The Roots of Communist China


To say that the Chinese Communist revolution is a non-Western 
revolution is more than a clich,. That revolution has been primarily 
directed, not like the French Revolution but against alien Western 
influences that approached the level of domination and drastically 
altered China's traditional relationship with the world. Hence the 
Chinese Communist attitude toward China's traditional past is 
selectively critical, but by no means totally hostile. The Chinese 
Communist revolution, and the foreign policy of the regime to which it 
has given rise, have several roots, each of which is embedded in the 
past more deeply than one would tend to expect of a movement seemingly 
so convulsive. 
 The Chinese superiority complex institutionalized in their 
tributary system was justified by any standards less advanced or 
efficient than those of the modern West. China developed an elaborate 
and effective political system resting on a remarkable cultural 
unity, the latter in turn being due mainly to the general acceptance 
of a common, although difficult, written language and a common set of 
ethical and social values, known as Confucianism. Traditional china 
had neither the knowledge nor the power that would have been necessary 
to cope with the superior science, technology, economic organization, 
and military force that expanding West brought to bear on it. The 
general sense of national weakness and humiliation was rendered still 
keener by a unique phenomenon, the modernization of Japan and its rise 
to great power status. Japan's success threw China's failure into 
sharp remission.
 The Japanese performance contributed to the discrediting and 
collapse of China's imperial system, but it did little to make things 
easier for the subsequent successor. The Republic was never able to 
achieve territorial and national unity in the face of bad 
communications and the widespread diffusion of modern arms throughout 
the country. Lacking internal authority, it did not carry much weight 
in its foreign relations. As it struggled awkwardly, there arose two 
more radical political forces, the relatively powerful Kuomintang of 
Sun Yat-sen and Chiang Kai-shek, and the younger and weaker 
Communist Party of China (CPC ). With indispensable support from the 
CPC and the Third International, the Kuomintang achieved sufficient 
success so it felt justified in proclaiming a new government, 
controlled by itself, for the whole of China. For a time the 
Kuomintang made a valiant effort to tackle China's numerous and 
poor communications and the wide distribution of arms. It also took a 
strongly anti-Western course in its foreign relations, with some 
success. It is impossible to say whether the Kuomintang's regime would 
ultimately have proven viable and successful if it had not been ruined 
by an external enemy, as the Republic had been by its internal 
opponents. The more the Japanese exerted preemptive pressures on 
China, the more the people tended to look on the Kuomintang as 
the only force that prevent china from being dominated by Japan. 
 During the Sino-Japanese war of 1937, the Kuomintang immediately 
suffered major military defeats and lost control of eastern China. It 
was only saved from total hopelessness or defeat by Japan's suicidal 
decision to attack the United States and invasion of Southeastern 
Asia. But military rescue from Japan brought no significant 
improvement in the Kuomintang's domestic performance in the political 
and economic fields, which if anything to get worse. Clearly the 
pre-Communist history of Modern China has been essentially one of 
weakness, humiliation, and failure. This is the atmosphere in which 
the CPC developed its leadership and growth in. The result has been a 
strong determination on the part of that leadership to eliminate 
foreign influence within China, to modernize their country, and to 
eliminate Western influence from eastern Asia, which included the 
Soviet Union. China was changing and even developing, but its 
overwhelming marks were still poverty and weakness. During their rise 
to power the Chinese Communists, like most politically conscious 
Chinese, were aware of these conditions and anxious to eliminate them. 
Mao Tse-tung envisioned a mixed economy under Communist control, such 
as had existed in the Soviet Union during the period of the New 
Economic Policy. The stress was more upon social justice, and public 
ownership of the "commanding heights" of the economy than upon 
development. In 1945, Mao was talking more candidly about development, 
still within the framework of a mixed economy under Communist control, 
and stressing the need for more heavy industry; I believe because he 
had been impressed by the role of heavy industry in determine the 
outcome of World War II. In his selected works he said "that the 
necessary capital would come mainly from the accumulated wealth of the 
Chinese people" but latter added "that China would appreciate foreign 
aid and even private foreign investment, under non exploitative 

 After Chiang Kai-shek broke away from the CPC they found 
themselves in a condition that they were not accustom to, they had no 
armed forces or territorial bases of its own. It had no program of 
strategy other than the one that Stalin had compromised, who from the 
Sixth World Congress of the Comintern in 1928 to the Seventh in 1935 
insisted, largely because the disaster he had suffered in China that 
Communist Parties everywhere must promote world revolution in a time 
of depression. The CPC was ridden with factionalism; the successful 
effort to replace this situation with one of relative "bolshevization" 
or in layman's term this means imposed unity, which was ultimately 
made by Mao Tse-tung, and not by Stalin. Parallel with the 
Comintern-dominated central apparatus of the CPC in Shanghai, 
there arose a half dozen Communist-led base areas, each with a 
guerrilla army, in Central and South China. These bases existed mainly 
by virtue of the efforts of the local Communist leadership to satisfy 
the serious economic and social grievances of the local civilians, 
often violently, through such means as redistribution of land at the 
expense of landlords and the reduction of interest rates at the 
expense of moneylenders. Of these base areas, or soviets, the most 
important was the one led by Mao Tse-tung and centered in the 
southeastern city of Kiangsi. Correspondingly, in return for such 
service Mao was elected chairman of a Central Soviet Government, who 
supposedly controlled all the Communist base areas in 1931.

 Before I tell about Mao Tse-tung, I will tell you about Maoism. 
By Maoism or "the thought of Mao Tse-tung" as the CPC would put it is 
the entire evolving complex of patterns of official thought and 
behavior that CPC has developed while under Mao's leadership. It was 
very difficult to unscramble Mao's individual contribution while not 
confusing it with other thinkers of this time period as many have done 
and are still doing to this date. It is also difficult to separate the 
pre-1949 and the post-1949 aspects and the domestic from the 
international aspects. The first basic and most important 
characteristic that I believe is a deep and sincere nationalism that 
has been merged with the strictly Communist elements. Then closely 
resembling nationalism was his populism approach so full of strain 
that the CPC saw itself not merely as the Vanguard of the common 
people, plus as the progressive side of the middle class, but as 
representative of the people. This was important as it played the 
opposite position of the "three big mountains" (imperialism, 
feudalism, and bureaucratic capitalism) and still yet accept the 
passively the leadership CPC. Maoism still possessed two other points 
that are significant in understanding this ideology, it recognizes the 
decisive importance in history of conscious, voluntary activity and of 
subjective forces in more detail than the sometimes compared Leninism 
which was opposed to deterministic, objective forces. The last point 
it brings out is that Maoism stresses contradictions and struggle, or 
what might be called the power of negative thinking, to the point 
where it invents enemies of all types and comments on their size and 
calls them "paper tiger" as he did in a speech in 1950. 

Mao Tse-tung

 On December 26th 1893 in a small village about twenty-eight 
miles to the west of Hsiangt'an, Hunan in Shaoshanch'ung, Mao Tse-tung 
was born. He was born during a time of widespread suffrage, his father 
Mao Shun-sheng had left his family to join the army hoping to return 
and be able to take care of his family. He soon returned with ample 
funds to purchase land and livestock, so was the background of his 
childhood and one of the reasons why he cared so much about the 
agricultural growth of his people and the need to end their 
suffering. His mother was a modest individual who cared about the less 
fortunate and believed heavily in prayer to gods for guidance and best 
wishes to the needy. Since he started working at the early age of five 
he learned and developed his tendency for thoroughness, paying close 
attention to what and how his father operated the farmland. His father 
eventually brought him a tutor to teach the business side of life and 
learned to read and write also. Learning to read opened his mind to 
books such as, The Water Margin, The Romance of the Three Kingdoms, 
and The Monkey, but the first book was his most favorite. Because it 
told of a rebels desire and the spirit of rebellion, what a symbolic 
meaning that would play in his future. He would eventually go to 
school in Ch'angsha the Capital city where his life took a path he 
would never be able to leave from again. The Empire was full of 
discontent with the leaders role in the political realm. China 
was in political chaos and the leaders new of nothing that could save 
them. During these times many disasters would take place such as the 
Russo-Japanese war, and the Boxer Rebellion which directed the Chinese 
government to construct a shaky, but authoritative constitution to 
hope these problems would not destroy their monarchy. At this time Mao 
had been in school learning as much as he could about the political 
agenda and about the revolution that was going on. He read many books 
about the causes of the revolution and the many theories that authors 
portrayed that could end this revolt. He himself started to write his 
feelings down into what would be his "life works" on what he believed 
could halt the problem or really give the Republic back to the people. 
This is one of the reasons why China is now called THE PEOPLES 
REPUBLIC OF CHINA. From this point of his educational advance, he 
would be in close contact with future leaders of the revolution, his 
classmates. He helped them take papers and documents around the city 
that told of plans of attacking the government. With the help of his 
classmates the formed a student society that was a front for the 
revolution to reach the students, where they read works and newspapers 
such as Hsiang River Weekly, this paper would subsequently print 
some of his beliefs. This paper was eventually snubbed by the present 
leader Chang Ching-yao. This is when his name became familiar with the 
government and they wanted him stopped and suppressed. He would soon 
leave to go Peking where he started to issue his views statements 
about the current government. This is where he started to learn more 
about Marxism and read the book the Communist Manifesto. When he 
returned he learned of the Hunan Armies seizures of citizens who they 
believed where threats to the society. From this point on, Mao new it 
would be his job and role in life to take charge and assert the 
necessary precautions to see that his people were treated the way that 
they needed to be treated.


1. Mao Tse-tung, Selected Works, Manchuria Publishing House, 1948, 
Translated By Stuart Gelder.

2. Jerome Chen, Mao and the Chinese Revolution, Oxford University 
Press, 1965.

3. Stuart & Schram, Mao Tse- tung, Simon and Shuster - New York, 1966.


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