In January and February 1946 the Chinese Government passed up a big chance to put its case before the world and counteract Commu-
Last Days of Chungking 129
nist propaganda. Most of the correspondents wanted to give the facts to the public, and were ready to judge the government's case on its merits. But they could get practically no information from the Ministry of Information or the Foreign Office or the Kuomintang representatives in the P. C. C. They were thrown back on the opposition as the only source of news.
The Democratic League, at least insofar as news was concerned, believed in democracy and did not worry about the supposed secrecy of the P. C. C. negotiations. Since it was in alliance with the Communists, this meant that the news available came almost entirely from antigovernment sources. It is a proof of the fairness of most of the American correspondents at that time that their dispatches were impartial, analytical, and by no means as one-sided as their sources of information.
On our way back to the Press Hostel after one of our nightly visits to Democratic League headquarters, George Weller said to me: "We don't want to get all our information from Lo Lung-chi and the Communists, but what can we do ? The Ministry of Information won't, or can't, tell us anything."
I repeated this remark a few days later to Foreign Minister Wang Shih-chieh at a lunch I had with him alone.
"Surely," I said, "even if you can't speak out in public either about the negotiations with the Communists or about Manchuria and what the Russians are doing to you, you could give some information off the record. The American correspondents now are not Communist fellow travelers. They are honest men whose word you could trust. Wherever their sympathies may lie, they want to get at the truth and give it to the American public. Why don't you at least tell them the facts privately? That is what any other government would do. There are at the least half a dozen American correspondents whom you could trust not to quote you directly, men like Steele, Durdin, Weller, Spencer Moosa, and also Gordon Walker of the Christian Science Monitor. Your one hope to withstand Russian aggression is to let the American public know the facts. Why are you passing up this opportunity?
His answer gave me an inkling of how the Chinese had felt about the flood of propaganda directed against them in the preceding years. "Yes," he said, "I suppose we are making a mistake in thinking that all American correspondents are biased against us and in favor of
130 Last Chance in China
Communism. But during the past few years it just seemed useless to talk to them."
My little speech had an immediate effect. For shortly afterward Wordless Wu actually did give out one bit of information to the correspondents. It had been reported a few weeks before that General Tu Li-ming, commander of the Nationalist forces in Manchuria, had said that the Russian general had forbidden American correspondents to come there. The Russian press had at once howled "lies" and "slander," and the Chinese had been forced to accept the blame for the refusal to let the Americans in. Now, at last, Wu admitted that General Tu Li-ming had spoken the truth.
Wordless Wu was a friendly, energetic and amiable man with an extraordinarily healthy appetite, as I discovered when I lunched with him in his office and we went through six courses of European food. He was a little dynamo who worked hard and always found time to talk to any correspondent who came to see him. Unfortunately for himself and us he was not allowed to talk about anything that mattered. All the correspondents liked him and sympathized with him to the extent of avoiding embarrassing him in public with questions he obviously could not answer. He was physically fearless, as shown by his behavior as mayor of Chungking during the worst bombings when he dashed around directing the fire fighters and relief workers. But as a diplomat he found discretion the better part of valor. I found him of less use as a source of information than other ministers and Kuomintang officials whom I reached by the simple method of calling and leaving my card.
K. C. Wu was too afraid of showing favoritism to render me much assistance. I secured my personal interview with the Generalissimo through other channels.
On this first occasion, however, I found that K. C. Wu had carefully arranged an "exclusive" interview of ten minutes each for every correspondent that same afternoon. So we naturally joined up and had a general press conference.
Two weeks later in Shanghai on my way north, I met the Gimo and Madame for an hour alone. Most of what they said to me was off the record, but, at least, it proved to me that Chiang Kai-shek is under few illusions. He certainly had not miscalculated the risks China was taking in throwing in her lot with America, and he is well
Last Days of Chungking 131
aware of the subtlety of Russia's methods. It seemed to me that he did not fully appreciate the connection between United States foreign policy and American domestic politics, but it may be only that his extraordinary patience gave him the courage and self-control to wait for the turn of the tide in American public opinion, and that this explains why he expressed no resentment at American actions harmful to him and his government.
Before meeting her in Chungking I had feared that Madame Chiang would not be so friendly to me as she had been in Hankow when I met her frequently. For in China at War I had frankly criticized her and her closest friends in the New Life Movement. But, when I entered the room with the other correspondents, she greeted me warmly, although her first remark hardly pleased me. "Miss Utley," she exclaimed, "I did not recognize you for a moment, you have grown so much fatter!" In 1938 I had been thin from walking miles in the summer sun at the pace set by Chinese soldiers; also I was not then long out of Russia where food had always been short. Her remark was only too true and I knew also that in China her words would not be considered uncomplimentary. So I answered by telling her she looked lovelier than ever. It did in fact seem to me that the years of suffering which she personally, as well as China, had undergone had given her face a new beauty. Her eyes were kinder and although as elegantly dressed as ever she gave less of an impression of being a fashionable Shanghai lady or the chairman of a woman's club in the States.
She kept me behind for a talk after the Generalissimo's press conference and her conversation gave substance to my impression that she was now less hard and sure of herself and more like her sister Madame Sun. Not that she could ever let her heart run away with her, and be blind to political realities. She showed the keen discernment of old concerning both the international situation and Chinese politics, but she spoke of the death and suffering she had seen with feeling and in terms of humanity, not national pride.
She was in a soft mood and talked mainly of the moderating influence women could exert. She thought that men were more acrimonious and prone to suspect political attacks in the acts and words of their opponents.
Referring to the P. C. C. negotiations with the Communists, she
132 Last Chance in China
said, "People should believe in one another until insincerity is proved. I have seen too much war and death not to want to try everything possible to avoid more bloodshed and suffering."
In 1938 she had been irreconcilably hostile to the Communists and more distrustful of them than her husband. Now she was all in favor of seeking an understanding with them on the assumption that they meant what they said.
I wondered how much her changed views and attitude were due to the failure of the West, to which she belonged in education and religion, to respond to her eloquent appeals for aid to China until too late and in too small measure. Or whether it was her personal troubles which had mellowed her.
Whatever the real reason for her separation from her husband for the best part of two yearswhether it was personal or a political gesture repudiating her Western influenceMadame Chiang's illness in America had been real. Her overstrained nerves had caused physical disorders. She was now quite recovered, but she would never again be quite the same confident, ebullient First Lady of China I had known in 1938.
In Hankow days the difference in age between Chiang Kai-shek and his wife had been hardly apparent. Now he looks elderly beside her. He is as slim and erect as ever and his eyes still give an impression of intense vitality, but he is now almost bald and the bony structure of his face is more pronounced. In Chungking he was in military uniform, but the morning I talked to him in Shanghai he wore a black silk gown and looked more like a scholar than a soldier.
In his replies in Chungking to questions concerning the P. C. C. Agreements he emphasized that it was not a question of the degree of power to be relinquished by the Kuomintang, but of responsibility. The Kuomintang Party had not given up its responsibility for the reconstruction of China, but henceforth it would share it with other parties. Asked whether he would be a candidate for President in the elected government to be set up after the convening of the National Assembly, he replied that "as soon as the power to govern is restored to the people," he would have accomplished his task and ended his responsibility to China.
Some who heard Chiang that day wondered whether he meant he would take no responsibility for the situation which would be created
Last Days of Chungking 133
if the Left opposition had its way and the State Council would be able to veto the acts of the Executive, or whether he was in fact anxious to relinquish the heavy burden of responsibility and duties he has carried so long. He gave an impression of being tired, as no doubt he was after the weeks of negotiation and discussion which had just ended. It may be that he is tired in a deeper sense: weary of the ungrateful tasks history has assigned to him.
In 1938 when I met Chiang Kai-shek for the first time I had written of his aloofness, his serene confidence and pride and the inscrutability of his lean countenance and firm mouth set in an almost sardonic half-smile. His deep black eyes had then seemed to me those of a man whose human feelings had been completely subordinated to his conception of his destiny; neither cruel nor sympathetic, almost unhuman and completely unrevealing of his personality.
Now, nearly eight years later, his smile was less tight-lipped and his manner easier. One no longer felt one ought to stand at attention in his presence. He seemed both more human and more melancholy. That dark winter afternoon in Chungking, seated beside Madame Chiang in their home and talking almost informally, he might have been trying to draw closer in understanding to us all.
Perhaps he longed to be able to penetrate the invisible wall between him and the foreigners who write about him; a wall erected not so much by the barrier of language as by background, traditions, history and values.
Very few people have ever become intimate with the Generalissimo, and it is to be doubted whether even they know the real mind of this enigmatic personage. But one thing is certain: he sincerely believes in his mission as Sun Yat-sen's heir and successor to unite China and make her strong and free.
Some of the statements which are interpreted by his enemies and critics to show his overweening arrogance and love of power are in fact the reflection of his belief that he is the symbol and the instrument of China's regeneration. In Hankow, he had said to me, "Wherever I am, there is the center of national resistance." Proud words, but also a correct estimate of what his name had come to symbolize.
Whatever his defects and shortcomings, Chiang Kai-shek must be accounted a sincere follower of Sun Yat-sen. His beliefs and actions are founded on the same belief in China's ancient traditions and eth-
134 Last Chance in China
ical values. He became a Christian after marrying Mei-ling Soong, but his conversion seems to have been merely a recognition of the similarity between Christian teachings and the traditional ethics of the Chinese people. In moments of gravest danger, trouble and doubt, he turns to Confucius, as when just before the fall of Hankow he said:
The men of old when they wished their virtues to shine throughout the land, first had to govern their states well. To govern their states well, they first had to establish harmony in their families. To establish harmony in their families, they first had to discipline themselves. To discipline themselves, they first had to set their minds in order. To set their minds in order, they first had to make their purpose sincere. To make their purpose sincere, they first had to extend their knowledge to the utmost. Such knowledge is acquired through a careful investigation of things. For with things investigated knowledge becomes complete. With knowledge complete the purpose becomes sincere. With the purpose sincere the mind is set in order. With the mind set in order there is real self-discipline. With real self-discipline the family achieves harmony. With harmony in the family the state becomes well governed. With the state well governed there is peace throughout the land.
At the same time that he calls upon his people to drink at the ancient founts of wisdom, Chiang always emphasizes the "revolutionary" character of the Kuomintang Party which he leads. In the days of doubt and despair when Hankow was abandoned he said:
We have been resisting in order to complete the task of our revolution, and our fighting power will remain unimpaired if our revolutionary principles are kept intact. Foreign opinion attaches too great importance to the defense of the Wuhan cities; the experiences of this year of resistance show that our political and military center is in our people and not in territory.
Although America is China's best friend among the Powers, Americans are least fitted by their own background and history to understand China's situation. Educated Europeans all know that no nation in the modern world came out of medievalism to national consciousness without strong rulers who were the fulcrum of unity, and allegiance to whom was the earliest form of patriotism. In England
Last Days of Chungking 135
the national anthem is still "God Save the King." Although the King is powerless and the British Government as democratic at home as that of the United States, the King is still the symbol of the nation and love of country.
The overthrow of the Manchu dynasty in 1911 and the birth of the Chinese Republic did not lead China to democracy but to war-lord rule. Sun Yat-sen knew that a period of "tutelage" was essential before the Chinese people could rule themselves, and also a necessity if China were to win her independence as a nation. He did not foresee that endless wars and dangers would prolong the period of party dictatorship so long that the Kuomintang would lose its reformist savor. Circumstances, not will, are responsible for Chiang's unenviable position of being a dictator without the power to dictate; having less real power than the elected President of the United States, while yet having to bear all responsibility in a country still medieval in organization, economic development and thought.
Since every American who has become at all intimate with the Generalissimo is convinced of his sincerity, I see no reason to doubt that he meant what he said to General Hurley:
If when I die I am a dictator I will certainly go down into the oblivion of all dictators. If on the other hand I succeed in establishing a truly stable foundation for a democratic government, I will live forever in every home in China.
It would nevertheless be difficult for Chiang personally to become the leader of a democracy. He is too aloof and austere and cannot make speeches with human appeal. One of the few foreign diplomats in Chungking who had come exceptionally close to intimacy with him, told me how he had urged Chiang to make a few speeches of the kind which would endear him to Americans. But he cannot act out of character. His qualities are of the order of the great figures of European medieval history who united their countries and made them into nations, not those of a popular leader in the modern world. He has more in common with Edward I or Henry VII of England, or even with Cardinal Richelieu of France, than with a Roosevelt. On the other hand, he is not in the least like the European dictators of our era. His integrity and his inability or unwillingness to make dema-
136 Last Chance in China
gogic appeals to passion, prejudice and stupidity, and the fact that he never rants or boasts, mark him off from Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini. His Puritanism and his emphasis on virtue are more reminiscent of Cromwell.
The tortuous methods by which Chiang Kai-shek has pursued his aims, his ability to keep silent even when misunderstood, his unhuman patience in playing for time against Japan, his simple and unostentatious manner of living, and his loyalty to his friends are all Chinese characteristics. His ability to concentrate on vital issues, his energy and swiftness of action and his ruthlessness and determination in pursuit of his aims distinguish him from most of his countrymen. Exceedingly stubborn, he yet knows when he must bow to the popular will. He has condemned thousands to death, as when he massacred the Communists and their allies in 1927, but he is also capable of a statesmanlike forbearance, and in his later years has sought to reconcile his enemies instead of killing them.
Chiang's great weakness as a ruler would appear to be his reluctance to admit persons of individuality to office unless they are his personal friends, and his loyalty to old companions of revolutionary days which he carries to extreme lengths. He keeps them in office not only after they have outlived their usefulness, but when they themselves wish to retire. He is also too prone to believe that even a corrupt subordinate can be reformed by lectures on virtue.
Private virtues are often public vices. Chiang Kai-shek's loyalty to friends and associates leads him to intervene to protect incompetent or corrupt subordinates when it would be far better for him to let Chinese politics take their own courseto let obvious faults be corrected through public discussion and "impeachment" of his ministers. For instance, when in 1947 Dr. T. V. Soong, Wang Shih-chieh and Governor Chen Yi of Formosa (who had ruled his island abominably) were attacked, Chiang Kai-shek intervened, took personal responsibility for their acts and so hushed the public outcry. In some cases he may be throwing his mantle over a good man, such as Wang Shih-chieh, who has in fact merely been carrying out orders. But even so it would be far better if he let the cleansing wind of public opinion blow through his administration and eliminate the men who have lost public confidence.
Perhaps the truest estimate I heard of Chiang Kai-shek was the one
Last Days of Chungking 137
pronounced by the learned historian Fu Ssu-nien, who was a nonparty representative in the Political Consultative Council in Chungking.
"Chiang Kai-shek," he said, "is like the hero of a Greek tragedy. His strength is also his weakness. The qualities of character which brought him to greatness and enabled him to save China in the war against Japan, are the reverse of those required to set us on the road to democracy."
A liberal Chinese editor expressed a similar view. "The Generalissimo," he said, "has a great love for China and is eager to bring her to peace and greatness. But his background, his knowledge and his views prevent him from achieving his goal.
"Unfortunately there are few people who can ever convince him that he is wrong. It is difficult for anyone to convince him because he is so sure of himself. So he is surrounded by 'yes men' who keep him in ignorance of the true state of affairs.
"Moreover, Chiang considers that Sun Yat-sen's Three Principles of the People are all he needs to know; he believes them to be immutable and perfect. Actually the San Min Chu I are not perfect and should be revised. But it is heresy to say so.
"Mao Tse-tung," continued this critic, "is much better educated politically than Chiang Kai-shek but he cares far less about China. If only Chiang had Mao's political understanding, or if Mao had Chiang's patriotism, China would not now be wasting the best opportunity ever given to her to become free and strong and prosperous."
The most frequent criticism one hears in China, from both friends and enemies of the Generalissimo, is that he is surrounded by bad advisers who shut him off from knowledge of real conditions in China; that he too rarely meets those who are bold enough to speak to him as an equal; and that it is almost impossible for anyone outside the official hierarchy to approach him.
General Wedemeyer told me how, on the occasion of Chiang's first visit to Shanghai after its liberation, he had planned a dinner at which the Generalissimo should meet some Chinese whom the American commander thought to be among" the best men he knew. When his list of guests was submitted, General J. L. Huang of the New Life Movement struck out the names of all who were not in Chiang Kai-shek's inner circle.
Last Chance in China
Nevertheless General Wedemeyer paid the following high tribute to Chiang Kai-shek in a speech delivered months after he left China. On October 10, 1946, he said in New York:
There are few people who could speak more authoritatively than I do this evening, concerning the sincerity, high moral purpose and Christian humility of Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek. I had frequent, practically daily, contacts with him for approximately two years. I can attest to his unselfish devotion to the Chinese people and to his earnest desire to provide a democratic way of life within China. I am confident that if he were given our realistic and continued support during this critical period of postwar readjustment he would evolve a solution to the political and economic problems, and implement a program of political freedom, social reforms, and sound economy.
The Fascination of Yenan
he flight from Peking to Yenan in the early morning of a winter's day was sheer beauty. Passing swiftly over endless ranges of hills and mountains without sign of human habitation, the sky above pale blue and the banks of clouds ahead rosy in the dawn, one found it easy to imagine oneself flying over the top of the world to Shangri-la.
Perhaps the fascination of Yenan is partly due to the universal longing which made James Hilton's Lost Horizon popular. His vision of a haven of wisdom to the west of China may have prepared the mass of Anglo-American readers for a real-life lost valley of virtuous and happy men in the Chinese hinterland. Is not the dream of an El Dorado beyond the oceans or the high mountains as old as civilized man?
My fellow passengers were all Chinese Communists, returning to their homes from duty with Executive Headquarters and its truce teams. The plane was, of course, a United States Army one, placed at the disposal of the Communists as part of America's effort to bring peace to China through reconciliation and conciliation. It was loaded with bicycles and packing cases containing other products of capitalist civilization. The man next to me, a smiling broad-faced general, took off his two gold stars and put them in his pocket just before we landed. In Peking the Communists put on the insignia of military rank, but not in Yenan.
With the Communist capital in sight below, I experienced a growing sense of embarrassment. I was not afraid, but I was nervous. It was awkward to come as a guest among those whom I had criticized and denounced as agents of Moscow.
I ought to have known better. I might have guessed that Chinese
140 Last Chance in China
courtesy would prove equal to the occasion. Indeed the combination of Celestial good manners with Communist mastery of the art of propaganda, and the visible evidence of good works, might have overwhelmed anyone who had never lived in Russia and learned into what a valley of despair Communist materialism can lead a people.
I had not been in Yenan twenty-four hours before I began to understand why so many American correspondents have fallen for the Chinese Communists as the hope of unhappy China. Although the city was to be captured by the Nationalists a year after my visit, it is still today the symbol, if no longer the capital, of Communist China.
After Chungking Yenan seemed a primitive paradisethe contrast was similar to that between the slums of New York and a sunny valley in Arizona. In Chungking it is hot in summer, rainy and foggy in winter and comfortable never. Sweating coolies toil up its steep streets, bending under endless loads human and inhuman. In Chungking, Nanking and Shanghai there is the ever present contrast between extreme and comparative wealth. The air is shrill with factional controversy. Men are forever debating, wrangling and railing against the government.
In Yenan, in the wild and mountainous northwest, the skies are blue and the air is sweet to breathe. It is a lovely place, a remote valley set among high hills honeycombed with caves. An ancient pagoda and the crumbling walls of the original city bombed into nothingness by the Japanese in 1938, are the only reminders of the past. Nearly everyone dresses alike in gray padded cotton or in sheepskin coats. All live in caves or in huts built of mud and straw. There are no rickshaws and no automobiles; no ladies dressed in silks or men in long gowns. Mongol ponies and mules, instead of coolies, carry the loads, or climb the mountain paths with healthy-looking peasants on their backs.
Smart Red Army men in khaki guard the homes of the Communist leaders, but the latter live almost as sparsely as everyone else. The austerity of the landscape and the clean dry air fortifies the impression of simple living and high endeavor.
"You have come," was the sardonic greeting of an American attached to the Yenan Observer Group, "to the largest boy scout area in the world." Everyone is doing good or thinks he is. Everyone praises the government instead of cursing it. Nobody argues. The structure of life is simple, primitive and seemingly equalitarian.
The Fascination of Yenan 141
Superficially the comparison seems all in favor of the Chinese Communist area. One has to look deeper before pronouncing a fair judgment.
Yenan was as shut away from the outside world in thought and knowledge as it is geographically. The circle of hills which surrounds it is no higher than the political wall which prevented the people of this so called "Border Region" from hearing any news or views except those which their rulers wished them to hear. There was one newspaper; one radio station; and one party; and they all said the same thing. If anyone disagreed his voice was extinguished.
In Kuomintang China there are almost as many factions as in France; there are nearly six hundred newspapers, including Communist dailies, and at least half the press opposes the government half the time. In Communist China there is no opposition. The reason was explained to me by Chiang Lung-chi, the president of Yenan University. I had asked him what would happen to a student who questioned the basic policies of the Chinese Communist Party or argued that it was betraying China's interests to Russia.
"Would you put him in a concentration camp or merely expel him from the University?"
Chiang smiled. "We should do neitherwe should reason with him and explain to him that his views are incorrect."
"And if he still disagreed?"
"There is only one truth and since youth is always on the side of truth there can be no disagreement."
Here I thought is the root of the matter. These people for all their claim to be liberals are just the same as the Russian or other Communists. They believe that they, and only they, are in possession of absolute truth. From this belief all the subsequent curses of totalitarian tyranny eventually must flow. In Communist China there is fraternity but no liberty. Anyone who opposes Communist policy on major issues, or denies its fundamental tenets, rejects "Truth." A heretic is ipso facto a "fascist" or an "enemy of the people."
No doubt President Chiang Lung-chi is a good man and a sincere man, but so, I suppose, was Torquemada. So also was Charles the First of England who preferred to be beheaded rather than to deny the Divine Right of Kings to order what is best for the people, whether the people liked it or not.
Some of my friends back in Chungking and Shanghai had thought
Last Chance in China
that I would never be allowed to visit Communist China. Others had feared for my safety. As it turned out the Communists made great capital out of my visit. At once they went on the radio to proclaim that in contrast to Chungking which had refused to let the Left Wing Edgar Snow back into China*, they were welcoming the anti-Communist Freda Utley.
In Chungking a little while before, when there had been a last-minute hitch in my securing a permit from the Communists to visit Ye-nan, George Weller had remarked, "No. I can't believe it. If they refuse to let you in, Freda, I shall begin to be as sorry for the Communists as I am for K. C. Wu. But I just can't believe they will be that stupid; I am sure you will find there has been some mistake and you will be allowed to go."
As regards my safety, I was treated like a piece of porcelain. Every time I climbed the steep hillside to visit one or another cluster of the cave dwellings in which most institutions were housed, my guide and interpreter would take me by the arm lest I stumble and fall. One day I protested that after all [ was not so very old; that I really needed no help.
"But," was the reply, "we have to take special care of you." "You mean," I said, "t]hat you are afraid that if I slip I might accuse the Communists of trying to make away with me ?"
My relationship with my Communist hosts was by this time established on such personally friendly terms that we both laughed.
On this occasion we were leaving Yenan University on a gray and chilly afternoon. The path was muddy and very slippery and I was in fact a little tired after the long climb up to the "battlements" where the students' dormitories opened on a ledge high up on the hillside. I had inspected many rows of caves, whitewashed and clean, each with its six or eight plank beds set close together. The bedding was clean and neat, and there was no sign of personal possessions save a shirt or two hung on the walls. Students reading, Students writing. Students playing cards. Boys and girls hardly to be distinguished from one another since they all wore the same trousers and tunics. The girls had bobbed hair and their faces were rosy and happy. In
* Edgar Snow was readmitted to China a few weeks later.
The Fascination of Yenan 143
one cave there was an old man with a beardnot a teachera peasant come from his village to study accounting. The caves were very cold and rather dark although their flimsy wood and paper doors stood open.
As I walked along, the whole student body left its books or its games to follow me. They talked but I could not understand. Feeling a little shy I stopped to ask my interpreter to tell me what was written on the big blackboard at the end of the row of caves. It was the text of the truce agreement with the National Government signed the previous month. There followed an exhortation to the students to study all the harder now that the Communists must prove their superior worth in a new and united democratic China. In the past, it was written, most Communists had been engaged in armed struggle. Now they must learn peaceful methods for advancing their causeas for instance how to make speeches in the National Assembly.
Yet the university was half empty because many students, I was told, were "at the front." This meant that they were either still fighting the National Government forces or helping to organize new Communist regimes by military occupation.
Next day I visited a nursery school given over to some seventy tots, aged two to seven, sons and daughters of Red Army men at the front and of party officials. All were warmly clad, well fed and happy. They were also very bright and very charming. They put on quite a show for me and for the United States Army sergeant who had driven me over. They dressed up and fought mock battles with wooden guns. They danced, and they sang:
Today we are only children.
Tomorrow we shall be the masters of China.
We are little Eighth Routers.
We love liberty from birth.
To anyone who oppresses us.
We show a fist.
And they all shook their little fists with a sweet belligerency
They sang also a song about a poor little boy who could not study
144 Last Chance in China
because he was so starved in Kuomintang China; and of how he came to Yenan and is now happy with the other children and well up in his grade.
Afterward the children clustered around their teacher. They loved her and they would obviously have been just as happy singing songs about flowers and fairies. I photographed them together with Sergeant Brooks, who was enchanted by their performance. For him there were no shades of the Russian prison house to mar the fascination exerted by a group of happy, clean and clever, well-cared-for babes, whose condition contrasted so sharply with that of the waifs and beggars of China's big cities. Yet I had seen children just as happy and well cared for in Madame Chiang's orphanages. With my memories of the Soviet Union, I also realized that show places in the Communist world are only for a minority of favored children.
It was in this children's home that I first heard of Hollywood's contribution to Yenan. Above the gates were the letters "L. A." The head teacher explained to me that since 1943 the school had received clothing and a substantial annual money contribution from Los Angeles. This was the source of the pretty pale-pink flannelette underwear which had been used for fancy dresses in the children's play. Later I was to learn that the donations of Hollywood's wealthy Communist sympathizers constituted a considerable item on the credit side in Yenan's over-all budget.
Most authors and correspondents who have visited Yenan say little or nothing about Communist finances. It had puzzled me how the Communists had maintained an army which they claimed to be fighting the Japanese more vigorously than anyone else was doing, without burdening the peasantry with its upkeep. The afternoon and evening I spent shivering in Yenan's Guest House talking to an official of the Finance Bureau, the mystery was explained. He frankly admitted that prior to 1941 seventy percent of the revenue of the Chinese Communist administration had been contributed "from outside." "From foreign friends, in particular in Los Angeles; and from the National Government which supplied the pay of the Eighth Route (Communist) Army."
It should be noted here that the impact of a single American dollar was tremendous in the bankrupt pauperized chaos of the wartime Chinese economy. One United States dollar provided exchange between Nationalist, puppet, Communist, Russian, Manchukuoan, and
The Fascination of Yenan 145
Japanese territory far beyond its purchasing value in the United States. At the low point of the war, in the fall of 1944, the United States dollar was equivalent to 200 C. N. (Nationalist currency) dollars, and one C. N. dollar was exchangeable for eight Communist (Shan-kan-ning) dollars. Hence an American contribution of $10,000a mere bagatelle in Hollywoodmeant 16,000,000 Chinese Communist dollars and was a huge contribution in the rustic, policed economy of Yenan.
It had always been obvious to the impartial observer that the heavy burdens placed on the people of Free China by Chiang Kai-shek's government were due to the huge expense of maintaining large armies in the field against Japan. Here I found the Communists themselves admitting, by inference, that their agrarian reforms and the better condition of the peasantry in their areas had been made possible for several years because the people in Kuomintang China were paying for the upkeep of the Communist Army. The admission was all the more significant if one remembers that the Japanese never launched a major offensive against the Communist Northwest after 1939.
On other occasions I had been glad to see my little interpreter, Ling Ching, enjoying the sweets, peanuts and fruit provided for visitors. Evidently he did not belong to one of the higher categories in food allocation and he had a healthy, youthful appetite. That afternoon I was so interested that I got irritated at his halting translation between mouthfuls. My informant, who spoke no foreign language, was a mine of information, and was too absorbed in his subject to realize the political implications of what he told me.
"Until 1941," he said, "it had not been necessary to tax the peasants heavily. The 'Public Salvation Grain Levy' in 1938 had amounted to a mere 10,000 piculs and in 1940 to 90,000. But in 1941 with no further aid from outside of any kind, on account of the blockade, we had to double the grain levy. That year it was set at 200,000 piculs. But this was too heavy a burden on the peasantry."
Evidently the peasants had objected very strongly indeed. For the Communist Party had "listened to the voice of the people" and reduced the levy to 100,000 the following year. The Communist administration could not rely on taxation. It had to expand production.
At this critical time Mao Tse-tung had issued a new slogan: "Everyone work with his hands."
The army, the schools and all other institutions were put under
146 Last Chance in China
the necessity of working to supply at least a part of the food they consumed.
Every possible inducement was offered to the peasants to increase production. Much wasteland was utilized. Cotton was planted and household spinning and weaving encouraged. Salt was "exported" and cloth "imported" through the blockade into and out of Kuomintang China.
The falsity of the picture of an "inhuman blockade" of the Communists by the Nationalist forces painted by Communist sympathizers in New York was here being admitted to me in Yenan itself. Actually there was so much trade that the National Government customs stations all along reported quite heavy revenues on a wide variety of goods passing between Nationalist and Communist China. The "blockade" pertained only to weapons, military supplies including machinery and radios, and subversive literature. But, of course, those who were shouting loudest about the wickedness of the Kuomintang could not read enough Chinese to follow the financial news in Chinese economic journals or daily papers, and would not have troubled to do so if they could.
When I inquired whether trade was also carried on with the Japanese-occupied areas to the east of the Border Region, I received an astonishing reply: "Very little, because the army of Yen Hsi-shan was between us and the Japanese."
Here again was a curious side light on Yenan whose soldiers were supposed by many Americans to have done nearly all the fighting against Japan in North China. Actually the army to the east, which recognized allegiance to the National Government, had constituted a buffer between the Communists and the Japanese.
Today, I was told, only fifty per cent of revenue is derived from taxation. The rest is supplied by the army's production and that of other government institutions. "The army is seventy per cent self-sufficient and some brigades have even produced a surplus for the government." From the detailed account I was given of the economy of the Border Region I got a picture of a small self-sufficient community, left very much to its own devices while the Japanese and the government of Chiang Kai-shek fought their big war. Here was a little country which had turned in on itself and won a "battle of production" while its soldier farmers, like the Scottish border raiders of medieval Brit-
The Fascination of Yenan 147
ain, had engaged, in the period between planting and harvesting, in forays into enemy territory which netted them arms and booty.
During the years 1941 to 1945 the greatest efforts were also made to win over the peasants, artisans and merchants of the Communist-controlled areas. Mao Tse-tung told the party members that they must on no account antagonize nonparty people and must be patient with them when they opposed the orders of the government. There had apparently been a great deal of honest self-criticism and fair dealing with the peasants. As one of the Yenan Communists said to me: "A political party which seeks to win over the whole nation cannot adopt dirty methods or tricks. It is impossible to deceive the people for long."
If he had added, "unless you have control of the radio and the press and have placed an iron curtain between yourselves and the rest of the world," I should have agreed with him.
Even as things are there was some truth in his statement. The Chinese Communists, being a minority in China battling to win power against the established government, have in fact been forced to seek and retain popular support by reforms and a clean administration. The "margin of corruption" compatible with survival is very narrow in their case; very wide in that of the legitimate government.
It was clear from all I learned in Yenan that the Communists had never been confronted with any such insoluble economic and social problems as the National Government. Having neither a large standing army nor city populations to feed, their land-reform program had been easy to carry through.
They created a chain of primitive economic areas run on autarchic lines and used all surplus production for local needs. Since the Japanese held most of the cities, the cutting off of supplies to the urban population could be regarded as a patriotic duty. Nor did the Communists, of course, offer to feed the starving Nationalist professional armies fighting the Japanese in or near Communist-controlled areas.
As Dr. Paul Linebarger has written* : "The resulting surplus gave the Communists local prosperity, while such segmentation brought bankruptcy to the Nationalist economy, wherever it operated at or behind the Japanese front lines, because the Nationalist mercantile
* "The Complex Problem of China," Yale Review, Spring, 1947.
Last Chance in China
and urban system was predicated on China-wide relationships. And the Communists, unlike the Nationalists, had no non-Japanese foreign trade or credit to maintain."
Alternating long conversations and the search for knowledge of the inner workings of the regime with sight-seeing, next day I visited the International Peace Hospital.
At this hospital, where I spent an entire day, I had the impression of being among men wholeheartedly devoted to a humanitarian ideal. I also felt that the doctors there longed for contact with the outside world. Their warm welcome, the almost pathetic efforts they made to show me how sanitary and up-to-date were their methods, their interest and sympathy when I spoke of Bobby Lim and his helpers in Kuomintang China, their desire for books from outside, all moved me profoundly. Most of them were Western-trained and spoke German or French or English, so I could converse with them without an interpreter. With one of them, in particular, I felt completely at ease. A slight, vivacious man, with one of those almost classically beautiful faces one sometimes sees in China, he won me completely with his ready wit, his warm smile and his intense absorption in his work and the well-being of his patients. He had been educated at the Sorbonne in Paris and since I also speak French fluently we could really talk to each other. Moreover he seemed to know me only as the author of Japan's Feet of Clay and to be unaware, or not to care greatly, about my political views.
I was reminded of the best men and women I had known in Russiathose who, whatever their inward opinions concerning Soviet tyranny, devoted themselves to their immediate tasks and hoped by their selfless labor for the common good to deny, or compensate for, the evil deeds of the regime they served. I was aware that day, as I had also been in Moscow in years before, that the strength of the Communists lies largely in their ability, even today, to hold the allegiance of men who hate their tyranny but regard it as a passing phase and spend their individual lives laboring to create the good society Lenin dreamed of.
The sun shone brightly that day. The caves where the patients lay on their wooden plank beds were dark and cold but outside it was almost warm in the sun and the sky was blue and cloudless. The walls of the "wards" were whitewashed and clean, and the up-to-date appa-
The Fascination of Yenan 149
ratus, supplied by friends abroad, contrasted with the primitive surroundings. There were a number of visitors inside the caves and on the paths all along the steep hillside.
I remember the babies in a row in the maternity caves, and a woman in bed with her baby at her breast and her soldier husband sitting beside her, both of them radiant with happiness. Here was a hospital run entirely by Chinese where the people of this remote mountain region were receiving if not the best care that modern science could give them, at least as good nursing as could possibly be provided in such primitive surroundings.
I climbed up and down and saw everything. It was late afternoon before we had finished the inspection. Before I left, it had been arranged that a nurse would ride over to massage my arm, which I had neglected since leaving Shanghai and which was still far from capable of normal movement. I was also presented with a bottle of liquor, the first I had seen in Yenan. It was pretty awful stuff, probably the same kind of alcohol as specimens are kept in, and a small glass or two produced a terrible headache. But it was a symbol of good cheer and friendship in the austere atmosphere of Yenan.
At sunset I was fetched home in a jeep. "Home" for the time being was the United States Army post where Colonel Ivan Yeaton commanded the American Observer Group composed of three officers and eight enlisted men. Either the personality of the colonel, or the atmosphere of Yenan, or a combination of the two, had dispelled any "morale" problems here. Soldiers enjoying the comforts, amusements and temptations of Shanghai clamored to go home. In Yenan where there were no dance halls, cafes, theaters or shops worthy of the name, there had been two re-enlistments, and everyone seemed happy. Officers and men ate the same simple food side by side in the same mess hall; hunted wild pheasants or climbed mountains together in their liberty hours; and every evening sat down with any Chinese who cared to come to see a movie in "Whittlesea Hall." When the plane bringing mail and supplies twice a month from Shanghai failed to arrive on account of bad weather, they saw the same movies over and over again.
Inside the post compound lived a number of Chinese either working for the United States Army and being trained as mechanics, drivers and radio operators, or acting as interpreters and liaison men between
150 Last Chance in China
the Americans and the Communist Government. The conditions of living were the same for everyone and hardly differed from those outside. Whitewashed cabins made of mud and straw, trestle beds, and of course, no running water. But we had electricity and showers and our diet included such luxuries as coffee, cocoa and canned fruit, bacon and occasionally meat.
I was told when I arrived that I was the only woman who had ever stayed at the United States Army post. I was in fact the first woman correspondent to come to Yenan since Anna Louise Strong in 1938. Agnes Smedley had gone to stay with the Communist New Fourth Army in Central China when Hankow fell, but had not been in Yenan since the first year of the Sino-Japanese War.
I was afraid I should be a nuisance, but except for the necessity of stationing a sentry outside the bathhouse when I took a shower, there was no inconvenience. It was very much like the Press Hostel in Chungking except that bugles called us to meals and one had to get up early in the morning. The rooms or cabins were smaller, newer, cleaner, and somewhat better furnished than in Chungking. One might better call our habitations cells, for this word conveys something of the monastic atmosphere of Yenan, both in the town and inside the United States Army compound.
Ling Ching, guide and interpreter to visitors, lived next door to me. He was the son of a landowner in Chahar and had studied at Peking University, but he had joined up with the Communists when the Japanese invaders came. Short, thin, with large glasses, and not particularly intelligent, he was a nice earnest conscientious boy, happy and rather naive. His room contained only a bed, a charcoal brazier, a large desk and some bookshelves. These were filled with Chinese Marxist literature and a very large quantity of American publications. He had accumulated piles of Life magazines and many novels in the United States armed forces pocket editions. Maybe he was in process of being corrupted by this "bourgeois literature" and by his nightly attendance at the movie together with the members of the English-language school.
I think I puzzled Ling Ching. He had, no doubt, been told that I was a wicked reactionary and an enemy of progress and peace. Perhaps I did not quite tally with his conception of a fascist warmonger, for I often found him looking at me curiously but not unamiably, and
The Fascination of Yenan 151
sometimes he asked me questions which displayed a real interest in my opinions. He was obviously not happy about Manchuria for this was the one subject in which he displayed interest after my many interviews.
Ivan Yeaton, who had formerly been United States military attache in Moscow, was just the right man for his job, which required an expert on Communism, not on China. He was determined that under him the United States Army Observer Group should not show any political sympathies or prejudices one way or another. He forbade all political discussion in the mess and never expressed his political views. Discipline on the post and relations between his men and the local population were alike excellent, but under his command there was no such political fraternization as under his predecessor in General Stil-well's day.
I had known Ivan Yeaton and his wife in Washington but I never tried to ascertain his views on Chinese Communism. I understood that it would embarrass him even to be seen talking to me alone and that the performance of his duties required that he take no one into his confidence. I respected the extraordinary self-control of this exceptional soldier and intelligence officer, whose sole recreation was the ten-mile walk he took alone every morning.
It was, however, clear that apart from the other duties, Ivan Yeaton considered that it was a function of his small command to "sell" American democracy to the people of Communist China. Every man on the post was taught to treat the Chinese with respect and courtesy. There was no drunkenness and no whistling after women. After having witnessed the brutal disregard of pedestrians shown by American jeep and truck drivers in Shanghai, I was pleased to find the GI's in Yenan stopping to let the wild Mongolian ponies pass and getting out to walk rather than drive through the narrow main street of the "town."
It must have been hard for the Communist leadership to convince any of the inhabitants of the "Shensi-Kansu-Ningsia Border Region" that the American Army is an instrument of reactionary imperialism. Whatever the radio and the newspaper may be telling them today, they have seen the comradely relations between officers and men and the polite and considerate behavior of the Americans toward the people of Yenan.
152 Last Chance in China
Ling Ching was very conscientious and did not like me to waste a single afternoon or evening without its quota of sight-seeing or conversation. True, there seemed to be certain matters difficult to arrange. When I asked to see factories I was told they were all too far away outside the town, and had to be content with visiting some handicraft shops. Another excuse was made when I wanted to visit the prison. The day I was to have driven over to visit Wu Men-yu, Ye-nan's "labor hero" of agriculture, the weather was so bad and the snow so thick, everyone said the roads were impassable. On the whole, however, I was given plenty of opportunity to observe and question and look for any rotten wood there might be beneath the socialist veneer.
I saw the Red Army soldiers drilling on the sunlit plain beside the frozen River Yen. I attended a mass meeting of women where, after a report had been given of the party's success in establishing Communist administrations in formerly Japanese-occupied areas, a bespectacled and earnest woman gave a lecture on socialism in the home. Each member of the family, she said, should have his due share of the family income justly apportioned. The hundreds of women present, young and old, ugly and pretty, but all dressed alike in gray padded tunics and trousers, listened attentively, made notes and applauded.
At the end of a week the pattern had become a trifle monotonous. I already knew what I would see and hear at every institution. I had inspected countless identical cave dwellings and heard how everyone, whether he were doctor, nurse, teacher or party worker, received food, clothing and lodging, but no salary. Money was for the undedicated for the peasants and artisans and shopkeepers.
Americans like Gunther Stein* have commented on the American soldier's surprise at finding Chinese who "ain't interested in money." This seems a remarkable phenomenon until one reflects that in a society where there is almost nothing to be bought, it is natural not to bother about money. How could the average American properly understand a society in which the ruling class got what it needed without paying for it?
Only when I walked through the little town which has sprung up
* The Challenge of Red China.
The Fascination of Yenan
outside the walls of the ruined city did I sense unease. In Chungking even the most miserable coolies and street vendors smile. There are color and noise, laughter, quarreling and bargaining, misery and comparative opulence; all the infinite variety of unregimented life and an atmosphere of freedom in spite of all the poverty.
Yenan was like an iceberg in comparison, simple in structure, silent and cold. The storekeepers and the peasants who passed you by looked dour and grim. There was little conversation among the people in the streets. In the shops stocked only with the simplest necessities, and in the huts where artisans ply their trades as in days gone by, one received the barest answer to questions. This could be due to the difference in temperament as between the people of the warm, fertile but overpopulated South and those of the barren Northwest. But perhaps it also reflects the fear which always abides in men's hearts under an authoritarian regime. Having lived in the Soviet Union I know that no foreigner can get to know what people are really thinking under a Communist Government. Where dissatisfaction is regarded as treason who will complain to a stranger? Everyone knows about the "traitors' camps" in the Border Region where so-called "enemies of the people" are imprisoned. This was the shadow over Yenan which otherwise seemed so bright and hopeful.
Tillman Durdin who speaks Chinese, and who is far from being an apologist for the Kuomintang, after he visited Yenan remarked on the contrast between "the frightened people and the confident commissars" in Communist China.
In 1938 I had met that gallant old lady, Mrs. Chao, nicknamed "grandmother of the guerrillas" for the resistance movement against Japan she had led in Manchuria. Her son, who had fought the Japanese ever since 1931, had been shot by the Communists. I had heard of Wang Shih-wei, the Communist writer condemned as a Trotsky-ist because he had written some articles critical of the Yenan regime, saying that the youth of lower rank were dissatisfied and complained about such matters as "the five categories of food" between the various grades of Communist elite and the mass of the people.
I remembered Lao-she, author of Rickshaw Boy, whom Durdin had taken me to visit in Chungking. In his little earth-floored shack, piled with books and cold as a tomb, he had said, "It's just about the same for a liberal writer in Chungking and in Yenan; maybe a little
Last Chance in China
worse in Yenan. Both sides just want you to do propaganda and obscure realities."
I thought also of Chang Kuo-san, the young Chinese Central News reporter who was a friend of Till Durdin's and with whom I had had long conversations in Chungking. He had graduated a little time before from the Northwestern University, exiled in Kunming. His English was excellent and he had a knowledge of politics and economics which was both theoretical and practical. His qualifications and intelligence in any other country would have assured him a comfortable living. In China he was barely able to support his wife and child and their second baby whose arrival we celebrated just before I left Chungking. Nevertheless he was as anti-Communist as I was, and he told me the contents of letters received by his classmates from their relatives in Communist China. To them Communism was far from signifying the do-good, be-good atmosphere of Yenan. It meant murder and pillage and terror. When I suggested to Chang Kuo-san that he accompany me to Yenan as my interpreter, he had said he would be glad to, but first he must have some guarantee that he would be able to return to Chungking. "Few who have gone there," he said, "ever got out again. A message is sent to your family saying you like it so much in Communist China that you intend to stay. I just daren't risk being held there because of my wife and children."
In Yenan I wished I could speak to the people, alone and in their own language. Not that it would have helped much to understand Chinese. I knew from my Russian experience that no one dares to speak freely under a police regime. Even if the terror in Communist China is far less acute than in Russia, even if the Chinese Communist regime had become comparatively liberal in recent years, the peasants and merchants could not have forgotten the executions and expropriations which marked the arrival of the Red Army in the Northwest.
Already from beyond the "model state" centered in Yenan reports must have come of the forced grain deliveries, executions, and impressment of villagers into the Communist armies fighting the National Government for the control of North China and Manchuria. Even if the Communists had improved the lot of the peasants of the Yenan area, they were vastly increasing the misery of the great mass of the Chinese people by their refusal to stop the civil war.
Many a naive foreign journalist has accepted as genuine the Chi-
The Fascination of Yenan
nese Communist claim to have established a democratic government and "free" elections. Two thirds of those elected to public office, they point out, must not be Communists. What they have failed to see is that where only one party is allowed to exist, the electors have no chance to oppose the ruling minority. The power of the people is even weaker than that of unorganized workers trying to bargain with a big corporation. For in Communist China, as in the Communist-dominated states of Eastern Europe, anyone who opposes the Communists is called "antidemocratic," or fascist and loses his liberty or his head.
When I argued with the Communists in Yenan that theirs was a spurious democracy, since neither the Kuomintang nor any other non-Communist party was allowed to function, they replied, "We do not forbid other parties to exist, but, of course, we don't allow Kuomintang 'spies' to come to Yenan."
"In 1944," I was told by the editor of the Emancipation Daily, "we had a cleanup of spies of the Japs and the Kuomintang who had tried to corrupt our program."
"Did you shoot them," I inquired, "or give them a trial?" "No we didn't kill them. Sometimes we gave them a trial." How simple it is to call a dictatorship a democracy when all who disagree are labeled enemies of the people, spies, traitors, fascists or otherwise undeserving of rights or liberty!
It was impossible for me to judge how great a part was played by fear, and how great a part by faith, in the regimentation of life in Communist China. But it is certain that the individualist Chinese, with their hatred of government interference in their private affairs, cannot easily have adapted themselves to the Communist regime.
The correspondents who have been fascinated by Yenan have accepted the popular, but false, assumption that liberty and equality are twins. Human society is not naturally equalitarian, and without compulsion it cannot be made so. Nor do human beings all think alike and desire the same things, or believe that there is only one Truth one certain way to create the good and just society which men throughout the ages have longed for.
Few people would themselves like to live regimented, frugal lives possessing nothing that their neighbors do not also possess and striving always for what the government tells them is the common good.
156 Last Chance in China
But many people think such a society admirable. This is particularly true not of the worst, but of the best, Americans who have a vivid sense of guilt in foreign lands because they are so much better off and live so much more comfortably than other peoples. In Kuomintang China they feel better after they have denounced the government for the ills which are in fact mainly due to China's scarcity economy and the laissez-faire prejudices of the Chinese people. In Yenan they can reverence a way of life they would find intolerable if they were participants instead of visitors. The temptation to ascribe all the misery in China to the National Government is all the greater because of the Western world's large share of responsibility for China's plight. Emotional young correspondents are glad to forget, if they ever knew, the lasting effects of former European and American oppression and exploitation of China.
In an earlier chapter I have referred to the insidious and wholesale forms which corruption takes in a developed Communist society, in which the ruling class through its monopoly of political power owns everything in the country and can allocate to itself any share it pleases of the national income. In Communist China, however, society is still in too primitive a stage for the weeds of corruption to have stifled the flowers of original intention. Until Japan's surrender the Communists controlled no cities, had practically no industry and were so isolated that money had little value. The members of the Party still set an example of hard work and frugal living. They have not yet been corrupted by power because of their precarious situation and the necessity of retaining popular support. Seeking to win control over the whole country, they are still at the stage of advocating democracy in order to destroy it.
The rank and file have no idea of what the rest of the world is doing and saying and thinking. They never get the chance to read a book or a newspaper or hear a voice on the air, other than those approved of by the Communist Party. They know nothing of the terror, the concentration camps and the gross inequalities of Stalin's Russia. They are unaware that they themselves are but pawns in Soviet Russia's game of power politics.
The sincerity and decency of many of the Chinese Communists were unmistakable. I liked them and respected them all the while that I was conscious of their tragic destiny and the use made of their self-sacri-
The Fascination of Yenan
ficing lives by forces of whose existence they were completely ignorant. They put me in mind of the unwordly monks of Mount Athos who in the years of grossest corruption in Rome and Byzantium, when Popes fought Emperors for domination over the earth, continued to render an allegiance long since betrayed by the Church itself. Here in Communist China was the embryo of what Russia might have become had not external opposition, hunger, lust for power and the frailty of man, unsupported by anything but a materialist philosophy, led the Bolsheviks and the people they dominated to the gates of hell instead of to paradise on earth.
Because I was once a Communist who believed that the overthrow of capitalism and imperialism would enable the human race to create the good society of the free and equal, I could not hate the Chinese Communists. I could only pity them. Here in the primitive Northwest, where Chinese civilization began in the dawn of history, the Communists had been trying to re-create in a modern pattern the life of primitive innocence which may, or may not, have existed before "man's first disobedience" condemned humanity to strive forever against one tyranny only to create another. As Goethe once said, Humanity is like a man on a sickbed turning continually from right to left and finding no ease on either side.
When I asked what guarantees there were against future abuses of power, it was suggested that I read a pamphlet by Wang Yen-pei of the Democratic League. The author had been told by Mao Tse-tung that he was confident of the "ability of the people to control the Party." "The Party," said Mao, "was always willing to listen to the criticisms of the masses."
I was told how undisciplined Communist soldiers had been reported by non-Party peasants and taught thereafter to behave themselves, also that when officials had been found "too hasty" or dictatorial in their dealings with the peasants they had been removed or reprimanded. "The difference between us and the Kuomintang," said one of the Moscow-trained and American-educated elite of Yenan, "is that we never squeeze the people in order to enrich ourselves. When we use compulsion it is because some comrades are too eager for the common good."
This statement unfortunately echoed all too loudly in my ears what I had heard in Russia years before. The peasants sent to Siberian
158 Last Chance in China
concentration camps for resisting collectivization had not been victims of self-seeking corrupt landowners, capitalists or officials. They were supposed to have been sacrificed on the altar of the welfare of the Common Man although in reality they toiled and died to satisfy the insensate ambitions of a man and his party.
When I visited Yenan in February 1946 it was in process of becoming, like Chungking, only a secondary capital. The main activities of the Communists were already directed elsewhere. Their armies and their administrative personnel were spread out through North China setting up other "border governments" in other "liberated areas." They admitted that the control of large cities was producing new problems and required new methods. It was expected that salary payments would soon be substituted for payments in kind. The simple egalitarian society of Yenan seemed doomed to become only a memory even before it fell to the Nationalist Army in 1947. But Yenan remained the symbol of man's hope and man's illusions.
It is a profound mistake to assume that because the Communists of recent years have advocated agrarian reform, free enterprise and "democracy" they are not "real Communists." As the editor of their newspaper in Yenan said to me : "We Communists know how to make turns to reach our goal."
We were sitting talking by candlelight in his small mud cabin, huddled around a charcoal brazier after having dined adequately but not too well. My host, Chien Chun-su, was a small, vivacious, bespectacled intellectual who had been educated in America and spoke excellent English. He welcomed the "new era" about to begin. "The habit of keeping time," he exulted, would be enforced, and "interminable discussions" curtailed. From now on he thought it would be easier to "maintain a united will" than in the years "when the Communist forces were split off from one another."
"Our situation in 1941 and 1942 was precarious," he said. "We were blockaded and the Chungking Government no longer supplied the pay of our army. We had not previously produced enough food in the Border Region to be self-sufficient. It was imperative to increase production. Speeches and theoretical arguments were of no use. We had to teach the people practical things, such as how to increase the yield of the land, how to weave and how to make chickens
The Fascination of Yenan
lay eggs. Comrade Mao Tse-tung told us we must not antagonize the non-Party people. That we should be patient with them even when they disagreed with us. That we must give the masses some rein and convert them by democratic methods. He told us that when you go away from the people, however excellent your intentions, you will lose."
It was clear from his conversation that it was circumstances, not conviction, which had led the Chinese Communists to adopt a more or less liberal policy.
Chien himself had little patience with the people who disagreed. "Sometimes," he said, "we had meetings lasting two months. In the future that will be impractical; in cities, hours, and even minutes, count. We have got to learn the habit of keeping time. Very few of us here even have watches. When we make an appointment, we just say 'after breakfast' or 'in the forenoon.' We have only one newspaper so there is no competition. We are not worried about getting out the news on time. All this has got to be changed. Also these past eighteen years most of us have been engaged in armed struggle either in the army or in underground activity. Now we must learn new methods of advancing our cause."
As I stumbled down the hillside in the dark on my way back to my own mud hut at the United States Army post, I recalled Mussolini's boast about the trains running on time. I also remembered that in Russia there had been a period when the peasants were encouraged to increase production for their own profit and allowed, together with the artisans and small industrialists, to trade on a free market. This N.E.P. (New Economic Policy) period was ended by Stalin in 1929 when the Bolshevik Party considered itself strong enough to crush all internal opposition, force the peasants into so-called collective farms, liquidate all "capitalist elements" and suppress all opposition. After 1929, also, the Russian Communist Party completed its metamorphosis from a group of intellectuals vowed to poverty into a ruling class enjoying not only power but riches. So true it is that without liberty equality soon also disappears.
Lenin wrote of the unequal development of capitalism, contrasting the differences between the young period of free enterprise and liberty and the later period of monopolies and imperialism. The unequal development of Communism has been insufficiently recognized.
160 Last Chance in China
In Russia you already have a society of privilege and great inequalities in standards of living. In Communist China you find a society whose rulers have not yet been corrupted by power. Although the Chinese Communists have their own army and since Japan's surrender have begun to rule over large territories, they are still a minority party in China. They could not have existed without popular support and without making concessions to the desires of the people. But there is no guarantee and no likelihood that they, unlike other men, would not be corrupted by power.
All this was in my mind the day I dined with General Chu Teh, commander in chief of the Communist armies. We had spent the forenoon on a set of questions which he answered from a written text in the correct Marxist-Stalinist manner. I had been told to submit my questions in writing, and I was helpless when he skirted around the true content of the awkward ones. In particular he would not be drawn out on Manchuria. I wondered what he really thought but knew there was no chance of finding out and there was no sense in badgering him. Moscow's eagle eye was on him, and there were several high party officials present.
I sensed his relief once the ideological formalities had been disposed of. Now at last we could speak of Yenan, his bailiwick, his domain. Had he and his people not done well ? And he eyed me with curiosity, as, with Chinese courtesy, he used his chopsticks to place a few choice morsels on my plate.
I said, "I have been much impressed by what I have seen in Yenan. If only you would cease to play Moscow's game by disrupting Chinese unity, and be Chinese, you would be able to give a lead to all China in the matter of agrarian reform. I cannot forget that Lenin too hoped to establish a society of the free and equal, but look at Russia nowa country of tyranny and terror and concentration camps, bent on imperialistic expansion; with the Communist Party living in luxury while the masses are desperately poor. How can one not fear that you too will take the Moscow road?"
Chu Teh did not argue. He simply stated that the Chinese Communist Party is Chinese and China would follow her own path. But the editor Chien was very angry and said with a sneer, "That's what you think!" I said it was what I had seen and experienced. "Some of us too have been to Moscow," he replied. The concluding remark was unnecessary. It was all too obvious in his case.
The Fascination of Yenan
I then asked Chu Teh to define the meaning of democracy. He said that it meant free elections, free speech, no secret police or arbitrary arrests.
"How then," I asked, "can you call Russia democratic? There is no free speech; the press is one hundred per cent government-owned; there is an all-powerful secret police; no freedom from arbitrary arrest, and no party besides the Communist Party allowed to exist."
The general was not a good Sophist. The argument was taken over by Yung Hsiung-kuan of the Political Bureau:
"In the Soviet Union all other parties have been liquidated because they were enemies of the people, and the people wanted them to be destroyed. No other party is required because the Communist Party represents the will of the people."
This unequivocal definition of the "New Democracy" shows it to be simply old tyranny writ large. Instead of a king you have the Communist Party claiming to represent the will of the people. Instead of the belief that "the king can do no wrong" you have the axiom that the Soviet Union is always right.
The answer I had been given showed all too clearly that whatever the intentions of battle-scarred veterans like Chu Teh and Mao Tse-tung, their party was headed along the same bloodstained path as Russia and all her satellites. I would have been only too glad to find that the Chinese Communists are democrats, but obviously, like all other Communists, they had merely usurped the word and reversed its meaning.
The road to hell is usually paved with good intentions. My liking for some of the Yenan Communists could not change the fact that Moscow's ideology ruled their thoughts and actions. Once in power in China there was every likelihood that they would become a brutal, tyrannical ruling class. Those who kept their primitive faith would be liquidated as Russia's old Bolsheviks had been.
Those who take to the sword may not always perish by the sword, but after my six years in Soviet Russia I am convinced that social justice cannot be insured by violence, injustice, lawlessness and dictatorship. Not only is there abundant evidence that the Chinese Communist Party leaders have wholeheartedly adopted the same philosophy as the rulers of Soviet Russia; not only do they believe that the end justifies the means and that lying, cheating, political chicanery, cruelty, even murder are the means which must be adopted to win and
Last Chance in China
retain power for the Communist Party, they have already advanced some distance along the same road to tyranny as the Russian Communist Party trod long ago.
In the closing months of 1946 the Chinese Communists started to throw off the democratic mask and to withdraw the iron hand of terror from the velvet glove worn in Yenan. They now no longer appear as reformers or seek to win popular support by moderate policies. As Tillman Durdin reported on February 3, 1947, the Communist land policy in its latest phase represents a sharp departure from the principles which were being propagated by the Yenan leaders during the Japanese War and for a period afterward. This land policy, says the New York Times correspondent, "has been carried out with the accompaniment of cruelties and other excesses such as the 'Settle Accounts' trials, executions and some cases of slaughter such as the recent massacre of the residents of the little Catholic village of Tsungli in Chahar."
In a later dispatch, sent from Yenan on March 8, 1947, Durdin reported that in the one third of China they claimed to control, the Communists were proceeding relentlessly with their program of land division, and that they expect to eliminate tenantry completely. "Information available here," he wrote, "indicates that the Communists are effecting the most extensive change of landownership brought about anywhere in the world since the early years of Bolshevik rule in Russia."
The editor of the Yenan Emancipation News, my old friend Chien Chun-su, gave Durdin a detailed account of how the process of liquidating landowners is being carried out. It is evidently done by means of the same process as in Eastern Europe. The landlords are "hauled before 'People's Courts' " and charged with some past action harmful to a tenant or a small landholding neighbor.
"When found guiltyand there is no record that any landlord has ever been found innocentthe landlord has properties taken away from him sufficient to meet the demands of his accusers and of the land-division regime."
However, "if a landlord has been 'good,' if he has co-operated with the Communist regime," he gets a "favored status." The mayor of Yenan gave Durdin, as an example, the relatives of Professor Chang Shen-fu of the Democratic League. Since the League is pro-Commu-
The Fascination of Yenan 163
nist this family had been allowed to retain a large estate of between 200 and 300 acres.
In other words you can ensure yourself possession of your wealth if only you toe the Party line.
According to the claims of the Communists 60,000,000 peasants in North China and Manchuria have acquired farms through the forcible expropriation without compensation of a multitude of small landowners and richer peasants. The Chinese Communists, like the Bolsheviks before them, have already started to solve the agrarian problem by the mass murder of "kulaks."
Hundreds of thousands of refugees from Communist-held areas, the majority of whom are peasants, have flocked into Nationalist territory.
For instance the Reverend Wilfred McLaughlin, an American mission worker from Haichow in Kiangsi, when visiting Süchow in June 1947 reported that 100,000 refugees from near-by Communist territory had come to his district where famine conditions already prevailed largely as a result of confiscation of food stocks by the Communists when they occupied the area.
Many correspondents and authors have stated that they saw no evidence of any link between the Chinese Communists and Moscow. Of course you do not see couriers running back and forth between Moscow and Yenan. But it is glaringly obvious that the Chinese Communists, like Communists everywhere else in the world, steer their course by Moscow's star.
It was while I was in Yenan that the storm broke in China about Russia's looting of Manchuria and failure to hand the territory back to the National Government of China, as she had undertaken to do in the Sino-Soviet Treaty of August 1945. Chungking had for months kept silent concerning Russia's breaking of the treaty, knowing that China was too weak to force the Russians out. Hoping against hope that eventually the Red Army would go home, the Chinese National Government had not even protested Russia's refusal to let its troops land in the port of Dairen.
In February came the breaking point with great student demonstrations in Chungking and Shanghai demanding that Russia give back Manchuria.
164 Last Chance in China
This was the first clear test for the Chinese Communists. So long as it was Japan who bullied China, despoiled her and fostered disunity, it was possible to appear to be both a Communist and a patriot. Now with Russia stepping into Japan's shoes, it would be easy to see whose estimate of the Chinese Communists was correct. Were they or were they not Moscow's quislings?
The Yenan newspaper and radio left one with no doubts. The student demonstrations were described as "fascist-inspired" and no single word of censure or complaint was uttered concerning Russia's removal of machinery, rolling stock and food from Manchuria.
One quickly remarked the difference in reaction to the subject of Manchuria as between the "social workers" or "Boy Scout" leaders and the Communist elite. The former were embarrassed, tried to change the subject or showed that they were completely ignorant of what was going on. Not so Chien Chun-su, the editor. Here was a perfectly trained Moscow-orientated twister of words and confuser of issues. One can meet his like in all the Communist Parties of the world. They believe that you can fool a large number of people, for a sufficiently long time to gain your ends, so long as you can confuse your listeners by using words they like for things they hate.
Whenever I tried to pin him down with a clear question on a specific issue, he always eluded me.
"Do you approve," I said, "of the Yalta agreement which enabled Russia to regain all the Czarist privileges in Manchuria lost in the Russo-Japanese War, or voluntarily given up by Lenin ?"
"Ah," he said, waving his thin scholar's hand, "you cannot consider something up in the air like that; you must not distort facts by considering them in isolation; you should always grasp what is the essence of a situation, its historical setting and its content. The essence of the Yalta agreement was that it paved the way for the Sino-Soviet Pact. Without Yalta there might have been no pact. Without the pact perhaps no victory. Leave aside meaningless talk of 'Czarist privileges.' That is nonsense. Your whole premise is wrong since the Soviet Union is not an Imperialist Power but a workers' state and has always been our friend. China and Russia must stand together against the danger of Japan's revival. That is the essence of the matter. It was very good of President Roosevelt as middleman to promote friendship between China and Russia. Chiang Kai-shek knew at
The Fascination of Yenan 165
Cairo that Roosevelt was going to discuss Manchuria at Yalta, and he is not honest when he afterward expresses surprise."
He added significantly, "We had nothing to do with the pact. We are not in a position to negotiate."
From the final sentence in this jumble of words one might perhaps conclude he meant that only a Communist-controlled China would be in a position to hold its own. A non-Communist China must submit to Russia lest worse befall her.
I pressed him to commit himself as to whether or not he also approved of Russia pressing China for even greater concessions than those provided for in the Sino-Soviet Treaty. He would only reiterate, "I don't believe Russia will do anything against what she signed."
When I remarked that Russia had already broken the treaty by not withdrawing her troops from Manchuria and by trying to blackmail China into giving Russia possession of half the resources there, he said, "We are for the withdrawal of all foreign forces from China."
As regards the looting of Manchuria by the Red Army, he simply said he had no information that this had occurred. If consideration of the "essence" of a fact cannot transmute it into something different, your true Communist will deny the fact's existence.
I was not surprised, two months later, to read that the Yenan radio was categorically denying that the Russians had removed any machinery from Mukden. In the face of all the evidence given by American and other correspondents this was a barefaced lie. But since the inhabitants of Communist China get no news other than that which their rulers wish them to hear they would have no means of ascertaining the truth.
However loyally the Communists might cover up for Soviet Russia it was impossible to believe that men like Mao Tse-tung and Chu Teh did not, in their hearts, resent the wrecking of Manchuria. They must have hoped to inherit its industries as good soldiers of the Red Czar, and have come to suspect that Stalin was no more anxious to see a strong Communist China than a strong Kuomintang, or any other kind of China.
I had no opportunity to form a personal estimate of Mao Tse-tung since an interview was denied me. But as I sat with the burly and amiable Chu Teh, whose name signifies Red Virtue, and whose kindly
Last Chance in China
eyes regarded me with what seemed a questioning, even sympathetic and certainly not hostile regard, I could not believe him to be without inner doubts concerning Moscow's leadership. Here was a man of such strength of character that he had not only given up a life of power and ease and pensioned off his wives and concubines when he joined the Communist Party, but had also cured himself of the opium habit when already in his forties; a man who had come to be a Communist through his sympathy for the downtrodden and by way of Marxist study in Germany and Russia in the early twenties. He belonged to the now almost extinct generation of old-vintage Communists. In Soviet Russia he would undoubtedly have long since been liquidated along with almost all Lenin's old Comrades. Chu Teh, it seemed to me, could not easily accept the role of a Stalin yes man however subservient his replies to questions might sound.
I would have given a great deal to know his real thoughts. Did he think that he had no choice ? That he was committed and could not draw back? The Moving Finger had long since written and moved on. The hopes and ideals of twenty years before were dead on both sides. Chu Teh and Mao Tse-tung, even if they wished it, could never be reconciled with Chiang Kai-shek to join with him to save China. Too much blood had been shed, too much hatred and mistrust created. The Kuomintang as well as the Comintern had degenerated, and Chiang Kai-shek was committed to alliance with the Western Powers who still appear to the Chinese Communists as the implacable and cruel imperialists of the past.
Although I realized it was hopeless to expect Chu Teh to reveal his true thoughts, I questioned him closely on Manchuria, asking him to explain how the Chinese Communists, who had always stood for the first of Sun Yat-sen's Three Principles, the integrity and independence of China, could approve of the revival of Czarist Russia's imperialist privileges. His answers were as stereotyped and unconvincing as I had expected. He said that it was "insulting" to speak of the Sino-Soviet Treaty "in the same breath" as Czarist demands on China. Not only was it a vilification of the Soviet Union, but it was also a vilification of America since President Roosevelt had himself sponsored the Sino-Soviet Treaty. He also, no doubt with an inner chuckle, said that he remembered that the world's press had acclaimed the treaty as a "defeat for the Chinese Communist Party." His party,
The Fascination of Yenan 167
he continued, "had not had the slightest knowledge about the negotiations" but had approved because the treaty was "a safeguard against the recurrence of Japanese aggression and for the promotion of the common welfare of China and the Soviet Union. . . .
"If we compare the close relationship between China and distant America with the provisions of the Sino-Soviet Pact the latter does not seem at all extraordinary."
"You mean," I said, "that the Chinese Communist Party no longer disapproves of exclusive rights in any part of China for any Power?
Chu Teh dodged the question and replied only that if negotiations were on the "basis of equality" China should sign commercial pacts with other nations.
When, during lunch, I taxed Yung Hsiung-kuan, a leading Communist theoretician, with the fact that the Communists had broken the January truce in which they promised not to contest the occupation of Manchuria by the Nationalist forces, he slipped out from under with more "dialectical" arguments.
"We do not object," he said, "to National troops coming to Manchuria to take over. But the settlement of the method of reoccu-pation is a matter of internal politics. The National Government's idea is to do away with all the people's forces and popular administrations set up there. The local popular forces in Manchuria recognize the Central Government but the latter must also recognize their status."
In effect this meant that, so long as the Communist forces arrived in Manchuria out of uniform (as they had in fact done) to organize local Communist administrations, they had not broken the truce.
The Emancipation Daily and the Communist News Service, as might be expected, did a good job of confusing the issue. Reading the excerpts translated into English and circulated among us in Yenan, I realized that it must be well-nigh impossible for the inhabitants of the Border Region ever to get at the truth. Their knowledge of events and facts is comparable to what an American would know if he never read anything but the Daily Worker.
The great student demonstrations in Chungking and other cities were represented as a wicked plot by "fascist elements in the Kuo-mintang" to "stir up feeling against the Soviet Union in order to sabotage the P. C. C. Agreements." The students were warned that one
Last Chance in China
day they would appreciate "that they had been duped by these fascist elements, and come to understand that real love of country lies not in being anti-Soviet or anti-Communist but in joining hands with the Soviet Union and the Chinese Communist Party."
The general argument ran something like this: to oppose Russia is to be a fascist because the Soviet Union is the "main antifascist force in the world." There would be no question of the Red Army not vacating Manchuria if Chinese "democratic," i.e., Communist, forces were in control there. ("If democracy were realized there would be no problem.") Chungking should therefore let the Communists run* Manchuria.
"This kind of demonstration," said the Yenan News Agency, "is a hundred per cent antinational and antidemocratic in character. In other words it is counterrevolutionary, and is no different from Hitlerite demonstrations, although the motives of the bulk of the student demonstrators may be patriotic in intention."
Another day it circulated an ingenious and equally illogical argument to the effect that, since the National Government had not fought Japan when the latter took possession of Manchuria and had suppressed those who clamored for war against Japan in 1931, it had no right now to appeal to Chinese patriotism in seeking to regain Manchuria.
A week later in Peiping I met George Weller just out of Chungking. He told me that neither he nor the other foreign correspondents had ever seen the like of these demonstrations. They were terrific and could not possibly have been staged; it was a real mass popular protest. Moreover the government leaders clearly had not wanted them; they were far too frightened of Russia. The demonstrations were as embarrassing to them as the similar ones against Japan in the early thirties.
All in all Yenan's reaction to the popular outburst in China, which followed the American revelations of Russia's looting of Manchuria, was sufficient proof that the Chinese Communists are no different from Communists everywhere else in the world. They are as certainly the puppets of Moscow as Marshal Tito, or the Polish Government, or the American Communist Party.
The day I left Yenan the Red Army was lined up at the airfield rehearsing its reception for General Marshall who was at that time held
The Fascination of Yenan 169
in the highest esteem in Communist China. The general was not then aware that the truce he had arranged was enabling the Communists to hold their gains in the Northwest provinces while moving their best forces into Manchuria to take over as the Russians withdrew. He was royally received in Yenan. Not till many months later did the Communists start including him in their diatribes against "American imperialism."
Marshall plodded on believing he could unite China by fusing the best elements in the Kuomintang with the moderates, or Right Wing, of the Chinese Communist Party. Had he studied the history of other Communist Parties, he might have realized that whether or not such elements exist among the Chinese Communist Party, makes little difference. The German Communist Party, before Hitler, when it held the proud position now occupied by the Chinesethat of being the largest and most influential Communist Party outside Russiahad also had its "conciliators." The German Communists who disagreed with the Comintern line of silent collaboration with the Nazis to overthrow the Weimar Republic were either thrown out of the party by order of Moscow, or disciplined into impotence. So, in China, there can be no hope that those who take the present democratic pretensions of the Communists seriously, can ever swing the Party as a whole.
I flew back to Peking fully conscious of the reasons why so many liberal, sincere and decent, but politically naive or ignorant Americans have been fascinated by Yenan. I reflected on my journey out how in the old medieval legends the Devil knew that to tempt mankind he must assume a disguise; his success was assured only if he appeared in the guise of a beautiful woman or a fair youth. The totalitarians who, like Hitler, plainly display their tail and horns, have no chance of succeeding. It is the totalitarian tyranny which, like the Communist, appears in democratic trappings and appeals to the best and most generous instincts of mankindit is this that can.destroy us. Men are often led to perdition by their best, not their worst, instincts and desires.
Are They Real Communists?
he popularity of the Chinese Communists in America is no doubt largely due to the unpopularity of China's National Government. Yet it is quite illogical to assume that because Chiang Kai-shek's government is not democratic, its enemies of necessity must be. The choice before us is not one between black and white. The real question we have to decide is which side in the civil war might, conceivably, with American aid, create a strong, independent and democratic China.
Unless the Chinese Communists are in fact a totally different species from all othersunless it can be proved that they have no political affinity with the Russian, European, American and other "real" Communist Parties, are not inspired by the same philosophy and do not follow Moscow's dictateswe know that they neither can nor will establish a democratic government in China. If they are "real" Communists we know that the kind of government they would establish in China would be the same type of totalitarian dictatorship as the ones which have been clamped down on Poland, Yugoslavia, Rumania and other countries within the Soviet sphere. On the other hand we know that however reactionary and corrupt the Chinese National Government may be, no regime constitutes so great a threat to liberty and progress as a Communist regime backed by Soviet Russia.
The slogans and immediate policies or pretensions of the Communists do not affect the issue. We know well enough from our experience at home and in Europe that "democracy" in the Communist lexicon has an entirely different meaning from the usually accepted one. The "democratic" governments set up in Eastern Europe by Moscow's agents allow neither freedom of speech nor freedom of the press, nor free elections, nor freedom from arbitrary
Are They Real Communists? 171
arrest, nor respect for minority rights, nor the right to strike or organize in trade unions to protect or improve the workers' standard of living, nor any of the other liberties which our forefathers fought to win.
We also know that what the admirers of the Soviet Union call economic democracy is not only the opposite of free enterprise, but also has little in common with democratic socialism.
We are not confronted with a problem of language or historical background as writers like Edgar Snow have argued, but with a deliberate effort on the part of the Communists to confuse us by using words we like for practices we hate.
I am not concerned here to argue with those who consider Russia's economic and political system the best in the world, and who represent it as a higher and better form of democracy than our own. Unless and until they themselves experience the "blessings" of the Soviet system it is hopeless to argue with them. What seems to me of vital importance is that the great mass of Americans who have already seen the true face of Communism in Europe and turned away from it, should also cease to be deluded by the democratic masquerade which the Communists have carried on so successfully in China.
It must be determined, by studying the record, whether or not the Chinese Communist Party has changed its policy over the last quarter of a century according to Moscow's orders. Does the history of the Chinese Communist Party prove that it has been a loyal and obedient member of the Communist International? Are the basic beliefs and philosophy of the Chinese Communists the same as those of the rulers of Soviet Russia? Does the word democracy mean the same thing to them as to Stalin, Tito and the Moscow-sponsored government of Poland?
In order to judge whether or not the Chinese Communists have consistently followed the Party line as laid down in Moscow, we must be clear what that line has been. For there is a popular misconception that a Communist is a man or woman whose primary aim is socialism, and who works always for revolution everywhere to establish it. This has not been true for at least two decades. The basic thesis on which Communist policy has long been based is that, since Soviet Russia is the only socialist state in the world, Communists the world over must subordinate themselves, their party, the working class of
172 Last Chance in China
their own country and the world's welfare to the interests of the Soviet Government.
Those who do not agree that Soviet Russia is the hope of the world, those who are convinced that social justice cannot be obtained by violence, the abolition of civil liberties, government without law and the subordination of the individual conscience to an all-powerful state, reject the Communist thesis once they come to understand it. But one must always remember that sincere Communists, however abhorrent their methods and philosophy may seem to us, believe that all means and every means are justified by their aim, which they still conceive as the emancipation of mankind from capitalist "tyranny," inequality, poverty and imperialist war.
Communist aims, having been identified with the interests of the Soviet Government, may, at different times and in various places, require the support of Hitler or of Roosevelt, of Peron or Chiang Kai-shek, of Henry Wallace or Kemal Ataturk, of Zionism or of Arab nationalism, of fascism or democracy. The only test is "friendliness," which in the Communist lexicon means subservience to Russia or willingness to give her what she wants.
In Finland Moscow allows a "capitalist" economy to function provided the people continue to work desperately hard supplying enormous reparations to Russia. In Rumania a king is allowed to continue on the throne so long as he remains obedient to Moscow. In Poland, Hungary, Bulgaria and Yugoslavia, Communist or Communist-dominated governments are required by the Kremlin, since these satellites are required to play an active role in Russia's interest.
Thus in its international relations the Kremlin's world aims may necessitate good will either toward a conservative or a fascist or a socialist government. The only criterion is the advantage of the Soviet State. Were Stalin to embrace Franco for the sake of a Spanish alliance, it would be no more surprising than Molotov's 1939 statement to Ribbentrop that Nazi-Communist friendship had been "cemented with blood" in the Russo-German partition of Poland. Nor is there much doubt that Stalin would sacrifice the Chinese Communists today, as he did from 1925 to 1927, if only he could induce Chiang Kai-shek to cut China's ties with America and become the Soviet Union's ally. The present National Government of China would undoubtedly find itself washed clean in the eyes of Commu-
Are They Real Communists? 173
nists all over the world, if only it would team up with the USSR. Put in religious terms, in Communism's secular religion the sinner who belongs to the true church is welcome, but the upright and just man who is an unbeliever can never be forgiven.
Today there should be no difficulty at all in recognizing Communists anywhere in the world. People who are always ready to reverse themselves on any issue according to what is the immediate interest of the Soviet Union are Communists whether or not they go under their true colors.
It was not always so. In the first years of the existence of the Soviet Government and the Communist International the aim was world revolution, and the criterion the supposed interests of the "toiling masses" in all countries. The Communists were originally internationalists, and Lenin denounced patriotism and nationalism as incompatible with Communism. But gradually, after Lenin's death, the Comintern ceased to pursue the ever receding chimera of world revolution. It abandoned the concept of the international community of interest of the workers of the world for a Russian nationalist policy, or rather for one whose primary aim is the maintenance in power of Stalin and his party. Thereafter any Communist who questioned the correctness of the Moscow-dictated policy of the Comintern was liquidated or excluded from the Communist Party in every country. The Communist Parties everywhere became mere adjuncts of the Soviet Foreign Office.
The history of the Chinese Communist Party is of particular interest since the turning point in Comintern history was its failure in China in 1927.
Following the destruction in China of the last hope of spreading Communism by revolutionary upheavals in other lands, Russia turned in on herself. Stalin's slogan of "socialism in one country" came in time to signify that Communists in all countries should work only to preserve the Soviet Union and extend its power. Once this thesis was accepted it followed as night the day that Communists should become the greatest opportunists the world knows, with no fixed principles other than the advantage of the Soviet Union.
Today the Kremlin aims at world conquest, not primarily through Communist revolutions, but by the military strength of Russia aided by her satellites. The role of the foreign Communists in countries not
Last Chance in China
yet subject to Soviet Russia is that of quislings or Fifth Columnists boring from within to weaken Russia's opponents before the battle is joined.
Socialism in one country naturally became National Socialism and the Soviet Union has even to some extent adopted racial concepts. The people of Germany whom Lenin viewed as political allies, once they should have been emancipated by the destruction of their government, have been treated by Stalin as collectively guilty for the sins of their rulers and punished accordingly by murder, rape, pillage and enslavement. Even within the Soviet Union, minorities such as the Volga Germans and the Tartars of the Crimea have been collectively punished by banishment to Siberia or condemnation to forced labor.
Nothing more clearly reveals the complete abandonment by the Bolsheviks of their original ideals than the contrast between Lenin's and Stalin's attitude toward Germany and the other defeated nations. Lenin said that he would risk all the gains of the Russian Revolution for the sake even of the hope of revolution in Germany. Reparations from the vanquished are the chief aim of Stalin's policy. Far from believing in the "Unity of the Workers of the World" which Lenin proclaimed, Stalin keeps millions of German prisoners of war working as slave laborers in Russia, and demands that the whole German people should toil for the profit of the Russian state. Whereas Lenin worked for the emancipation of all colonial peoples, Stalin refuses to the Koreans the independence which the United States wishes to give them, demands imperialist privileges in China, and, if not prevented by the United States, would force the Japanese as well as the Germans to spend their lives producing reparations for the enrichment of the Soviet Union.
Unfortunately the metamorphosis of Communism, and the Comintern's abandonment, not only of its original aims, but of the honesty with which it once proclaimed its purposes, has deluded many simple people whose Christian or liberal upbringing and environment have unfitted them to understand the depths of perfidy and deceit to which men can descend, in what they believe to be a good cause, once they accept the thesis that the end justifies the means.
The disguise assumed by all the Communist Parties of the world since 1935 has already worn so thin in Europe that most Americans are no longer deceived by it. But camouflage is naturally more sue-
Are They Real Communists? 175
cessful at a distance and the Communist democratic masquerade has therefore been most successful in China.
The explanation lies not only in America's disgusted reaction against the National Government of China. The Chinese Communist Party, although it is a spearhead of the expanding Russian Empire, also leads a peasant revolutionary movement endemic in Chinese history. The Chinese Communist Party retains more of the original spirit of Communism than other Communist Parties. It includes a high proportion of men and women who, in the words of a Belgian Catholic priest I met in Tientsin, "are really Communists in the simplicity of their lives and their personal disinterestedness in riches." It is indeed China's tragedy that what should have been a native revolutionary or reformist movementa cleansing fire to destroy all that is corrupt, decayed and rotten in Chinese societyhas degenerated into a tool manipulated by a foreign Power. What might have been a progressive force invigorating the Kuomintang and pushing it forward became instead a brake on China's development, a Fifth Column preventing unity and helping to keep her backward, miserable and in constant disorder.
In General Marshall's words, the Chinese Communists "do not hesitate at the most drastic measures to gain their end as, for instance, the destruction of communications in order to wreck the economy of China and produce a situation that would facilitate the overthrow or collapse of the government, without any regard to the immediate suffering of the people involved."
The Chinese Communists not only contribute positively to preventing reconstruction. The fact that they have been able to represent themselves as the champions of agrarian and administrative reform weakens the real liberal forces in China. The reactionaries are able to identify reform with Communism and treason, and the real liberals are rendered impotent.
To understand the present situation as well as in order to judge whether or not the Chinese Communists are real Communists who have followed every turn and twist in the party line laid down in Moscow, one must study the history of the past twenty-five years in China. Unfortunately, few American writers on international affairs ever trouble to do so.
176 Last Chance in China
Even eminent statesmen, such as Sumner Welles, have written that the Chinese Communist Party "commenced its independent political life when the Kuomintang party, as it had been created by Sun Yat-sen, split in 1927 into two parts." The fact is that the Chinese Communist Party was founded in 1921, along with others all over the world, as a branch of the Comintern and was not allowed by Sun Yat-sen to affiliate with the Kuomintang. Dr. Sun permitted Communists to join the Kuomintang only as individuals, and only if they pledged themselves to be loyal to its aims.
It should be remembered that Sun Yat-sen did not accept Russia's aid in the emancipation of China until after he had despaired of help from the West. The liberal concepts of the West were not applied in their relations with Asiatic peoples. The European Powers and America showed themselves unwilling to free China from the shackles they had placed on her sovereignty and they treated the Chinese as an inferior race. It seemed therefore to Sun Yat-sen that military force alone could enable the Chinese to escape the ugly reality of Western privilege and power, and the only powerful ally available was the Soviet Government, which had voluntarily renounced all imperialist privileges in China.
In accepting Russian aid Sun Yat-sen nevertheless rejected Communism and continued to be influenced by the liberal philosophy of the Western Powers even while fighting against them for China's liberation. As one of the best of his Marxist critics has written: "He hoped to evolve means of transforming Chinese society peacefully and without convulsions after securing power for himself and his followers by purely military means. There was nothing in common between Sun Yat-sen's concept of democracy and the idea of the direct conquest of political rights and liberties by the people."*
In the joint statement issued by Sun Yat-sen and Russia's emissary A. Joffe, in January 1923, Communism was specifically rejected for China. The alliance between the Kuomintang and Russia was clearly stated to be one only for the achievement of national unification and independence.
Sun Yat-sen was under the illusion shared by many Americans
* Harold Isaacs in The Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution. This is the best, indeed the only detailed historical account of the Communist-Kuomintang partnership and break in the twenties. Isaacs was a Trotskyist when he wrote his book, but it is so well and thoroughly documented that no student of Far Eastern history can dispense with it.
Are They Real Communists? 177
twenty years later: that you can ally yourselves militarily with Russia without danger of Communism seeking to destroy you from within. Like the United States in the Second World War he ignored the old adage that when you sup with the devil you need a very long spoon. By the alliance with Russia the Kuomintang received not only the help of Russian military and political advisers, but also the powerful support of the Chinese Communists and the unions of workers and peasants they had begun to organize. Hitherto a small party of intellectuals and patriotic military men, the Kuomintang now acquired the backing of a great mass movement of "common men" who believed they would both free China as a nation and emancipate themselves from servitude to landlord usurers and foreign exploiters. The almost bloodless victories which the Kuomintang under Chiang Kai-shek won from 1925 to 1927 would have been impossible without the support of the millions of Chinese peasants, workers and coolies, in face of whose mass pressure the armies of the war lords melted away, and even the Western Imperialists trembled.
There was Kuomintang-Communist unity as regards the primary aim of freeing China from the domination of the Western Powers. There was unity against the war lords who then ruled most of China. But there could be no unity as regards what should be done when face to face with the power of the West, or following success in uniting and freeing China.
Sun Yat-sen's Three Principles of the People although egalitarian were not Marxist and he had abjured class war. The Kuomintang Party included capitalist and landowning elements as well as liberal intellectuals and other radical elements.
The split was inevitable. It came as soon as the triumphant armies of the Kuomintang-Communist Coalition, sweeping up from Canton, reached Shanghai, the citadel of Western financial and political influences in China, and also of Chinese banking and merchant interests linked up with the Western "exploiters." The Right Wing of the Kuomintang, led by Chiang Kai-shek, hoped to avoid a head-on clash with Britain, the United States and France and to obtain treaty revisions by negotiation. The Communists wanted to chase the foreigners out of China by violence and feared that Chiang might compromise with the Imperialists, as he did, and "stabilize the revolution on a bourgeois basis."
Realizing that the Soviet Union and the Chinese Communists
Last Chance in China
wanted war, the British Government, followed by the United States, cut the ground from under the feet of the extremists by offering treaty revision and recognition to the Kuomintang moderates, or, if one prefers, to the Western-oriented elements in the Chinese Nationalist movement. Before the arrival of Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang Army, the Shanghai Chamber of Commerce had offered to admit Chinese to participation in the administration of the International Settlement. The British had agreed to give up their concession in Hankow. A promise of tariff autonomy had been made. On its arrival in Shanghai, the alliance with Russia was broken by the Kuomintang in favor of compromise with the West and gradual negotiated annulment of the unequal treaties.
If it is impossible to say how far Chiang Kai-shek, and the majority of the Kuomintang which followed him, were influenced by fear of Britain and America and hopes of Western support, and to what extent by fear of a Jacquerie and anarchy, it is equally difficult to estimate whether external or internal causes were mainly responsible for Moscow's contradictory policies.
What Trotskyists call with some justice the betrayal of the Chinese Revolution by Moscow was almost certainly due partly to fear of British and French retaliation in Europe to the Chinese Nationalist-Communist assault on their Asiatic position. But the available evidence suggests that the Comintern's blunders in China were mainly the result of the internal Stalin-Trotsky struggle to which the Chinese Communists were sacrificed.
Battles fought long ago and ancient controversies have little interest for the present-day reader unless they can throw light on modern problems. It would be wearisome to recount in detail the involved and tragic story of Kuomintang-Communist collaboration in the middle twenties. It is however important today to remember that for a brief period the Soviet Government ordered the Chinese Communists to submit themselves entirely to the Kuomintang, in the hope that the latter under Chiang Kai-shek's leadership would expel the British, Americans, French and other Westerners from China for all time. Bolshevik Russia by 1923 had abandoned hope of revolution in Europe in general and in Germany in particular, but still retained the hope of weakening the "capitalist imperialism" of the West by an
Are They Real Communists?
attack on its flanks: colonial and semicolonial Asia. Hence the aid given to Nationalist "bourgeois" China, and the orders given by the Comintern to the Chinese Communists to submit themselves entirely to the Kuomintang.
Those were the days when Shao Li-tze (who was to become a Chinese Joe Davis following his appointment as ambassador to Moscow from 1939 to 1942) was received with enthusiasm in Russia, and could shout "Long live the Comintern and the World Revolution!" in Moscow where he came as a "fraternal delegate." Stalin at that time said publicly that the "bourgeois" character of the Kuomintang was unimportant. The only thing that mattered was that its forces were directed against "world imperialism." But in the same period he made it clear that this community of interest between Nationalist China and Soviet Russia would be short-lived, that it was purely a temporary expedient and that the Nationalists were doomed to extermination when they had ceased to be useful to the Comintern.
No one should have been surprised that Chiang Kai-shek turned against the Communists in view of Stalin's speeches, as for instance that of April 5, 1927, delivered to the Communist Academy in Moscow in which he said:
Chiang Kai-shek is submitting to discipline. . . .
The peasant needs an old worn-out jade as long as she is necessary. He does not drive her away. So it is with us. When the Right is of no more use to us, we will drive it away. At present we need the Right. It has capable people, who still direct the army and lead it against imperialists. Besides this, the people of the Right have relations with the generals of Chang Tso-lin and understand very well how to demoralize them and to induce them to pass over to the side of the revolution, bag and baggage without striking a blow. Also, they have connections with the rich merchants and can raise money from them. So they have to be utilized to the end, squeezed out like a lemon, and then flung away.*
Chiang Kai-shek, apart from all his other claims to fame, can go down in history as the one man who ever bested Stalin. He became the squeezer instead of the lemon. Stalin's scheme to use the Chinese Nationalists against Britain, America and France while at the same time preparing to deny them the fruits of victory by a subsequent
* Quoted by Harold Isaacs in The Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution, page 185.
Last Chance in China
"proletarian revolution," backfired. He had hoped to use Chiang Kai-shek and then discard him. Instead, Chiang used the mass movement of peasants and workers organized for him by the Communists to sweep victoriously from Canton to Shanghai. Once in sight of supreme power, he turned round and destroyed his allies. Having utilized the mass movement led by the Communists to frighten the Western Powers sufficiently to force them to come to terms, he checked its revolutionary momentum.
In view of Stalin's announced intention of destroying him when he had served Russia's purpose, it is absurd to accuse Chiang Kai-shek of having "betrayed" the Chinese Revolution. The betraying was done by Moscow which wanted both to eat its cake and have it. The Chinese Communists were sacrificed to Russia's self-defeating policy of trying to be the ally of the Chinese Nationalists, led by Chiang Kai-shek, while at the same time directing a Communist revolutionary movement against him. The Communists, of course, have a word for this kind of double-dealing. Whenever in Moscow I pointed out contradictions and inconsistencies in Comintern policy, I was adjured to think "dialectically."
The price for Moscow's inept attempt to double-cross Chiang Kai-shek was paid by the workers, the peasants and the sincerest, most idealistic Communists in China. When Chiang Kai-shek, at the gates of Shanghai, ordered the Communists and their working-class supporters within the city to surrender their arms, the Comintern representatives told them to bury them. Having been forbidden either to surrender or to fight, they were massacred in thousands, first in Shanghai, then in Wuhan, and subsequently in Canton. The trade unions were smashed for a generation, to the acclaim of the foreigners who were ready to compromise with the rising force of Chinese nationalism, if only Chiang Kai-shek would stamp out the Communist-inspired revolt of the working classes.
Chiang Kai-shek, in those days, had not developed the qualities of statesmanship and restraint which in his later years have led him to try to conciliate his enemies instead of exterminating them. The whole history of China in our era might have been different if, in 1927, he had been less brutal and had not alienated many true liberals as well as the Communists. But he may have had no choice. One has to remember that the young Nationalist Movement was menaced by powerful foreign foes who could, and would, have drowned the Kuo-
Are They Real Communists? 181
mintang Revolution in blood and fire, in the same manner as they had crushed the Taipings and the Boxers, if Chiang had not compromised with them. And he could not compromise unless he destroyed the Communists and their influence over a section of the Kuomintang.
Whether or not the foreign imperialists could have been driven out if the Kuomintang-Communist alliance had continued, is a moot point. Certainly Russia, in those days, had insufficient industrial and military strength to save China if she had become involved in a war with Britain and America.
The fundamental issue was whether China was to take the Moscow road of autarchic economic development under a dictatorship which would transform her into a replica of Soviet Russia, with peasants, workers and everyone else sacrificed to the need of capital accumulation, industrial development and military strength; or whether she would seek friendship and credits and technical aid from Western Powers convinced that she could not, and should not, any longer be treated as a colony.
Chiang Kai-shek chose the latter course. Had it not been for Japan, he might have been able to fulfill the aims and pledges of the Kuomintang by lifting China out of poverty and disunity with Western aid and gradual reforms carried through without violence and expropriation.
Chiang Kai-shek may have been wrong in thinking that the Imperialist Powers were too strong to be defeated in 1927. He may have been too strongly influenced by fear that the Communists would unleash a civil war which would deliver China to Russian hegemony. But to say with Teddy White and Annalee Jacoby that "the alliance of Chiang Kai-shek and the Communists . . . had broken over the basic question of the peasant and his land"* is to ignore the international situation at the time. Had the Kuomintang stood for agrarian revolution, there would have been a civil war which would have laid China wide open to further foreign encroachment. The Nationalist Revolution would almost certainly have been crushed by the Great Powers and all hopes of Chinese unity and independence destroyed.
For a few months in 1927 Left Wingers in the Kuomintang and the Chinese Communists maintained their own government in the Wuhan cities (Hankow, Wuchang and Hanyang) under the presidency of
* Thunder Out of China, page 44.
Last Chance in China
Wang Ching-wei (who twelve years later was to become Japan's puppet in Nanking). This government controlled the provinces of Hupeh and Hunan where peasant revolts against the landowners broke out which the Communists, under Moscow's orders, refused either to lead or suppress. Similarly the Communists restrained the Wuhan trade unions, then a powerful revolutionary force. Moscow at that time hoped that the Wuhan Government could make an alliance with the "Christian General" Feng, the most powerful of the northern war lords. Hence the orders given by the Comintern forbidding the alienation of landowners and capitalists.
The Comintern had not even now learned its lesson; it still hoped to get the best of both worlds by being and not being the leader of a social revolution in China. Again it fell between two stools: Feng went over to Chiang and barred the way to Peking.
In July 1927 the Wuhan Government capitulated to the government established by Chiang Kai-shek at Nanking. Borodin fled back to Russia across the Mongolian desert, and a reign of terror blotted out the peasant rebellions together with the majority of the Communists. Henceforth the "Nanking Government" was recognized by the Powers as the National Government of China, and the Communists became an isolated dissident group without a mass movement behind them.
Now when all was lost, when the ranks of the Chinese Communists had been decimated and they had lost the confidence both of the workers and the peasants, Moscow reversed its policy and called on them to start all-out civil war against the Kuomintang. To confuse them further the Chinese Communists were at first instructed to continue membership inside the Kuomintang, by now intent on exterminating them. Moscow demanded that they sacrifice their lives to no other purpose than the maintenance of Stalin's reputation as a true Bolshevik revolutionary.
Chen Tu-hsiu, the founder and leader of the Chinese Communist Party, resigned the chairmanship, saying that he saw no way out in a situation in which "the International wishes us to carry out our own policy on the one hand and does not allow us to withdraw from the Kuomintang on the other." Two years later he was expelled from the Communist Party when he broke a long silence by appealing for a Chinese united front against Japan, just beginning her encroachments in Manchuria.
Are They Real Communists? 183
In 1938, when I was in Hankow, Chen Tu-hsiu was dying in poverty in a remote village, and the Chinese Communists were demanding that he be executed by Chiang Kai-shek.
Chen Tu-hsiu was replaced as leader of the Chinese Communist Party by Li Li-san who was more Trotskyist than Trotsky and envisaged the Russian Army marching in from Mongolia to support the resurgent Chinese Revolution. Under his leadership and that of Stalin's two favorites, the German Heinz Neumann and the Georgian Besso Lominadze, a futile insurrection was staged in Canton in December 1927. It had no prospect at all of success since the Communists had lost their trade-union support and become a small isolated minority. But the Chinese were by now no more than cannon fodder in the battle between Stalin and Trotsky. The Canton insurrection was drowned in blood after three days. But Heinz Neumann was able to send a telegram to the Russian Communist Party Congress in Moscow, announcing a "glorious revolutionary uprising" of the Chinese proletariat at the moment when Stalin needed ammunition against the opposition who blamed him for the fiasco of the Chinese Revolution. Trotsky and his followers were sent into exile as the Chinese Communists died to help Stalin.
No one who studies the history of the Russian Communist Party and the Comintern can doubt that the Chinese Communists were sacrificed all along to the exigencies of Stalin's fight for supremacy in Russia. Nor is it ever possible to understand the Comintern's swings from Left to Right and back again without reference to Soviet Russia's internal situation as well as Stalin's foreign policy.
Prior to 1928, in trying both to collaborate with Chiang Kai-shek and prepare to overthrow him, Stalin was endeavoring to gain the support of the right wing of the Bolshevik Party while not alienating all those who were inclined to follow Trotsky. Trotsky had been against the policy of collaboration with the Chinese Nationalists and had wanted Russia and the Comintern to go all out for a Communist revolution in China. Bucharin and the right wing of the party were for the policy of collaboration with Chiang Kai-shek. Stalin, intent on establishing his personal supremacy, rode in both directions.
By 1928, having got rid of Trotsky, he turned on his opponents of the Right. This necessitated a sharp turn to the Left, which at home meant the agrarian policy of forced collectivization and Five-Year Plans, and for the Comintern a distorted version of Trotsky's revolu-
Last Chance in China
tionary policies. In France, Germany and England, the Communist Parties were ordered to cease collaborating with Social Democrats or the Labor Party; in China they were told to fight the Kuomintang.
Li Li-san lasted until 1931 when he in his turn was made the scapegoat for the Comintern's failures.
It was not only the Chinese Communist Party which suffered disaster as a result of Stalin's personal ambitions. The Chinese nation lost heavily in the Kuomintang-Communist split. The youth who died, or lost heart, or became timeservers or cynics or nonpoliticals in the days of wrath and vengeance, torture and death, were the flower of the nation. Never again would there be such high hopes, such self-sacrifice and patriotic fervor as had been displayed in the brief period when men of all parties and classes had joined to raise China from the abject state into which she had fallen in the nineteenth century.
Twenty years after, in Shanghai in 1946, my friend Aying Yung, daughter of a famous scholar and herself renowned for her learning, talked to me of those days of China's awakening with profound sadness. She knew as well as I did the harm the Communists are now doing to China. But she mourned for the fine men and women she had known in her youth who had been masascred in those terrible months of 1927.
To understand the strength of the Comintern in China, one must recognize the power of attraction of its anti-imperialist professions and its pretensions to seek the welfare of the poor and oppressed. Even today the ideals and slogans which created so mighty a popular movement in China in the twenties still attract the youth of the nation. They know little or nothing of the realities of Stalin's Russia and are bitterly disillusioned by the self-seeking Kuomintang officials and the seemingly hopeless inefficiency or stupidity of the National Government. Having myself seen the inept diplomacy and lack of patriotism of many of the wealthy or well-connected Chinese appointed to represent her abroad, having also seen the incapacity of many government officials in China, I cannot but sympathize with the impatience of the Chinese youth who turn Communist. Disastrous as I know this reaction must be to all the hopes which now and in the past inspired the best of the Chinese intellectuals, I can understand why, once again, some of them listen to the siren voices bidding them take the Moscow road.
Success of the Democratic Masquerade
ollowing the 1927 debacle, the remnants of the Chinese Communist Party, and of the few soldiers in the Kuomintang Army who followed them, established themselves in the south of Kiangsi province and in eastern Honan where they were joined by revolting peasants. In time these mixed forces, held together by Communist discipline and ideology, became the "Red Army." From the point of view of the peasants into whose villages they came, the "Red partisans" were little distinguishable from the bandits who from time immemorial have troubled China. The poor tenant farmers might at first welcome them when they killed off the landowners and redistributed the land, but the Red Army had to be fed by the peasants and this naturally made it unpopular.
The borderline between "rich" and "poor" is too close in China for the Communist armies to be able to remain popular by burdening only the "rich." The real problem in China is always the scarcity of land, and general poverty, and cannot be solved by shooting the few comparatively rich landowners and kulaks. Controlling no cities, the Communists could give the peasants nothing in return for the food they had to take from them. Thus the Red Army remained as great a burden on the people as any other army.
After years of fighting against the National Government, during which they retreated from one district to another, the Communists were finally driven out of Central China in 1934. The ensuing "Long March" of the remnants of the Red Army to the Northwest is better known to American readers than the Chinese Communist Party's earlier or later history, thanks to the graphic description in Edgar Snow's Red Star over China.
After their arrival in what was to become the Shensi-Kansu-Ning-sia Border Region, the policy of executing or driving out all land-
Last Chance in China
owners, gentry and missionaries was abandoned for a reformist policy. In these remote, unfertile and thinly populated regions there were in any case few people who could be called rich even according to Communist standards. Mao Tse-tung, who had become the leader of the party following Li Li-san's disgrace in 1931, seems never to have favored the indiscriminate massacres which alienated the peasantry as a whole. And the Chinese Communist Party's geographical isolation from Moscow, and its possession of a territorial base and army of its own, rendered it a little less subservient to Stalin than the Communist Parties of Europe and America. Nevertheless the switch over to a policy which conciliated the peasants did not occur until the volte-face of the Comintern which followed Hitler's acquisition of power in Germany.
Events in China cannot be understood without reference to Europe, since the switches in the Communist Party line during the last twenty years were determined in the main by Moscow's European policy.
From 1928 onward the Comintern "line" had been ultra-Left. The Social Democrats in Europe had been denounced as "social fascists," as the main support of capitalism and imperialism and as more dangerous enemies of the working class than either fascists or Nazis or conservatives. In England in 1929 and 1930, when I was a member of the British Communist Party, we were instructed to "explain" to the workers that democracy was nothing but the disguised dictatorship of the capitalist class, kept in power by the "social fascist" Labor Party.
I can still remember the pitying glances of a crowd of unemployed outside a North London Labor Exchange when I told them this from the top of a soapbox. They evidently thought I was touched in the head, and walked away.
In England the Communists merely lost what little influence they had by this line of talk. In Germany, with its huge and influential Communist Party, the results were tragic. Here it was the official Comintern policy to tell the workers that if Hitler came to power it would be the turn of the Communists next. Their task was therefore primarily the overthrow of German democracy, and to accomplish it the Communists did not scruple to collaborate with the Nazis on more than one occasion.
Stalin was convinced that if Hitler came to power he would direct
Success of the Democratic Masquerade 187
his hostility against France, then regarded as Soviet Russia's main enemy. Since the German Social Democrats wanted a reconciliation with France Stalin desired to destroy them at all costs. Hence his cynical but miscalculated refusal to allow the German Communists to join hands with the Social Democrats to save Germany and the world from Hitler. The German Communists and the whole German people were to pay the price of Stalin's and the Comintern's stupidities in this phase, as the Chinese had paid in the previous period.
Had the French Communist Party been as strong as the German it too might have brought fascism to power. As late as February 1934 the French Communists called for demonstrations against democracy at the same hour and place as the Action Franchise and, together with the fascists, forced the resignation of the government.
Moscow came to its senses just in time to reverse the Comintern line in France and call for unity with the socialists and radicals instead of continuing the fight against them.
For months after Hitler came to power the Soviet Government had-gone on hoping for an understanding with Nazi Germany against France and England. I remember Jack Chen (son of the Eugene Chen who had been the Kuomintang's Foreign Minister in 1926 and 1927) complaining to me in Moscow, where he earned a living as an artist, that the publication of anti-Nazi cartoons in the Russian press was forbidden.
Only after Hitler had made it abundantly clear that he was intent, not only on destroying the German Communist and socialist parties, but also on an anti-Soviet policy, did Russia join the League of Nations, make an alliance with France, and order the Comintern to abandon its antidemocratic line and make a sharp turn to the Right. The Seventh Congress of the Comintern in 1935 finally announced the new line called for by Russia's precarious international situation. The hitherto hated and reviled socialist, labor and liberal forces in Europe and America were now to be sought as allies. Dimitrov, appointed secretary of the Comintern following the Reichstag fire trial, told the delegates they must henceforth seek to establish alliances with all anti-Nazi forces. The Communists were not to give up their ultimate aims. But they were to don sheep's clothing for the duration of the German-Japanese menace to the Soviet fatherland, or until such time as opportunity offered to seize power in their own countries.
Last Chance in China
They were reminded by Dimitrov of the legend of the Trojan Horse and instructed to make their way within the wall of the capitalist citadel by means of the same tactics. They were ordered to get into key positions within the democratic governments by pretending to be liberal democrats, in preparation for the days of economic crisis to come when they would throw aside their disguise and seize the state power.
Of all the many changes in the Comintern line none proved more successful than the one inaugurated in 1935. Lenin's honesty in admitting that the Communists stood for dictatorship, and despised democracy, had got the Comintern nowhere. But since Communists, everywhere in the world, have taken possession of the magic word democracy and equated it with Communist dictatorship they have gone from strength to strength. Although in England and America they were unable to get into key positions in the government, they have been able by posing as democrats and liberals to exert enormous influence over the press and radio. In the United States their influence over the government was obviously considerable in the Roosevelt era.
In China the change in the Comintern line brought about by the German-Japanese menace to Russia called for a cessation of the civil war and an anti-Japanese united front. Mao Tse-tung, hitherto not regarded too favorably by Moscow, was appointed a member of the Comintern's Executive Committee in 1935. That same year the Chinese Communists began to represent themselves as liberal reformers as well as modifying their agrarian policy.
The change in the Comintern line from ultra-Left to Right was most easily effected in China, where the Communists had long since lost their working-class support and been transformed by the logic of history into a party whose only hope was leadership of a movement for peasant emancipation. In fact the Chinese Communists had become little more than the dissident rulers of sections of three remote provinces near the Russian border. Had it not been for the Japanese threat, to Russia as well as to China, they would have remained an insignificant and powerless minority.
In August 1935 the Chinese Communist Party announced that it would no longer liquidate any but "parasitic" landowners; that merchants, artisans, and even priests would not have their lands confis-
Success of the Democratic Masquerade 189
cated; that rich farmers would be allowed to keep a portion of their holdings; that "commercial and industrial development by individual capital" would be encouraged; that "excessive demands on the part of workmen and hired peasants that cannot be fulfilled or that increase bankruptcy and unemployment" would be stopped; and finally that non-Communist political parties and organizations would be given "democratic rights and freedom" provided they "struggled against imperialism" or participated in the "racial revolutionary movement." Following the conclusion of the German-Japanese "Anti-Comintern" alliance in 1936 the Chinese Communists redoubled their efforts to induce the National Government to call off the civil war. They offered more and more concessions, denied that they wanted a social revolution, recognized Chiang Kai-shek as the only man to lead the nation in repulsing Japan, and offered to subordinate themselves and their armies to the National Government.
The Communists were back where they had been a decade earlier. Once again they wanted to collaborate with the Kuomintang while preparing to destroy it after victory over the common enemies of China and Russia.
The imprisonment of Chiang Kai-shek at Sian in December 1936 was the dramatic incident which marked the temporary cessation of a decade of Kuomintang-Communist civil war. Junior officers of the Manchurian forces exiled from their homeland by Japan and sent by Chiang Kai-shek to fight the Communists under the "Young Marshal" Chang Hsueh-liang had instead fraternized with the Red Army. Upon the Generalissimo's arrival in Sian to quell the mutiny they took him prisoner, threatened him with death and endeavored to force him to promise to stop the civil war and fight Japan. The Communists, realizing that only under Chiang Kai-shek's leadership could China hope to resist Japan, exerted their influence to have the Generalissimo released. Chiang promised nothing and showed his readiness to die rather than submit for fear of death. But the incident apparently convinced him of the sincerity of the Communist offer of collabora