The Roots Of Communist China Essay

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Word Count: 2055To 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


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