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tv   Book Discussion on China 1945  CSPAN  February 16, 2015 7:00am-8:00am EST

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e the pillsbury dream is gwen ifill or bill o'reilly asks all the candidates what about this book, the hundred year marathon, have you read that? and the candidate says no what book is that? then we're off and running. talking about the pillsburpillsbur y dream. >> you can watch this and other programs online at booktv.org. up next on booktv richard bernstein, "time" magazine's first beijing bureau chief reports the relationship between the united states and china shifted from several the hostel in 1945 when the chinese decided to align themselves with the soviet union. this is about one hour. >> thank you. i'm double the glad to be here. next time if i ever have the honor of being invited back to politics and prose i will know it is not near the woodley park metro stop. [laughter] somebody misinforming but as an old journalist i'm supposed to have two sources and i relied on
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only one. for a while i didn't think i was going to make it. thank you all for coming. and again thank you to politics and prose for having me. one of kind of a standard tropes of publishing the book is that you have to answer the question why did you write about this topic in the first place. and you are supposed to a thoughtful answer about how you've had a lifelong interest in this topic and you've always dreamed about exploring it more deeply. in fact, this topic was supposed to be by my publisher. i have had a lifelong interest in china, almost a lifelong interest, having studied it studied chinese going back many many years and having lived there for a few years as the "time" magazine correspondent their, and traveled to there. even today i go almost every
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year. but it was my publisher actually. i finished my previous book and he asked me to pick a year and write a book about in china. and so started looking through years, and i thought about 1938. that's a very interesting year in china. 1944 the year that joseph stilwell was kicked out of china by jiang kai-shek but a historian named barbara took care of that topic forever. and so i stood looking at 1945 a few months before the end of world war ii and the few months after the end of world war ii. and i realized as i was looking into it two things. one, that is a damn good topic, and really and truly a seminal watershed moment in american history as well as in chinese history that i like to think of
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this book in what almost more american history than chinese history. and number two, that there was a certain prevailing conventional wisdom about what happened at that time. and i thought when i started working on the book that i was going to write a book that would substantiate that conventional wisdom, but i wish is going to write it in a very readable way bringing all these this incredible cast of characters to life, very colorful cast of characters but it was would have much new interpretive only to say. the more i got into it the more, not to put too fine a point on it i decided that everybody would read about this topic before me was wrong. [laughter] including the aforementioned barbara tuchman. i know that that's an outrageous and pretentious a statement and i make it only half seriously but have seriously is half
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seriously. it's not entirely in jest. there are many many ways in which as i get more deeply into the topic and looked at the materials, puzzled at the context, i did feel that a number of the things that i had believed certainly up to that point really did need pretty substantial revision. so i have, and i could list a whole bunch of what i think are a common misperceptions, not only about that year but about america's relations with china and the situation the united states found itself in during that time just before and just after the end of world war ii. just one minute to kind of set the scene for those of you who are not familiar with that time
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we were in the war because the japanese had invaded china. our major goal in the pacific theater of the war was to check the japanese out of china, defeated the japanese. and then insofar as people really thought carefully about it and the were people who are thinking about it it was was kind of a secondary theater during the war. europe came first. the goal was for there to be a democratic pro-american, friendly china. now, this might have a familiar and the problem was that the chinese government led by jiang kai-shek, had been at war for eight launchers can have become autocratic or still autocratic and is losing popularity. there was a new newly empowered
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and newly expanded communists party holed up in the northwest that everybody in china, though not everybody in the united states, knew that these two parties would inevitably come to kind of final showdown ones the war was over and the winner was going to take control of all of china. does this sound familiar? think about afghanistan right now. don't we face exactly the same situation in afghanistan? we want to bring about a democratic pro-american afghanistan, and we are backing a corrupt, ineffectual and unpopular government against the force that is inimical to our values and deeply liberal, much more the liberal impact and we believe the chinese communists were at the time. and the of the guys seem to be winning. you can go through the decades
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from 1945 on, and you come to the conclusion, realization that the situation that the united states faced in china in 1945 reincarnated itself numerous times throughout history. this is kind of the or episode the beginning of this sort of terrible agonizing, anguishing in the summer. >> unsolvable american dilemma as the great power dealing with other countries in asia. what do you do when you are you have a government in power that you think for all of its flaws is probably better to remain in power, but it faces somehow for some reason more effective file and that in the showdown at the guys are probably going to win. so in that situation there are a
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number of misconceptions that have gained currency and credibility. one was that, one of the reasons why the communists were probably more popular in the nationalists as the war came to an end had a kind of glow about them while the nationalists, good been at the dissolution is especially among educated people. i talk about some of these people in the boat, that mao had gained credibility to seize the one who had led his brave guerrilla campaign against the japanese while jiang kai-shek has basically done nothing much is keeping his best troops facing economies in the northwest while waiting for the united states to win the war for him. in other words, preserving his forces for the shutdown that was going to come. the more you look at what actually happened in the months
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and years preceding 1945, the more you realize it was just the opposite of the truth, that actually jiang kai-shek held out against the japanese for eight long years. just think about that. france held out against nazi germany for six long weeks. every country in europe fell within weeks or months. the british were in his kicked out of singapore hong kong but jiang kai-shek losing literally hundreds of thousands or millions of troops held on for eight years, and he did you have to read the book for the evidence, and, of course, i want you to read the book he held on for eight long years losing tremendous number of troops while of course keeping some of his best forces in reserves for the battle that was to come. and when you think about it can
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you really blame him? but he was blamed. roosevelt who had a certain sympathy for jiang kai-shek, another lonely figure at the top, was furious with them. he complained to his son kermit roosevelt that, why doesn't this guy fight? why these not fighting? art we on the same side here to defeat the japanese? but the americans didn't realize was that the two chinese parties were not like republicans democrats and we're going to come to an agreement and have an election and the loser of the election would wait for years and then try again. that wasn't what was going to happen in china. this was a country that had never had an election in three thousands of history. it had never had a coalition government in all of that time. contesting parties have never in chinese history come to an agreement to work out a kind of a coalition government and yet we're expecting jiang kai-shek not to fight, not to prepare for the war against the time in
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this, on the grounds that somehow it would work out. they would come to terms. the communists fought a grand total of one major battle against the japanese. one, and that was in 1940 something called the hundred flowers -- the hundred regiments offensive, was undertaken by the commander of the commonest forces, and it was back to the opposition of mao wanted to preserve the time in his forces for the showdown in the future. in other words exactly what many of the american diplomats and journalists and leaders in washington were accusing jiang kai-shek of was actually true also of the kindness of both parties in china were waiting for the work come to an independent going to fight against each other. so that business perception of one, that mao thought the
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japanese and that's why he was more popular -- misperception. he didn't engage in a single major action come out of action with the japanese after 1940. before 1940 also. the second misconception and this is going to relate a little bit to the third but it's a separate misconception, the three i want to talk about that mao himself and the communist party were nationalists first and come in this second. it was almost an article of faith among the diplomatic corps and among the journalists in china who often tended to see things in the same way that the communists could as one of them john paton davies said could be captured from the soviets if only we would build bridges and
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build relations with the communists. and we tried very hard to build bridges and build relations with the commonest. that's another interesting part of the story. we had a delegation, very close relations, you know american journalists and diplomats used to dance in the peach garden on their saturday night parties. they used to sit in the case mile and others, would drink tea until late in the night and talking about things and mao would talk about how he was opposed to one party dictatorships like the one that was exercise in china and also like the one that stalin had in the soviet union. he was not going to have that one party leadership when he came to part of a -- came to power in china. this is almost a direct quote we would be very happy to have an american-style democracy in china. he said that.
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we believed it. we thought that he wasn't an ideologue, he was a practical sort of guy and that if we would only build bridges to him he wouldn't side with the soviet union in the postwar. this is a topic that i found absolutely fascinating, and i want to read just a couple of short passages on this topic. the chapter called hiding the knife, it takes place in the context of extremely good relations between the communists and the americans, both of the diplomats in the journalists. the relationship between the russians and the chinese communists involved something far broader and deeper than mere advice, money and moral support. it was an entire cultural and political transmission. it was a vocabulary, a manner of analysis done as dialectical
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reasoning, et cetera practices and a grand preoccupying, thrilling political vision involving the triumph of the progressive forces of history over exploitation and reaction. now, never departed from the division for the time he became a charter member of the party in 1921 until his death 55 years later, when he made his lean to one side speech in june 1949, 1 of his famous comments announcing he would side with the soviets and the cold war mao attributed his eminence exists what you regard as a superior tools of marxism leninism, their brilliance a promise of which have burst on the world with the bolshevik revolution of 1917. commonest the world over are wiser than the bourgeoisie he said, celebrate its 20th anniversary of the ccp's founding. they understand the laws governing the existence and development of things. they understand i liked and they can see farther.
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and then some of the things that tied these two parties together, i'm skipping a little bit when leading communist or feminist concerns ago, they went to moscow for medical treatments. among them were two of mao's wives, and in 1939 after he broke a bone in his elbow falling from a horse. membership in this society was like membership in a cold it was all encompassing exclusive, all consuming, dustin spreads hundreds of chinese commonest in russia were swept up in this album version affected 38 and dispatched to the blog. in many instances these people were informed on by other chinese communists. it was a foreshadowing of the savage infighting that would to take place in china itself. and to refer to a woman who actually was kind of a chinese version of a red diaper baby was brought to moscow by her parents and lived in moscow although a
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back to 10 in 1949 couldn't speak a word of chinese. only spoke russian, belong to the commonest international. they were yugoslavs, argentines, many chinese. they lived at a school. they learned to love comrade stalin. there was a child grew up in the same situation. her father spent 17 years in a siberian war camp, believes that the secret police chief of mao and his henchmen later persecution of fellow commonest whom he had known in moscow in the 1930s was aimed at covering up his own earlier role in forming on chinese revolutionaries in the soviet union. again a little bit skipping, the very language of chinese
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communism, its symbols and modes of discourse, the style of its propaganda its wood block print, its notions of socialist realism, its subcommittees politburo, congresses and plants, its newspapers and alter serious theoretical journals its special is okay by provincial debate and struggle. its invention of an entire a lexicography of ideological labels, all of them newly minted isms like less adventurism right opportunism, dogmatism, subjectivism and pure system, as well as quote-unquote correctness of the party line and later the boilerplate of adulation that victorious revolutionaries such as mao the korean kim il-sung the romanian, and the vietnamese ho chi minh use in their own cult of the godlike genius leader. all of this was nurtured and supported by an encyclopedia of terms concepts, believes and
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techniques translated from the original russia. the success of the bolshevik revolution having made the soviet union in the eyes of countless oppressed and colonized people a path breaker towards erasing future, the shores of socialism was the expression of promised land. that's just the cultural aspects of it. there's much else that i don't have time to go into right now but both ideological and contingent that meant that the outcome once mao took power in general is absolutely inevitable. and i don't believe for a minute, even though i used to believe it, that we had any opportunity to turn mao into, certainly not a friend but adobe we've had the opportunity to defer or to avoid the antagonism
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that followed the end of the war so that the chinese communists could do but at least not very hostile. we could've had some semi-normal relationship so that we wouldn't, for example, have fought the korean war and then we would have thought the vietnam war if we hadn't had that kind of relationship. but my belief after doing the reading, and i think i make a good case here in the book, you will have to judge whether i do were not is that mao is going to side with stolen no matter what we did. and the third that actually is the third misconception. the second that he was more of a nationalist ideologue, and a third misconception related if we'd only been nicer things
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would've turned out very differently. one of the most interesting and painful part of this history and that is the role of the china hands. there is a group of men they were all men, among the journalists were some women very important, but the diplomats were all men. and this is one of the great debates that took place in the united states, the china hands a new mao who studied china, many of them have been born in china several of them have been born there, they spoke chinese. they believed that probably we could have a better outcome. and they had, this is kind of a
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tricky issue because of course as you know later after china was quote-unquote lost to the communists and the mccarthyites and, therefore, right wing in america, look for somebody to blame, they blamed these men but even before mccarthy their careers were destroyed when they came into conflict with another central character in the book was a man named patrick j. harley was the american ambassador, the american ambassador there. i have my chapter on him is called the wrong man. i'm not a fan of patrick j. hurley. and i am a fan of john service and davies and these other very brave forthright honest men. and one of the things a few personal notes to put in the book is that i don't believe for
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a minute that if i had been there i would've done any better than they did in their analyses of china. they were an extraordinary group, but they got something wrong. and what they got wrong was the nature of the chinese communist party in the nature of my wisdom, and just an illustration during the time that they were in, writing radical and reports about how these people were prone to democracy, they were just great and helped build a relationship with them, they're going to win so have ever relationship with them. they are more american than rushing to mao is at the tail end of something called the rectification campaign 9042-1944 which is the first time when he -- 1942-1944 -- when he systematically purged any kind
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of dissent and purged any kind of dissent within the chinese communist party and emerged with a kind of stalinist the merge living god kind of aura. and this kind of thing was totally absent from any of the reporting that the china instead and that the journalist -- the journalists were even worse by the way. even though again if i'd been there i know how hard it is to get things right when you were a foreign correspondent sometimes. they got it wrong also. they got a lot right. be certain we got a lot right about chiang kai-shek and a nationalist but i think they fundamentally got the kindness wrong. -- communist wrong. there are other things to talk about it want to stop and have a conversation rather than go on
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at greater length, but i was talking to somebody, you personally told me was talking to me about pakistan today and how mysterious and pakistan is for the united states. is it a friend? is it an enemy? and with him about china in the same when out and away but china is a little less mysterious i think and pakistan, but is china an enemy? is it a future rival? are we going to go to war or is it really a country we can cooperate with? whenever we get into these situations there's a limit to the kind of innocents abroad quality to the united states in these situations. we don't really fully, fully understand what's going on. there's something hidden in the motivations. maybe it's not, maybe i can be
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guilty of a kind of you know, clutching about the east and i don't want to be guilty of that. easterners can be understood in the same way that westerners can be, but because maybe they are farther from our culture and because they don't share our liberal democratic heritage, they are a little bit harder for us to understand. i think that in the end what this book does is it portrays again for the first time americans in this conundrum come in this mysterious situation, as the great power they have to do something. and exactly what to do was never going to be easy, just as it's not easy even today in china and other countries. so let me stop there and see if
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anybody would like to be brave and ask the first question a cosmic. >> i want to introduce -- >> go to the microphone it began to ask questions. >> okay. doug, why did you wait. do you want to be second? go ahead. >> i will certainly give way. >> go ahead. >> i learned to move fast because sometimes you don't get a chance if you don't get up. my question, i just want to get to the heart, your thesis here, the first part at least is a question, and that is at what point in time do you think mao, if ever changed his mind or was
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uncertain about where his future allegiance would like? in 1945, early in 45 or earlier than that do you think he seriously at any point they seriously thought, well, siding with the west at least temporarily beyond the end of the war might be a better move? or was he totally misleading in his sort of friendliness to the u.s. in 1945, and knew right from the very early times that he was? part of the reason i ask that question is it seems to me that he would have had good reason to fear the soviet union after the end of the war given what you say that communist dictators don't like to share power, and
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tend to think in terms of an ultimate conflict between them, and that it wouldn't seem unreasonable to me that at least four a period of time his position would have been stronger given the soviet union having a border, sharing a border so forth if he would decide with the west to some extent. did he purposefully mislead us right from the earliest or did he change his mind over that period say 1945-1950? >> that's an excellent question. let me say two things about it. he didn't think, one of the reasons why we misunderstood them is because our classic diplomatic schools teach us about balance of power as the operating principle in international affairs, and it
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made sense that mao would want to balance the power of his neighbor by having good relations with the farther superpower. it made a lot of sense. and, in fact, you know because we are the superpower, we have been service since the day japan, the germans and the japanese surrendered, we tend to think of a wiki is less decisive in the world. it's kind of funny to me as i was looking through the materials for this book that nobody seems to talk about the options that were available to mao. it's as though okay, the argument has been we took a hostile position to because we gave hope to his enemy. especially after the war. we could not have helped the
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others. he could've been if he had been no cement a kind of character he could've adopted a kind of let's have reconciliation within china, but he didn't do that. it was the opposite of somebody like mandela or certainly the opposite of gandhi. he could've taken a kind of nehru like position. naruc pretty much a contemporary of mao and emerging as the late of newly independent india and other big third world kind of nality and he wanted to balance the two great powers against each other. now didn't do that but he had those options he had those choices. one the reasons that he could take those choices of course is because stalled would never have allowed him to do but it would've involved, i mean we
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know an example of the tito tito was written out of the commons movement because of his national communist movement because of his heterodoxy. mauk could've been tito and many people at the time thought, not at the time because 1945 tito had not become tito yet, but later looking back on it people say well if we had a different policy in china, mao would've been tito like. after all, didn't he break with the soviets in 1960 anyway? he would have done it much earlier. he broke with the soviets long after stalin was dead. i don't think that the evidence to me is very clear andstrong that while stalin was alive there was going to be no breaking with the soviets. mauk is going to belong to the movement that was led -- some great quotes where he's talking at the party congress in march and april 1945 where he says companies is the work of the
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russians are not going to helplp us, and two, there is only one leader in the world that we owe allegiance to, and that leader is comrade stalin. i don't believe that he ever changed, and on the question with cdc folks, it's hard to going into somebody's mind like that. i think in a way if we think about all of the subtleties that people are capable of that in his own mind maybeceitful, that somehow you could mix the tactical goal is to be found with the united states, he wanted arms from the united states and then when the working committee wanted the united states to be out of the way so he could take control, he could take the land that the japanese were evacuating. and when we helped the nationalists we take sovereignty over that very land come he didn't like it. but some of ituld have come i
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think he could've implemented this with the united states and of the same time kept in mind the long-term strategic goal which was to be a great international revolution following the example of comrade stalin did so i don't think it's possible for someone to square that circle. i don't like to introduce the next questioner, an old friend who was our console general in shanghai and was my roommate in graduate school. >> well, richard, i think it's a traffic recitation at the look forward to reading the book. i know it's going to be very interesting. i have two things. one, you say by -- chiang kai-shek thought the japanese and now didn't you just quoted that would've set battles but i thought, and you looked at it a
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lot more in detail the strength of the congress was their guerrilla activity in north china. and didn't they degrade somewhat the japanese efforts? maybe not as much as afterwards but didn't they play somewhat of a useful role? >> yes they did you're right. that's an important correction. of course, they did engage in guerrilla action against the japanese. in fact, in 1945 when the japanese were being, starting to be repatriated and we sent 50,000 marines to china and to occupy the eastern, northeastern port cities in order to keep order and to facilitate a fact which of the japanese, the american marines found themselves patrolling where road lines, ship the lines and things like that to keep china going until the government could take
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possession of its own territory in the japanese would say watch out for these communists. they are dangerous. they will appear out of nowhere and don't take shots of you and they did. 12 americans were killed in action in 1945 against the chinese guerrilla actions against the united states. but my point is not that they did nothing but my point is essentially they followed the same strategy as the nationalists. if you look at the cache of the figures, i don't have them in my head, but the number of casualties that the communists took was a miniscule fraction of the casualties that the nationalists british their forces were much smaller. >> but towards the end of the war they had a million men under arms, and you know, i mean, the difference is during the war the fight against japan degraded the
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nationalist forces because they were decimated where as the chinese communists were able to strengthen themselves under cover of the war. that means -- that doesn't mean they never fought. they were equally patriotic and they were equally anxious to kick the japanese out. they hated the japanese ever bit as much is of the chinese did and we can see that in some respects they still do. but if you looked at the body language of xi jinping the other day, but a don't think i think that the idea that they were the ones that carried the main brunt of the fighting against the japanese is this. >> second question. i take your point. i think it's a good one. george marshall. i can't recall, he went and 46 i think rather than 45 december 45. do you deal with him? i get your conclusion would be following from the third thing you said that no matter what what
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we did would probably do not change the situation. certainly he was one of our best people that we sent and he made yeoman efforts to try to bring them together and he failed. >> and in a way is there to me i mean marshall in 1945 when truman sent him to china to be the ambassador and to handle the negotiations to try to work out a coalition arrangement between the two sides in china was probably the single most prestigious figure in the world at that moment maybe along with churchill was still alive although churchill as you have been voted out of office i think and figure or march of 45, and roosevelt was dead. said he was out of the picture. there was nobody, the architect of victory in both europe and asia. and hit kind of a personality that lent itself to tremendous
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authority and trustworthiness and he made heroic efforts to bridge the gap between the two sides. and he thought an effect that he would win. i do deal with marshall. there are two chapters towards the end. another confession. the idea came from a publisher. confession number one to confession number two, the book starts in august 1945 and it ends in april 1946. >> you are forgiven. [laughter] >> but if someone can come up with a title that would be better than "china 1945" that would accomplish -- encompass that, i would be grateful. when the chapters is called marshall comes close. marshall comes close and it is it's an account of that part. by april 45 because of what was
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going on even though marshall stayed on for almost a year, it's clear that his mission was already a failure at that point in the civil war was going to happen the matter what we did. [inaudible] >> if he couldn't do it who could? exactly. >> why was the korean war useful to mao? >> actually it wasn't useful to mao. it was extremely disruptive to mao, but because of the atmosphere, the poisonous atmosphere between the two countries, when macarthur began to advance towards the oulu river and towards the chinese border, the chinese decided that they had to get into the war to stop that from happening, and they inflicted probably the worst single not a military historian, maybe one of you knows better than i do certainly one of the worst if
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not the worst military defeats in all of american history was inflicted on us by the chinese communists. but i think if there had been communication, if we had had an embassy in beijing, if we were talking to the chinese communists, if we weren't standing between them and the liberation of taiwan then this atmosphere of animosity and distrust that led to mao's intervention in the korean war wouldn't have prevailed and the would have been no need for him to invade. i mean, don't forget that the korean war and to some extent sort of the vietnam war, the vietnam war was a proxy war against china. and if we had good relations with china we would have had no need to fight a proxy war against china. you know let's face it, that's what this is an important
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subject because there was no greater stature in american history than the vietnam war. >> first of all i'm delighted that gigabit of all the misconception. i am a shanghai land, born and raised in shanghai so i'm coming out this -- these big shanghai dialect of? >> no, the okay, then i won't show off. the one thing i wish to point office when you talk about the glowing report which is john davis, john service and all these people sit. when the plo people's liberation army walked in shanghai may 25 1949 and the few foreigners who were there include my family and the chinese because of all this propaganda they heard over the years that they were very kind nice to the peasants, never stealing anything. this carried on. they found out in six months it was a different story when they
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took over the establishment. thank you very much. >> thank you for that. i only wish i had known you while i was still doing the research. >> i'm a little bit angry. [laughter] >> okay, all right. by the way thank you. another theme of the book is the tendency of, just to be one minute, the tendency of chinese intellectuals to disillusioned with in five to give favorably towards the congress. inanyway it was a devil who didn't know. they were fighting the japanese, they were calling they're protesting the one party dictatorship. they were calling for the release of political prisoners. they were angry about the police suppression of student demonstrations which started taking place in early 1945.
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and so and you are right when the communists came to power, they sided with -- there were two kinds. there were some intellectuals who were members of the communist party, going back to the 1930s who belonged to the league of left wing writers. i think of them in a literary critic. and then there were people an economist trained under house arrest, release and began speaking out critically of chiang. called him a vacuum tube. somebody who is empty inside. there were a half a dozen of them that i talk about in the book. without exception these people were savaged after the communists took power. absolutely savaged.
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this man ended up in saying the he was in prison for more than 20 years. in prison in the 1950s. and the predecessor to all of that was a man who he and i dreaded the recognition campaign by writing an article that was published that criticized the communist movement for its levels of privilege, that the leaders have better food better clothes, better schools for their kids, everything was better. and why should this be? why i would replicate in the ills of the old society? he became the target. this is part of -- you single out one person and that person becomes the target and then everybody else has to line up
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and denounce that person in order to show that you're okay ideologically. and editor of liberation daily who published the essay, and then when he became a target of attack she lined up and wrote an essay about what we can learn from the reactionary case. others became a target of that kind of national campaign that lasted for years until finally mao was a dead end deng xiaoping came to power and then begin to reverse some of these verdicts are. >> what was a calculation that led to the soviets getting china nuclear weapons? did it have to do with their role in the korean war? >> this is later, and i don't deal with it. i'm not that knowledgeable about
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the specifics of that. but your question does lead me to make one observation that it did make before, which is y'all to 1945, roosevelt, stalin and churchill meet. one of roosevelt's main purpose was to get stalin to agree to invade manchuria wants the war in europe was over. and he agreed as the price for this that the russians, the soviets would get neocolonial privileges including control of a naval base in the port of port arthur, control of the south manchurian railroad. the soviets also stripped all the japanese factories are manchuria which was their induction heartland and brought her back to the slovenian. the congress never uttered a peep of protest about that. nationals dead but not the communists. and to me that such a terrible irony in that because roosevelt
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was pleading with stalin to do what stalin was anxious to do anyway, which is what's the were in europe was over, occupy manchuria and give himself a voice in the postwar settlement and put himself into a position of decisive importance on the chinese seem. i think that's a critical event actually but i should have mentioned this before, was exactly, was the soviet occupation of manchuria. once the soviets occupied manchuria, chiang kai-shek was finished. basically. >> one other quick question. do you find mao is a totally unsavory as the other the real mao? he comes across to me as very just despicable guy in many respects. as more information comes out to define anything redeeming about the man? >> the official chinese a verdict on mao was he was 70% good and 30% bad or 70% right
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and 30% wrong. i don't think they used the word bad. it was right and wrong. i think he was maybe 85% wrong or bad. i use the word bad and 15% good. he did do things -- he had the thinnest of starting all over again. with this country devastated by the japanese invasion. chiang kai-shek took power at a time, much more difficult time in a way. i mean jenna, mao came along. the soil was newly plowed that is able to plant what he wanted there. much more so than chiang kai-shek. chiang reunified china in 1947 along with the northern expedition. and he had all kinds of things to contend with. he had there is warlords military factions, a country that wasn't and the kindness of
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course and the japanese who had for years later occupied manchuria and turned it into a puppet state. so chiang kai-shek, he was a very, very difficult situation but i don't think that it was quite appreciated at the time. mao was not in the situation yet much more power. because he was strong but also because everybody else was very weak after eight years of work with the japanese. so yes, he did some good things. he reunified the country. he spread literacy. he spread basic health care. he gave the chinese people pride. they had finally stood up after many years of humiliation at the hands of the imperialist powers, not only japan but mostly japan. if mao had died before the hundred flowers movement of
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1956, the anti-rightist campaign by 50-cent, i think what we would all be talking about what a great leader he was, even though the seeds of his badness were planted in 42-44. still i think he would be deemed to be a great man. he would be, the chinese would be right, 70% right, maybe 30% wrong. but, unfortunately, he didn't died in 1955 or 1956. >> we have time for one more question. >> sorry, i arrived late but you mentioned the chinese intellectuals who were against the mao, but they were also -- >> for mao. >> then later that criticized him secretly, okay. but their words some westerners who were advisors -- but there
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were westerners who were advisors tomorrow. like michael lindsay you know? he was at the university and then he went to help mao. michael lindsay, in case you do not know he was professor at american university teaching history. >> i didn't know that. >> yes, in fact his granddaughter is working for the congressional research. >> the worm turns doesn't it be? yes. look her up. she has a wealth of stories. her name is susan. but anyway -- susan lawrence. but the question, the question is, i mean these westerners who are advising the communist party, you know not to go to extremes, they should do this and that and what happened to them? >> well, that's another interesting story. the westerners that i talk about
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most in the book were not advising mao. they were reporting very favorably on mao and goes back to red star over china which was really the beginning point of the myth, the kind of heroic romantic myth of mao the great revolutionary and a great fighter against the japanese. even though this happened in 1937, 38 thereabouts, i talk about edgar snow because most people, under the misconception. people think edgar snow chose to go visit the communist but if the comment is to chose edgar snow and it was stalin's advice to mao continued to improve his image in the west and got to find somebody to talk to him and give him interviews and get the word out about him in the west. one of the great, there's
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something they can open up a parallel. because the chinese press is controlled, and all the official publications are essentially from the ministry of propaganda, the chinese and serving in the day that i lived there in the early '80s, chinese intellectuals and government officials used to turn to reports on them in the western reporters in order to find the things that couldn't be recorded in the press. this continues to some extent. i think this is one of the reasons why the current leadership, it doesn't what google or facebook or all of that stuff because they feel that it will poison the minds, collective minds of the chinese. edgar snow showed when he came back, he went back to beijing where he was living, and he had some amateur eight-millimeter movies that he had taken, and he
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showed them to chinese going on chinese students that he knew including a woman, a character in the book, she was incredibly beautiful. she was a spokesperson, and she had gone she went because news about the communists was banned in china, a nationalist china and she found out about them from this film at edgar snow's apartment, and other young chinese that full of idealism and wanted to join his bright, radiant, new movement learned about it through edgar snow. and then they went out and -- >> but he didn't know chinese spend well, i think he spoke some chinese.
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>> not according to his interpretation. >> okay. i don't know. anyway, thank you very much. >> okay, thank you. >> we are about on time. >> right. police. >> a canadian doctor who went to the medical work during the war and he was made use of mao as one of -- >> by who? >> by mao when mao published a book, three great heroes, i forget what the title is and the two others were asked to either nobody was given nationalist, required reading of all chinese the free -- >> like norman bethune? are you talking about norman
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bethune? there's a whole history all of it outside the scope of my book, although i glanced on this of americans and non-americans who were gripped by the vision of revolution that had lived through the revolution under in -- through the depression, in the hopes for a better future. we all know actually, i grew up with vocals and and that felt that way. i was sort of a pink diaper baby. not a red one kind of a pink one. [laughter] you have agnes for example edgar snow's wife. there were a lot of them. and some of them stayed on the israel epstein who was actually
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a polish jewish refugee who went to china early in the war to escape the nazis became a member of the chinese communist party, stayed in china until his death i think the he was still there. i met him in 1980 19 1981 at the american embassy of all places. >> thank you very much. >> thank you. [applause] spent there are books for sale. [inaudible conversations] >> interested in american history? watch american history television on c-span3 every weekend, 48 hours of people and events that help document the american star. visit c-span.org/history for more information.
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