‘How the Chinese Workers Celebrate First of May’ from the Daily Worker. Vol. 5 No. 103. May 1, 1928.

1925 general strike.
‘How the Chinese Workers Celebrate First of May’ from the Daily Worker. Vol. 5 No. 103. May 1, 1928.

May Day is an international labor day. But May Day was of little significance in the history of the Chinese labor movement until 1922. Up to that date, it was the intellectuals, the professors and the students, who were enthusiastic about it. It was always an occasion for the intellectuals to issue special numbers. It was the magazines and newspapers and for the students to have a “holiday.” It is interesting to note that when it is a day for the workers of the entire world to demonstrate solidarity and ceaseless fight against the capitalist class— the historic enemy of the working class, the intellectuals have a whole day’s rest. As to the Chinese working class, May Day still meant little. There were only a few unions organized which were also “illegal.” They had to work on that day as hard as on any other day.

Great Seamen’s Strike.

In January, 1922, the great seamen’s strike, at Hongkong and Canton, took place. It lasted for 55 days, ending in the recognition of the Seamen’s Union and increases in wages. In the same year, the strike of the railwaymen on the Peking-Hankow line, in the course of which many of the leaders and strikers were shot, took place. But a central Railwaymen’s Union was organized in Hankow with a membership of 50,000. All these, with the successful results of other minor strikes, stimulated the whole movement and led to the formation of unions in various parts of the country. It was on the May Day of this year that the Chinese working class for the first time, demonstrated its solidarity. On that day, the first All-China Labor Congress, on the initiative of the secretaries of all the existing unions, was held at Canton. A membership of 230,000 was represented. Of more importance was that in this congress, the first one in the history of the Chinese labor movement, it was decided that the unions be organized along industrial lines.

On strike in Shanghai, 1922.

As I do not attempt to write on the history of the Chinese labor movement, I will not, therefore, set down the development of it. Only those events, most important and significant, that have taken place on past May Days will be written here.

All-China Labor Congress.

On May Day, 1925, the Second All-China Labor Congress was held at Canton in an atmosphere of rising and militant labor movements. In this congress 600,000 workers, or three times the number in 1922 were represented. However, the militancy and solidarity of the Chinese working class were not shown by the increasing membership represented in the congress only, but by the correct ideology, tactics and leadership this congress decided to follow also. It was in this congress that the working class organization, the All- China Labor Federation, was inaugurated. It was in this congress the decision to have this organization affiliated to the R. I. L. U. was made. In other words, the May Day of 1925 marked the beginning of the entering of the Chinese proletariat into the world proletarian movement.

On the May Day of the following year, 1926, the first anniversary of the organization of the All-China Labor Federation, the Third All-China Labor Congress was held. In this session 1,200,000 workers were represented, comprising 699 unions, In Shanghai, at that time, the labor movement was “illegal” and was suppressed by the northern militarists. There was a “drop” in the membership in the unions. The number of the members dropped from 218,754 in September, 1925, to 81,000 (in Shanghai, one place). But the organized lines increased from six to fifteen. In the Fourth All-China Labor Congress held last year, the membership represented reached 3 million. This amazing increase of the membership and the remarkable growth of the trade union movement after the May Day of 1925 were chiefly due to the development of the revolutionary movement in China and such events as the May 30 massacre.

Second All-China Labor Congress, 1925.

Pan-Pacific Union.

The May Day of 1927 is of historical importance in the world labor movement. That day was the date set as the opening day of the Pan-Pacific Labor Conference to be held at Canton. It was a demonstration of the solidarity of the working class along the Pacific. But this solidarity meant a blow to the world imperialists and the native capitalists in the Far East. The world imperialists and the Chinese militarists wanted to crush it and they did succeed outwardly. Comrades Lozovsky and Izmaloff of the All-Union Central Council of Trade Unions were arrested for two hours at Hongkong, the Japanese delegates were arrested at Kobe, the government of the Australian Union refused to visa the passes of the Australian delegates and the Chinese delegates were hunted throughout the territory under Chiang Kai-shek. But all these could never hurt the solidarity of the working class a bit. It only served to expose the decadence of the capitalist system. The working class shouted “it must take place.” The conference did take place successfully. The date was changed to 15 and place was Hankow. The changes never changed the solidarity of the working class. Though the date of the conference was not on May Day, it was, nevertheless, the scheduled date, May Day, that we should always remember.

It is now May Day again. In the last year, the Chinese labor movement has suffered severely under the rule of the Kuomintang. According to the report of the All-China Labor Federation, 32,316 persons were sentenced to prison and 37,985 persons were killed and executed. Among the imprisoned, killed and executed, most were militant workers.

The White Terror.

About 13,000 of the murdered were executed in such ways as tearing out eyes, cutting off fingers, toes, hands and feet and slicing up live bodies. All these were done, of course, with the inspiration of the British, American and Japanese imperialists, with the object of crushing the Chinese revolution as a part of the world proletarian revolution, and keeping the Chinese workers land peasants in slavery. The Chinese proletarian movement is now at stake. The imperialists are sending more warships to China to oppress the workers. The American government has sent three additional warships to China just recently. And this means a war on the world working class. The world labor movement is in danger. There is urgent need of solidarity of the workers of the entire world.

Workers of America, May Day is the day to demonstrate solidarity. You can demonstrate it in no better way than to denounce the white terrorists in China, to struggle against the imperialist aggression in China and to demand the withdrawal of American armed forces from China.

The Daily Worker began in 1924 and was published in New York City by the Communist Party US and its predecessor organizations. Among the most long-lasting and important left publications in US history, it had a circulation of 35,000 at its peak. The Daily Worker came from The Ohio Socialist, published by the Left Wing-dominated Socialist Party of Ohio in Cleveland from 1917 to November 1919, when it became became The Toiler, paper of the Communist Labor Party. In December 1921 the above-ground Workers Party of America merged the Toiler with the paper Workers Council to found The Worker, which became The Daily Worker beginning January 13, 1924.

PDF of full issue: https://www.marxists.org/history/usa/pubs/dailyworker/1928/1928-ny/v05-n103-NY-sect-4-may-01-1928-DW-LOC.pdf

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s