The Vance Mission to China

August 8, 1977

Secretary of State Cyrus Vance is due to leave on a mission to China in the latter part of August. Not much has been written about it in the U.S. capitalist press. However, a deluge of propaganda emanating from the State Department and the White House will surely descend upon the American people should his scheduled visit to China actually take place.

The Carter administration, like the earlier Ford and Nixon administrations, has banked heavily on what it apparently sees as an irrevocable anti-Soviet position on the part of China. This is the cornerstone and the foundation for the rapprochement between the U.S. and the People's Republic of China. So heavily has the U.S. imperialist establishment counted on the anti-Soviet orientation of Chinese foreign policy, as it has been pursued since the middle 1960s, that China's continued adherence to the U.S. rapprochement has virtually been taken for granted.

Teng Hsiao-ping's reemergence to power has substantially added weight to this assumption.


Not all segments of the ruling class are in agreement about how solid the U.S.-China rapprochement is today or how it will be after the Vance mission. However, the Washington Post, which frequently speaks in an unofficial capacity for the Carter administration, carried an editorial on Aug. 2 which underlines how strong the feeling is in some ruling class summits that People's China is all but in the pocket of the U.S.

"There is now an American consensus," says the Post, "shared even on the right by those with scant sympathy for Peking, that, whatever happened in the past, there is no longer any reason to consider China a menace to [the imperialist interests of -- S.M.] the United States. Aside from Taiwan, the two governments have little to disagree about. In the 1970s," says the Post, China's alleged "fear of Russia, and the United States' perception that it could use Peking to keep pressure on Moscow and to enhance stability throughout Asia, produced an accommodation. [Our emphasis.] The two agreed in effect to postpone the Taiwan question in order to enjoy benefits on other levels. [But China did not! -- S.M.]...

"Mr. Teng's rise," says the Post, "confirms an economic and political interest [in the U.S. -- S.M.] on China's part [along with] the existing strategic rationale for a close Chinese tie to Washington."

The Post is happy that it will be "Mr. Teng, who received President Ford, as well as Party Chairman Hua Kuo-feng, who will be there to receive the Secretary."

Along with the rest of the capitalist press, this organ of high finance recognizes what Maoist adherents close their eyes to -- that the rise of Teng will, as the Post puts it, "not only reduce the so-called disruptions of the Cultural Revolution but will introduce a host of moderate 'capitalist road' policies requiring good relations with the industrialized [imperialist] democracies."

Of course, the ouster of the leading Maoist group, of Chiang Ching, Yao Wen-yuan, Chang Chun-chiao, and Wang Hung-wen, is applauded by the Post and is one of the signs indicating that the Cultural Revolution has run its course.


While much of what the Post says is, of course, undeniably true, their basic assumption is geared to bourgeois geopolitical and strictly contemporaneous political and diplomatic issues. It carefully avoids the fundamental class issue. For while it is incontestably true that the swing to the right in China may facilitate and strengthen the U.S.-China anti-Soviet alliance, it is not altogether inevitable if one takes the longer perspective of history and views the rightist triumph in China as mere political reaction -- deep-going political reaction, of course, but not a fundamental change in class structure.

China still remains a socialist country with a mode of production which, however it may vary in certain attributes from the Soviet system, is nevertheless of the same social and class character. And this is what the ruling class as a whole does not easily forget. Far from it.

Their irreconcilable hostility to the social system may appear to be of a minimal character today as compared with the never-ending, vitriolic attacks against the Soviet Union. But that is due strictly to the diplomatic posture the U.S. has taken to China ever since the end of the Cultural Revolution, at which time the fierce and unbridled character of the anti-China campaign began to slow down.

The basic social irreconcilability towards socialist construction in China and the development of a socialist system is a permanent feature of ruling class orientation. It would be a grave mistake to overlook this.

It is one thing to make a specific current appraisal of ruling class policy regarding this or that social phenomenon at a given time. It is an entirely different matter to correctly appraise the objective orientation of the ruling class towards social phenomena, such as the working class as a whole, the oppressed people as a whole, and socialist countries as a whole.

Here the objective orientation of imperialism is quite clear. It is to undermine them, obstruct their development, and if possible to subvert and ruin them.


It is interesting to note that the Washington Post, unquestionably mouthing the thoughts either of the State Department or some other grouping in the capitalist establishment, goes so far as to almost throw the Shanghai communique into the dustbin of history. "Aside from Taiwan." it says, "the two governments have little to disagree about." But Taiwan is a crucial issue! It is much more crucial now than it was before.

The new rightist elements in the Chinese leadership, who are by no means too securely fastened to their new positions even though the Cultural Revolution has run its course, must show some gains to the masses. And nothing would be more important to them than to finally get the U.S. to agree to surrender the Chinese province of Taiwan, as promised in the Shanghai communique, whose implementation is now several years overdue.

That Taiwan is of crucial significance is recognized by A. Doak Barnett, one of the principal "China watchers" for the U.S. foreign policy establishment. In an article in the Wall Street Journal of Aug. 8 he argues that the U. S., should honor its commitment on the return of Taiwan. Not altogether, he hastens to add, but something in the nature of the type of relationship that Japan and China have developed.

But even he, bearing in mind the Sino-U.S. accommodation, does not propose an immediate and full return of Taiwan to People's Republic of China (PRC) jurisdiction and sovereignty. His whole course of argumentation (which is calculated to persuade leading bourgeois public opinion), is that while the U.S. must give in to China to some extent on Taiwan, this is not based on the fact that Taiwan has always been considered a province of China. Nor does he ever mention that it is "morally right" to return that which doesn't belong to the U.S. multinational corporations.

His argument is based on altogether different grounds.

He expresses the fear that unless some new accommodation is made with China, one which "upgrades" the present relationship, "Chinese leaders will probably conclude that the U.S. does not take them seriously. They are then very likely to move in new directions. Several trends are very possible, even probable."

Which ones?

"Chinese leaders," Doak argues, "will probably probe more seriously than Mao was ever prepared to do, the possibilities for limited detente with the Soviet Union."


This thought has been an ever-present nightmare to the U.S. ruling class. They see that there is a possibility, even if it does not seem very probable under the present circumstances, that China may veer back to a limited understanding with the USSR. The reasons lie deep in the basically analogous social structures that characterize the USSR and China.

Both have planned economies with public ownership of the basic means of production. Both have the same sociological and class foundations. And from an objective point of view, from the viewpoint of their historical evolution, both are hostile to imperialism and bourgeois monopolist class domination.

It is therefore not at all inconceivable that China may want to break away eventually from the pro-imperialist position it has taken in recent years.

From this vantage point, Taiwan figures very much in the calculations of the bourgeoisie, especially if they consider it not from the point of view of geopolitics, but from the viewpoint of the raging struggle of two world social systems. If Taiwan were to be returned to China's full sovereignty and jurisdiction, it would ultimately strengthen socialist development in China, even though at the beginning it would be a tremendous political burden because it would be necessary for China to integrate into its social system what is at present in Taiwan a bourgeois social order based on capitalist relations and supported by imperialist arms.

Transforming the social relations of Taiwan from bourgeois to socialist and integrating the Taiwanese into the social structure of China would be a formidable problem. It could pose many political risks unless it had tremendous revolutionary support backed up by a readiness for popular insurrection against the current puppets in Taiwan.

The mass revolutionary sentiment which existed in the days following the victory of the Chinese Revolution in 1949 does not seem to be the case at the present time. It will take some doing to reawaken the revolutionary spirit.


U.S. imperialism needs Taiwan as a lever to exert pressure against the PRC. Like the Ford-Kissinger administration, the Carter administration up until today at least seems to be sold on the idea that in order to maintain China's anti-Soviet hostility it is necessary to hold Taiwan or at least to the extent that bourgeois relations are maintained there, that economic ties to imperialism exist, and that it should in effect be an enlarged Hong Kong for a long time rather than become a socialist province of the PRC.

Another section of the ruling class argues, as does Doak, that unless Taiwan is returned and the Shanghai communique lived up to, within certain limitations, China will seek at least a limited accord with the USSR.

This is the dilemma of U.S. imperialism. To return Taiwan altogether is to "trust the Communists" albeit revisionists, to carry out an anti-Soviet, anti-socialist, pro-imperialist alliance. Once Taiwan is firmly in the hands of the PRC, U.S. imperialism runs the risk of having lost a fundamental lever in the struggle against the PRC to maintain the anti-Soviet alliance.

It follows from this that as a matter of policy based upon the socialist interests of the working class and the oppressed people, China's demand for the return of Taiwan as a socialist province of China is wholly consistent with proletarian internationalism, with the interests of the PRC, and with that of all the socialist countries.

Notwithstanding the current hostile and utterly repulsive pro-imperialist position of the Chinese leadership, the issue of Taiwan is an issue which touches the fundamental socialist interests of the Chinese people.

The demand on the part of American workers should be clearly and unequivocally for the restoration of China's right to the province of Taiwan.

* The Washington Post is a scab newspaper that recently broke the pressmen's union and sent several union leaders to Jail. We quote from it merely to indicate the source of our information.

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