|Written||18 November 1912|
Source: Lenin Collected Works, Progress Publishers, 1975, Moscow, Volume 18, pages 400-401.
Progressive and civilised Europe shows no interest in the regeneration of China. Four hundred million backward Asians have attained freedom, and have awakened to political life. One quarter of the world’s population has passed, so to say, from torpor to enlightenment, movement and struggle.
But civilised Europe does not care. To this day even the French Republic has not officially recognised the Republic of China! A question on this subject is to be asked shortly in the French Chamber of Deputies.
Why this indifference on the part of Europe? The explanation is that throughout the West power is in the hands of the imperialist bourgeoisie, which is already three-quarters decayed and willing to sell all its “civilisation” to any adventurer for “stringent” measures against the workers, or for an extra five kopeks’ profit on the ruble. To this bourgeoisie, China is only booty, and now that Russia has taken Mongolia into her “tender embrace”, the Japanese, British, Germans, etc., will probably try to tear off a piece of this booty.
But China’s regeneration is making speed nevertheless. Parliamentary elections are about to be held—the first in what was a despotic state. The Lower House will have 600 members and the “Senate”, 274.
Suffrage is neither universal nor direct. It is granted only to persons above the age of 21 who have resided in the constituency for at least two years and who pay direct taxes amounting to about two rubles, or own property worth about 500 rubles. They will first vote for electors, who will elect the members of parliament.
This kind of suffrage indicates in itself that there is an alliance of the well-to-do peasantry and the bourgeoisie, there being no proletariat at all or one that is completely powerless.
The same circumstance is evident from the nature of China’s political parties. There are three main parties:
(1) The Radical-Socialist Party, which in fact has nothing at all to do with socialism, any more than our own Popular Socialists (and nine-tenths of the Socialist-Revolutionaries). It is a party of petty-bourgeois democrats, and its chief demands are political unity of China, development of trade and industry “along social lines” (just as hazy a phrase as the “labour principle” and “equalisation” of our Narodniks and Socialist-Revolutionaries), and preservation of peace.
(2) The second party is that of the liberals. They are in alliance with the Radical-Socialists and together with them constitute the National Party. This party will in all likelihood win a majority in China’s first parliament. Its leader is the well-known Dr. Sun Yat-sen. He is now drawing up a plan for a vast railway network (Russian Narodniks will please note that Sun Yat-sen is doing this in order that China may “avoid” a capitalist fate!).
(3) The third party calls itself the Republican League, an example of how deceptive political signboards can be. Actually it is a conservative party, backed chiefly by government officials, landlords and the bourgeoisie of northern China, which is the most backward part of the country. The National Party, on the other hand, is predominantly a party of the more industrially-developed and progressive southern part of the country.
The peasant masses are the mainstay of the National Party. Its leaders are intellectuals who have been educated abroad.
China’s freedom was won by an alliance of peasant democrats and the liberal bourgeoisie. Whether the peasants, who are not led by a proletarian party, will be able to retain their democratic positions against the liberals, who are only waiting for an opportunity to shift to the right, will be seen in the near future.