Chapter Four: Exporting Revolution (UPDATED)

Chapter Four: Exporting Revolution (UPDATED)
The Epoch Times is serializing an adaptation from the Chinese of a new book, How the Specter of Communism Is Ruling Our World, by the editorial team of the Nine Commentaries on the Communist Party.

Table of Contents

1. Exporting Revolution to Asia

a. The Korean War b. The Vietnam War c. The Khmer Rouge d. The Rise and Fall of CCP Infiltration in Southeast Asia

2. Exporting Revolution to Latin America and Africa

a. Latin America b. Africa

3. Socialism in Eastern Europe

a. Soviet Repression of Popular Movements in Eastern Europe b. Albania and China

4. Communism After the Cold War


The communist cult’s spread across the world is fueled by violence and deception. While communist superpowers, like the Soviet Union or China, have used military force to impose their political system upon weaker countries, it should not be forgotten that communist regimes’ violent conquests were aided — and, to a great extent, made possible by — their effective use of propaganda. In recent years, the Chinese Communist Party has continued this strategy by pouring billions into its Grand External Propaganda Program. [1]
This chapter provides an introduction to how the communist regimes of the East, particularly the People’s Republic of China (PRC), spread their ideology and influence in Asia, Africa, South America, and Eastern Europe, chiefly during the Cold War.

1. Exporting Revolution to Asia

The Chinese communist movement owes its success to the Soviet Union. In 1919, the Bolshevik regime established the Third International (Comintern) as its vehicle to further revolution worldwide. In April 1920, Comintern representative Grigori Voitinsky traveled to China, and soon after, an office was set up in Shanghai to make preparations for the establishment of the CCP. For several years, the CCP was completely dependent on Soviet funding and served as an organ of the Soviet communist regime. [2] The CCP continued to further Soviet interests in China for the next three decades.

The CCP’s victory in mainland China was indirectly related to leftist influence in the United States. US officials in the State Department and other institutions who were sympathetic to the Chinese communists colored Washington’s understanding of the political situation in China during and after World War II. Their influence led the United States to cut off aid to Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist government as the Soviet Union, meanwhile, stepped up its support of the CCP.

US President Harry Truman also made the decision to scale down America’s presence in Asia following the war. In 1948, US troops began withdrawing from South Korea, and on January 5, 1950, Truman announced that the United States would not interfere with affairs in the Taiwan Strait. This included the cessation of military assistance — even in the event of war — to Nationalist China, which by that point had retreated to the island of Taiwan and faced invasion by the communist-held mainland. [3] US Secretary of State Dean Acheson reiterated Truman’s policy and said that the Korean Peninsula lay outside the “defense perimeter” of the United States. [4] These anti-interventionist policies provided an opportunity for the communist bloc to expand its influence in Asia and were ended only after the United Nations voted to defend South Korea following its invasion by the North in June 1950.

The CCP made the exporting of revolution a cornerstone of its foreign policy. In addition to providing financial support, training, and weapons for left-wing insurrections, the PRC sometimes sent troops to directly assist guerrilla fighters against legitimate governments. In 1973, during the Cultural Revolution, PRC foreign aid spending peaked at nearly 7 percent of the national budget.

The CCP’s extravagant project to export revolution was paid for by the wealth — and often the lives — of the Chinese people.

According to Qian Yaping, a Chinese scholar with access to confidential documents released by the PRC’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Ten thousand tons of rice were shipped to Guinea and fifteen thousand tons of wheat were sent to Albania in 1960. From 1950 to the end of 1964, total foreign aid expenditure was 10.8 billion yuan, during which time most spending took place ... in the midst of the Great Chinese Famine.” From 1958 to 1962, tens of millions died of hunger during the famine. Yet foreign aid expenditures in these years totaled 2.36 billion yuan. Had this money been spent domestically, countless Chinese could have been saved from starvation. [5]

a. The Korean War

Communist parties seek world domination, making use of power-hungry leaders such as Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, Kim Il Sung, and Ho Chi Minh to bring more territory and people under their evil ideology.

On June 25, 1950, after extensive planning, North Korea invaded the South. Seoul fell in just three days, and after a month and a half of war, almost the entire Korean Peninsula was under Northern occupation. Mao had made his own preparations for the Korean War. In March 1950, Chinese armies had amassed along the Sino–Korean border, ready to aid the North. As UN forces pushed deep into North Korean territory, the CCP sent its People’s Volunteer Army into action, saving Kim’s communist regime from complete destruction. The war dragged on for three years, claiming millions of lives on both sides. Communist China suffered about one million casualties. [6]

In addition to rescuing the Kim regime, the CCP had another motive for participating in the conflict: During the Chinese civil war, 1.7 million soldiers had defected from the Kuomintang (Nationalist Chinese) forces to join the CCP’s ranks. The Korean War provided a convenient opportunity to dispose of these politically unreliable troops. [7]

Since the PRC and the Soviet Union fought for influence over North Korea, the North benefited from both sides. For example, in 1966 when Kim visited China, he observed the construction of the Beijing subway system and requested that an identical subway be constructed in Pyongyang — for free. Mao immediately decided to halt the construction in Beijing and send equipment and personnel — including two divisions of the People’s Liberation Army Railway Corps and numerous engineers, totaling several tens of thousands of personnel — to Pyongyang. The North didn’t spend a penny or use any of its own people in the construction, yet demanded that the CCP guarantee the safety of the subway in times of war. In the end, Pyongyang’s subway system became one of the deepest in the world, with an average depth of 90 meters (295 feet) and a maximum depth of 150 meters (492 feet) underground. After the construction was completed, Kim told the public that it had been designed and built by Koreans. Moreover, Kim often bypassed Beijing and went directly to the Soviet Union for money and materiel. After the Korean War, the CCP left representatives in North Korea with the mission of bringing the North into the PRC orbit. Instead, those friendly to the CCP were either killed or jailed in Kim’s purges, and the PRC lost on all fronts. [8]

North Korea encapsulates the horrors of communism imposed from without. The Kim regime is one of the most brutal and repressive on earth, and the North Korean people live in crushing poverty.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the CCP drastically reduced aid to North Korea. In the 1990s, North Korea experienced a devastating famine. The nongovernmental organization North Korean Defectors’ Association reported in 2007 that in the first 60 years of communist rule by the Kim dynasty, at least 3.5 million North Koreans died of hunger and related diseases. [9]

b. The Vietnam War

Before the Vietnam War, the CCP supported the Communist Party of Vietnam (CPV) against the French colonial government. In 1954, the French suffered a major defeat at Điện Biên Phủ, resulting in that year’s Geneva Conference and the confrontation between North and South Vietnam. Following the French retreat from Indochina, North Vietnam invaded the South via the Ho Chi Minh Trail through Laos and Cambodia. From 1964 to 1973, the United States participated in the conflict in an effort to contain the spread of communism to the South. At the time, the Vietnam War was the largest military conflict in a single theater since World War II.

Mao sent advisers to the CPV as early as 1950. The head of the military advisory group was PLA Gen. Wei Guoqing. The CCP’s land reform advisory group detained and executed tens of thousands of Vietnamese landlords and “rich peasants,” triggering famine and agrarian riots in the North. The CCP helped the CPV suppress these uprisings and launched ideological rectification movements of the Party and army, similar to the CCP’s Yan’an Rectification Movement of 1942–1944. Mao aided Vietnam on a large scale, despite the fact that tens of millions of people were starving to death in China. He did this in order to compete with the Soviets for influence in Vietnam, and also to boost his authority within the CCP.

In 1962, Liu Shaoqi, vice chairman of the CCP, ended Mao’s disastrous Great Leap Forward policy at the Seven-Thousand People’s Assembly and made preparations for economic restoration. This would have effectively marginalized Mao, so in order to keep his power, Mao pushed the PRC into greater involvement in the Vietnam War. Liu, who had no influence in the People’s Liberation Army (PLA), had to shelve his economic recovery plans.

In 1963, Mao dispatched first Luo Ruiqing, then Gen. Lin Biao, to Vietnam. Liu Shaoqi promised Ho Chi Minh that the PRC would shoulder the costs of the North Vietnamese war effort, telling him, “You can take China as your home front if there’s a war.” The CCP made good on this promise. By 1975, the CCP’s total aid to Vietnam reached $20 billion, and hundreds of thousands of Chinese troops had been deployed to North Vietnam, serving in various combat and support roles.

Ironically, the aid requested of the CCP by the CPV became a point of political fracture between the PRC and North Vietnam. To keep the North Vietnamese fighting the United States, the CCP steadily supplied them with weapons and other war materials. Meanwhile, the CPV hoped to end the war more quickly, and, starting in 1969, joined the US-led Paris peace talks. The talks excluded China, meaning that the CPV was undermining Beijing’s desire to keep the United States tied down in Vietnam.

In the 1970s, following the attempted defection and death of prominent CCP military leader Lin Biao, Mao urgently needed to reassert his political authority. Furthermore, Sino–Soviet relations had reached a nadir after a series of military clashes between the two powers in 1969 along the Ussuri River. To counter the Soviet threat, Mao cooperated with the United States and invited US President Richard Nixon to visit China.

Facing opposition to the Vietnam War back home, the United States was loath to continue fighting, and in 1973 withdrew its troops from Vietnam. On April 30, 1975, North Vietnam occupied Saigon and took South Vietnam. Under the direction of the CCP, the CPV began suppressions similar to the CCP’s Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries. More than two million people in South Vietnam risked death to flee the country, becoming the largest refugee wave from Asia during the Cold War.

c. The Khmer Rouge

After unifying the country and signing a peace agreement with Washington, the CPV distanced itself from Beijing’s influence and developed stronger relations with the Soviet Union. Unhappy with this, Mao used the Cambodian Khmer Rouge regime, which was aligned with the CCP but at odds with Vietnam, to put pressure on Hanoi.

The CCP’s support for the Communist Party of Kampuchea (broadly known as the Khmer Rouge) began in 1955, with Khmer leaders receiving training in China. Pol Pot, paramount leader of the Khmer Rouge, came to power with Mao’s approval in 1963. In 1970 alone, the CCP provided the Khmer Rouge with enough weapons to equip thirty thousand people. Destabilized by the Vietnam War, Cambodia fell to the Khmer Rouge in 1975.

Pol Pot’s rule was extremely brutal. He abolished the currency, ordered all urban residents to join collective forced-labor squads in the countryside, and slaughtered intellectuals to rid the country of “Western” influence. In a little over three years, more than a quarter of the Cambodian population had perished from starvation or were murdered in the infamous “killing fields.” Not content with terrorizing only its own subjects, the Khmer Rouge repeatedly sent troops across the border into southern Vietnam and committed multiple massacres in Vietnamese border villages. Supported by the Soviets, Vietnam invaded Cambodia in December 1978. Having experienced three years of living hell, the Cambodian people welcomed the Vietnamese army. Just one month into the war, the Khmer Rouge was driven from the capital city of Phnom Penh and forced to flee into the mountains to fight as guerrillas. Vietnam’s punitive war against the Khmer Rouge infuriated then-Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping. In early 1979, Deng ordered the PLA to launch a “counterattack” against Vietnam, resulting in a three-week war that many historians say was decisively won by Vietnam. The CCP continued to launch attacks on Vietnam throughout the 1980s.

In 1997, Pol Pot’s erratic behavior led to fierce disputes within the Khmer Rouge. He was arrested by Khmer commander Ta Mok and, in a public trial, was sentenced to life imprisonment. In 1998, he died from heart failure. In 2014, despite the CCP’s repeated attempts at obstruction, the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia sentenced two Khmer leaders, Khieu Samphan and Nuon Chea, to life in prison.

d. The Rise and Fall of CCP Infiltration in Southeast Asia

In addition to its actions in the former French colonies of Indochina, the CCP made great efforts to assist communist rebellions throughout Southeast Asia. These communist movements were especially active during the 1950s and 1960s, after which they were defeated or marginalized by the local governments.

The CCP’s export of revolution had painful repercussions for the Chinese diaspora. Thousands of overseas Chinese in Southeast Asian countries were murdered in bouts of ethnic violence, and in many communities the Chinese had their rights to do business and receive an education restricted.

One typical example was in Indonesia. During the 1950s and 1960s, the CCP provided significant financial and military support to prop up the Communist Party of Indonesia (Partai Komunis Indonesia, or PKI). The PKI was the largest political group at the time, with three million direct members by 1965. Added to that, its affiliated organizations brought the combined total affiliates and members to twenty-two million scattered across Indonesia’s government and society, including many close to the first Indonesian president, Sukarno.

Mao was criticizing the Soviet Union at the time for supporting “revisionism,” that is, a departure from strict Marxist doctrine, and strongly encouraged the PKI to take the path of violent revolution. PKI leader D. N. Aidit was an admirer of Mao and was preparing to stage a military coup. On September 30, 1965, military leader Suharto crushed this attempted coup, cut ties with China, and purged a large number of PKI members. The cause of this purge is related to statements made by Zhou Enlai, the PRC premier. During one of the international meetings between the communist countries, Zhou promised the Soviet Union and representatives of other communist countries: “There are so many overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia. The Chinese government has the ability to export communism through these overseas Chinese, and make Southeast Asia change color overnight.” In reaction to the CCP’s attempts to foment a local revolution, large-scale anti-Chinese movements began in Indonesia. [10]

The anti-Chinese movement in Burma (also known as Myanmar) was similar. In 1967, soon after the start of the Cultural Revolution, the Chinese Consulate in Burma, as well as the local branch of the CCP’s Xinhua News Agency, began heavily promoting the Cultural Revolution among overseas Chinese, encouraging students to wear Mao badges, study his Little Red Book, and confront the Burmese government. The Burmese military junta under the rule of Gen. U Ne Win gave orders to outlaw the wearing of badges with Mao’s image and the study of Mao’s writings, and to shut down Chinese schools. In June 1967, anti-Chinese riots took place in the capital city of Yangon, where dozens were beaten to death and hundreds injured.

In July 1967, the CCP’s official mouthpieces called for “firmly supporting the people of Myanmar under the leadership of the Communist Party of Burma to wage armed conflict and start a major revolt against the Ne Win government.” Soon after, the CCP sent out a military counsel team to assist the Communist Party of Burma (CPB), which had been forced into the forest by Burmese government forces. On Jan. 1, 1968, a large number of Chinese Red Guards and CPB forces attacked Burma from the Chinese province of Yunnan, defeating the Burmese government forces and taking control of the Kokang region. [11]

The CCP’s attempts at exporting revolution around the time of the Cultural Revolution involved the promotion of violence and the provision of military training, weapons, and funding. When the CCP stopped trying to export revolution, communist parties in various countries all disintegrated and were unable to recover.

In 1961, the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) decided to abandon armed conflict and instead gain political power through legal elections. Deng Xiaoping summoned MCP leader Chin Peng and others to Beijing, demanding that they continue their efforts at violent insurrection, because at the time, the CCP believed that a revolutionary high tide centered around the Vietnamese battlefield would soon sweep Southeast Asia. The MCP thus continued its armed struggle and attempts at instigating revolution for another twenty years. [12] The CCP funded the MCP, having it procure arms on the black market in Thailand, and in 1969, the CCP established the Malaysian Sound of Revolution Radio Station in Yiyang City, Hunan Province, to broadcast in Malay, Chinese, Tamil, English, and other languages. [13]

In addition to the countries noted above, the CCP also attempted to export revolution to the Philippines, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Japan, and elsewhere, in some cases providing military training and in some cases spreading propaganda. Some of these communist organizations later became internationally acknowledged terrorist groups. For example, the Japanese Red Army, founded in 1971, had its roots in the radical movement of the 1960s and became notorious for its anti-monarchist and pro-violence revolutionary propaganda. The group was responsible for a range of terrorist attacks, including multiple aircraft hijackings and the Lod Airport massacre.

In the late 1970s, after the Cultural Revolution, the CCP scaled back its support to Southeast Asian communist movements. During a meeting between Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew and Deng Xiaoping, Lee requested that Deng stop the radio broadcasts by the MCP and the Communist Party of Indonesia. At the time, the PRC was surrounded by enemies and isolated, and Deng had just assumed power and required international support, so he agreed to Lee’s request. Deng met with MCP leader Chin Peng and set a deadline to shut down the broadcasts agitating for communist revolution. [14]

2. Exporting Revolution to Latin America and Africa

Both the Soviet Union and the PRC mounted extensive campaigns to support communist movements in the Middle East, South Asia, Africa, and Latin America. However, in the late 1960s, finding itself under pressure from the United States’ and NATO’s containment strategy, the Soviet Union adopted a new ideological line of détente. This policy called for peaceful coexistence with Western capitalist countries, which led the Soviet Union to decrease its support for Third World revolutionary movements. The CCP, which preaches global revolution, accused the Soviets of “revisionism.” In the early 1960s, Wang Jiaxiang, the minister of the International Liaison Department and a former PRC ambassador to the Soviet Union, proposed a similar policy but was criticized by Mao as being too friendly to the imperialists, revisionists, and reactionaries and not supportive enough of the world revolutionary movement.

During the Cultural Revolution, the CCP often used the slogan: “The proletariat can liberate itself only by liberating all of humanity.” In 1965, Lin Biao, then-minister of national defense, claimed in his article “Long Live the Victory of the People’s War!” that a high tide in world revolution was imminent. Following Mao’s theory of “encircling the cities from rural areas” (which is how the CCP seized power in China), Lin compared North America and Western Europe to cities, and Asia, Africa, and Latin America to rural areas. Exporting revolution to Asia, Africa, and Latin America was regarded as an important political and ideological task for the CCP, as it would lay the groundwork for conquering the West. Therefore, in addition to exporting revolution to Asia, the CCP under Mao’s leadership competed with the Soviet Union for influence in Africa and Latin America.

a. Latin America
Professor Yinghong Cheng of Delaware State University wrote in his article “Exporting Revolution to the World: An Exploratory Analysis of the Influence of the Cultural Revolution in Asia, Africa, and Latin America”:

In Latin America, Maoist communists in the mid-1960s established organizations in Brazil, Peru, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Venezuela, and Ecuador. The main members were young people and students. With the support of China, in 1967 Maoists in Latin America established two guerrilla groups: The Popular Liberation Army of Colombia [which] included a female company that mimicked the Red Detachment of Women and was called the María Cano Unit [; and] Bolivia’s Ñancahuazú Guerrilla, or National Liberation Army of Bolivia. Some communists in Venezuela also launched armed violence actions in the same period.

In addition, the leader of the Peruvian Communist Party, Abimael Guzmán, was trained in Beijing in the late 1960s. Apart from studying explosives and firearms, more importantly was his grasping of Mao Zedong Thought, particularly ideas of “the spirit transforming to matter,” and that with the correct route, one can go from “not having personnel to having personnel; not having guns to having guns.” [15]

Abimael Guzmán was the leader of the Peruvian Communist Party (also known as the Shining Path), which was identified by the governments of the United States, Japan, Canada, the European Union, and Peru as a terrorist organization.

Cuba was the first country in Latin America to establish diplomatic ties with the CCP. In order to win over Cuba and at the same time compete with the Soviet Union for leadership of the international communist movement, the CCP extended to Che Guevara a $60 million loan when he visited China in November 1960. This was at a time when the Chinese people were dying of starvation from the Great Leap Forward campaign. Zhou Enlai also told Guevara that the loan could be waived through negotiations. Later, when Fidel Castro began leaning toward the Soviet Union after Sino–Soviet relations broke down, the CCP sent a large number of propaganda pamphlets to Cuban officials and civilians through the embassy in Havana in an attempt to instigate a coup against the Castro regime. [16]

In 1972, when Mexico and the CCP established diplomatic relations, the first Chinese ambassador to Mexico was Xiong Xianghui, a CCP intelligence agent. Xiong was given the tasks of collecting intelligence (including about the United States) and interfering with the Mexican government. Just before Xiong arrived, Mexico announced the arrest of a group of guerrillas that had been trained in China. Mexican President Luis Echeverrí was particularly incensed because in forming a diplomatic relationship with China, he had withstood fierce opposition from within Mexico and from the United States. Xiong suggested to Zhou Enlai that he smooth over the incident by inviting Echeverría to visit China. Echeverría accepted the invitation and further requested that the CCP give Mexico preferential treatment in trade, to which the CCP agreed. [17]

b. Africa
Cheng also described how the CCP influenced the independence of African countries and the path they took after independence:

According to Western media reports, before the mid-1960s, some African revolutionary youth from Algeria, Angola, Mozambique, Guinea, Cameroon, and Congo received training in Harbin, Nanjing, and other Chinese cities. A member of the Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) described his one-year training in Shanghai. In addition to military training, it was mainly political studies, how to mobilize rural people and launch guerrilla warfare with the goal of people’s war. [18]

In the 1960s, Tanzania and Zambia received the most assistance from the CCP’s external revolution projects on the continent.

For example, the CCP sent a group of experts from the Shanghai Textile Industry Bureau to build a textile factory in Tanzania. The leader of the group injected a strong ideological tone into the aid project. Upon arrival at the construction site, he hung the five-star red flag of the PRC, erected a statue of Mao and Mao’s quotations, played Cultural Revolution-era music, and recited Mao quotes. The construction site became a model of the Cultural Revolution overseas. He also organized a propaganda team to promote Mao Zedong Thought and actively spread rebellious views among the local workers. The Tanzanian authorities were incensed by the CCP’s attempts to encourage a local revolution.

Then Mao decided to build a Tanzania–Zambia railway that would also connect East Africa with Central and southern Africa. From 1970 to 1976, China sent fifty thousand laborers and spent nearly ten billion yuan constructing the railway’s 320 bridges and 22 tunnels. The equivalent cost of the railway today would have been in the hundreds of billions of yuan, or in the tens of billions in US dollars. However, due to poor management and corruption in both Tanzania and Zambia, the railway has never been profitable and is still dependent on Chinese aid to continue its operations.

3. Socialism in Eastern Europe

The Soviet Union occupied eastern Germany following the defeat of the Nazis in World War II, in accordance with the division of power laid out at the Yalta Conference. Moscow set up communist regimes in all the Eastern European countries under its control, forming the Warsaw Pact military alliance.

As the Cold War progressed, the Soviet Union struggled to maintain dominance over its satellite states. Following the Sino–Soviet split, the PRC made inroads with Eastern European regimes, particularly the Balkan nation of Albania.

a. Soviet Repression of Popular Movements in Eastern Europe

In February 1956, Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev denounced Stalin in a secret speech given at the Twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU), beginning a period of limited political liberalization. The relaxed atmosphere led to revolts in Eastern Europe, first in Poland and then Hungary.

In Poland, after the death of de facto dictator Bolesław Bierut in March 1956, his successors began pushing for reform and a break with the Stalinist legacy. In June, tens of thousands of factory workers in Poznań went on strike. After the protesters were brutally repressed, the Party leadership, recognizing the rise of nationalist sentiment, took steps to placate the people. They elected as leader Władysław Gomułka, who was hawkish on the Soviet Union and willing to stand up to Khrushchev.

An attempted revolution in Hungary then took place in October 1956, beginning with a group of students who wrote a list of sixteen demands, including the withdrawal of Soviet troops. On October 23, protesters toppled the bronze statue of Stalin, leaving behind his boots, into which the crowd placed Hungarian flags. An estimated two hundred thousand protesters filled the streets. Soviet tanks and troops opened fire on the crowds, killing scores of unarmed demonstrators.

The Soviet Union initially wished to cooperate with the newly established opposition party and named Imre Nagy as prime minister and chairman of the Council of Ministers. But after Nagy came to power, he withdrew from the Warsaw Pact and pushed for further liberalization. In response, on Nov. 4, the Soviets sent sixty thousand troops and tanks to crush the independence movement, killing several thousand. Nagy was captured and eventually executed, along with hundreds of his supporters. Hundreds of thousands of Hungarians fled to the West. [19]

The Soviet invasion of Hungary was followed a decade later by Czechoslovakia’s Prague Spring in 1968. The Czechoslovak Communist Party (KSČ), following Khrushchev’s 1956 speech, had loosened regulations, allowing the growth of a relatively independent civil society. One representative figure of the time was Václav Havel, who later became the first president of today’s Czech Republic.

In January 1968, reformist politician Alexander Dubček took over as first secretary of the KSČ. He strengthened reforms and promoted the slogan of “socialism with a human face.” Soon afterward, Dubček began the large-scale rehabilitation of individuals who had been wrongly persecuted during the Stalin period. Dissidents were released, control over the media was relaxed, academic freedom was encouraged, citizens were allowed to travel abroad, and surveillance over the church was reduced. Most crucially, the KSČ allowed limited intra-party democracy.

The Soviet Union, remembering the 1956 Hungarian uprising, considered such reforms a betrayal of socialist principles and feared that other countries would follow suit. From March to August 1968, Soviet officials, including CPSU General Secretary Leonid Brezhnev, held five conferences with Dubček, attempting to pressure him to abandon the democratic reforms. Dubček ignored Brezhnev’s demands. That August, the Soviet Union and other Warsaw Pact nations invaded Czechoslovakia with hundreds of thousands of troops, catching the country by surprise. The Prague Spring was crushed and “socialism with a human face” was no more. [20]

The Soviet Union relied on its military strength to impose communist rule upon Eastern Europe and maintain its control over the region. Even the slightest moves toward liberalization led to rebellions against the socialist system. In the late 1980s, the Soviet leadership embarked on political and economic reforms, leading to the end of the Cold War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and the collapse of all communist regimes in Eastern Europe. With the Soviet Union unwilling to maintain the costly policies that were necessary to continue its dominance, the people of Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia, and East Germany rose up in generally peaceful protest against the local regimes.

On June 4, 1989, the day of the Tiananmen Square massacre in China, Poland held its first round of free democratic elections. The second round, held on June 18, removed the communists and their coalition partners from parliament.

By October 1989, multiple cities in East Germany saw mass demonstrations against the ruling Socialist Unity Party (SED). In a visit to Berlin that month, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev told SED General Secretary Erich Honecker that reform was the only way forward.

Immediately afterward, East Germany lifted travel restrictions to Hungary and Czechoslovakia, which were undergoing their own political liberalizations following the Soviet example. This allowed vast numbers of people to defect to Western Germany through Czechoslovakia, and the Berlin Wall could no longer stop the waves of fleeing citizens. On November 9, the SED gave up on controlling the inter-German border. Tens of thousands of East Germans poured into West Berlin, and the wall was dismantled. The symbol of the communist Iron Curtain that had stood for decades disappeared into history. [21]

b. Albania and China

The CCP expended a great deal of effort to gain influence over Albania, which early on had criticized Moscow and left the Warsaw Pact. Mao was pleased with Albania’s break with the Soviets, and thus he began the program of giving “aid” to Albania, regardless of the cost.

Xinhua reported that “from 1954 to 1978, China provided financial aid to the Party of Labour of Albania seventy-five times; the sum in the agreement was more than ten billion Chinese yuan.” At the time, the population of Albania was only around two million, which meant each person received the equivalent of five thousand yuan. Meanwhile, China’s average annual GDP per capita was just two hundred yuan. During this period, China was also in the throes of the Great Leap Forward famine, as well as the economic collapse caused by Mao’s Cultural Revolution. During the famine, the PRC used its small reserves of foreign currency to import food. In 1962, Reis Malile, the Albanian ambassador to China, traveled to China to demand agricultural aid. By order of Party Vice Chairman Liu Shaoqi, a Chinese ship carrying wheat purchased from Canada and bound for China changed course and unloaded the wheat at an Albanian port. [22]

Additionally, China helped Albania construct a textile factory, but Albania did not have cotton, so Beijing had to use its foreign reserves to buy cotton for Albania. On one occasion, Albanian officials asked Geng Biao, the PRC ambassador to Albania at the time, to replace major equipment at a fertilizer factory and demanded that the equipment come from Italy. China then bought machines from Italy and installed them for Albania. Meanwhile, Albania took Chinese aid for granted and often wasted it. Enormous amounts of steel, machine equipment, and precision instruments sent from China were left exposed to the elements. Albanian officials were unconcerned; they believed that if the material or equipment broke down or was lost, China would simply give them more.

In 1974, Albania pursued a loan of five billion yuan from China. Despite being in a state of near-total economic collapse due to the Cultural Revolution, the PRC approved a one billion yuan loan to Albania. However, the Albanian leadership was greatly dissatisfied and started an anti-Chinese movement with slogans like “We shall never bow our heads in the face of economic pressure from a foreign country.” It also refused to accommodate the PRC’s requests for petroleum and asphalt.

4. Communism After the Cold War

After the revolutions of 1989, the Soviet Union itself underwent drastic political changes. In August 1991, hardliners in the CPSU, KGB, and military who considered Gorbachev’s reforms a betrayal of communism staged a coup, putting the Soviet leader under house arrest and sending tanks to occupy Moscow. But the plot had no support from the rank-and-file Party members or the general public, and the conspirators were arrested or committed suicide. On December 25, 1991, with independence movements growing throughout the country, Gorbachev announced the dissolution of the Soviet Union into fifteen independent republics.

The end of the Cold War, the collapse of the Soviet bloc, and the initiation of economic reforms in China appeared to signal the end of communism’s threat to the free world and humanity. In reality, the standoff between the United States and the Soviet Union diverted people’s attention away from the CCP’s own machinations, giving it decades to bolster its totalitarian system and undermine the free world.

In contrast to the post-World War II de-Nazification movement, with its public trials of Nazi war criminals and broad education against the evils of fascist ideology, a full reckoning of communist crimes has yet to materialize. Russia and many other former Soviet republics have never made a clean break with their Soviet past or abolished the secret police apparatus. A former KGB agent served as Russia’s secret police chief and is now in charge of the country. Communist ideologies and their followers are not only still active, but are spreading their influence to the West and around the world.

The anti-communist activists in the West — the older generations who have a deeper understanding of communism — are gradually dying out, while members of the newer generations are not being sufficiently educated about it. Communist and left-wing organizations around the world have been able to continue their radical or progressive movements to overthrow and destroy traditional values and social structures.

The first president of the Russian Federation, Boris Yeltsin, took a degree of action to purge Soviet ideology — laying off former Soviet civil servants, pulling down statues of Lenin and other communist leaders, and rebuilding Orthodox Christian churches destroyed by the CPSU — but these steps proved largely superficial in cleansing the country of a deeply rooted Party culture that had been instilled in people and institutions for nearly seven decades. Furthermore, the political turmoil and economic collapse that followed the end of the Soviet Union fueled nostalgia for the bygone era.

The resurgence of popular support for communism in Russia led to the formation of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF). It became and remained a major political party until the rise of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia.

In October 1993 — only two years after the citizens of Moscow had taken to the streets to demand their independence and democracy — tens of thousands of Moscovites marched in Red Square, shouting the names of Lenin and Stalin and waving the former Soviet flags. In recent polls, such as one conducted by Moscow’s RBK TV in 2015, many respondents (about 60 percent in the RBK poll) said that the Soviet Union should be resurrected. In May 2017, the Communist Youth League, which was established as an affiliated organization of the CPSU, held an oath-swearing ceremony for youth in Moscow’s Red Square before Lenin’s tomb. At the rally, CPRF Chairman Gennady Zyuganov claimed that sixty thousand new recruits had joined the Party recently and that the Communist Party continued to survive and grow.

The specter of communism continues to haunt the world’s largest country. In Moscow alone, there are more than eighty monuments to Lenin, whose tomb in Red Square continues to attract tourists and followers. The crimes of the KGB have never been thoroughly exposed and condemned by the world. Over the past century, overt communist influence in government has faded away in most countries. At the height of the communist movement in the Cold War, there were more than two dozen ruled by avowed communist regimes. Today, only four remain: China, Vietnam, Cuba, and Laos. While North Korea’s ruling party has dropped references to Marxism-Leninism, it is still a totalitarian communist state. More than one hundred countries around the world have registered communist parties.

By the 1980s, there were more than fifty communist parties in Latin America, with a total membership of one million (of which the Communist Party of Cuba accounted for roughly half). In the early 1980s, the United States and the Soviet Union were in fierce competition in the hot spots of Latin America and Asia. With the collapse of Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, communist parties that focused on violence to enforce their rule, like the Peruvian Communist Party, became fewer and fewer.

Nevertheless, the majority of Latin American countries still came under variants of socialism. Leftist political parties took on names like the Democratic Socialist Party and the People’s Socialist Party. A number of communist parties in Central America removed the words “communist party” from their names but continued to promote communist and socialist ideologies, becoming even more deceptive in their operations.

Of the thirty-three independent countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, the majority have communist parties that are accepted as legitimate political players. In Venezuela, Chile, Uruguay, and elsewhere, the communist party and the ruling party have often formed coalition governments, while communist parties in other countries play the role of opposition.

In the West and in other regions around the world, communism did not resort to violent revolution as was done in the East. Instead, it took a hidden approach, with proponents of leftist ideologies infiltrating nearly every aspect of society. Decades later, Western forms of communism have largely succeeded in subverting traditional society and morality, disintegrating the culture imparted by the divine. In this sense, the specter of communism has asserted its control over the entire world.

Updated October 5, 2020
Read the series here: How the Specter of Communism Is Ruling Our World


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15. Ibid.

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18. Cheng, “Xiang shijie shuchu geming.”

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20. Ibid., chap. 67.

21. Ibid., chap. 77.

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