Originally Published 2005-02-15 12:47:22 Published on Feb 15, 2005
The Communist Party of India (Maoist), which came into existence on September 21,2004, through the merger of the Maoist Communist Centre of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist--People's War ) ,
India & China: as seen by Maoists - part II
The Communist Party of India (Maoist), which came into existence on September 21,2004, through the merger of the Maoist Communist Centre of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist--People's War ) , accuses China and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) of having betrayed Marxism-Leninism-Maoism (MLM) and the world's proletarian movement by allowing itself to be integrated into the world capitalist movement. It looks upon Deng Xiao-Ping and his successors in China as revisionists . 

In an interview given after the formation of the CPI (Maoist), Ganapathy, one of its leaders, who used to be the General Secretary of the CPI (ML-PW), said: "Relative to the 1960s and 70s, the proletarian movement is weaker. The principal reason for this is the growth of the revisionist trends worldwide and the betrayal of the national liberation movements of the 60s and the 70s. The reversals in the Soviet Union (1956) and then in China (1976) and the conversion of the Communist Party of Soviet Union (CPSU) and the CPC (Communist Party of China) into revisionist parties fuelled rightist and revisionist parties throughout the world. The restoration of capitalism in these former socialist societies and the disintegration of the socialist camp had a very negative impact on the advance of the world revolution. Utilising the situation of this setback, the imperialists went on an ideological and political offensive against communism trying to show it as being outdated and floating various new forms of dissent theories. On the other hand, most of the genuine communist revolutionary forces were in disarray and ideological and political confusion was rife with no international centre. It is these factors that have resulted in the relative weakening of the Maoist forces today. In addition, the massive, genocidal repression unleashed on all revolutionary forces (as witnessed in Indo-China, Latin America, and now Asia) further created impediments in growth. "

He added: "But today, with the conditions worldwide becoming even more horrifying and with the regrouping of genuine Maoist forces and the birth of new ones, the revolutionary situation is bound to advance. The relatively faster growth of the People's War in Nepal is a concrete example of the excellence of the revolutionary situation. If Maoist parties emerge in various countries and take concrete tactics, under a correct strategy, they are bound to advance. To do so, there is a need to correctly grasp MLM; know the nature of the imperialist era and grasp the historical task of the world working class and its vanguard parties; politically mobilise and lead the masses in the class struggles and advance the revolutionary wars to success."

In the view of the Maoists, Mao Zedong proved in China that in a largely rural and backward society, only a People's War waged by the impoverished and oppressed rural masses can bring about the liberation of the people and their capture of political power in order to abolish the instruments of oppression of the masses and bring about social and economic justice. The Chinese believe that in highlighting the role of the rural masses, Mao merely interpreted Marxism-Leninism in the light of the conditions prevailing in China and made it work there. They call his ideas Mao's Thoughts and have not elevated them to the level of a new ideology to supplement Marxism-Leninism.

On the other hand, the Maoists outside China, including those in India and Nepal, have elevated Mao's Thoughts to a new ideology applicable to rural societies and called it Maoism, a characterisation with which the Chinese do not agree. The Maoists outside China project themselves as genuine Maoists and describe the leaders of China as pseudo Maoists because of their alleged betrayal of MLM. Many of the ideas advocated by the Maoists of India and Nepal are inspired by an article written by Lin Biao on September 3,1965, titled "Long Live the Victory of People's War." They use his ideas, but not his name because of the uncomfortable fact that he allegedly tried to stage a coup against Mao himself.

The Maoists outside China accuse its post-1976 leadership of not only betraying MLM, but also of abandoning its internationalist obligations by ceasing to support the People's War being waged by the followers of Mao in different countries such as India and Nepal. They say: " The would be social-imperialist and comprador bourgeoisie of China wanted to do away with the ideological struggle in China to focus on 
economic stability and capitalist restoration. The bourgeoisie in the party only too gladly abandoned People's War and internationalist obligations, as we see in China since 1976.Today there is no socialist China to fulfill its internationalist obligations."

To quote Prachanda, Chairman and founder of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist):"For the masses there is no alternative to rebellion and revolution, given the objective background of exploitation, repression and poverty prevalent in the semi-feudal and semi-colonial countries of the Third World. In Nepal, our first effort was to correctly grasp the science of Marxism-Leninism-Maoism. For this, we strove to link ourselves with the arduous and challenging ideological struggle waged by the genuine communist revolutionaries of the world against the Chinese counter-revolution after the death of Comrade Mao Tse-tung. Taking the synthesis of the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, the highest expression of conscious class struggle, as our starting point, we delved into serious study."

The Chinese accuse the so-called Maoists of distorting Mao's Thoughts and besmirching the name of Mao by calling their indiscriminate killing of civilians a People's War. While commenting on the coup staged by King Gyanendra at a press conference at Beijing on Feb. 3, 2005, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan expressed his indignation at foreign media who call Nepal's anti-government rebels "Maoists".

What do the ordinary Chinese people feel about the Maoists of Nepal? To get an idea, I visited the online readers' forum section of the "China Daily". The following remarks recorded much before the coup are illustrative-- and illuminating:

"An ironic headline: China fights against Maoists.A Nepalese official has just returned to Nepal after a week long visit to China. During the visit, he secured promises from China to help Nepal fight against Maoist rebels.Does that seem kind of strange that China would help fight Maoists to anyone else, or is it just me? " 

"Maoists? It's rather offending to a great man and Chinese people as a whole, for the foreign news agencies to call those elements fighting their governments abroad as "Maoists".Just because Mao Zedong had once lead a great and successful guerrilla war agaist the Kuomingtang Government in the late 1940s in China?I think the words like guerrilla or anti-government fighters or extremists are more proper here."

"Yes, "Maoists".I'm not sure what you mean by "foreign news agencies," since this is a story about Nepal. Xinhua is a foreign news agency as far as the Nepalese are concerned. The Nepalese news agencies call them Maoists.Why? Because they call THEMSELVES Maoists. Their official name is the "Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist)" or CPN(Maoist). There are actually two Communist parties in Nepal, the other is called the "Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist Leninist)".I guess what I don't understand about your post, is why is it offensive to China and to Mao Zedong that these guys call themselves Maoists? They try to follow Mao Zedong thoughts, especially as it applies to building communism in an agricultural society. They study Mao's guerrilla war tactics.Why is that offensive?Why would words like "guerrilla or anti-government fighters or extremists" be better? Wasn't Mao Zedong all of those things? Well, actually, I don't know if he was "extremist" or not, but he was definitely the other two.I realize that asking "why" around here is like looking for a needle in a haystack, but I guess I'm eternally optimistic that someone will help me to better understand things."

"The irony?The true irony is that the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) authorities are now afraid of the people instead of finding their support from among them. Your classic orwellian "animal farm" case. No independent labor unions to represent workers' rights--what would Mao think about that? " 
'I like Mao. He's an original. Sure, his actions led to the deaths of tens of millions of Chinese, but it was an original effort. Unlike today's technocrats, I think he was truly striving for what he believed in. I can think of at least one guy whose only (former President) purpose is to consolidate and maintain his own power." 

"These guerrillas are self-proclaimed "liberators" of Nepal; they want to unmake the monarchy and the current parliament - they are totalitarians who only studied Mao's ideas on warfare but not on how to run a society. " 

"They are totally out of sync with reality - bad imitators of foreign idols whose actions they fail to understand.China has absolutely nothing to do with these terrorists."

"They tried to bomb the U.S. Cultural Center in Kathmandu, and now India is also pledging to help Nepal fight against them.Interesting to see China and India on the same side on this!"

"Maoists? Most Chinese feel offended by the "Maoists" because of the following: 1. It is mistaking (misleading) many people in the world that China supports those rebels, which is not true. I guess the rebels do expect China's support, but be realistic, it will never happen; 2. Mao fought foreign invaders, and war lords who split China into pieces. Mao was the one who helped China get out of 100 years of wars into peace. These rebels push the country, Nepal, into war, and terrorism from peace. They are nothing even closer to Mao; 3. Mao fought for a better country and better life for the people, Mao never did anything like setting bombs in public to kill average people. Those who set bombs in public are terrrorists, not Maoists." 

The Chinese attitude towards the Maoists of Nepal was marked by an ambivalence before the 9/11 terrorist strikes by Al Qaeda in the US. After 9/11, the Chinese authorities made determined efforts to bring the activities of the various Uighur separatist and jihadi terrorist groups in the Xinjiang region of China within the ambit of the so-called war against terrorism. While so doing, they realised that they could no longer avoid taking a stand against the acts of terrorism by the Maoists of Nepal. Despite this, their open and direct criticism of the activities of the Maoists have been few and far between, vague and carefully nuanced.

At a press conference addressed by a spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Office on November 29,2001, he was asked: "Does China have any plan to provide military assistance to Nepal in the fight against the Maoists?" He replied as follows: "China has closely followed the situation in Nepal. As its friendly neighbour, we hope and believe that, under the leadership of the Nepalese King and Government, Nepal will maintain peace, stability and development. In our relations with Nepal, we always adhere to the principle of non-interference in each other's internal affairs. We trust that the Nepalese Government will properly handle its own affairs." He thus avoided any direct comments on the violent activities of the Maoists. 

In July,2002, King Gyanendra visited Beijing and met the then President Jiang Zemin and other Chinese leaders. While the Reuters news agency, in its report on the King's talks with Jiang, stated that Jiang told the King that China opposed terrorism, the "People's Daily", the official organ of the Chinese Communit Party, reported that Jiang told the King that "China supports the efforts of King Gyanendra and the Nepali government in cracking down on armed anti-government forces." Neither the terrorists nor the armed anti-Government forces were identified as Maoists.

In June,2004, Gen.Pyar Jung Thapa, Nepal's Chief of the Army Staff, visited Beijing. On his return to Kathmandu, he told the local journalists that he and his Chinese counterparts had agreed to enhance security cooperation. This would extend to the military campaign against the Maoists, he claimed. However, the Chinese media itself did not refer to this.

At a press conference held by Kong Quan, spokesman of the Chinese Foreign Office, at Beijing on February 3,2005, there were questions relating to the coup staged by the King. It would be useful to give a verbatim quotation from the transcript of the press conference as put out by the Chinese diplomatic missions abroad .

Question: " UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's spokesperson said this week that Mr. Annan was much concerned about Nepalese King's announcement of government dismissal and state of emergency on Tuesday, which restricted citizens' freedom of speech. He believed it would not bring about lasting peace and stability to Nepal. In China's view, do you think the criticisms of Nepalese King's behavior made by Secretary General and other people interfered with the internal affairs of a country or miscalculated the situation of Nepal?"

Answer: "Different parties made comments on the latest development in Nepal, expressing their views and opinions. That's what we have also noticed. But as a close neighbor of Nepal or South Asian countries, we believe the current peace, stability and development are of great significance. We sincerely hope the Nepalese people can develop their own country with national reconciliation and social stability. In essence, these matters should be decided by the Nepalese people themselves. What we can do is to sincerely wish them social stability, economic development, national reconciliation and steady progress of their nation."

Question: "What's China's view on the insurgency in Nepal? Does China regard the insurgent group in Nepal as terrorists, for they caused a lot of instabilities? "

Answer: "No country is willing to see social disturbance at home. So I said just now, as a friendly neighbor, we hope Nepal can achieve its national reconciliation, social progress and economic development."

Question: "The insurgent groups in Nepal are called Maoists. Mao Zedong is a great Chinese leader. Does China feel uncomfortable to know that an insurgent group believing Mao Zedong Thoughts causes social instability in Nepal?"

Answer: "When this question was asked last year and the year before last, I said that this group had nothing to do with China, and we felt indignant that they usurped the name of Mao Zedong, the great leader of the Chinese people."

15. While supporting the Nepalese Government's counter-insurgency operations and condemning terrorism in general, one could, at the same time, sense a careful attempt to avoid describing the armed anti-Government forces as terrorists. The Chinese have carefully avoided any remarks, which could be interpreted either as an endorsement or as a criticism of the King's action. Their statement on the King's action has been full of carefully formulated generalities.

16. It is also significant to note that while the Maoists of Nepal, India and other South Asian countries have been critical of the Chinese Communist Party and its present leadership at the ideological level, they are scrupulously avoiding any criticism of the Chinese State and its policies on any issue. As against this, they do not spare any opportunity to criticise India in the most virulent terms--- whether the issue is India's supply of military equipment to Nepal for counter-insurgency purposes, the exchange of visits by the leaders of the two countries, India's relations with the USA, the training of US special forces in the Indian Army's counter-insurgency school in Mizoram, visit of Indian businessmen to Iraq, the recruitment of Indian workers by Western and Kuwaiti private companies in Iraq etc.

17. In their assessment, of all the Maoist parties in the South Asian region, the CPN (Maoist) has made the maximum progress in its People's War and its success would give a momentum to the armed struggles of the Maoists of other countries. They see India as possibly the most important obstacle in the way of the ultimate victory of the Nepalese Maoists. In their calculation, they would need China to deter any Indian intervention in Nepal should the Maoists capture power in Kathmandu. Hence, the need to maintain good relations with the Chinese State despite the ideological differences with the Chinese Communist Party. (12-2-05)

The writer is Additional Secretary (retd), Cabinet Secretariat, Govt. of India, New Delhi and, presently, Director, Institute For Topical Studies, Chennai, and Distinguished Fellow and Convenor, Observer Research Foundation (ORF), Chennai Chapter. E-mail: [email protected]

* Views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Observer Research Foundation.
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