We are republishing this excellent article by Stephen Millies in Struggle for Socialism. The article gives an overview of China’s extraordinary achievements since the founding of the People’s Republic on 1 October 1949, and highlights its continuing significance to working class and oppressed peoples worldwide.
Seventy-two years ago, on Oct. 1, 1949, Mao Zedong declared “China has stood up!” The socialist People’s Republic of China was born after decades of struggle.
Chinese women stepped forward with unbound feet. No longer could U.S. and British warships prowl the Yangtze River. Peasants, workers and progressive intellectuals knew their liberation had come.
China shook the world as its revolution inspired oppressed people everywhere. In his autobiography, Malcolm X wrote how the Chinese Revolution boosted his spirits while he was in prison.
China gave refuge to Mabel Williams and Robert F. Williams, who organized self-defense against the Ku Klux Klan in Monroe, North Carolina.
While 80% of China’s population couldn’t read or write before the revolution, illiteracy was practically wiped out by 2015.
In 1949 there were just 117,000 college students in China. By 2015, there were 37 million.
In 2021, Black men in the United States had a life expectancy at birth of just over 68 years.
All of the peoples and nationalities in socialist China have shared in these gains. One of the greatest triumphs of human rights was the abolition of serfdom in Tibet.
The coronavirus pandemic shows the failure of U.S. capitalism. While nearly 700,000 people have died of COVID-19 in the U.S., less than 5,000 people died in socialist China. That’s despite China having a billion more people than the U.S.
China’s President Xi Jinping announced plans to provide other countries with two billion vaccine doses this year. Despite President Joe Biden’s promises, the United States has so far distributed only 160 million doses.
The world’s workshop
None of these gains would have been possible without a socialist revolution and the leadership of the Communist Party of China. While the banksters tell the politicians what to do in Washington, communists control China’s banks.
The result has been fantastic economic growth. China today manufactures more goods than the United States. It has built more miles of high-speed rail than the rest of the world combined.
Back in 1949, the urban working class accounted for just 1% of China’s population. By 2019, there were 442 million people employed in the cities.
China started its industrialization with the help of the then-existing Soviet Union and other socialist countries in Eastern Europe. Today China is helping countries in Africa, Asia and Latin America with its Belt and Road Initiative.
Building bridges, housing, hospitals, railroads and schools takes a lot of steel. While China made less than a million tons of steel in 1949, it currently produces more than a billion tons.
That’s over 50% of world production. In the capitalist U.S., steel production has shrunken to 72 million tons, less than what was made in 1945.
The deliberate deindustrialization in the United States has thrown millions of workers out of a job and helped to keep wages down for everybody. But it wasn’t China that closed nine of the 10 auto plants in Flint, Michigan. General Motors did.
While Flint’s children were lead poisoned by their drinking water, China has been going full speed ahead with its own Green New Deal. China spent $100 billion to reforest 123,000 square miles. That’s an area larger than New Mexico.
China won’t go backwards
U.S. billionaires have never forgiven the Chinese people for making a revolution. Their fortunes started with enslaving Africans, killing Indigenous people, stealing half of Mexico and smuggling opium into China.
One of the biggest drug dealers was Warren Delano, a grandfather of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
A few months after the People’s Republic of China was founded, Washington started the Korean War. Four million people were killed in this dirty war.
Among them was Mao Anying, a son of Mao Zedong. He was one of many Chinese volunteers who gave their lives to defend Korea.
U.S. Gen. Douglas MacArthur wanted to drop atom bombs on both China and Korea. The U.S. Air Force burned Korean children alive with napalm and phosphorus bombs, just as it did later in Vietnam and Laos.
The capitalist media is now trying to blame China for the coronavirus pandemic. Scientists reject the lie that COVID-19 was started in a Wuhan laboratory. We shouldn’t be fooled by it either.
Three decades ago, the Soviet Union and the socialist countries in Eastern Europe were overthrown. This tragedy was a greater defeat than the crushing of the German working class by Hitler.
Poor and working people still have the socialist countries of China, Cuba, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Laos and Vietnam on their side. Bolivia, Iran, Nicaragua, Syria, Venezuela, Yemen and Zimbabwe are fighting U.S. economic sanctions. Palestine will be free.
History is on our side. Happy birthday to the socialist People’s Republic of China!