The world was trying to recover from a world war right at the time the Nationalists were trying to prepare China for a constitutional form of government. Chiang had set May 5, 1946, as the first meeting of the Chinese National Assembly in which all parties were to take part. Seeing an opportunity to upset the unification and democratization of China, the Communists started a war in Manchuria. US diplomats had planned the United Nations to preserve world peace and had insisted from the beginning that the Red leaders were potentially peaceful and had no territorial ambitions. Assuming this the UN denounced Chiang for resisting the Chinese Reds. They accused Chiang of creating new world tensions. The US sent General George Marshall to China to stop the civil war.
With UN appeasement the Chinese Communists felt free to make demands of any new government that was to assume leadership in China. The Communists demanded a coalition government but insisted on keeping their own private army. The wanted a voice in the government of all China, but would not allow the central government to have a voice in the affairs of Communist-occupied areas of China. They agreed to cease fire and then launched aggressive attacks as soon as it served their own advantage to do so. They agreed to help set up a State Council representing all parties and then advised at the last moment that they would not participate. When the date for the first National Assembly was postponed so the Communists could participate, they used it as an excuse to accuse Chiang Kai-shek of setting a new date without proper authorization. After a second postponement, with the Communists still refusing to participate, the National Assembly finally convened on November 15, 1946. A democratic constitution was approved and adopted on Christmas Day. The Communists would have no part of it. This was part of the Communist ‘play book’…to disrupt any attempt at a democratic society. Chiang Kai-shek became convinced that the Communists would never negotiate a peaceful settlement but were out to control the whole domain of China by military conquest. He believed that the Communists could never represent the interests of China because their policies were created and imposed upon them by Moscow.
As would seem today, US diplomatic strategists were the last to be convinced about Communist goals in China, and then only after the Chinese mainland had been lost. Furthermore, Chiang could not convince the US diplomatic corps that he was justified in striking back when the Communists attacked him. When he tried to regain the territory recently seized by Communists, it was described in Washington as ‘inexcusable aggression’. In the summer of 1946 with the Communists repeatedly violating the truce agreement, the Nationalists decided to counterattack. Diplomats ordered Chiang to stop, but he refused to do so. He said another truce would only give the Communists time to regroup and strike back. Chiang said it was his intention to continue the campaign to forcibly disarm the Communists and restore them to civilian status so that China could get on with her program of constitutional government without fear of constant insurrection. The US State Department did not agree. Now this makes me wonder how many of the Communists who had infiltrated our government were now ‘pulling the strings’ in the decision process? The US even placed an embargo on China. The Communists could not have asked for a more timely gift. (Some in our government seem to be adept at making such gifts…Afghanistan.) This embargo proved a great boon to the Communists as Soviet aid continued to pour in. While the Nationalists were being held down by US diplomatic pressure, the Communists regrouped their forces and prepared for the all-out campaign which later proved fatal to China. (Much of the China we have to deal with today can be credited to US foreign policy at the time.) Congress did finally force through an ‘Aid to China’ bill, but actual delivery of goods was not processed in time to be of any significant assistance. From 1947 on, the morale of the Nationalist army disintegrated. It seemed to Chinese military leaders that they were victims of Communist aggression on the one hand and the victims of a total lack of insight by US and British diplomats on the other.
There were many leaders in the United States Government who were completely dissatisfied with the way the Chinese Civil War had been handled. In the summer of 1947 General Wedemeyer was sent under Presidential orders to find out what was wrong in China. His report was very critical of General Marshall and the diplomatic corps. Our leadership had handed over the situation to the Communists. (Sounds familiar.) His report fell into the hands of the very people he criticized and it was buried in files until it was too late to act upon. By September 1949, the Communists were celebrating their victory in the “People’s Republic of China” while what was left of the Nationalist army fled to Formosa.
Now we can see what happened in China is very much like what happened recently in Afghanistan. The fall of free China produced a wave of boiling indignation throughout the United States. Chiang and America’s interest had suffered catastrophic defeat. There was widespread demand for the facts. The men who had engineered the fatal Chinese policy quickly collaborated on a report designed to justify their handling of America’s interests in the Far East. One critic of the report was America’s ambassador to China during the critical period…Dr. John Leighton Stuart. He was a former missionary to China and was president of Yenching University. He criticized himself for having been so blind to Communist activities and condemned his colleagues for trying to cover up their mistakes. Dr. Stuart declared: “We Americans , who were carrying out the China policy, mainly saw the good things about the Chinese Communists, while not noticing carefully the intolerance, bigotry, deception, disregard for human life, and other evils which seem to be inherent in any totalitarian system. We kept Communist meanings for such adjectives as progressive, democratic, liberal, also bourgeois, reactionary, imperialistic, as they intended we should do…we cannot escape a part of the responsibility of the great catastrophe…for China, America, and the free world.”
As Christians we must be willing to work, and we must be willing to engage the enemy, not with swords and spears, but rather with truth and ideas that are based on the Word of God. We must stand up, speak up, and refuse to give up. When church leadership is unwilling to deliver the message of truth from the pulpit for fear of offending someone, that church is in trouble. This week I have touched on political situations where politicians chose to see only the best in a situation where evil lived. Church leadership remained silent behind the comfort of the church walls while millions of Chinese died or lost their freedom due to leadership not wanting to cause any ‘waves’.
Next week we will continue to follow the persistence of the Communists to attain their goals. As we follow this persistence we must remember that one Communist target is the church. Today church attendance is in decline and citizens who have freedom due to foundation Christian principles are now giving up on those principles to follow a life of pleasure. Will you come to church one Sunday and find a pad lock on the door? That is what the long term plan of the Communist includes.
“Our purpose for living is not to gain wealth and fame, to be self-centered, but to use our abilities and time to fulfill the will of God. We are to find the adventure, excitement, and drama inherent in His call rather than to waste time in self-indulgence.” (Hope in a Chaotic World, Ray C. Stedman)