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 colossal problems,
including those that had ruined its predecessor : 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