Editor in Chief: Moh. Reza Huwaida Monday, January 25th, 2021

At 70, is China still a challenge for America?


At 70, is China still  a challenge for America?

The present day People’s Republic of China (PRC) was born on October 1, 1949, after a long mass struggle/movement which paved the way for  development of Marxist-Leninist ideology in the region and beyond. It witnessed the end of Chinese civil war and establishment of a Communist rule. In the affairs of China India kept herself non-partisan and Nehru, in his note to the then Ambassador of China suggested ‘The situation is difficult because of the civil war that is going on. While maintaining close and friendly relations with Chiang Kai-shek’s Government, should not allow himself to become a partisan in the civil conflict. However, turning China red and the dramatic events were hardly a favourable sign for India because they had not only skewed the Asian balance of power in favour of the apparently monolithic Communist world, but had, with the Chinese occupation of Tibet, brought a dynamic and an unfriendly Communist state to the very doors of India. The situation became more delicate as a formal alliance with the West was excluded in view of the forthright decision of the government to make non-alignment its article of faith. An alliance with the Communist world was equally impossible due to the profound ideological and political  gap that separated those who were in power in India from those who were the decision-makers in Communist countries.  In response to the need there arose a broad consensus among the Indian decision-makers to deploy different efforts to face the new situation.
Background of Chinese power
To meet the new threat India adopted a two-pronged policy -on the one hand it decided to bring about a modest improvement in country’s defences and advocated a way of befriending the Chinese, on the other. In pursuance of its first strategy new treaties were negotiated with the Himalayan states of Bhutan (1949), Sikkim (1950) and Nepal (1951). Discreet steps were taken to improve communications throughout the mountainous tribal areas, to increase the number of check-posts in the middle sector, and to extend the rudiments of effective administration in the North-East Frontier Agency right up to the McMahon line. Most of these steps were primarily diplomatic, administrative and police and aimed to bring about an improvement in India’s defence system.The above defence- related steps proved unable in satisfying the minds of Indian people at large and there appeared a general consensus among the decision-makers that political rapprochement with the Communist world was really the only rational substitute for any military confrontation. It was in this background that a diplomatic offensive was launched to seek some normalisation with the Communist countries. China, being geographically and spiritually nearer to India became the first objective of Indian diplomacy. Nehru cherished hopes of making friendship with China. His faith in a resurgent Asia, free from the domination of Europe and America was strong. He demanded the admission of Peking into the United Nations, insisted on the return of Formosa to the People’s Republic, and declined to accept the invitation of the United States to go to San Francisco to sign the Japanese Peace treaty only because the China had refused to accept the American draft treaty. Very soon the single minded policy began to pay off and it became increasingly evident that Peking was slowly abandoning its belligerent line. But India’s refusal to sign the Japanese peace treaty was welcomed by the Chinese press editorially which expressed the view that such an action proved ‘that the age was past when imperialist governments can do whatever they please.’ Peking also appreciated India’s determination to adopt an independent line on many controversial issues concerning China in international affairs.
Challenged ideologically in Asia
Modern people’s Republic of China emerged as a result of the civil war between Ideologist as well as the nationalist forces of the country. In the period of internal clash to rule over China the nationalist forces were supported by the United States of America, a group which stood opposite to the Communist party. Several fact-finding missions and experts were sent to China by the US, who, despite admitted corrupt practices in the Chinese National Government of Kuomintang pleaded in favour of supporting them politically, morally and financially. They suggested.’it is highly preferable that the United States have a free, though immoral Government in China than to have a hostile Government- no matter how pure and moral- dominated by Communist influences.’ The Nationalists gained a good deal of military successes practically till the end of the first half of 1948, but by spring 1949 the Communists strengthened their rural mass base and were in full control of North China. Mao Tse-tung, the supreme leader of the Communist party of China appeared confident, of establishing the people’s Republic. He declared after the Communists convened the people’s political Consultative Conference in September 1949, ‘our nation will never again be an insulted nation. We have stood up.’ On 1, October 1949, ‘People’s Government started its affairs and Chiang Kai-shek took his Government to the island of Formosa (Taiwan) to survive as the so- called legitimate government of China under the American patronage and protection.To the surprise of none the new regime of China was aimed to spread Maoist radicalism in the non-communist countries and it necessitated apposition to the West and the US in particular. As the new dispensation owed some differences on several issues with the USSR, it required co-existence with numerous middle powers on the basis of expediency. Chinese aid was given principally to Peking - oriented parties which were expected to remain faithful to Maoist principles of strategy and accept Peking’s guidance.  According to the steps already decided the advanced capitalist states, especially the US, were alleged to express their class character by pursuing aggressive policies against China and the Asian Communist movements. Peking was happy to counter US and its interventionist activities and by increasing China’s own armed strength to make it a more significant deterrent. On the other with a view to cultivate intimate relations with the neutral countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America Peking signed treaties of mutual non-aggression or friendship with Burma, Nepal, Afghanistan, Guinea, Cambodia, Indonesia etc. and settled outstanding differences with them through diplomatic channels. As a supplement China also strengthened its cultural relations with a large number of foreign countries and used economic weapon to further its interests.
Role of Sino-Soviet co-operation
Basically Chinese leaders believed in Marxian –Leninist ideology and stood for proletarian internationalism. For the attainment of this objective they thought it desirable to establish intimate relations with other Communist powers, especially the Soviet Union. In this period China tried to maintain her revolutionary fervour in internal and external affairs and propounded the new doctrines of ‘the inevitability of war’ and ‘permanent revolution’. The importance of the Sino–Soviet cooperation was acknowledged by different Chinese leaders who asserted that the unity of the two could play an extremely important role in the unity of peoples of the world. Thus, when the Chinese Communist leaders began to build up a Socialist system in early years, they were evidently agreed that the Soviet Union should be accepted as a model.
Death of Stalin in 1953 witnessed some ideological dilution in Soviet policy which included “revisionism” and “peaceful Co-existence”. Chinese viewed these concepts as basic change in Soviet policy. They considered it grave and fundamental danger and total hostility towards the USSR was viewed as the only correct response. As a result in sphere of ideology Peking decided to work as effectively as possible against the Soviet diplomacy in the developing areas which allegedly seek to advance Moscow’s great power aims at the expense of the national Communist movements. Chinese associated the struggle against revisionism as their duty in order to establish friendship and cooperation with other Socialist states that evidenced the intensity of Chinese hostility towards the USSR.
“Peaceful Co-existence” as Chinese consider, is a line of diplomacy that facilitates expedient compromises and settlements with the imperialists and their allies. The diplomacy itself carries formal commitment to certain principles which concern the regime’s dealings with other governments and there is no justification of another peaceful co-existence if the theme of diplomacy is taken into account. Thus in the post-1953 period Chinese leaders were evidently unwilling to recognise  that Stalin’s ideological authority had passed to the USSR’s unstable collective leadership. They disapproved Khrushchev’s liberalisation in the USSR and his new foreign policy which stressed co-existence with the West and the promotion of Communism in the Third World by peaceful methods. In spite of public respect for Moscow’s leadership China’s government accelerated extraordinary new programme of Socialist economic development, apparently in the hope of demonstrating that the regime had a superior dynamism with a view to give great inspiration to Communist movements in Asia and elsewhere.

Dr. Rajkumar Singh is University Professor and presently Head of the P.G. Department of Political Science, B.N.Mandal University, West Campus, P.G. Centre,Saharsa (Bihar), India. He can be reached at Email-rajkumarsinghpg@yahoo.com

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