Alan, E. (2020). The views of Chinese Revolutionary Gao Junyu on the Turkish Revolution. Belt & Road Initiative Quarterly, 1(3), 96-102.
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*Translated from Turkish to English by Işıkgün Akfırat and Deniz Eren Erişen.
THE VICTORY OF THE ARMY OF Ankara Government has swept away the Greek forces, the representative of British imperialism, from eastern Symrna. This is a major event in near world history, its importance lies in its international impact: it has started a new phase for the oppressed nations. Turkey’s victory was neither a victory of Muslims against Christians nor a triumph of the yellow race against the white race. It is the victory of the oppressed Turkish nation against the occupation of European imperialism. It is clear that this is a punishment on great powers inflicted by the Ankara Government. For years under the pressure, oppression and humiliation of European imperialism, Turkey almost could not even breathe. Ordinary people thought that the fate of the country was on the knife edge of great powers so that even enthusiastic and promising Young Turks believed that the concentration of the occupying forces were completed, and it was impossible to overcome these trenches. As a result, the Ottomans were begging for mercy in the arms of imperialism. However, with the strong resistance of Mustafa Kemal in the past three years, they have won an unexpected great victory. No matter what steps Kemal will take in the future, his current situation is determinable: Turkey, being its hands tied for a long time, now does have a hope for liberation from imperialist oppression. This would also encourage, inspire most the oppressed nations that face similar experiences and call them for resisting against imperialism in the same way. At least, this would encourage Egyptian and Indian independence movements, enable them to reach broader masses and hence empower their campaigns.
Britain has long been depending on the plunder of the oppressed nations of the East “From Gibraltar to Hong Kong” preserves its oppression by means of looting.
This victory has hit the biggest blow to the British imperialism. Paris newpapers were saying that the defeat of Greece is the defeat of Britain, which is true. After Britain has defeated the Central European Union, with the power of treaty on their hand, they hired Greece as hitman on the one hand, and increased the level of destruction on Turkey and gained economic privileges inch by inch on the other hand. Yet now those privileges are on the rocks. Britain would not tolerate American imperialism, with hatred and envy, to seize Mesopotamia’s mineral oil. Mineral oil is an essential means for the development of the empire. In the same vein, the statements of “Freedom to the Strait of Tartary ” and “Open the Doors of China” are serving for the interests of British imperialism. Britain has long been depending on the plunder of the oppressed nations of the East “From Gibraltar to Hong Kong” preserves its oppression by means of looting. Even though Britain relies for keeping the entire path open on her pirate forces to attack all around madly, these interests are now being shaken. The most critical issue is the freedom of the straits. If the Britain get “brought to her heels”, British imperialism would not only lose in Turkey, but this would also end her superiority (in the east of the Suez Canal); and, as a result, Britain would not be able to control colonies and oppressed nations in the East (including feudal settlements in Greater China1) so comfortably. This is an event that would put British imperialism in the tears of a painful loss, and no wonder that Lloyd George would tear his hair out and announce that he will send troops. However, we are asking, except possible potential minor conflicts with the Turkish military, is it possible for Britain to declare a war against the Turkish army? It is not possible. Britain’s post-war wounds, ready to break out in their colonies, American and French and Japanese imperialism putting their noses into these affairs; this whole situation would not allow Britain to focus on Turkish forces. Even though England is well-off, the workers of the country has already begun to look for ways to stop the war. Such a force will put a pressure on the military activities of British imperialism. Events that took place before the Soviet Revolution might be used as preliminary evidence. Therefore, as a result, Britain is obliged to find a peaceful solution with Turkey sooner or later.
This victory will show to all the oppressed nations that only Soviet Russia is the faithful friend who will help for Turkey’s liberation.
After the war, French imperialism supported the Petite Entente2 Union in order to establish its hegemony in Europe, on the other hand, and did not accept Britain’s power in the East, so signed an agreement with Ankara on its own. A couple of years later, this structure, also called an Anglo-French alliance, broke into pieces. The only thing left was that two imperialists are looking into each other’s eyes and utterring war threats. Attacking British interests is precisely what will fully comfort French imperialism. Some think that France is not helping England because of its agreement with Ankara, which is not valid. We all know that Mustafa Kemal’s success in such success is thanks to the support of the Soviet Union. The Bolsheviks want the workers to take power in the same way they want the oppressed nations to get rid of imperialism. Of course, the conservative French politicians will oppose it to death, so they will also feel anger and envy in Ankara’s victory. Moreover, while oppressed nations are uprising and preparing to attack one of the imperialist powers, how does France not consider to put Turkey in the line? France would not cooperate with England for a while; the crack between them is extensive and in-depth. This victory will show to all the oppressed nations that only Soviet Russia is the faithful friend who will help for Turkey’s liberation.
The world trend after the European war is, on the one hand, that the imperialist countries are slowly collapsing into a violent conflict, and on the other hand, the unification of workers, oppressed nations, and colonies. If we look at the state of England after the Turkish victory, these two trends would be further enlightened. Let’s be optimistic.
NOTE: The translator inserted footnotes for a better understanding of the text.
* This letter was published in the 3rd issue of the Xiangdao Zhoukan (向导周报) weekly magazine on September 27, 1922.
1- The concept of Greater China refers to all areas where there are Chinese culture and presence outside of the China mainland.
2 Small Union. Czechoslovakia, Romania, and Yugoslavia found this trilateral alliance in 1920-21.
The Views of Chinese Revolutionary Gao Junyu on the Turkish Revolution
“THE VICTORY OF THE ANKARA Government’s Army has wiped out the forces of the representative of British imperialism -Greece- in the east of Smyrna. This is a major event in near world history, its importance lies in its international impact: it has started a new phase for the oppressed nations. Turkey’s victory was neither a victory of Muslims against Christians nor a triumph of the yellow race against the white race. It is the victory of the oppressed Turkish nation against the occupation of European imperialism.”
It might be assumed that these remarks are made by a Turkish patriot, revolutionary. However, these words belong to a supporter of the Turkish Independence War, who lived in China, ten thousand kilometers away from Anatolia. Gao Junyu高君宇 titled his article “The International Value of the Victory of the Turkish National Army” which was featured in Weekly Guide (Xiangdao 向导) on 27 September 1922. Gao Junyu was a young revolutionist, only 26 years old at that time.
I Am the Sword, I Am the Spark
Gao Junyu was born in the Jingle country of Shanxi province in 1896. His father, Gao Peitian (高配天), was a wealthy and intellectual person. He was a strong supporter of Sun Yat-Sen and he served for the office of the local government established after the 1911 Revolution. By the influence of intellectual environment around him, his father prepared Gao Junyu for the exams of Taiyang Model High School (太原模范中学校), a newly launched school that offer modern education. After passing the exams, Gao Yu made it to the school and graduated from there.
In 1916, he passed the entrance exams of Peking University (北京大学), which was considered an important center of new cultural movements spreading Marxism. He found himself in the intellectual environment of Peking University. The progressive and revolutionary journals he read, such as New Youth (新年青), Morning Post (晨报), Weekly Review (每周评论) inspired him greatly, and he developed a keen interest in Marxism.
I am a sword, I am a spark, I wish to live shining, like lightning. And I want to die like swift as a comet.
In 1919, he became the student representative of Peking University. The same year, he was one of the youth leaders pouring in Tiananmen Square for protesting against Japanese Imperialism on 4 May. The 4 May Movement is a milestone in the Chinese history. It is one of the culminating points of the idea that China must struggle against its internal and external enemies as one. May 4, 1919, regarded as the New Democracy Revolution of China, is also celebrated as Youth Day every year in China. As regards its causes and outcomes, the 4 May Movement has many similarities with Mustafa Kemal’s arrival in Samsun on May 19, 1919, the emblematic moment of the Turkish Independence War.
Gao Junyu joined the Communist Party of China (CPC) in 1921. He was elected as an executive member of the Central Committee of China Socialist Youth League during its founding congress in 1922. He was also elected as a Central Committee member of CPC in the Second and Third National Congresses.
In 1924, the Party appointed him as the secretary of Sun Yat-Sen.
He passed away in Beijing in 1925 due to tuberculosis, when he was only 29 years old. His premature death is one of the greatest losses of the Chinese Revolution. China has lost a jewel at a young age, but a spark was extinguished. Gao Junyu’s tomb is located in Taoran Pavillion Park (陶然亭公园) in Beijing.
Like a revolutionist in the 1920s, he was interested in writing and reading poetry. The best words that describe Gao Junyu also belong to himself:
I am a sword, I am a spark, I wish to live like shining, like lightning. And I want to die like swift as a comet.
After his death, these words engraved on his tombstone by Shi Pingmei (石评梅), his lover and famous writer.
Despite his young age, Gao Junyu was a prolific writer. All his articles have been compiled and published several times.
The Turkish Revolution Has Been Made Against Imperialism
There has been conducted various research on the international effects of the Turkish War of Independence especially on the oppressed nations. After the victory, the impact of the Turkish War of Independence has reached far beyond Anatolia. All the countries who confronted imperialism from Egypt to India, and China, have closely examined this great historical event. As a Chinese revolutionary, Gan Junyu was closely following the developments concerning the imperialist nations and the movements who struggle against imperialism in order to find solutions to the problems of his own country. Only two weeks after The Great Offensive (Turkish: Büyük Taarruz) was completed successfully and Izmir was liberated on September 9, 1922, the article titled “The International Value of Victory of the Turkish National Army” was published ten thousand kilometers away from Izmir. This is a concrete proof that the Chinese revolutionaries were following the Turkish War of Independence very closely.
This would also encourage, inspire most the oppressed nations that face similar experiences and call them for resisting against imperialism in the same way. At least, this would encourage Egyptian and Indian independence movements by enabling them to reach broader masses and rendering them empowered.
In this article, Gao Junyu clearly describes the scope and the impact as well as the fronts of the Turkish War of Independence:
“No matter what steps Kemal will take in the future, his condition in the present may be determined: Turkey, being its hands tied for a long time, now does have a hope for liberation from imperialist oppression. This would also encourage, inspire most the oppressed nations that face similar experiences and call them for resisting against imperialism in the same way. At least, this would encourage Egyptian and Indian independence movements by enabling them to reach broader masses and rendering them empowered. This victory has hit the biggest blow to the British imperialism. Paris newspapers were saying that the defeat of Greece is the defeat of Britain, which is true.”
Considering that even some circles in Turkey today are trying hard to reduce the importance of the Turkish War of Independence to simply mere Turkish-Greek war, it is important that Gao Junyu was able to see the situation in 1922 as it was, ten thousand kilometers away from Anatolia.
In the period leading to the liberation of Istanbul after the Great Victory, the possibility of a conflict with Britain was being discussed in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. Gao Junyu’s analysis echoed that of Mustafa Kemal and clarified that Britain has no strength whatsoever to fight.
“We should ask whether it is possible for Great Britain to declare war to the Turkish army, even though the station troops in the straits may engage in minor conflicts with the Turkish army. It may be said that this is impossible. After World War I, the situation of the colonies ris unstable, and United States, French, and Japanese imperialisms would not allow Britain to focus on the military strength of Turkey. Even though Britain is a well-off country, British workers are already looking for ways to stop the war, and this kind of force would certainly put pressure on the military actions of British imperialism. The events that took place before the Soviet Revolution can be used as preliminary evidence. Therefore, Britain is obliged to find a peaceful solution with Turkey, sooner or later.”
Looking from today’s perspective, one may think that these observations are rather insignificant. However, considering that there were few people who saw the situation that way even in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, the importance of these observations might be better understood. The history has proved that Mustafa Kemal and Gao Junyu were right.
* Emrah Alan completed his undergraduate degree at Marmara University, Department of History. He is a graduate student at Beijing University, Department of History of Chinese Studies. His studies mostly focuses on Ancient China’s foreign relations. Email: email@example.com