September 30, 2009


(Mao-tse Tung - mistaken for harmless)

October marks the 60th anniversary of the establishment of the People's Republic of China (October 1, 1949). The China of today bears little resemblance to the China of 1949, or even 1989.

In 1945, just days before the end of World War 2, Russia entered the war against the Japanese and declared a Treaty of Alliance with China. But the China of 1945 was under the control of Chiang-Kai Shek, regarded by some as a Military dictatorship more than a democracy, and the Communists, led by Mao-tse Tung had control of a very small section of Northwestern China. It was initially thought the treaty would bring about a peaceful coexistence between the Nationalist government of Shek and the Communist insurgents of Mao.

Or as the League Of Nations website explains it:

T.V. Soong, Premier of the Nationalist Chinese government, signed a Treaty of Friendship and Alliance with the Soviet government. In exchange for Soviet recognition of the Nationalist Chinese government, the Nationalist Chinese agreed to the independence of Outer Mongolia, gave the Soviets joint 30-year ownership of the Manchurian Railway and the port of Dalian (Darien), and agreed to the conversion of Lushun (Port Arthur) into a Chinese-Soviet naval base. This treaty formalized Nationalist Chinese consent to the Allied concessions granted to the Soviets at the Yalta Conference.

Well, as history has proven, that good idea didn't work out very well.

On September 2, 1945, the day of Japanese Surrender was signed, The University of Chicago Roundtable hosted a debate between John Powell and Agnes Smedley, both ardent China observers who had spent considerable time covering the war in the Far-East. Their views differed greatly.

Agnes Smedley: “I believe this treaty of alliance must have been, in part originated by the San Francisco Security Council. You remember when the question of Independence of Colonial Peoples came up, that America sided with Britain and voted down the idea of Independence of Colonial peoples, and China and Russia stood together. That won for Russia the sympathy of peoples throughout Asia.

John Powell: “Do you think then, that the United States, for practical politics has in part reversed it’s position?”

Smedley: “I think it is very unfortunate that we took such a stand and that we sacrificed the sympathy of people who believe that, as our soldiers have believed that this war was a war of human liberation and democracy and not a war of Imperialism. And so I think that we have perhaps now partially turned around and are rectifying that mistake at least in regard to China, which has not been entirely independent. And we have aided China and Russia in bringing . . in implementing this treaty of Alliance.”

An interesting debate, considering the unfolding of events over the next few years.

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