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Digital Archive International History Declassified

April 07, 1945

CHEN BODA, 'CRITICISM OF THE BOOK "CHINA'S DESTINY"'

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    Excerpts from the Russian translations of Chen Boda's published criticism of Jiang Jieshi's "China's Destiny."
    "Chen Boda, 'Criticism of the Book "China's Destiny"'," April 07, 1945, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, RGASPI f. 17, op. 128, d. 823, l. 70-78. Translated by Gary Goldberg. https://digitalarchive.wilsoncenter.org/document/121815
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CRITICISM OF THE BOOK "CHINA’S DESTINY".

Chen Boda [Chen Pei-ta]

[handwritten below the title: "To the file. For storage. [illegible signature], 7 April 1945"]

CRITICISM OF THE BOOK "CHINA’S DESTINY"

Chen Boda

From the moment of the publication of Jiang Jieshi's [Chiang Kai-shek’s] book, "China’s Destiny" many people in Chongqing have begun to suspect that the actual author of the book is Tao Xisheng. It was not clear for many why the leader of the Guomindang [Kuomintang], Jiang Jieshi, permitted a person so widely known for ties with the Manchu traitors, for a defense of fascism, for hostility to the United Nations, and for his ideological ties to Wang Jingwei, which still continue to exist, to write this work. These people are at a loss at to whether the Guomindang is really so barren of educated people that it was impossible to find someone else for this work.

Several days after the publication of "China’s Destiny" Tao Xisheng wrote a laudatory article for this book which was published by the Central Daily on the first page as an editorial. This was again strange for many people. Why did the Central Daily so highly appraise an article by Tao Xisheng? Was it really not possible to ensure the success of Chang Kai-shek's book without the recommendation of Tao Xisheng? There is nothing strange in that people were surprised.

Since the book, "China’s Destiny", was published under the name of Jiang Jieshi, that is why it has attracted people's attention. Initially people thought that if Jiang Jieshi published such a book at a critical moment of the war of resistance it would produce much that was useful in questions of preparing allies to achieve final victory since everyone knew that the factor that determines the fate of China at the present time is the war of resistance and nothing more. But after reading "China’s Destiny" they were very disappointed since all the questions raised in the book were questions which no one had expected. Of the 213 pages of the book, only twelve-and-a-half pages deal with military problems at a time when the rest of the book is devoted to domestic problems, the struggle against liberalism and Communism, and the propaganda of comprador-feudal fascism or a new absolutism (formally still covered by the mask of the Three Principles of the People).

We Marxists usually despise those who try to conceal their political views, but Jiang Jieshi does not conceal his views in this book, which we welcome. However, we cannot agree with what Jiang Jieshi says, and we consider it our duty to make our views public so that our countrymen are familiar with them and consider them. Jiang Jieshi himself once said, "Whoever sees mistakes in the actions and policy of the Guomindang should correct and eliminate them". Therefore we consider it necessary for ourselves to express our views and discuss this book with its author and its readers. Since Jiang Jieshi's book touches upon the fate of China and questions of life or death, the existence or destruction of the 450-million Chinese people, not only all Communists but actually every patriot of China should devote all his attention to this book and in no event ignore it.

At the present time the Guomindang intends to dissolve the [Chinese] Communist Party and eliminate the border region. This news was actually sent by radio by the official Central News Agency on the 6th of July of this year. At the present time it can be said that we are approaching a period characterized by an abundance of unusual opinions to which, of course, we Communists cannot regard indifferently, especially when these unusual opinions actually play a certain role in events, as can be seen by reading the book, "China’s Destiny". The criticism given here is limited to several main positions of this book. I am presenting more substantive and detailed criticism of other aspects and a critique of individual questions to other comrades.

We hope that the author, readers, or any Chinese patriot whose opinions on this questions differ with ours will express their own views, for the truth does not fear dispute and what fears dispute is not the truth. The Guomindang has sharply criticized the "New Democracy" of Mao Zedong in innumerable publications, but we have not yet provided them any response. Therefore, now, taking the book of Jiang Jieshi as a point of departure, we ought to express our own views on several questions.

1. Concerning the Chinese Nation

What Jiang Jieshi says in his book about the question of the Chinese nation does not correspond to the real facts of history. For example, it says in the book: "Our Chinese nation was formed as a result of the union of many tribes of common origin" and consists "of large and small branches of this same blood". We know that the theory of national relations of kinship is by origin the narrow theory of the German, Italian, and Japanese fascists, who have used it as a tool for their aggressive actions against other countries. It is truly surprising and unexpected for us that Jiang Jieshi bases his ideas on such a theory, which can never serve as an explanation for the history of the formation of the Chinese nation. The term, "the Chinese nation" ordinarily used by us in reality means the various nationalities of China in which, without any doubt, more than one nationality is to be found. The Anti-Manchu movement at the end of the Qing Dynasty conducted by the revolutionaries of the Tongmenhui headed by Dr. Sun Yat-sen occurred under the banner of nationalism, but the expression "Different nations on the territory of China" clearly figured  in the Declaration of the 1st Congress of the Guomindang edited by Sun Yat-sen personally. To repudiate this means to repudiate Sun Yat-sen and his principles.

The author of the book is always extolling himself as a faithful successor of Sun Yat-sen and right now, having his own opinion, he insists that only one nation exists in China. What a shocking idea. If this is right then there was no need then for Sun Yat-sen to call the 1911 revolution a national revolution and the words recorded in the solemn declaration of the 2nd Guomindang congress that "the right of self-determination is recognized for the different nations in China, and after the victory of the anti-imperialist and anti-militarist revolution a free, united China will be created on the basis of a free union of all nations" has no meaning. Is it not clear that the idea of Jiang Jieshi is opposed to the idea of Dr. Sun Yat-sen?

Let's discuss this question in more detail. Are the Chinese nation and Mongolian nation in reality "a large and small branches of one and the same blood"? Is this also true with respect to the Chinese and Tibetans? Is this correct with respect to the Muslims who came from the west? And also with respect to the Piao, Yao, and Luo-Luo tribes? Where is the proof of these assertions?

The author cites the expression from the Book of Od, which says, "The disciples of Emperor Beng have been scattered to hundreds of generations". But can we say that all the nations which are in China right now were the generation of Emperor Beng? It is only necessary to have simple common sense, even superficial knowledge to show that this is not so, but the author has lost this simple common sense and filled his book with mistakes.

The theory of influence was another attempt to show this position of the book. Let's recall the marriage of the imperial concubine Wang Chaochun of the Han Dynasty and the King of the Huns, and we should not forget that this was a historical tragedy for the Chinese ruler who, having given a wonderful concubine to the ruler of the Huns, seeking a shameful peace, did not turn the Huns into a branch of the Chinese, but also the marriage of Princess Wencheng of the Tang Dynasty and the ruler of Tibet did not produce the same effect. If this had had any result then the Chinese nation should have become a branch of the Japanese nation, because many Chinese, including many prominent Guomindang leaders, took Japanese women as wives.

If the nations inside China ought to be characterized in such a way, all Chinese history will become a pile of odd unsolved riddles. Thus, the war between the Chinese and Huns during the Han Dynasty could not be regarded as a national war, but as a civil war within the same nation or even a conflict between large and small clans. This would be correct with respect to the aggressive actions of the five barbarian tribes against China, with respect to the war between the Chinese and the foreign nations during the period of the existence of the Northern and Southern Dynasties, and also with regard to the war between the Chinese, Uygurs, Tibetans, and Shato (Tajik) tribes during the Tang Dynasty.

For this same reason the struggle of the Chinese against the Khitani, [Kidani] during the existence of the five brief dynasties, or the struggle against the Khitani [SIC, repeated], the Nurchen (Manchus), the Tatars, [and] the Mongols during the existence of the Shang Dynasty, and even the Taiping Rebellion and the Tongmenghui Rebellion against the Manchus cannot be assessed as a national struggle, but as an internal struggle within one nation. If that was the case, then it unavoidably follows that such historic figures as Yue Fei, Wei Tianxiang, Lu Xiufu, Zhu Yuanchang, Su Ta, Yuan Zhonghuan, Shi Guofa, Cheng Chengpung [sic], Li Tingguo, Hong Xiuquan, Li Xiuchang, and the 72 heroes of the Yellow Flower Mound who are lauded in popular songs, and Sun Yat-sen, who wrote pages in our history, were a group of fools who sacrificed lives for nothing, and the hated brazen traitors of Chinese history like Xiu Qing-tang, Wang Bang-chang, Liu You, Qing [Guei], Chong Cheng-zhou, Zeng Guo-fan, and Chang Xun can be "celebrated" in the walls of a church "and respected and praised".

Chinese history should have been rewritten, and our nation would have no historical foundation to distinguish it if the author's interpretation were adopted.

Jiang Jieshi says, "As regards how the common fate of the various clans was realized in history, we should give proper respect to the true moral qualities of our nation, which have maintained an inner love for the various clans and the influence on morals which had already formed among them". Let's examine this question. The facts listed in the paragraph below shows that in history the struggle of the Chinese nation against foreign aggressors was extraordinarily brutal and ruthless. How can Jiang Jieshi explain these facts if what he said here is correct[?] There is no doubt that there existed two fundamentally different types of people during the struggle of the Chinese nation against the invasions of foreign aggressors. The first kind of people were the broad Chinese masses, who shed their blood and risked [their] lives in resisting the aggression and were the main driving force in the defense of their homeland and in restoring what had been lost. The other kind of people were the corrupt rulers who in the face of aggression took the position of "a preference to giving everything to the foreign nations rather than it fall into the hands of their own slaves", or they sacrificed the honor of the Son of Heaven, "swallowed the humiliation, calling themselves servants, sons, nephews, and grandsons of the invaders, or offered gold and silk as tribute to the enemy, or tried to propitiate the enemy with the execution of the devoted generals who had insisted on resistance (this refers to the story of the five short-lived dynasties and the Ming Dynasty). These were those emperors and premiers who governed the people with such magic words as "loyalty, sons of duty, mercy, love, fate, justice, consent, and peace" or "sons of duty, brotherhood, loyalty, justice, purity, and modesty". It is possible that the manner of worship of the invaders was a practical realization of the aforementioned virtues, but is there anything worthy in these virtues of which we could be proud?

Speaking scientifically, a nation is characterized by a common language, a common territory, a common economic life, and the common psychological expressions of its life revealing its common culture. The national struggle is only the result of a historic differentiation of society into classes. It did not exist during the appearance of the human being, and also will never be endlessly continued into the future. The war which we are fighting, as Mao Zedong wrote, is to fight for a permanent peace of mankind". Not only this, even before the establishment of permanent agreement among mankind, the nations which are antagonistic toward one another can be assimilated into a common nation thanks to specific historic conditions, as it was with certain nations which settled in China and were assimilated by the Chinese.

The Manchus actually have been assimilated with the Chinese today. This did not happen thanks to the so-called "inherent virtue" of the Chinese, but thanks to the fact that the Manchus scattered throughout the country entered into contact with people much more developed than the Manchus, who were much superior to the Manchus economically, culturally, and politically, not to mention that they exceeded the Manchus numerically. Thus, they were assimilated by the Chinese after a long, fierce struggle.

Today's world is a world of science. It is necessary to approach the history of nations from a scientific point of view. An attempt to distort, change, or falsify the history of nations, as is being practiced by the fascists, cannot be an example for us, and to teach people this way means to deceive the people. The reason why the large landowners and the big capitalists of China should have thought up a chauvinistic theory is the propaganda of da Hanzu zhuyi (pan-China-ism [pan-kitaizm]) and the enslavement of the national minority in China.  So long as we Chinese are ourselves a weak people, we should join with the national minority in our country on a democratic basis, on an equal basis, so that we can resist the invaders together. If we resist the invaders on the one hand and oppress the national minorities on the other, we will leave a loophole for the enemy, who will make use of it and damage our cause of national liberation. Every Chinese citizen with common sense should understand this.

The large landowners and the big capitalists in China and everywhere consider the nation their own property. "I am the nation, and the nation is me", this is what they constantly think. But let's look, what constitutes a nation? Is our nation really not composed of an overwhelming majority of workers and peasants? If not for 90% or even more of the working people from where could we get our clothing, food, and household objects? Where would we get our troops for the war of resistance? Where would our culture come from? Is it really not clear that the peasantry and workers comprise the main basis of our nation and only their interest is identical to the interest of the entire nation and only they represent the entire nation. Is it not theft for others, especially for those who oppress the workers and peasants, to call themselves the representatives of the nation?

Since the working people are the main basis of the nation, isn't this ]the same as] "the nation is above everything", "the country is above everything", can only mean that the working people are above everything? Isn't it clear that to put the workers below everything means to put the nation and the country below everything? Who constitutes the main basis of the nation? Only a correct answer to this question gives us the opportunity to explain the question about the nation, about its strength, about its system, or why the Chinese nation could resurrect itself from decline and gain a final victory in war (that is, the question of the mobilization or non-mobilization of the masses, the question of the achievement or non-achievement of democracy), or who should be the master in postwar China. The "New Democracy" of Mao Zedong, as many other documents of the CC of the Communist Party of China, answered this question several years ago, but right now the author of the "China’s Destiny" considers that a "minority of the people" and "virtues" are the deciding factors of the nation. Here our opinion and the opinion of the big landowners and capitalists differ on the question of the "Fate of China".

II. On Chinese History

Permit us right now to return to the question of the history of China, actually to the question of the modern history of China. The history of China is essentially the history of the Chinese people since without the Chinese people we do not have a Chinese nation.

In the past struggle of the Chinese nation with natural forces, with backward systems, with foreign invaders, the main strength was found in the working masses. They are the main driving force of our history. They have not achieved every success in the past and in the present, but not one of them has profited from these successes. They have fought in difficult, brutal conditions, but the fruits of their struggle were stolen by a small ruling group when the victors themselves were left with a serious, brutal situation, as before. Every time the working people of China were exploited in the most brutal form and oppressed by the rulers, brutal to such a degree that the people could not breathe freely and an invasion of foreigners unavoidably followed. And then this working people rose again and became a force which restored what was lost.

Jiang Jieshi says, "After the Manchus entered the gates of the Great Wall, the national consciousness of the Chinese people gradually disappeared". This is a lie. The problem is that after the Manchus came to rule China, those who had lost [end of available text]…

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