The New China

(China: New Age and New Outlook, by Ping-chia Kuo, 231 pages, Knopf, $3.75

When the men in the Kremlin brought the gigantic Stalin-idol crashing down last month, many Western observers immediately looked to Red China as the place where the demise of "Big Brother" might have its most subversive effect. To date, however, there is scant evidence that "Little Brother" Mao Tse-tung has suffered at all from his sudden relegation to the status of an only child. This book, although written a year ago while Stalin was still God, might well be dedicated to any die-hard anti-Communists who still expect to hear momentarily that the Peking regime has been overthrown. While they wait, such people should read China: New Age and New Outlook. It will bring them back to reality in a hurry.

The power of Mao Tse-tung is virtually immune to anti-Stalinism, according to Harvard-educated Ping-chia Kuo, because Mao has never allowed his followers to build around him the kind of leadership cult that apotheosized Stalin or, before him, Nationalist China's Sun Yat-sen. "The Chinese people are more rational than religious," the author writes, and "Mao understands the temperament of the Chinese too well to attempt the role of a Fuhrer." Kuo obviously gets carried away when he talks of the "basic humanism" and "tolerance" of the Chinese Communist regime and its "democratic spirit at the top." Nonetheless, his description of the "collective leadership" that Mao has fostered at Peking is very enlightening, especially since it suggests that the present rulers of Russia have been emulating their Chinese counterparts, instead of vice versa.

Kuo, a native Chinese who won his Master's and Doctor's degrees in history at Harvard, served until 1945 as a high official in the Nationalist government of Chiang Kai-shek, and has now retired to California. His book centers on one all-important fact about the Chinese Communist regime: that it is here to stay. Writing in a colorless but lucid style, the author first describes how, during the 1930's, the Communists managed to win the active support of China's peasantry, thus succeeding where Chiang Kai-shek's Kuomintang party had failed. Interesting, ableit somewhat chilling to an American, are the farsighted measures make sure that Peking is taking now in order to make sure that China's latest dynasty will not be short-lived in comparison with its predecessors (which averaged 250 years each). These steps include maintenance of a standing army of up to 20 million men, emphasis on the intensive indoctrination of youth ("The Communists openly state that they have no use for people over thirty"), complete collectivization of land to prevent the rise of a new landlord class, and development of an industrialized, proletarianized North China that could easily put down any revolt occurring in the agricultural South.

Moving from the cold facts of Peking's internal policy to the balmy realm of hypothetical diplomacy, Kuo proceeds to shed his objectivity like a topcoat. In regard to the present "power balance" in Asia, the author's unabashed delight in the pre-eminence that China has achieved under Communist rule often verges on the chauvinistic. Although Kuo admits that China and the United States came breathlessly close to war in 1954, when Chou Enlai's own brand of "brinkmanship" succeeded in "stretching the peace in Asia almost to the breaking-point," he confidently assures the reader that Peking has since reversed its policy to one of con-

Yet in a backhand way, what Kuo says about international relations is just as enlightening as his more factual description of Red China's internal development. The case of the author himself--a Western-educated, former Nationalist Chinese who now sees the Red regime in a rather uncritical light and positively basks in its international power--affords the best proof possible of one of the book's main points: that "the fundamental force motivating Communist China's new role in international affairs is her militant nationalism."


If anti-Communist Chinese like Kuo feel well-disposed toward the Peking regime, the United States can be more certain than ever that that government will endure. On the brighter side of the coin, however, the West should observe that the Chinese nationalism that moves Kuo to support Peking is quite different from the world communism on which the current Sino-Soviet alliance is based. Consequently there exists a good chance that at some point in the future the paths of Moscow and Peking will divege. One hopes that this event will not occur simply because there are no free nations left to be conquered.

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