The assembly convened by the Chinese Communist Party has proclaimed a new state from the capital at Peiping. Mao Tze-tung, head of the party, is also chief of state; Chou En-lai, one of the party’s top triumvirate, premier and foreign minister.
Communist Party domination is indisputable and complete in all sections of the new government.
In the larger framework of the international balance of power the problems are only becoming apparent and new ones will arise. The US has been outflanked in the entire North Pacific, for example. With Manchuria under the Russian thumb, with connections to the industrial complex of Mukden and Changchun, and with rail, air and road connections to Siberia secure, the Russian bases in Dairen and Port Arthur are substantial fortresses. They are located less than an hour from Japan and two hours from Okinawa. The Philippines are within easy range of even short-range bombers. For the first time a Russian Asiatic fleet can have permanent and extensive berths.
South Korea has been reduced to a helplessly surrounded island which can be overrun at will. Japan can be little more than a new Bataan and there are strong movements among all classes to reach an agreement or at least a modus vivendi with the Russians. In any case Japan is an unsuitable U. S base and has been strategically neutralized. US policy of support of native reaction has turned popular sentiment against MacArthur’s occupation. From its Chinese base Stalinism will now he in a position to launch a political offensive against the US inside Japan. Nor are the Japanese Zaibatsu any more reliable for the US. Already many of them look to China as the only major market possible to them. American refusal to permit such trade will create new antagonisms.
These developments explain the hysterical cries for help from the reactionaries in power in South Korea, from the Philippines and from Chiang Kai-shek in their pressure for a Pacific Pact. And because commitment to such a pact would involve an enormous but hardly compensated outlay Washington has rejected these appeals. Looming over tomorrow’s horizon is the threat to Southeast Asia — Viet Nam, Burma and Malaya.
The manner in which a new state is established is usually a good indicator of its character. There is no attempt to obscure the domination of the Communist Party. Not only are the heads of state CP leaders but “the working out of the initial draft [of the programme of the state] was entrusted to the Communist Party of China”, according to Chou En-lai. The army and the state apparatus are monopolies of the party. Yet other elements are participating and the Political Consultative Conference, as well as the regime, is described as a coalition.
It should be noted that this PCC was not a constituent assembly. It was not elected nor in any way charged by the people with any political power. The delegates are representatives of various types of organisations and in all cases they were appointed by or are themselves the leaders of these organisations. Thus the CP delegates were not elected by the CP membership or by a convention. Fourteen political parties are represented. But these are parties only by courtesy.
Obviously there is no question of whether “Western-type” democracy is or is not applicable in China. This farce was arranged by the CP as its programme tor the composition of the new state. It has need of diverse elements around the banner of national revolution. It is not able to rule unilaterally as yet nor does it dare establish popular arenas of discussion with power of election. Problems of political and economic reconstruction enforce alliances with diverse classes at this time in the absence of a great people‘s upsurge. But all these classes are given their status by the party which thereby retains the power to move against them when it becomes expedient.
For the CP the major problem of consolidation is how to create a new national ruling; class around the party as a core by recruiting elements from many sections of the population, especially the young intellectuals. Over a country as huge and varied as China, this is a matter for many years. In Russia, which was economically more advanced, the Stalinist consolidation took about ten years. That is why the theoretical leader of the CP, Liu Shao-chi, stated; “we deem it inappropriate [he is referring to the insertion of the goal of ‘socialism’ in the programme] because the taking of considerable socialist steps in China is a thing of the rather far future.”
However, the main thing is the retention of state power in the hands of the party. Under this aegis the goal will be pursued as rapidly as it can be.
The PCC, far from being a democratically determined congress empowered to establish a new government, has more of the characteristics of a fabricated junto.
It should be noted that one of the chief accusations against Chiang Kai-shek was his claim for the monolithic rule of the Kuomintang during “a period of tutelage.” The CP government, in effect, does the same but in the name of “national democracy”; it can do this because of the enormous power it has developed in its bureaucratic revolution. Its state is a bureaucratic centralised authoritarianism based on the emergent class of bureaucrats which for the moment has side alliances with selected non-representative leaders of the peasantry, small landlords and petty bourgeoisie.
It may be objected that this is much too definitive a characterisation for what exists in China today. Surely this state and the Russian state are not identical? It is, of course, true that the Chinese Stalinists have not yet consolidated their power and this may take some years. Nor have they organised the economy to the degree that holds even in East Europe.
But these are differences of degree only. With the political power they have captured, the direction of the state is unmistakable. That there will be many obstacles goes without saying. But the entire energy of the state will he bent toward the consolidation of the new class and the extension of its power over ever larger areas of life. That is why it is entirely proper to designate this state as being of the same order as all other Stalinist states.
October 17, 1949