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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History notes and commentary

Page 1 of 5

All [page numbers] reference The Challenge of Red China by Gunther Stein, Hardcover, 1945, Whittlesey House (McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc.) New York and London

I read The Challenge of Red China to see what light it might cast on The U.S. War Against Asia. In particular I already took notes on a Chiang Kai-shek by Hollington K. Tong, which is anti-communist and pro-Kuomintang. Gunther Stein’s book is very laudatory of the communist-led governance of Yenan (now Yan'an) province during World War II. He was not alone in that estimate. It casts some light on why the communists so quickly defeated Chiang Kai-shek’s government during the later civil war. It also shows some things about the Japanese-backed regime in China and Manchukuo. With regard to the U.S., however, it mainly correlates with U.S. military assessments of the desirability of having the communists and nationalists work together to defeat Japan, thus minimizing America’s casualties and expense.

More interesting is the contrast of how well-governed Yenan and other communist base areas were while fighting the Japanese and the growing authoritarianism of the Chinese government once the Communist Party had secured power for itself on the national level. I think anyone who wants to turn around a bad social situation could look to the examples in this book for some guidance. What went wrong later is another story.

The first six chapters of the book [p. 1-58] covers Stein’s efforts to get permission to visit the communist-controlled areas, his opinions of the Nationalist government, and how the Nationalist government portrayed the communists.

The major theme that the Red armies are largely required to do agricultural work to feed themselves, rather than demanding or buying food from farmers, is developed. After the Long March, in Yenan they often had to make their own farm implements from scrap metal. [p. 66-74]

The Nationalists claimed the Communists were funding themselves with opium production. The Communists denied this and Stein saw no evidence of opium production [p. 75-76].

The Normandy invasion occurred shortly after Stein entered Yenan [p. 80].

Physical description of Mao Tse-tung [p. 84].

The Communist War room for the fight against the Japanese is described [p. 85].

He contrasts the enthusiasm of the people of Yenan (not just the communists) for fighting the Japanese to the war-weariness of the people in areas controlled by Nationalists [p88-90].

He believes that Chiang Kai-shek believed the journalists would be disillusioned when they visited Yenan, but the truth is that reports going to Chiang Kai-shek gave him a false view. [p. 91]

Claims there are 18 anti-Japanese war bases with a total population of 88 million. “Those territories were liberated from the Japanese by the Communist-controlled armies in cooperation with the local people.” [p. 97] The guerrilla areas are in addition to the base areas [99-100]

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