When White Men Ruled China's Communist Party Part 2

Now comes the hard part:

How do I explain to readers how Zhou EnLai became allied with Chiang Kai Shek?  They were enemies right?  Eventually yes.  Indeed, the KMT tried to have Zhou killed more than a few times.  And on one occasion it is believed Zhou even knowingly sent some people to their deaths in order to allow CKS to believe he was himself dead. 

To be blunt, the direction of  pre Liberation China was neither in the control of Mao, CKS, Zhou or any other Chinese.  Not in the least.  Rather, the direction of China was in the control of a bunch of white men.  Men that had never been to China, much less Asia.  Men that could not speak Chinese.  Men that knew nothing of China's special "condition".    

These men knew nothing of China's Qing Dynasty.  They didn't know Kangxi, or Qianlong.  Like my boss of a decade ago who with a straight face pointed to that huge billboard in Shenzhen of Deng Xiaoping and asked out loud, "Who's that"?, these laowai had no clue of China's role in the world, or of the context of its existence within the past 5000 years. 

And yet these men effectively "ruled' China's destiny.  But their full impact would not be felt until the death of Sun Yat Sen in 1925. 

What I speak of is the Comintern.  The Comintern was the Soviet arm for seeding Communist revolutions abroad.  For creating governments friendly to the Soviet Union.  Its official name was the International Communist Movement.  The goal was to have its agents provide guidance and instruction to those governments most likely to succeed in creating a Communist Regime.

Up to a point within China it was wildly successful.  Eventually, the combination of hardship, the charisma of Mao, and the uniqueness of China would put an end to its influence. 

But in Europe during the twenties, the Comintern was the dominant force for creating governments friendly to Russia and the quickly growing Communist Movement.  And China was no exception.  

I must remind readers here that Russia WAS NOT a big fan of the Chinese Communist Party. Not until very, very late in the game did Stalin actually think the Chinese Communists could actually win in China.   After all, the Japanese not only ruled China as far down the Chang Jiang as Wuhan, but had discovered the formula for beating back a popular Communist movement within a poor country;  sheer brutality.  (Which is why Western democracies cannot defeat an Asian dictatorship, ie Vietnam)

As long as WW2 dominated China, there was no way for the Chinese Communist Party to truly standout. 

So it was that Russia put its money on the KMT.  The China of the post Qing Dynasty was nothing but a country divided up amongst various warlords.   To be cynical for a brief moment, hindsight tells us this probably would have been the best thing for Western democracies wanting to "influence" China.  A split China divided into 10 or 12 separate countries.  

And in Europe the Comintern followed up with its logic of supporting the KMT by ordering its fellow Communists to join the KMT.  As strange as that sounds.  And you know what?  They did just that. 

It turns out that Stalin had made it a condition of continual support of the KMT that they allow the Communists to join the movement.  Michael (Mikhail) Borodin led this effort.  As such, CKS while perhaps not taking orders from a laowai, certainly had to treat Borodin as an equal, and consult with him on all matters.  Mao would later have the same problem.  And why was that?  Simple enough...they were the ones with the much needed funds.  And weapons. 

(One must wonder why Zhou's affiliation with the KMT did not come back to haunt him forty years later?  Undoubtedly his experiences between the twenties and sixties cut him some slack.  You would think?)

So when Zhou returned to China he wound up working for not just the KMT, but also that "murdering villain" Chiang Kai Shek.  There are actually photos online of these two young men together.  In harmony.  Working for the betterment of China.  

CKS was himself merely the second to the Father of Modern China, Sun Yat Sen.  When he and Zhou first met he was but a year older.  Both men were barely able to shave.  Yet CKS had very, very knowingly taken a powerful position within China that without a doubt he believed would lead him to unite The Heavenly Kingdom.   And to his credit he nearly did.  It was he, after all, who either schemed or outright defeated the various warlords then dominating China into submission.   Until the rise of Japan within China itself that is.

Meanwhile Zhou comes back to China and no doubt through his sophistication, dedication to the cause of China's salvation, his experience overseas, and I think also greatly due to his connections, lands the role of working with CKS. 

It is important to note while working with the KMT as instructed by the Comintern, he was also a rising member of the Communist Party.  Still a rather fledgling outfit dominated by people he knew.  The "Elders" so to speak.  Men who had wanted him to marry their daughter, men who had funded his studies in both Europe and Japan.  He was a "made man".    Even the Comintern, that group of Russians, had given him their stamp of approval.  

And no one had heard of Mao. 

Zhou was what the Russians called "political commissar".  That is, if one has watched Hunt for Red October, or read any of Tom Clancy's early books from the 80's, one would know all too well what a thankless job this would be in an army.   It was the job of the political commissar to be certain that all leaders(including the top generals) had the proper political "spirit" or "purity" to lead the army in accordance with the far away leadership in the Capital. 

Despite their obvious lack of combat experience, these leaders were both despised and feared by the command structure within the army.  For they had channels directly to the supreme leadership.  Their recommendations were often the first step to dismissal or even charges of treason, should generals fall short of their political "duties".  

Alas, this was the army that prevailed in Russia cum 1940.  Heavy with indoctrination, low on professionalism.     The army that barely beat Finland.  The army Hitler thus became convinced he could himself defeat.

While in control of all political activities, and of course a Communist, he seeded the Political Department with his own Communist Allies.  And while CKS had been forced to accept individual Communists into his mist as the price of Soviet aid,  it appears CKS was none the wiser to the ongoing infiltration of his military academy with these Communists.

Let me stop here.  It is important to note that while Zhou was filling political jobs within the KMT with Communists, he was also by default building up his base.  His base for future power and perhaps to do his bidding.  China’s future leaders all owed their allegiance to him.  Deng Xiaoping for instance.  Which makes Zhou’s future behavior all the further mysterious.

To give credit to CKS, whom did the very same thing that Zhou was doing, he actually accomplished his goal.  Supreme Leadership of the KMT.  Unchallenged until his death.  

A fellow like Mao would’ve called those markers in.  It appears Zhou did not. But Zhou simply wasn't built that way.  

Eventually, the Soviets and CKS have a falling out in 1927.   CKS it turns out hated Westerners just as much as Mao.  In my mind, there is no doubt that CKS despised Zhou.  And maybe even had a bit of an inferiority complex towards Zhou as well.  Still, one must believe that CKS, so dependent upon Soviet Russia for aid, simply hated foreigners more than any desire to work with them.  And by this I mean the Comintern. 

It is most ironic that his future wife, Song Mei Ling, an American educated and uber sophisticated woman, would almost certainly have been a better match for Zhou than she was for CKS. Alas, her marriage to Chiang Kai Shek not only did much to greatly smoothen out his edges, but to make working with China even all that more palatable for America. 

This frees up CKS to attack Shanghai, in his quest to unify China.   Again we stop;  You see, Mao and Chiang Kai Shek indeed had the same goal.  To unify their country.  So how did Mao succeed where CKS failed?  Not just corruption.  I just believe Mao was more talented than CKS.  He had more ability.  And most importantly, he better understood China's condition.  CKS was simply surrounded by sycophants, from an early stage.  And Mao was not.  Mao's early time in the countryside was well spent.  

Meanwhile, Chiang Kai Shek probably never even saw a water buffalo. 

As for Zhou, CKS actually succeeded in having him arrested while in Shanghai.  And probably should have killed him.  Zhou's amiable personality and connections saved him.  If Zhou had been despised, he would have been killed.   But I state again, I really don't believe Zhou's living or dying in 1927 would have made one bit of difference regarding China's future path.   Once Mao arrived upon the scene, his will, his stubbornness, dictated more the future of China than anything Zhou could muster. 

So Zhou is arrested in Shanghai, freed, then runs to Russia.  The Comintern sends yet another Russian to China to “run things”.  His name is Pavel Mif.  By this time, the Nascent Communist Party is deeply under the influence of agent upon agent being sent from Russia.  Being sent by Stalin.  And Zhou is in the middle of it all.  Mao is nowhere to be seen or heard from.

The time is 1930.   And Zhou is the recognized leader of China's Communist Party. 

Mikhail Borodin.  He planned much of the KMT strategy to reunite China.  He and CKS did not get along.  He was a solid Communist, and could indeed claim the mantle of being one of Russia's early Sinologists. 


  1. Looking forward to the next installment.

    One of the great what ifs of Chinese 20th Century history is what would have happened in Sun Yat Sen have lived another 20 years or so. Maybe no Chinese Civil War? More push back against Japan. SYS was not a good political leader, and was well known for excessive interest in the ladies, but he was a very sympathetic figure around the world, due to his travels at the end of Qing Dynasty. Also, he is the only figure that was embraced by both the CCP and KMT till this day.

  2. Oh for the "What Ifs!!! I've a whole series on these, if only my dear readers would go back far enough to find them!

    You have raised a fantastic point. But let's not talk about just Sun Yat Sen....what of Lu Xun?

    Mao was very fortunate in that those leaders with Moral Authority had simply left the scene by the time of his true rise within China.

    But wait....didn't Zhou En Lai also have moral authority?

  3. If Lu Xun had lived he would have been caught up in the Hundred Flowers Campaign. Mao loved to quote Lu Xun but couldn't stand the intellectual class. Lu Xun writings on the "Chinese" are great. The fact that a Chinese writer would actually be so clear on the deficiencies of the national character is impressive.

    I agree with your view on Mao's position. In a sense he won by default, as others with Moral Authority died off. Somewhat similar to Stalin.

  4. Alas, who is the moral authority in the Heavenly Kingdom today?


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

KTV in China

The worst sex I've ever had with China Girl is with China Wife

Pros and Cons of a Chinese Wife