The Communist Party of China and Rewi Alley: A Very Compatible Relationship

Perhaps Rewi Alley would add that to understand China, the west needs to receive a Chinese voice that she is not a threat, but promotes peace and harmony.

Editor’s Note: On the publication ceremony of the book SHARED IDEALS – THE COMMUNIST PARTY OF CHINA AND ITS CHERISHED FRIENDS FROM AROUND THE WORLD held in Beijing in July, Dave Bromwich, President of the New Zealand-China Friendship Society, talked about the story of Rewi Alley who was from New Zealand and joined China’s revolution. The excerpts of his speech are as follows.

Rewi Alley left New Zealand in 1926 to have a look at what was happening with the revolution in China. He arrived in Shanghai in April 1927 to a society in turmoil. Many destructive elements were at work, from decade of international imperialists, to opium ganglands, to a purge of communists by the Kuomintang (KMT).

Very quickly he felt drawn to the need for change. Through his association with international friends, and with great support from people like Song Qingling, his life changed to supporting the forces of good in China. He spent time helping to build an irrigation canal in Inner Mongolia, and assisting with reconstruction after a major flood in Hubei. Here, he recognized the resilience of the Chinese people, their ability to work together for a common goal, and their commitment to creating a new society.

With the formation of Gung Ho, it was his confidence in the Chinese people to work together that brought success to building a cooperative economy. This not only contributed to the war effort against Japan, but also provided employment to vast numbers of people, including refugees from the east.

Here, the story of Rewi Alley in China follows the rise of the CPC (Communist Party of China), both understood the need for change, both appreciated the character of ordinary Chinese, both had a vision for a new China and a peaceful world.

Their natural collaboration worked toward the same goal. The success of the CPC in winning over the Chinese people in the revolution that was occurring throughout China was paramount, as new areas became liberated.

With the support from the CPC for overturning the oppressive and corrupt society of the feudal landlord system, the people swung in behind this new force, and carried it forward. Without the support of the Chinese people, the outcome for a new China would have stalled.

The requirements of the CPC, as they liberated new areas, to not take from the poor peasants,

always pay for anything taken, and to treat the people with respect, were early indications of a successful model for the future development and rebuilding of the country.

After the CPC took over the mantle of leadership in 1949, Rewi Alley moved to Beijing, and turned his attentions to international peace. One outcome was the formation of the New Zealand China Friendship Society (NZCFS), with the key objective to promote mutual understanding between the people of New Zealand and China. He travelled the world as an advocate of international peace. Today, the need for understanding of China remains as an important moderator in geopolitical issues.

Perhaps Rewi Alley would add that to understand China, the west needs to receive a Chinese voice that she is not a threat, but promotes peace and harmony.