Speech on the Chinese Question
Delivered 10 August 1937 at the Meeting of the Secretariat of the ECCI
First Published:1986 in 'Kommunisticheskii Internatsional i kitaiskaya revolutsiya' p. 274-277
Translated by: Tahir Asghar
The speech by Comrade Wang Ming was somewhat in the nature of propaganda and was optimistic. He knows well, and we have talked with him on more than one occasion as I am the one directly dealing with the Chinese party, that the problems confronting the Chinese party are extremely complex and the position of the party is exceptional.
Imagine all that has occurred during the past two years. The Chinese Communist Party, which was leading the Red Army in China, takes a crucial turn. You will not find a single section of the Comintern that has been put into such a situation and that has made such a crucial change in its policies and its tactics during the past few years as has been done by the Chinese Communist Party. It fought for the Soviets in China, for Soviet regions, created a Soviet government, created an army, estranged a part of the army of Chiang Kai-shek from him in its aim of sovietisation etc.
The cadre of the party, materials of the party and the strength of the party - all of this was concentrated up to 95% if not wholly 100% in these Soviet regions. And in the armed struggle against Nanking the cadre was educated, they matured and grew; good cadre emerged as did their political leaders.
But from this orientation it was required at this moment to turn around 180 degrees in the policies and the tactics of the party. And now the same cadres, not another party, not new people but the same members of the party, the same masses must conduct a different policy.
Is this policy correct? Certainly. It is being conducted in accordance with the general line of the VII Congress of the Communist International and is in accordance with the development of the Chinese revolution. The issue in China today is not of Sovietisation but about keeping the Chinese people from being devoured by Japanese imperialism. It is necessary to unite large forces of the Chinese people in the struggle against the Japanese aggression for upholding the independence, freedom and integrity of the Chinese people. And here the party was supposed to - and on the whole it did so - make the transition to the position of struggle not for the Sovietisation of China but for democracy, for unification on a democratic base of the forces of the Chinese people against Japanese imperialism, against Japanese aggression.
And now the talks and discussions are going ahead with the Kuomintang and Chiang Kai-shek. Our party is ready for it and has already taken the first steps towards transforming and restructuring in practice the Soviet regions from being Soviet to democratic, where the Soviet government is transformed as the government of a Special Region, and the Red Army is being transformed not into the Red Army of the Soviet, but a part of the common All-Chinese anti-imperialist army etc.
There are many difficulties and dangers confronting our Chinese comrades and our Chinese Communist Party in these manoeuvres and games of Chiang Kai-shek and his circle. It is easy to imagine what dangers confront our party. Help is necessary here, help with people and strengthening the Chinese cadre within. We must help the Chinese Communist Party so that it is able to organise its forces in Kuomintang China, increase its influence among the working class of Kuomintang China.
After all the Red Army of China is a peasants' army. The percentage of the workers is very small. In the party too this share is very small. An important objective today is to put the working masses and the working class of China not under the influence of the Kuomintang or other political groups but under that of the Communist Party so that it can lean on not only the armed forces, which it has, but also in one form or the other on the working class of Kuomintang China, and Shanghai and Canton and other important centres of China.
This cadre is available abroad. They can help the party. It is crucial to introduce our cadre in North China. This is the issue that needs to be attended to first.
If it was possible to examine the documents of the Chinese party in more detail, some other points could have been identified which pose a threat of slipping up, of ideological malaise in the party and among the party cadre, and can be disorienting. We have to make some corrections here. For this reason new people who are well versed with the international situation are required to help the CC of the Communist Party of China. The CC itself requires help. And also at the time when the war is on - and it is on and will continue. It is not going to be a simple episode, an incident that happened and then is over with the occupation of north China. Not at all.
Comrade Wang Ming talked about his views. He said that the occupation would mean strengthening of the positions for further offensive by the Japanese military in China, not to mention the position against the Soviet Union.
The question of whether the CC of the party, and its members and its apparatus will be in a position to continue their work is very serious. Here the Chinese comrades have to really hurry and do everything possible to strengthen the leadership of the party, to prepare a group of very active members of the Central Committee of the party, and to create better links between the CC of the party and the mass of the party men and the mass of the working class. I think we will discuss these with the Chinese comrades separately in a smaller commission. We will have to come out with concrete proposals but not to approach it with such optimism. The situation is not bad, but difficulties must be kept in view, must be taken account of and hopes need not be raised on flimsy grounds. It would do neither the Chinese comrades nor us any good.
The other problem - what is happening in Japan? What is happening within the country? Is it so impossible for the international proletariat to influence the mood of the masses inside the country and use their anti-war sentiments which indubitably are present in the country. This too is a specific problem and its resolution will certainly help the Chinese people in their struggle against the Japanese military. We know from genuine sources that Japan is facing internally financial difficulties and all the time the efforts of the Japanese government are directed towards procuring loans. It is looking for loans in England because Germany, while signing the agreement on war against the Soviet Union, is not ready to give loans. When they are unable to get loans in London, they look for them in Paris then New York. Is it not possible that we, the international proletariat, cannot initiate a campaign which can to some extent prevent or make unpopular release for the Japanese military money that may be used for war against the Chinese people. It is possible to initiate such a campaign. There is the huge press in France and England etc. Prominent personalities that sympathise with the Chinese people can be mobilised, questions can be raised in the parliament and in the press to make it difficult to lend money to the Japanese military. These and a number of other measures can serve as international help to the Chinese people.
I think that all these specific questions must be put before the commission, and the excellent report of Comrade Wang Ming must be redone as an article but with additions which we discussed here today. This report must be made into an article for the international press in a manner that can mobilise the masses to the defence of the Chinese people, but it should not give the impression that everything is proceeding well, all 100 per cent, towards an anti-Japanese national front in China. We need to conduct a daily struggle for it. If in Spain we extended the struggle so long that the end is not even in sight at present, and it being said that the decisive defence of the republican Spain will occur in the Spring, then you can imagine what will happen in China, for how long and on what scale the struggle against Japanese imperialism would continue. [...]