On the 93rd anniversary of Che Guevara’s birth, we celebrate the friendship between socialist Cuba and socialist China.
A fascinating transcript of their meeting in Beijing in November 1960 can be found here.
On the 93rd anniversary of Che Guevara’s birth, we celebrate the friendship between socialist Cuba and socialist China.
A fascinating transcript of their meeting in Beijing in November 1960 can be found here.
We are pleased to republish this article by John Ross, Senior Fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China, which originally appeared in English on Learning from China on 11 June 2021.
The 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China (CPC) comes as not only China but humanity faces a fundamental crossroads – as will be seen this is not a rhetorical exaggeration but a literal reality. On the one hand, with the CPC’s leadership, China’s national rejuvenation has proceeded at an unprecedented pace. Taking simply the economic dimension of this, in 1949 China was almost the world’s poorest country – only two Asian and eight African countries had lower per capita GDPs than China.[i] By 2020 China had not only eliminated absolute poverty and achieved “moderate prosperity” by its own domestic criterion, but it was on the brink of becoming a “high-income economy” by international World Bank standard. For a major country to go in only just over 70 years, a single lifetime, from such poverty to a high-income economy is historically unparalleled.
But simultaneously various international forces are attempting to block China’s development – as seen graphically in the new “cold war” launched against China by powerful US circles. And the international context is that humanity today faces a series of great crises which will inevitably affect billions of people – and the worst of which are capable of eliminating a large part of humanity.
Neither China, nor any other individual country, can by themselves escape the consequences of this. Scientists estimate that well within a decade decisive action must be taken to deal with climate change or humanity faces uncontrollable risks which at a minimum would gravely affect the condition of life of billions of people and in the most extreme developments would gravely threaten human civilization. The threat of nuclear war, devastating human civilisation, still exists. In the shorter term, internationally the Covid19 pandemic is not under control and, in addition to its large-scale loss of life globally, this has produced the greatest international economic downturn since the Great Depression – the World Bank estimates this will push around 100 million people into poverty globally and hundreds of millions will suffer falls in incomes or loss of jobs.
Xi Jinping has repeatedly underlined the inevitable interrelation of China’s domestic situation with this international context in referring to: “this global village of ours, where countries’ interests and future are so interconnected.”[ii] Therefore, from the positive angle: “The Chinese people are well aware that China’s development has benefited from the international community.” [iii] The reverse equally applies – China would be unable to escape the consequences of serious adverse international developments. China’s interaction with the rest of the world, its foreign policy, is therefore of critical importance both globally and for China’s own progress.
In this situation China’s foreign policy shows the continuing development of the CPC. As will be analysed, the CPC’s concept of a community of “common destiny for humanity” is fundamental for dealing with the critical challenges of the coming period of international relations. That this foundation of China’s foreign policy is both based in Marxism, but is also a development of it, shows the dynamic and creativity of the CPC itself.Continue reading Why the CPC’s foreign policy is crucial not only for China but for humanity
We are republishing this article by Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez, which originally appeared in the Morning Star on 11 June 2021. It is the second in a series of articles about the history of the Communist Party of China, which celebrates its centenary on 1 July 2021.
In the period of the Second United Front (1937-45), the Chinese communists won enormous prestige for their leadership of the national defence efforts and for their commitment to improving the lives of the population in the territories under CPC control.
The CPC’s headquarters in Yan’an became a pole of attraction for revolutionary and progressive youth throughout the country.
British academic Graham Hutchings writes, “Yan’an seemed to stand for a new type of society. Visitors, foreign and Chinese, found it brimming with purpose, equality and hope.
“Many students and intellectuals chose to leave areas under the control of a central government they felt lacked a sense of justice, as well as the will to confront the national enemy, for life in the border regions and the communist or ‘progressive’ camp.”
In this period, the CPC leadership devoted some time to theorising the type of society they were trying to build; what the substance of their revolution was.
The results of these debates and discussions are synthesised in Mao’s 1940 pamphlet On New Democracy, which describes the Chinese Revolution as necessarily having two stages: first of New Democracy and then of socialism.
New Democracy was not to be a socialist society, but rather a “democratic republic under the joint dictatorship of all anti-imperialist and anti-feudal people led by the proletariat.”
Political power would be shared by all the anti-imperialist classes: the workers, the peasantry, the petty bourgeoisie and the patriotic national bourgeoisie.
The key elements of this stage of the revolution were to defeat imperialism and to establish national sovereignty, as an essential step on the road to the longer-term goal of building socialism.
How long would this stage last? It would “need quite a long time and cannot be accomplished overnight. We are not utopians and cannot divorce ourselves from the actual conditions confronting us.”
In economic terms, New Democracy would include elements of both socialism and capitalism.
“The republic will neither confiscate capitalist private property in general nor forbid the development of such capitalist production as does not ‘dominate the livelihood of the people’, for China’s economy is still very backward.”
Land reform would be carried out and the activities of private capital would be subjected to heavy regulation.
Perhaps anticipating the “opening up” of four decades later, in conversation with Edgar Snow, Mao envisaged China taking its place within an ever-more globalised world.
“When China really wins her independence, then legitimate foreign trading interests will enjoy more opportunities than ever before.
“The power of production and consumption of 450 million people is not a matter that can remain the exclusive interest of the Chinese, but one that must engage the many nations.”
Following the communist victory in the civil war and the establishment of the People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949, the new government started building the type of society described in On New Democracy.
Its governance was based on the Common Programme — an interim constitution drawn up by the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, with 662 delegates representing 45 different organisations.
The Common Programme did not call for the immediate establishment of a socialist society and it promised to encourage private business. As Mao had written earlier in the year, “Our present policy is to regulate capitalism and not to destroy it.”
The most important immediate economic change was the comprehensive dismantling of feudalism: the abolition of the rural class system and the distribution of land to the peasantry (a process already well underway in the areas under CPC control).
Land reform resulted in a large agricultural surplus which, along with Soviet support, created the conditions for a rapid state-led industrialisation. Life expectancy, literacy rates and living standards dramatically improved throughout the country.
There was an unprecedented shift in the status of women, who had suffered every oppression and indignity under feudalism. Via a system of “barefoot doctors,” basic medical care was made available to the peasantry.
The New Democracy period only lasted a few years. By 1954, the government was promoting collectivisation in the countryside and shifting private production into state hands. By the time of the Great Leap Forward in 1958, there was no more talk of a slow and cautious road to socialism; the plan now was to “surpass Britain and catch up to America” within 15 years.
The reasons for moving on from New Democracy are complex and contested and reflect a shifting global political environment.
The CPC had envisaged — or at least hoped for — mutually beneficial relations with the West, as is hinted at in the quote above that “legitimate foreign trading interests will enjoy more opportunities than ever before.”
However, by the time of the founding of the PRC, the Cold War was already in full swing. After the defeat of Japan in 1945 and with the outbreak of civil war between the communists and the nationalists, the US came down on the side of the latter, on the basis that Chiang Kai-shek understood the civil war to be “an integral part of the worldwide conflict between communism and capitalism” and was resolutely on the side of capitalism.
The US made its hostility to the People’s Republic manifestly clear from early on. US involvement in the Korean War, starting in June 1950, was to no small degree connected to the West’s determination to “contain” People’s China.
The genocidal force directed against the Korean people — including the repeated threat of nuclear warfare — was also a warning to China’s communists (although the warning was returned with interest, when hundreds of thousands of Chinese volunteers joined hands with their Korean brothers and sisters, rapidly pushing the US-led troops back to the 38th parallel and forcing an effective stalemate).
Soon after the arrival of US troops in Korea, president Truman announced that his government would act to prevent the Chinese island of Taiwan’s incorporation into the PRC, since this would constitute “a threat to the security of the Pacific area and to United States forces performing their lawful and necessary functions in that area.”
Truman ordered the Seventh Fleet of the US Navy into the Taiwan Strait in order to prevent China from liberating it (such, incidentally, are the imperialist origins of the notion of Taiwanese independence).
Along with these acts of physical aggression, the US imposed a total embargo on China, depriving the country of various important materials required for reconstruction.
The dangerously hostile external environment made New Democracy less viable. There are parallels here with the Soviet abandonment of the New Economic Policy (NEP) in 1929. Much like New Democracy, the NEP had consisted of a mixed economy, with private business encouraged in order to increase production and enhance productivity.
Introduced in 1921, the NEP proved highly successful, allowing the Soviet Union to recover economically from war whilst minimising internal class conflict.
By the end of the decade, however, new external dangers were emerging and it became clear to the Soviet leadership that the imperialist powers were starting to mobilise for war.
From 1929 the Soviet economy shifted to something like a wartime basis, with near-total centralisation, total state ownership of industry, collectivisation of agriculture and a major focus on heavy industry and military production.
Similarly in China in the mid-1950s, the shifting regional situation contributed to an economic and political shift. Beyond that, there was undoubtedly a subjective factor of the CPC leadership wanting to accelerate the journey to socialism — to “accomplish socialist industrialisation and socialist transformation in 15 years or a little longer,” as Mao put it in 1953.
With the death of Stalin in March 1953 and the gradual deterioration of relations between the CPC and the new Soviet leadership under Nikita Khrushchev, the Chinese came to feel that the Soviets were abandoning the path of revolutionary struggle and that responsibility for blazing a trail in the construction of socialism had fallen to China.
To move from a position of economic and scientific backwardness to becoming an advanced socialist power would require nothing less than a “great leap.”
The G7 is meeting with a shared vision of “market democracies” setting the rules of international relations. What this means in reality is the continuation of US-led imperialism. In contrast, China proposes a multipolar world where every country can choose its development path. This is explained by the following quote from Xi Jinping.
Keeping up with the times, one can not live in the 21st century while thinking the old fashion, lingering in the age of colonial expansion or with a zero-sum mentality of the Cold War.
In the face of the profoundly changed international landscape and the objective need for the world to rally closely together like passengers in the same boat, all countries should join hands in building a new type of international relations featuring cooperation and mutual benefit, and all peoples should work together to safeguard world peace and promote common development.
We stand for the sharing of dignity by all countries and peoples in the world. All countries, irrespective of size, strength and wealth, are equal. The right of the people to independently choose their development paths should be respected, interference in the internal affairs of other countries opposed and international fairness and justice maintained. Only the wearer of the shoes knows if they fit or not. Only the people can best tell if the development path they have chosen for their country suits or not.
We stand for the sharing of the fruits of development by all countries and peoples in the world. Every country, while pursuing its own development, should actively facilitate the common development of all countries. There can not be an enduring development in the world when some countries are getting richer and richer while others languishing in prolonged poverty and backwardness. Only when all countries achieve common development can there be better development in the world. Such practices as beggaring-thy-neighbor, shifting crisis on others and feathering one’s nest at the expense of others are both immoral and unsustainable.Xi Jinping, Follow the Trend of the Times and Promote Peace and Development in the World, 2013
Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez was interviewed on the World Today podcast by Anna Ge, on the subject of the ‘Uyghur Tribunal’ and the latest round of accusations regarding China’s treatment of Uyghurs in Xinjiang.
The segment is embedded below, along with a transcript.
You’re listening to World Today. Some Western media outlets have started hyping another report wrote by the infamous anti China activist Adrian Zenz. The report claimed there will be millions fewer Uyghurs and other ethnic minority newborns in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in the next 20 years. But how did he come to this sensational conclusion, how reliable is his study? To delve into these questions and more, we’re joined by Carlos Martinez from London. He’s an author and activist. Thanks for joining us, Carlos. So first of all, how much faith can we put into this report based on the data samples and methodology Zenz used?
So there are two things that we need to look at here. One is the data samples and methodology, the actual scientific validity of the study. And the other is the way that it’s reported. Because for the vast majority of people that see this study, they’re going to see the headlines, they’re going to see maybe a few sentences from an article, they’re not going to take a close look at the data.
Now, in terms of the methodology, Adrian Zenz has really honed this method over the course of several years. He gets lots of data from lots of places, he throws it all together. And then he tries to find the subset, the small piece of that data, that seems to prove what he wants it to prove, his hypothesis. And that’s a classic technique that people use to lie with statistics, to make statistics work for them. The correct scientific approach is to analyze all the data you have, and see if it confirms your hypothesis or not, not to narrow the sample down in a very specific way, until the data tells the story you want it to.
An equivalent example might be, maybe I’ve got a hypothesis that people read more books than they used to 10 years ago. So I start by asking a random sample of 100 people: how many books did you read 10 years ago? And then I go and stand outside a bookshop or a library and ask another 100 people, how many books did you read this year? Obviously, the average is going to be higher now, but not because 10 years have passed, but because I’ve selected the sample that’s going to give me the answer that I want. And this is what Zenz has done, essentially, he has narrowed in on a very small subset of data for one year, in a section of Xinjiang, in southern Xinjiang. And on the basis of that data, he projects that the population growth rate will reduce by 1/3.
But then, his study gets blanket coverage in the Western media. And the headlines also, that the Uyghur population number is going to reduce by 1/3. Now to cut actual population numbers by a third in 20 years, not only do you have to stop anybody from having children, but you also actively have to kill a few million people on top of that. So the whole thing is just ludicrous and unbelievable.
The population growth rate might be declining somewhat. But that’s actually the case throughout China for a number of reasons including urbanization, people joining the workforce, people going into higher education and so on. But actually we’ve seen that over the last decade, the Uyghur population in Xinjiang increased by 25% compared to the Han population, which increased by just 2%. So this latest study from Zenz is really just something that really be ignored but in fact is being given blanket media coverage in the West and is feeding into this overall story that we have of China committing a genocide or a cultural genocide in Xinjiang.
You have visited China before. What is your impression about China and Xinjiang? Is there a gap between Xinjiang in western media and in your personal experience?
Yes, I would say there’s a big gap. I went to Xinjiang, specifically to Urumqi, in January last year. In terms of my expectation, going on the basis of what I had seen in the Western media before I went, I thought I would witness the intense repression of Uyghur Muslims. I didn’t think that I would see Uyghur people and other ethnicities living ordinary lives, engaging in their customs, engaging in their traditions. But actually, that’s exactly what you do see in Xinjiang. I mean, the group I was in, we didn’t have an official guide. We weren’t being told where to go by a CPC or government official. We walked around freely. We saw mosques everywhere. We saw many hundreds of Uyghur Muslims wearing distinctive clothing, walking, working, and definitely not seeming like they were in fear of being persecuted. In fact, you go to the central area and you see many people, especially older people dancing outside to traditional Uyghur music. We ate in Uyghur restaurants, the food was halal, there was no alcohol available.
All the street signs have both Chinese and Uyghur writing, one sees newspapers, one sees magazines in Uyghur script, so the feeling I got was one of not just ethnic diversity, but also of harmonious relations. If I compare it with Australia, which is a country that I’ve visited several times, the indigenous population in Australia is an oppressed minority who are prevented from living their traditional ways of life, who suffer from a much lower life expectancy than the rest of the population, from much lower educational attainment and outcomes, much higher prison rate and so on. If you go to an Australian town, any Australian town really, you can see that the situation for indigenous people there is disastrous. And the state, the government does very little to help those people. And there is ethnic conflict rather than ethnic harmony. It would be unusual for example, if I went into a cafe in Brisbane, to see a European-Australian and an Indigenous Australian, working together or having, you know, a normal friendly relationship. But it wouldn’t be at all unusual in Urumqi or Kashgar to see a Uyghur person and a Han person working together and being friends.
So yes, I would say in terms of the what I see about Xinjiang in Western media and my personal experience, there’s an enormous gap.
It seems that China’s Xinjiang has increasingly become a card played by the West. Recently, China has dismissed a so called Uyghur tribunal set up in the United Kingdom, to hear allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang. What do you make of the legitimacy of the tribunal and the motivation behind it?
Well, I think it’s fairly clear that the so called tribunal has got no basis in international law. It’s part of an ongoing and quite wide ranging and long term propaganda campaign. And in turn, it’s clear that propaganda campaign is part of a US led New Cold War project, which is, is pretty well known that it’s designed to slow down China’s rise, and to try and maintain a unipolar world in which the US leads, in which the US enjoys hegemony, in which the US can structure international relations in order to serve the interests not of humanity but its own interests. If China keeps growing, and it keeps promoting and pushing a system of multipolarity, which is a more democratic framework of international relations, then the US doesn’t get to impose its will on the world any more.
China’s economy is growing, right? China has wiped out extreme poverty, China has shown that it can deal with a huge threat like the pandemic, China is taking the lead in trying to prevent climate breakdown, which is the number one threat facing humanity. And is actually the sort of thing where, in the West, we like to think we’re in charge of dealing with climate breakdown, because we’re more civilized, we’re more enlightened than the rest of the world. But actually, China’s taking the lead on that. And every success that China has is a sort of ideological blow to this capitalist or neoliberal orthodoxy. So that’s really why the US and its allies are obsessed with slandering China, making it look bad, trying to prevent other countries from working with it, trying to slow down its rise, trying to cut it out of of global value chains, trying to prevent it from having access to certain raw materials, and elements of technology, and so on.
The Uyghur tribunal fits into a more generalized setup of information warfare that the US and its allies are waging against China.
Socialism with Chinese characteristics is socialism, not capitalism. You can tell from the fact that life continues to dramatically improve for the masses of the people. If the capitalist class was in charge, there would still be widespread hunger, homelessness and illiteracy.
Deng Xiaoping made this point very effectively:
Ours is an economically backward country with a population of one billion. If we took the capitalist road, a small number of people in certain areas would quickly grow rich, and a new bourgeoisie would emerge along with a number of millionaires — all of these people amounting to less than one per cent of the population — while the overwhelming majority of the people would remain in poverty, scarcely able to feed and clothe themselves. Only the socialist system can eradicate povertyChina can only take the socialist road, 1987
We deeply regret the sudden loss of Dennis Etler, a committed Marxist-Leninist and friend of China for half a century.
In addition to his academic research in the field of anthropology (including some fascinating projects in China), Dennis has written extensively for CGTN, China Daily, PressTV, and other media outlets. He is well-known online for launching the Facebook group Xi Jinping – China’s Exceptional President, the largest pro-PRC social media community outside China.
He will be sorely missed, but his work lives on.
We are republishing this article by Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez, which originally appeared in the Morning Star on 4 June 2021. It is the first in a series of articles about the history of the Communist Party of China, which celebrates its centenary on 1 July 2021.
The Communist Party of China (CPC) was formed in July 1921. From that time up to the present day, it has led the Chinese Revolution – a revolution to eliminate feudalism, to regain China’s national sovereignty, to end foreign domination of China, to build socialism, to create a better life for the Chinese people, and to contribute to a peaceful and prosperous future for humanity.
Feudalism was dismantled in CPC-controlled territories from the early 1930s onwards, and throughout the country in the period immediately following the establishment of the People’s Republic in 1949.
Similarly, warlord rule was ended and a unified China essentially established in 1949; Hong Kong was returned to Chinese rule in 1997 and Macao in 1999. Only Taiwan continues to be governed separately and to serve foreign interests.
And yet in a world system still principally defined by US hegemony, the imperialist threat remains – and is intensifying with the development of a US-led hybrid war against China. Therefore the project of protecting China’s sovereignty and resisting imperialism continues. Similarly, the path to socialism is constantly evolving.
In the course of trying to build socialism in a vast semi-colonial, semi-feudal country, mistakes have certainly been made.
The collected works of Marx and Lenin bubble over with profound ideas, but they contain no templates or formulae. Chinese Marxists have had to continuously engage in “concrete analysis of concrete conditions,” applying and developing socialist theory, creatively adapting it to an ever-changing material reality.
This series will focus in on a number of controversies in Chinese revolutionary history, in particular the New Democracy period, the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution and the Reform and Opening Up process. I argue that, while the Chinese Revolution has taken numerous twists and turns, and while the CPC leadership has adopted vastly contrasting strategies at different times, there is a common thread running through modern Chinese history: dedication to navigating a path to socialism, development and independence, improving the lot of the Chinese people, and contributing to a peaceful and prosperous future for humanity.
In order to lay the ground for the rest of the series, this first article will give a very brief overview of the early history of the Chinese Revolution.
The CPC was formed in response to a clear need for revolutionary leadership. The 1911 bourgeois revolution that had finally overthrown the Qing dynasty and established the Republic of China had come to a dead end, owing to the manoeuvring of the imperialist powers and their comprador agents. Most of the country was run by warlords.
The feudal economy remained in place and the bulk of the population remained permanently on the brink of starvation, indebted to landlords. The various imperialist powers maintained their footholds, with Britain, the US, Japan and Germany competing for control of China’s land and resources.
Young people in particular were searching for a path forward. A turning point came on May 4 1919, when the students of Beijing marched on the government buildings in protest at the Treaty of Versailles, which legalised the Japanese seizure of Shandong province and rejected China’s demands for the abolition of foreign spheres of influence and the withdrawal of foreign troops.
The CPC, formed two years later, was the first organisation to put forward the slogan “Down with imperialism,” recognising that China’s weakness and backwardness were inherently bound up with foreign domination.
Some relatively forward-thinking elements of the emerging capitalist class had hoped that the US or Japan might help China to establish itself as a modern capitalist power, but the communists recognised that this reflected a fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of imperialism. The major capitalist powers were compelled by the nature of their economic system to compete for control of China – a country offering an abundance of land, people, natural resources and geostrategic advantage.
The CPC’s anti-imperialist position quickly won it the support of a significant section of the population.
Soon after its formation, the CPC pushed for a united front with the Guomindang (GMD), a revolutionary nationalist party set up by Sun Yat-sen in 1912. The idea of the united front was to construct an anti-imperialist alliance incorporating workers, peasants, intellectuals and the patriotic elements of the capitalist class, with a view to decisively ending feudalism, uniting the country under a single central government and driving out the imperialist powers.
Denied recognition or support by the West, the GMD was in the process of orienting towards the recently formed Soviet Union, which had already demonstrated itself to be a supporter of Chinese sovereignty.
This first united front started to fracture after the death in 1925 of Sun Yat-sen. The GMD’s right wing gained the ascendancy under the leadership of the fiercely anti-communist Chiang Kai-shek. Fearing that the communists were gaining too much popular support, Chiang orchestrated a coup against them, in collaboration with the various foreign powers that had recognised in Chiang a potential partner in the pursuit of an “acceptable” political conjuncture in China.
When, in April 1927, Shanghai was liberated from warlord control as the result of an insurrection of the local working class (led primarily by CPC forces), Chiang’s forces won control of the city by means of a massacre of its liberators, killing an estimated 5,000 people. This marked the start of a several-year campaign of mass killings by Chiang’s forces against communists and progressive workers.
With CPC members formally ejected from the GMD and the united front dismantled, Chiang Kai-shek set up a new regime in Nanjing, under which communism became a crime punishable by death. The government focused its efforts not on resisting imperialism or uniting the country but on suppressing communists.
Facing something close to physical annihilation, the membership of the CPC fell from 58,000 at the start of 1927 to 10,000 by the end of the year.
These disastrous events led the communists to a strategic reorientation. It was clear that a united front policy focused on the major urban centres was no longer a viable option. Meanwhile, “as every schoolboy knows, 80 per cent of China’s population are peasants” (Mao Zedong, On Contradiction). The CPC was moving towards the development of the world’s first rural-based revolutionary Marxist movement.
Following a failed uprising in his native Hunan, Mao Zedong fled with his forces into the Jinggang mountains, in the border region of Jiangxi and Hunan provinces. This became the birthplace of the Chinese Red Army and the site of the first liberated territory.
The Jiangxi Soviet expanded over the course of several years to incorporate parts of seven counties and a population of more than half a million.
Between 1929 and 1934, Chiang’s forces led a series of brutal encirclement campaigns in an attempt to bury the Jiangxi Soviet. After suffering a series of defeats at the hands of a highly motivated and skilled Red Army, the Guomindang mobilised warlord armies from around the country, organising a force of more than a million troops. The communists had no choice but to abandon the liberated territory and break the siege. This process became the Long March: the extraordinary year-long retreat to the north-west, covering over 9,000 kilometres and ending with the establishment of a revolutionary base area in Shaanxi.
In the liberated territories, the communists led the creation of a new political economy in the countryside that – along with their determined struggle against Japanese militarism – would earn them the support of the broad masses of the peasantry.
Land reform was carried out and basic educational and healthcare infrastructure established. Millions of peasants finally learned to read in schools set up by the Red Army.
In the context of an expanding Japanese occupation of north-east China, more progressive elements within the GMD took the initiative, detaining Chiang in the north-western city of Xi’an and forcing him to agree to co-operate with the CPC against Japanese occupation. Thus was formed the Second United Front. The red base at Yan’an was recognised as a provincial government and the CPC was legalised; the Red Army was re-designated as the Eighth Route Army.
By the time of Japan’s defeat in 1945, it was abundantly clear that the communists were the most cohesive, committed and competent political force in China; the only political party with the potential to restore China’s sovereignty, unity and dignity.
The CPC proposed a democratic coalition with the GMD, and this was agreed; however, Chiang Kai-shek could accept nothing less than full control of the country, and he persisted in ferocious military attacks against CPC-controlled territory. A bitter four-year civil war ensued, resulting in the communists’ victory and the flight of Chiang Kai-shek and his generals to Taiwan.
The People’s Republic of China was proclaimed on October 1 1949 by Mao Zedong, who announced to the hundreds of thousands present in Tiananmen Square that “the Chinese people have stood up!”
We are republishing this article by Friends of Socialist China co-editor Danny Haiphong, which originally appeared on Covert Action Magazine on 5 June 2021.
A new report published in Railway Age magazine and written by the Information Technology Innovation Foundation (ITIF) has sounded the alarm about China’s growing high-speed rail sector. The report comes amid escalations in the U.S.’s New Cold War against China, of which technology is a key component.
China is by far the world leader in high-speed rail investment and development, sporting more than 35,000 kilometers (21,700 miles) of high-speed rail, or 68 percent of the world’s total. The ITIF itself admits to China’s rapid success in this sector since its first high-speed rail line was completed in 2008:
Since then, China has opened thousands of kilometers of high-speed lines with speeds ranging from 200 to 350 kph. To do this, China spent hundreds of billions of dollars on the world’s most expensive public-works project since President Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System of the 1950s.
The United States might learn from China’s success in investing in high-speed rail and try and emulate it; however, according to the ITIF, China’s high-speed rail policies damage “innovation” by privileging domestic market development and state-owned enterprises over the interests of private, foreign firms primarily residing in the West. China is accused of employing a form of “mercantilism” to manipulate the global market at the expense of the superior capabilities of Western, Japanese, and American investors.
The term “mercantilism” has been used by big business interests in the U.S. and West to portray China’s policy of indigenous development as a high crime against the free market. In fact, the ITIF has been sounding the alarm about China’s prioritization of its own tech sector since 2013.
It lamented that China was no longer keeping its promise “to be a low-cost production platform for foreign multinational corporations (MNCs).” As if the Chinese government’s function was to serve the latter’s needs and not that of its own people.
The ITIF’s latest report focusing on China’s high-speed rail sector comes amid escalating U.S. attacks on China’s tech sector. Most associate this “tech war” with the Trump administration’s sanctions on China’s Huawei Corporation and social media apps such as WeChat and TikTok. However, the Biden administration and its allies have been just as aggressive in their attempts to forestall China’s technological development.
Biden has proclaimed that the U.S. is in a battle against China to “win the 21st century” and has expanded the list of Chinese telecommunications and supercomputing companies on the U.S.’s blacklist. In a recent speech to the UK-funded Chatham House, neo-con hawk and twice-failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton passionately claimed that the U.S. is at “the mercy of China” and demanded that the U.S. “take back the means of production.”
The U.S. war on China’s tech sector therefore shares widespread bipartisan support. As this analysis will demonstrate, far from calling for more public investment in the needs of an increasingly destitute U.S. workforce, the ITIF’s new warnings about China’s high-speed rail sector reveal how powerful economic interests are pushing for a new Cold War with China alongside the perpetuation of neoliberal economic policies that prioritize the interests of multi-national corporations.Continue reading Off the Rails: New Report by Corporate-Funded Think-Tank Reveals How Profit-Driven Motives Drive New Cold War against China
We are republishing this article by Friends of Socialist China co-editor Danny Haiphong, which originally appeared on Black Agenda Report on 2 June 2021.
Joe Biden has been praised by liberals and even much of the Left as a marked shift from Donald Trump’s erratic and embarrassing presidency. This position takes on a decidedly class dimension whereby elites and their hangers on walk in lockstep with the Biden administration’s political trajectory. Those heaping praise onto Biden ignore his neoliberal approach to domestic economic woes and express complete alignment with his foreign policy priorities.
Nowhere is this clearer than in Biden’s approach to China. National Security Council Coordinator for the Indo-Pacific Kurt Campbell declared in late May that the “era of engagement” with China has come to an end. Before entering the Biden administration, Campbell was co-founder of the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). CNAS is a D.C.-based think-tank which is primarily funded by the State Department and major military contractors such as Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and BAE systems. In other words, Biden’s “Asia Czar” is the perfect man for the job of escalating the U.S.’s New Cold War against China.
Biden’s approach to China has built upon Trump’s hostile posture in every respect. Biden has increased sanctions on China’s tech sector and his representatives at the State Department have shown an outright disrespect for Chinese diplomats. Biden has further committed to maintaining the U.S military’s presence in the Asia-Pacific while declaring that the 21st century will be a U.S. battle for “democracy” against China’s “autocracy.”
The current administration has been most Trump-like in relation to the propaganda campaign of the U.S.’s New Cold War. Biden has doubled down on unproven claims of “genocide” in Xinjiang. During the eleven-day Israeli assault on Gaza, the U.S. State Department declared without any evidence that Xinjiang was an “open-air prison.” On May 26th, Biden demanded that U.S. intelligence services review a more than year-old claim that COVID-19 was either produced or released from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
The lab leak conspiracy has resurfaced in recent months after Trump’s former CDC Director Robert Redfield stated that he believed COVID-19 emerged from a lab. Redfield is a renowned Evangelical whose credentials have been subject to scrutiny due to his former relationship with the Americans for a Sound HIV/AIDS Policy (ASAP), a rightwing NGO which led the charge in promoting abstinence-only and other hard-right Christian values as a response to HIV/AIDS.
The lab leak hypothesis has long been debunked as an evidence-free conspiracy with links to the far right. An analysis by FAIR found that corporate media reports utilized quotes from National Endowment for Democracy-funded far right activist Xiao Qiang and a 2018 State Department Cable which mentioned zero concerns of safety hazards as the principal sources to back up the lab leak claim. Tucker Carlson joined in on the fray later in 2020 to platform Yan Li-Meng’s assertion that the virus was created at the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Li-Meng possesses connections to Steve Bannon and Guo Wengui’s Rule of Law Foundation and her research has been discredited by the Hong Kong university from which she defected.
Now Biden and his top allies such as Dr. Anthony Fauci have given credence to the lab leak conspiracy. Biden’s call for an intelligence investigation comes amid unsourced intelligence reports that claim doctors in Wuhan became ill just prior to the spread of the virus. Similar to Russiagate, U.S. intelligence has run with an entirely unsourced narrative that conveniently pins blame on another country for domestic ills and labels that country a “national security” threat.
Genuine leftists are often called conspiracy theorists for questioning power, making the term itself toxic in political discourse. It is important to remember, however, that conspiracies do exist and that those in power are the ones with the means and the ends to carry them out. The lab leak conspiracy, like Russiagate, has been a key cog in the U.S. propaganda war against China. For more than a year, U.S. officials and media outlets have casted blame and skepticism onto China for the spread of COVID-19. The propaganda has worked. More than half of the U.S. population believes China should pay reparations to the world for the spread of COVID-19 and public opinion of China has reached a new low.
The lab leak conspiracy is an effective psychological operation because it is difficult to imagine evidence that could disprove or prove the claim. When Russia was accused of “hacking” or “influencing” the 2016 election, even the most astute observers of geopolitics tended to fall for the Cold War bait that it was plausible Russia possessed both the desire and capacity to prevent a Hillary Clinton presidency. China’s image in the U.S. psyche as an even more formidable “Yellow Peril” archetype of a communist “dictatorship” to Russia has ensured that majorities of U.S. and Western minds were already primed to believe that the People’s Republic of China was capable of releasing a bioweapon upon the world. Racist characterizations of China in the U.S. corporate media have revived the “Sick Man of Asia” stereotype and given U.S. intelligence all the ammo it needs to lend credence to the lab leak conspiracy.
It is therefore important to remember the two biggest accomplishments of Russiagate, an intelligence conspiracy Biden supported:
The lab leak conspiracy is serving similar ends in a moment of intense crisis for the United States. A Zero COVID-19 strategy was never implemented in the United States. The U.S.’s failure to contain the pandemic is clearly demonstrated in the more than 500,000 pandemic-related deaths suffered from the virus on U.S. shores. Enthusiasm for an economic “recovery” masks the fact that the U.S.-led capitalist economy continues to shrink amid massive bailouts for speculators and the ever-increasing destitution of the working masses. The lab leak conspiracy deflects blame for these and all other problems onto China.
Yet China is clearly not the problem. China has contained the pandemic and is set to grow more than six percent in the next year. China defeated extreme poverty during a global depression. Its model for state-driven economic development and multipolar international relations has become increasingly attractive to many around the world who find themselves crushed under the weight of the U.S.’s regime of endless war and austerity, especially in the Global South.
That Biden and his administration see China as a threat should come as no surprise. Biden and the Democrats are committed to only one constituency: finance capital. All promises to cancel student loan debt, implement a public option, or reel back Trump’s immigration policies have been broken in service of Biden’s corporate donors. Biden has bombed Syria, fully supported Israel’s genocide of the Palestinians, and given a blank check to the Pentagon. Finance capital no longer sees the possibility of a compliant China in the world economy and therefore wants to arrest its development via the military industrial complex.
Biden is thus doing his best Trump impression by urging a U.S. intelligence review into whether the COVID-19 virus has origins in a singular research institute in Wuhan. His deep dive into the lab leak conspiracy validates Mike Pompeo and Donald Trump’s racist epithet that COVID-19 was the “China virus.” The World Health Organization (WHO) has already begun investigating the origins of COVID-19 . Interference from nefarious spooks in U.S. intelligence threatens to undermine future research into the origins of COVID-19.
It shouldn’t have to be said that pandemics fall well outside of the scope of U.S. intelligence. U.S. intelligences have played a key role in deploying chemical and biological weapons in numerous wars on Global South countries such as Korea, Vietnam, and Iraq. One of the authors of the Wall Street Journal report that revived the lab leak conspiracy, Michael R. Gordon, was also spreading rumors of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) in Iraq nearly two decades ago.
Biden is nothing more than a corporate Democrat with Trumpian characteristics. He wasn’t lying when he said that nothing would fundamentally change under his watch. Now that is a conspiracy truly worth our attention.
On 3 June 2021, the People’s Forum NYC held an online launch for John Ross’s new book, China’s Great Road: Lessons for Marxist Theory and Socialist Practices.
The launch features interesting speeches from John Ross, Radhika Desai, Vijay Prashad and Brian Becker. In addition to recommending the book, the speakers engage with some important and controversial topics: to what extent is Socialism with Chinese Characteristics consistent with Marxism? To what extent was pre-reform Chinese socialism consistent with Marxism? To what extent can the lessons of China’s rise be applied elsewhere in the world? What is the nature of globalisation?
As John Ross points out in his remarks, his book is meant to be a starting point for an extremely important discussion in the socialist movement, particularly in the West, about Chinese socialism. Watching the book launch should help to equip people to participate further in that discussion.
The book can be ordered from 1804 Books (Americas) and Praxis Press (Europe).
We are pleased to republish this fascinating article by He Yan about David Crook, a friend of socialist China if ever there was one. The article appeared in the March 2021 issue of Voice of Friendship, the magazine of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries.
“Cmour sacré de la Patrie,
Conduis, soutiensnos bras
Combats avec tesdéfenseurs,
Combats avec tesdéfenseurs!
Sous nosdrapeaux que la victoire
Accoure a tesmales accents,
Voient ton triomphe et notre
Speaking of his teacher David Crook, Zhou Nan, a Chinese diplomat in his 90s lying in bed at Beijing Hospital, began to sing The Marseillaise in French. The Marseillaise is a popular paean of freedom popularized by the French Revolution and the Spanish Civil War.
It was the morning of May 16, 2018, when the sun shone into the room and the song filled my ears. Zhou Nan then stopped singing and said to me, “In 1948, I learned The Internationale and the Marseillaise at the Central Foreign Affairs School in Nanhaishan.”
Spanish anti-fascist battlefield
On the morning of Nov 4, 2020, I went to Zhou Nan’s home. Zhou recalled: “In 1937 before he came to China, David Crook took part in the International Brigades to support the government of the Republic of Spain in fighting Franco’s fascist regime. He taught me The Internationale and The Marseillaise, which he had learned in the International Brigades. Later on, I myself often sang The Marseillaise. Although I forgot the first half, the second half is still in my mind.”
David Crook was born in London on Aug 14, 1910. His Jewish grandparents had escaped from Poland and gone to the United Kingdom in avoid of czar’s religious persecution. His father’s fur business, in spite of earlier development, failed in 1921. As a result, David dropped out of school when he was 15 years old.
David was working at a relative’s factory during the great labor strike in 1926 in the UK. His parents sent him to London Polytechnic and then to Paris to learn French so that he was able to enter the middle class. Dreaming of becoming a millionaire to repay his parents for their upbringing, David traveled to the United States alone in April 1929. As he wrote in his unpublished autobiography — From Hampstead Heath to Tian’anmen (finished in 1993) — “… it is a bad timing. I chose to come to America six months before the US stock market crashed in October 1929.”
David worked at a leather factory as the Great Depression settled in across the United States. He processed stinking pelts every day and earned a pitiful $15 a week. Witnessing the miserable life of laborers on the bottom rung of society, he began to read books and reports about the Soviet Union.
Through part-time work and part-time study, he was admitted to Columbia University. He then joined the Communist Youth League and became an activist in the student movement, which gave him a chance to gain more knowledge about communism. Combining communist theory and practice, he and his schoolmates supported the local miners’ strike in Harlan County, Kentucky, which ended up with his being expelled. That prompted him to join the Communist Party of Britain in London after his graduation from Columbia.
In July 1936, Francisco Franco led a military coup to overthrow the democratically elected left-wing government of the Republic of Spain and establish fascist rule, triggering a civil war in the country. David joined the International Brigades and fought with the Spanish people. He wrote: “Our batch of volunteers rode on from the border of France and Spain to Barcelona at the beginning of January 1937. Uniformed young soldiers of the Republican Army leaned out of the windows, their faces smiling, their right arms raised in the clenched-fist popular front salute, above the vow, whitewashed on the wooden sides of the train: ‘Rather die than submit to tyranny.’ That was the spirit of Republican Spain.”
David was shot in the leg in the battle defending the Jarama Valley. Later, the song Jarama commemorated the battle. The lyrics include: “There’s a valley in Spain called Jarama. It’s a place that we all know right well. For it’s there that we gave of our manhood. And many of our brave comrades fell.”
David recalled in an article: “On Feb 12, 1937, Sam Wild and I were part of a platoon of British Volunteers stationed on the crest of a hill, having been told, ‘Don’t leave that bloody hill till you’re told to.’ Bloody it was and we obeyed orders until none of our mates were left alive. Then we retreated down the slope into a grove of olive trees. There we took cover behind the mounds of earth banking up the trees.”
At midnight, he was sent to the hospital in Madrid where Norman Bethune worked. During his six weeks of hospitalization, he became an assistant broadcaster in English and interviewed Ernest Hemingway. “Ernest Hemingway covered the Spanish Civil War with his pen. Hemingway in a hotel room in Madrid, laughing, gambling, drinking with friends as the bombs burst nearby. It was, of course, the top floor of the hotel, the most dangerous place to be. I was in that room one night with Hemingway and his pals.”
During his stay in the hospital, he borrowed a book from Bethune called Red Star Over China by American journalist Edgar Snow and thus began to follow the Chinese revolution. As he later wrote in his article Red Star Leads Me to China, “I read Snow’s reports on five counterattacks against (the Kuomintang’s) Encirclement and Extermination Campaign and the (Red Army’s) Long March, including the crossing of the Dadu River, flying away from the Luding Bridge and tramping over snow mountains and marshy grasslands. I got to know Yan’an, a revolutionary base area in China, and its local life. I was deeply touched by the heroism of the Chinese workers, farmers, intellectuals and populace in the face of Japanese invaders. … I found things in common between the Chinese People’s War of Resistance against the Japanese Aggression and the Spanish people’s war against fascism. When the International Brigades left Spain, I was eager to fight in Yan’an one day.”
In the summer of 1938, David was sent by the Communist International from Spain to Shanghai, which was under Japanese occupation, to prepare reports on local workers. He taught at St. John’s University. In 1940, he went to Chengdu, Sichuan province, and taught at the University of Nanking, which had been forced to move to Chengdu because of the Japanese invasion. David met Isabel Brown in the office and fell in love with her at first sight. Isabel was born in Chengdu and her parents were Canadian missionaries. In 1938, she earned a master’s degree in child psychology from the University of Toronto in Canada and came back to China. She came to replace her sick sister as a teacher.
Employed by the National Christian Council of China, Isabel participated in the rural construction of Xinglongchang, Bishan county. David often went to see her at that time. In the summer of 1941, they visited a spot by the Dadu River where the Red Army had fought a fierce battle. On the iron chain bridge stretching across the river, David proposed to Isabel.
In June 1941, when Nazi Germany invaded the Soviet Union, David decided to return to Britain via New York to fight fascism. He worked with Edgar Snow at the American Committee in Aid of the Chinese Industrial Cooperatives in New York and raised money for China’s anti-fascist war. After a long journey, David and Isabel returned to London one after another. They married in 1942. David was enlisted in the British Royal Air Force and was sent to India, Ceylon (Sri Lanka) and Burma (today’s Myanmar) for intelligence work. Isabel joined the Communist Party of Britain and served in the Canadian Women’s Army Corps.
After the end of World War II in 1945, David retired from military service and began to study the Chinese language at the School of Oriental and African Studies of the University of London, while Isabel pursued her PhD in philosophy in anthropology under Raymond Firth at the London School of Economics. Rereading Red Star Over China renewed their interest in the country. The couple wanted to see changes in China, and their ideas were supported by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Britain which gave them a letter of introduction.
In the autumn of 1947, the couple traveled via Hong Kong to Shanghai and Tianjin. With the help of the underground organization of the Chinese Communist Party, they arrived at Shilidian (Ten Mile Inn) in Shidong village of Hebei province’s Wu’an county, in the Taihang mountain area. They participated in the land reform as observers. In homespun uniforms, they integrated into the local community, eating with farmers while carrying bowls and squatting on the ground. Through talks, they collected historical data and materials on land reform in the village between 1937 and 1947, yielding two works: Revolution in a Chinese Village: Ten Mile Inn; and Ten Mile Inn: Mass Movement in a Chinese Village.
With the liberated areas of north China expanded and merged, the liberation of Beijing and Tianjin were close at hand. In the summer of 1948, the couple finished their investigations and were ready to return to Britain. Wang Bingnan, deputy director of the Foreign Affairs Department of the CPC Central Committee, invited them to teach English at the Central Foreign Affairs School. They agreed.Continue reading From Spain to China: The story of David Crook
The Western media has taken to slandering China for its supposed “vaccine diplomacy”, but really this is just a way of deflecting criticism of the West’s vaccine apartheid. The truth is that Chinese vaccines are providing a lifeline to much of the Global South.
Read Qiao Collective’s important article Why China’s Vaccine Internationalism Matters.
We are pleased to republish this academic study by Eurispes – Istituto di Studi Politici Economici e Sociali, Centro Studi Eurasia-Mediterraneo and Istituto Diplomatico Internazionale, which provides a rigorous analysis of the situation in Xinjiang, in particular the emergence of the separatist terrorist movement and the Chinese government’s response.
The report provides a crucial corrective to the ‘Uyghur genocide’ narrative that has become pervasive in much of the West. We are republishing the English version, with permission. The original can be accessed in English and Italian from the Centro Studi Eurasia-Mediterraneo website.
Over the past year, the Western media has given considerable attention to the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). Newspapers, television programs and, above all, social media users have focused in particular on the alleged repression, by the Chinese government, of the local Uyghur community, a predominantly Islamic ethnic group with its own language (Uyghur, of Turkic origin) that has lived in the region for centuries, accounting for just over half of the total population. In Europe, the issue has caused consternation and indignation in public opinion, to the point of influencing politics, and convincing the foreign ministers of the member countries of the European Union to approve sanctions against some Chinese officials considered to be particularly implicated – according to the allegations – in the so-called “Uyghur genocide”.
However, the accounts and testimonies coming out of China, as well as from foreign journalists, diplomats, experts, students and professionals who have had and continue to have the chance to visit Xinjiang and its cities and counties, tell a very different story, which seriously undermines the West’s charges.
The detention and re-education camps, are, in fact, shown to be confinement and de-radicalisation centres for men and women affiliated with terrorist groups, such as the East Turkestan Liberation Organization (ETLO) and the Eastern Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM), which for several years have been carrying out attacks not only in Xinjiang but elsewhere in China as well, and even abroad, against Chinese targets (diplomatic representations, tourist groups or companies) or targets of other nature, as evidenced by the presence, reported in recent years, of ethnic Uyghur fighters among the ranks of ISIS in the Syrian and Iraqi conflicts.
This report thus seeks to shed light on a topic – that of the social and political situation in Xinjiang – that is much broader and more complex than the simplistic accounts and allegations of the Western mainstream press, whose sensationalistic narrative risks generating serious diplomatic tensions, undermining consolidated bilateral or multilateral cooperation platforms and, last but not least, providing sectarian, violent and subversive groups with a very dangerous political and moral legitimacy.Continue reading Eurispes academic report: Xinjiang – understanding complexity, building peace
The British branch of No Cold War is holding a launch event on Wednesday 16 June, 7pm BST (2pm US Eastern, 11am US Pacific), organised in coordination with the Tricontinental Institute. The theme is China is not our enemy, and there’s an excellent list of speakers:
You can register for the Zoom event on Eventbrite.
Speakers will address a number of themes and questions including:
Follow @NCWBritain, @nocoldwar and @tri_continental on Twitter for updates.
What many in the West don’t understand: socialism with Chinese characteristics is socialism, not any other ‘ism.’ The extent to which Chinese socialism has improved people’s lives is historically unprecedented. It could not have been achieved under capitalism.
Socialism with Chinese characteristics is socialism, not any other ‘ism.’ Both history and our present reality tell us that only socialism can save China – and only socialism with Chinese characteristics can develop China. This is the conclusion of history, the choice of our people.Xi Jinping, 2019
The source of this quote is an essay by Xi Jinping, Uphold and Develop Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, the text of which is reproduced below.
Our first webinar takes place on Saturday 26 June, 9am US Eastern / 2pm Britain / 9pm China.
You can register for the Zoom event on Eventbrite.
On 1 July 2021, the Communist Party of China celebrates the 100th anniversary of its founding. Of all the CPC has accomplished in that period, the elimination of extreme poverty is unquestionably among its most impressive and historically significant achievements.
This webinar will explore how China has been able to carry out the most extensive poverty alleviation program in history, and what lessons there are for humanity.
About the organisers
Friends of Socialist China is a new platform based on supporting the People’s Republic of China and promoting understanding of Chinese socialism. Its website (edited by Danny Haiphong, Keith Bennett and Carlos Martinez) aims to consolidate the best articles and videos related to China and Chinese socialism, along with original analysis.
The Geopolitical Economy Research Group is a policy institute based at the University of Manitoba and run by Radhika Desai and Alan Freeman. It analyses and proposes policy alternatives for managing the interaction of national economies and states to promote human development and mutual benefit in today’s multipolar world.