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Leon Trotsky 19390318 A Proposal from Shanghai

Leon Trotsky: A Proposal from Shanghai

March 18, 1939

[Writings of Leon Trotsky, Vol 11, 1938-1938, New York ²1974, p. 229 f.]

Comrade F. 's proposition seems to me to be correct if there is no possibility of Comrade C.'s leaving his state with the official authorization of the government. A "friendly” pressure on the Chinese authorities might possibly have the desired results; but if that fails the governmental supervisions would become firmer and thus diminish his possibilities of leaving China. That is why I propose to prepare two ways simultaneously, namely:

(1) Create immediately in New York a nonpublic commission for the purpose of studying the possibilities of C.'s departure from China as quickly as possible without any official interference; to collect money immediately for this purpose, and so on. (2) At the same time begin a campaign of "friendly" pressure on the Chinese authorities through liberals, radicals, and prominent figures of our own movement.

For example, some Mexican intellectuals with names (Diego Rivera, Juan O'Gorman, and others) could visit the Chinese ambassador here and introduce a written petition somewhat as follows:

"We, the undersigned, and many of our friends, are sincere and zealous friends of China in her struggle for liberation against Japanese imperialism. We are personally interested in the fate of C., whom we know as an honest man and a sincere patriot.

"We do not adhere to the Stalinist camp. On the other hand, we understand the reasons for cooperation between the Chinese government and Moscow. This cooperation creates a very difficult situation for C., making it impossible for him even to wage a public fight in favor of China. We learned of this situation through a trustworthy foreign correspondent, a sincere friend of China.

"Permit us to insist before the Chinese authorities, that if Mr. C. comes abroad, he can be very useful in an international campaign of the left elements, especially the workers, against the oppression of Japanese imperialism. The military situation in the Far East indicates that the great fight will last a long time, with ups and downs. A systematic and insistent mobilization of international public opinion is necessary. In such a campaign, the role of the independent left elements can be of the greatest value to the Chinese people. The official Communist parties are known as the instruments of Moscow. Their influence is therefore limited. Mr. C. is known as an independent Chinese revolutionist. With his knowledge and help we could surely render important services to such an international campaign.

"We do not wish to conceal another thought which disquiets us. In various countries the Moscow GPU seeks to exterminate all those left elements which have a critical attitude toward the methods of the Kremlin. We know from authoritative sources that Mr. C. is on the blacklist of the GPU. On one pretext or another he can be assassinated on Chinese territory and the GPU would then try to place the responsibility for such a crime on the Chinese authorities. We feel certain that in the United States Mr. C. 's life could be better safeguarded from a possible attempt against it by the GPU.

"These are the reasons, Mr. Ambassador, which prompt us to interfere in this affair with feelings of sincerest sympathy for your people in their heroic fight against the imperialist invasion."

An analogous, but not' necessarily identical, letter should be drawn up in the States and signed by appropriate personalities — and also in England and France.

A document of this kind would be a warning to the Chinese authorities, although a far from absolute guarantee for C. 's life. Such a document cannot be prejudicial to C.'s situation in China, especially if no time is lost and preparations for the other version are made.

Comradely yours,

V. T. O'Brien [Trotsky]