The last few weeks have seen the political initiative in China fall to the Communists, on the heels of their military victories.
Many groups which waited, before committing themselves to hear Chiang Kai-shek’s New Year’s Day message now feel released from any loyalty to his disintegrating state and have gone over to defeatism or are making overtures to the Stalinists.
The death-throes of the Kuomintang will find few sympathisers as all who possibly can do so with safety are joining the scramble to disassociate themselves from the regime and jump on the new bandwagon. The Stalinists are forming alliances in several directions.
The Yunnan war-lord, General Lung Yun, announced his adherence to Marshal Li’s group and his readiness to hand over the rich Yunnan province to the CP armies. Yunnan borders Indo-China in the deep South. The entire “Southern bastion,” which a few months ago was a possible refuge for the Chiang regime, was falling away and, local war lords, who had retained a measure of independence, were seeking deals with the CP. Mme. Sun Yat-sen was also scheduled to join the new coalition forming around CP headquarters.
The probability is that after most of the present negotiations, which aim at neutralising opposition and facilitating national conquest, the CP will call a new Political Consultative Conference (PCC) of leaders of all its supporting groups and out of this conference it will form its long projected all-national coalition. Since these leaders have no power of their own, no armies, programmes or parties, they will be captives in every sense, albeit willing ones. Only then, with its regime securely in the saddle and its armies in control, will the CP call for elections to a constituent assembly since an election under such conditions would only be a plebiscite.
Engaging in fiercest political warfare the CP deepened the isolation of Chiang’s government with the issuance of its “war criminals list.” This list did not differentiate among the different Nanking cliques; it did not give a clean bill of health to the “peace” groups or to the so-called liberals. It became clear, even before the rejection of Chiang’s New Year message that the CP, flushed with victory, would make no peace with Nanking.
It is determined to establish a new legality in China based on its own power. No KMT continuity will be accepted. With this made doubly clear by the rejection of Chiang’s and Sun Fo’s appeals since the first of January, the present government is doomed because it can now in no way develop a peace programme. That is why the desertion of the state is now assuming the appearance of people escaping an infected leper colony.
The CP “war criminals” list, by including all Nanking groups, also destroyed the US hope that some of the elements in KMT who are pro-American and are now among the “peace groups” would be able to join the new CP-led coalition and there serve as levers of US policy. For example, the CP list includes Vice-President Li Tsung-jen, a hope of Ambassador Stuart. US is anxious for an organised group of its supporters to initiate peace moves but the CP’s decisive rejection to date of Nanking feelers may force these groups to bypass Chiang if they are to save their hides. The CP inclusion of men like Li and others on their list evoked the first angry blast against the Chinese Stalinists by the State Department since January 1947.
The abandonment of Tsingtao by US Marines is part of the pro-peace policy being pursued by the State Department. Pressure on Chiang was increased in Washington as President Truman let it be known that no new allocations to Nanking would be considered before April. But when the CP turned thumbs down on Vice-President Li and Chang Chi-chun, who are in Ambassador Stuart’s confidence, the US lost this line of approach. It will now be forced to make even bigger concessions to the CP.
January 10, 1949