Leon Trotsky on China


Text from Socialist Appeal (New York), June 29, 1940.
May 1940

The tragic experience of China is a great lesson for the oppressed peoples. The Chinese revolution of 1925-27 had every chance for victory. A unified and transformed China would constitute at this time a powerful fortress of freedom in the Far East. The entire fate of Asia and to a degree the whole world might have been different. But the Kremlin, lacking confidence in the Chinese masses and seeking the friendship of the generals, utilized its whole weight to subordinate the Chinese proletariat to the bourgeoisie and so helped Chiang Kai-shek to crush the Chinese revolution. Disillusioned, disunited, and weakened, China was laid open to Japanese invasion.

Like every doomed regime, the Stalinist oligarchy is already incapable of learning from the lessons of history. At the beginning of the Sino-Japanese War, the Kremlin again placed the Communist Party in bondage to Chiang Kai-shek, crushing in the bud the revolutionary initiative of the Chinese proletariat. This war, now nearing its third anniversary, might long since have been fnished by a real catastrophe for Japan, if China had conducted it as a genuine people's war based on an agrarian revolution and setting the Japanese soldiery aflame with its blaze. But the Chinese bourgeoisie fears its own armed masses more than it does the Japanese ravishers. If Chiang Kai-shek, the sinister hangman of the Chinese revolution, is compelled by circumstances to wage a war, his program is still based, as before, on the oppression of his own workers and compromise with the imperialists.

The war in eastern Asia will become more and more interlocked with the imperialist world war. The Chinese people will be able to reach independence only under the leadership of the youthful and self-sacrificing proletariat, in whom the indispensable selfconfidence will be rekindled by the rebirth of the world revolution. They will indicate a firm line of march. The course of events places on the order of the day the development of our Chinese section into a powerful revolutionary party.


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