Speech on the Chinese Question
Delivered 23 July 1936 at the Meeting of the Secretariat of the ECCI
First Published:1986 in 'Kommunisticheskii Internatsional i kitaiskaya revolutsiya' p. 263-266
Translated by: Tahir Asghar
I will make a few comments: we have, on the basis of the information about the situation regarding our forces and the situation of the Party, come out with a comprehensive resolution on the policies of the Chinese Party, its organisation, its leadership, its cadres and its methods of functioning etc. This is what we will be doing at another time, the sooner the better.
The Chinese Communist Party in recent years has grown into a Party that has an army, that has weapons and that has accomplished heroic campaigns at the head of its Red Army. This has always been an inspiration and wonder for us. We must admit it unambiguously: I, personally for the last two years, after having returned, have been relating to these with admiration. I have remained under the influence of my fascination and love for the Communist Party of China, but we have not sufficiently critically approached our Chinese Communists, our Chinese comrades.
We need here a more critical approach. Everything positive must be highlighted, but the shortcomings and the weaknesses should also be pointed out, so as to help our Chinese comrades overcome these weaknesses, these shortcomings and these negative aspects.
The Chinese Communists are good and valiant people and they fight well. But it cannot be said that politically, in the complicated situation that we have in China today, that they have matured and are prepared for the task. I think the critical comments that Com. Wang Ming has made regarding the Secretariat concerning the decisions of the Politbureau, are applicable even in greater measure to Com. Wang Ming himself and also to a number of our Chinese comrades present here. These critical comments must be reflected in the speeches, documents and articles of our Chinese comrades here.
The proposals that have been put up we can, of course, by and large, accept. They are correct. But certain corrections are still needed. Some of these proposals could be given to our Chinese comrades for approval and examination in China.
The task in China consists now not in the extension of the Soviet regions and the expansion of the Red Army, but it consists in finding possibilities, finding ways and appropriate slogans and appropriate methods for achieving the unity of the predominant majority of the Chinese people against the Japanese aggressors.
It is necessary to preserve and strengthen our Red Army as the armed fist. It is necessary to develop our party as the vanguard of the Chinese proletariat and the Chinese people, not only with the aim of expansion of the Soviet regions, of the direct Sovietisation of China and the completion of the bourgeois democratic revolution in China.
It must be underlined here that the establishment of a national all-Chinese republic, of the national all-China parliament, solution of the agrarian question through such a Parliament can unite the proletariat, the peasants, the petty bourgeoisie and the radical intelligentsia of China (and this means 90% of the Chinese population, of the Chinese people) on a common platform of the struggle against the alien enemy - the Japanese aggressors. And when we will be talking with the Kuomintang and directly with Chiang Kai-shek, and as we are expecting such talks, then we should somewhat modify and be on top of the conditions that we had in view earlier and which were mentioned by Com. Wang Ming. For example: we Communists and our Red Army and our Soviet regions declare our preparedness to fight against Japanese imperialism toward the establishment of a united, national All-China Democratic Republic on the basis of a universal code of elections.
In this struggle the time will come for a mass and organised struggle for Soviet power. Such a situation is apparent in the present conditions in China when we have the Soviet regions, Soviet power and the Red Army. We should make use of it now. These positions have been won by the Chinese revolution. These must be taken advantage of, so as to more effectively fulfil the tasks at this stage of development of the Chinese revolution.
Comrades, if we look back at history we can see that nations consolidated and united themselves in the course of bourgeois revolutions. This has benefited the bourgeoisie. And Chiang Kai-shek too now wants to benefit from this, by passing himself off as someone who united China by going on an offensive against the Soviet regions under the flag of national unification and against the division of the country. That the Japanese are on the offensive and have captured Manchuria and North China and are getting ready to move further must serve as a powerful lever for the unification of the Chinese people as such against the Japanese aggressors, contributing thereby to their freedom and national independence. Therefore, the Communist Party of China and the Chinese Communists, supported by their own ranks should be the initiators in this struggle. All else must become subordinate to this goal.
It is now clear how incorrect is our political stand regarding Nanking, Chiang Kai-shek and the Kuomintang. This is a remnant of the past. So to say we are late by two or three years. But better late than never. It is important now to take the correct turn.
Chiang Kai-shek personally does not want a unified front. He is afraid of the unified front, but it is necessary to create such conditions in China and such a movement among Chiang Kai-shek's army and in the Kuomintang that Chiang Kai-shek is forced to accept such an anti-Japanese united front, so that Chiang Kai-shek along with other commanders of the Nanking army move further towards a comprehensive anti-Japanese united front. Today the situation is such that Chiang Kai-shek is making full use of this national momentum of the Chinese revolution. It turned out that Chiang Kai-shek managed to organise three-fourths of the nation though he is no champion of unification of China against various military groups, against the division of China and the Chinese people. Tomorrow he is going to throw his forces against our Soviet regions under the slogan of unification of the whole of China against the local aggressors. This needs to be made use of. It would be correct, if our communists turn to the Kuomintang as a party, to the Central Committee of the Kuomintang with a concrete political proposal that our Central command is putting forward to Chiang Kai-shek, to the Commander in Chief of the Nanking forces concrete political proposals. Our comrades must turn to the Association for the Salvation of China and to the organisers of this association. In this manner our comrades must come forward as the initiators, the front fighters and organisers of the popular anti-Japanese front. Then in the course of the struggle for this anti-Japanese united front one must strive to get established the all-Chinese Republic about which we spoke earlier. Then our Soviet regions, which will send their representatives to this parliament, can raise the question of the creation of Soviets as the democratic organ of the all-Chinese republic and will strengthen their position further right until the victory of the working people in China in the struggle for Soviet power.
In my opinion, to this we should limit our observations addressed to our Chinese comrades. It is clear, after all, Comrade Wang Ming, that critical observations do not at all mean undermining the influence of the Chinese Communist Party. This critical attitude must benefit the party. From the Chinese party we can demand more than what we can from the Estonian and Latvian (parties). The events in China have a global significance and would have global consequences.
I recommend that the proposal of Comrade Wang Ming be accepted as the basis and entrust Comrade Wang Ming and the Chinese comrades to edit this short directive in conjunction with me. Concerning the rest of the matter, it will have to wait the arrival of the other comrades.