From the time of its birth in the early 1920s, the Chinese Communist Party, conceived by the revolutionary upheaval of Chinese society and the Russian led Communist International, could hardly have wished for a worse ‘upbringing’. Moscow’s leadership is analogous to that of a negligent and abusive parent whose selfishness scars the child for the rest of its life. As we shall now see, this absence of leadership continued right up to and even after the taking of power in 1949 and was one of several factors undermining, delaying and distorting the character of the revolution in 1949.

When the Sino-Japanese war began in 1937, the CCP had already been an exclusively rural party for almost ten years. As we pointed out previously, this was an improvisation born out of the party’s confusion at Chiang’s power grab. By 1935, when Mao became the undisputed leader of the party, this improvisation and temporary retreat had been transformed into the party’s raison d’être.

For twenty two years after 1927 the comrades of the CCP knew of no state other than constant war. Physically liquidated from the cities in 1927-8, they fled to the countryside, where they suffered one extermination campaign after another by the Guomindang, forcing them to embark on the Long March in 1934. This exhausting state of affairs brought the party to near extinction (it certainly was enough to destroy its Marxist programme), a big factor in its forging an alliance with Chiang Kai Shek in 1936 to gain breathing space. And yet no sooner had this truce been signed when Japan launched an all out war with China, a war whose secondary motivation for the Japanese (after the exploitation of Chinese industry and raw materials) was the extermination of the communist threat.

Less than a quarter of an hour after opening, the Chinese stock market was closed by an automatic shutdown. This was triggered twice last week by rapid falls of more than 7%. This "circuit-breaker" mechanism was imposed by the government only 5 months ago after equally dramatic losses. The government has now suspended this measure, not from new-found confidence, but as a further turn of panic.

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