Notes from The Challenge of Red China
by Gunther Stein

For The U.S. War Against Asia
by William P. Meyers

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Page 5 of 5

Description of the Eighth Route Army war room and Japanese & red troop positions. [p. 326-332]. “Chinese puppet forces of the Japanese” are said to number 480,000. [327]

Details of the fighting of the communist guerillas [333-346]

Observers from the U.S. Army arrive and are favorably impressed. Includes Colonel David D. Barrett; political advisor John S. Service; and Major Ray Cromley. [347-365]

Reports on the military opinions of the Japanese who have gone over to the communist side. [393-412]

Communist view of what should happen in post-war Japan. [413-423]

He outlines the view that the Japanese, if defeated, will do favors for the nationalists and help them against the communists in a civil war. The Allies (that includes the USSR) are expected to be against civil war, so the nationalists will use anti-Western sentiment to get back into an alliance with the Japanese. The communists also believe that certain Kuomintang armies “surrendered” to the Japanese in order to fight the communists under the guise of Japanese puppet troops. [427-435] This to me seems like pro-communist, anti-nationalist propaganda.

In 1937-1938 the British government took a number of actions that favored the Japanese over the Chinese. “Worst of all, the British Prime Minister, Mr. Neville Chamberlain, made that shocking, programmatic declaration in the house of Commons in November, 1938, which virtually gave up China to Japan. He said he was optimistic about the future of British trade in China in spite of the Japanese conquest of our country, giving the reason that Japan would need the cooperation of British capital to develop it,” said Bo Ku, editor of Yenan’s Liberation Daily. “Britain unnecessarily closed the Burma Road under Japanese pressure. Britain gave up Chinese silver to the Japanese. The London Times carried on the most outspoken appeasement policy toward Japan. [443]

Stein asks if China can unite after the defeat of Japan. He describes the fruitlessness of the long negotiations between the Kuomintang and the Communists. Asked what they would do if attacked by the nationalist armies, Mao said, “Of course, after having shown our willingness to avoid conflict and having retreated thirty miles— we shall fight back.” [453-459]

Chiang’s firing of General Joseph W. Stilwell is discussed. [467-478]

Overall assessment is on pages 479-481. He believes the communists would win a civil war against the nationalists, even if the U.S. armed the nationalists.

More comments:

Even taking into account Gunther Stein’s probable sympathy with socialism, this seems to portray a utopian period of socialism in China. It is hard to imagine better governance given the materials available to work with. However, there are special circumstances, notably the Chinese nationalist, anti-Japanese sentiments of the people. Also, somewhere near the beginning of the book, he mentions that soon after the Communists arrived in numbers at the end of their Long March, a drought gave way to a period of relatively good rainfall. This helped improve agriculture and lent credibility to the communists.

My guess is that Mao and other leaders of the communist party were being nice and democratic only because they had to be. As soon as they came to power in China overall they proved to be much more authoritarian. Also, in Yenan communist society, or the New Democracy, was able to develop in an organic fashion. Once the Japanese were defeated and civil war began, the communist government was imposed by force of arms, and too quickly for people to go through the transformation process that we see in Yenan (and other communist base areas).

However, it is clear that in many respects Stein must be reporting objectively. The ability of the Red Army to defeat Chiang’s Nationalist Army with relative ease has to stem from the high level of motivation of the communists, and the corrupt incompetence of the Kuomintang.

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