Britain’s century-long opium trafficking and China’s ‘Century of Humiliation’ (1839-1949)

This essay by Stansfield Smith, first published in MR Online, provides a detailed account of China’s Century of Humiliation, a crucial phenomenon to understand and one which continues to inform China’s anti-colonial politics. “For the Chinese, the trauma of the Century of Humiliation continues as a blunt reminder of their past defeat and neo-colonial servitude, as well as a reminder of the West’s self-righteous hypocrisy and arrogance.”

Stansfield describes how the British, later joined by other Western powers, used opium as a weapon to weaken China and reverse the flow of silver. In so doing, they caused untold suffering to the Indian as well as the Chinese people: “Britain taxed away 50% of the value of Indian peasants’ food crops to push them out of agriculture into growing Opium. This soon led to the Bengal famine of 1770, when ten million, a third of the Bengali population, starved to death. Britain took no action to aid them, as they did almost a century later with their orchestrated famine in Ireland.”

Once Britain defeated China in the First Opium War, the Treaty of Nanking gave Hong Kong to Britain as indemnity. Hong Kong “quickly became the center of Opium drug-dealing, soon providing the colony most of its revenue.” Such are the ignominious origins of British rule in Hong Kong.

China’s weakness was quickly leveraged by other Western powers, who imposed unequal treaties on China, and by the turn of the 20th century China was effectively a semi-colonial country. “The Eight-Nation Alliance (Japan, Russia, Britain, France, the United States, Germany, Italy, and Austria-Hungary) invaded again in 1900 to crush the nationalist Boxer Rebellion. An indemnity of 20,000 tons of silver was extracted, and China reduced to a neo-colony.”

Stansfield observes that “the blight of Opium on China was not resolved until the revolutionary victory in 1949.” Socialism has made China strong, and the Chinese people are determined to never again be humiliated by foreign powers. The article concludes:

The West now views China as a renewed threat, again seeking to economically disable it and chop it into pieces. However, this time, the Chinese people are much better prepared to combat imperialist designs to impose a new era of humiliation on them.

Stansfield Smith is an anti-war activist focused mostly on combating US intervention in Latin America. He is an activist with Chicago ALBA Solidarity.

For the Chinese, the trauma of the Century of Humiliation continues as a blunt reminder of their past defeat and neo-colonial servitude, as well as a reminder of the West’s self-righteous hypocrisy and arrogance.

In 1500, India and China were the world’s most advanced civilizations. Then came the Europeans. They eventually looted and wreaked havoc on both, just as they were to on the Americas and Africa. For India and China, Britain was the chief culprit, relying on state-sponsored drug-running backed by industrialized military power. The British Empire was the world’s largest producer and exporter of Opium—the main product of global trade after the gradual decline of the slave trade from Africa. Their “civilization” brought the Century of Humiliation to China, which only ended with the popular revolution led by Mao Zedong. This historic trauma and the struggle to overcome it and re-establish their country is etched in the minds of the Chinese today.

Before the British brought their “culture,” 25% of the world trade originated in India. By the time they left it was less than 1%. British India’s Opium dealing was for the large part of the 19th Century the second-most important source of revenue for colonial India. Their “Opium industry was one of the largest enterprises on the subcontinent, producing a few thousand tons of the drug every year—a similar output to Afghanistan’s notorious Opium industry [during the U.S. occupation], which supplies the global market for heroin.” Opium accounted for about 17-20% of British India revenues.

In the early 1700s, China produced 35% of the world GDP. Until 1800 half the books in the world were printed in Chinese. The country considered itself self-sufficient, not seeking any products from other countries. Foreign countries bought Chinese tea, silk, and porcelain, having to pay in gold and silver. Consequently, the balance of trade was unfavorable to the British for almost two centuries, like the situation the U.S. and Europe face with China today.

This trade slowly depleted Western reserves. Eventually, 30,865 tons of silver flowed into China, mostly from Britain. Britain turned to state sponsored drug smuggling as a solution, and by 1826 the smuggling from India had reversed the flow of silver. Thus began one of the longest and continuous international crimes of modern times, second to the African slave trade, under the supervision of the British crown.

(The just formed United States was already smuggling Opium into China by 1784. The U.S. first multi-millionaire John Jacob Astor grew rich dealing Opium to China, as did FDR’s grandfather, Warren Delano, Jr.)

The British East India Company was key to this Opium smuggling. Soon after Britain conquered Bengal in 1757, George III granted the East India Company a monopoly on producing and exporting Indian Opium. Eventually its Opium Agency employed some 2500 clerks working in 100 offices around India.

Britain taxed away 50% of the value of Indian peasants’ food crops to push them out of agriculture into growing Opium. This soon led to the Bengal famine of 1770, when ten million, a third of the Bengali population, starved to death. Britain took no action to aid them, as they did almost a century later with their orchestrated famine in Ireland. Another famine hit India in 1783, and again Britain did nothing as 11 million starved. Between 1760-1943,

As per British sources, more than 85 million Indians died in these famines which were in reality genocides done by the British Raj.

At its peak in the mid-19th century, the British state-sponsored export of Opium accounted for roughly 15% of total colonial revenue in India and 31% of India’s exports. The massive revenues from this drug money solidified India as a substantial financial base for England’s later world conquests.

Continue reading Britain’s century-long opium trafficking and China’s ‘Century of Humiliation’ (1839-1949)

Cyberattack allegations: smoke and mirrors instead of truth

In the following brief article for the Morning Star, Carlos Martinez scrutinises the British government’s recent claim that China is engaged in “malicious” cyber activities directed against the UK.

While these allegations are being led by fanatically anti-China Tory MPs such as Iain Duncan Smith, the article notes that Starmer’s Labour Party has also been quick to jump on the bandwagon, with shadow foreign secretary David Lammy promising that a Labour government would put a stop to Chinese cyberattacks by “working with Nato allies to develop new measures designed to protect our democratic values, institutions and open societies”. Carlos comments: “Lammy perhaps missed the irony of lauding Nato’s ‘democratic values’ on the 25th anniversary of that organisation’s criminal bombing campaign against Yugoslavia.”

The slanders about Chinese cyberattacks “contribute to anti-China hysteria, thereby building public support for Britain’s role in a reckless US-led new cold war.” Carlos concludes:

There is no benefit to the British working class of joining in with the new cold war. China does not pose a threat to us. China’s proposal is for mutual respect and non-interference; an economic relationship based on mutual benefit; and for close co-operation on the central issues of our era: climate change, pandemics, peace and development. This is a vision worthy of our support.

On Monday March 25 2024, in an obviously co-ordinated move, the US, UK, New Zealand and Australia accused the Chinese government of backing cyberattacks in order to gather data and undermine Western democracy. On top of their unproven allegations, these countries announced the introduction of new sanctions against China.

Claiming that China was engaged in “malicious” cyber campaigns against MPs, and that it was responsible for a cyberattack on the UK Electoral Commission between August 2021 and October 2022, Deputy PM Oliver Dowden announced: “The UK will not tolerate malicious cyber activity. It is an absolute priority for the UK government to protect our democratic system and values.”

The accusations were led by members of the viscerally anti-China Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), the ostensible purpose of which is to “counter the threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party to democratic principles.”

IPAC lists its funding sources as the Open Society Foundations, the National Endowment for Democracy and the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, which should give readers some idea as to its ideological orientation.

Its most prominent British member is Tory MP Iain Duncan Smith, a notoriously fanatical China hawk, who talks often about the “terrible genocide in Xinjiang,” while simultaneously defending Israel’s actual genocide in Gaza. In short, he is an utter reactionary, albeit not a terribly bright one — his rambling utterances bring to mind Marx’s quip about the “British Parliament, which no one will reproach with being excessively endowed with genius.”

His Majesty’s Loyal Opposition was eager to show the ruling class that its foreign policy is every bit as absurd as that of the Tories. Writing in the Mirror on Monday, shadow foreign secretary David Lammy stated: “The wave of cyber-attacks against British politicians and the hack of 40 million voters’ data is chilling. One country, China, is responsible.”

He promised that, if elected, “Labour will work with Nato allies to develop new measures designed to protect our democratic values, institutions and open societies.”

Lammy perhaps missed the irony of lauding Nato’s “democratic values” on the 25th anniversary of that organisation’s criminal bombing campaign against Yugoslavia.

Needless to say, the government singularly failed to back up its accusations with meaningful evidence. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian commented quite reasonably that “there should be comprehensive and objective evidence, rather than slandering other countries without any factual support.”

He added: “China firmly opposes and combats all kinds of cyberattacks, and is committed to working with all countries, on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, to strengthen co-operation and jointly deal with the threats of cybersecurity through channels such as bilateral dialogue or judicial assistance.”

He further affirmed that “the evidence provided by the British side was inadequate and relevant conclusions lack professionalism,” and noted that the US, Britain and their allies themselves have a long history of cyberattacks and espionage against China.

He called on the US and Britain to “stop politicising cybersecurity issues, stop smearing China and imposing unilateral sanctions on China, and stop cyberattacks against China.”

A statement issued by the Chinese embassy in London branded Britain’s accusations “completely unfounded and malicious slander,” adding that “China has always adhered to the principle of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs.”

The embassy statement observed drily that: “whether the British government is good or bad, the British people will come to a conclusion sooner or later.”

Of course, the key purpose of these latest slanders is to contribute to anti-China hysteria, thereby building public support for Britain’s role in a reckless US-led new cold war.

An editorial in the Global Times pointed out that Britain’s shift away from a “golden era” of relations with China towards a position of hostility coincides with an increased economic and political dependence on the US in the aftermath of Brexit.

“It seems that the only way for Britain to secure its position in the ‘co-pilot’ seat is by closely aligning with the US and causing trouble for China.” Issuing slanders against China is simply an example of “deliberately stoking fear to advance their political agendas and achieve their political goals.”

An additional incentive for Britain in painting China as a security threat is to promote protectionism, for example in relation to Chinese-made electric vehicles — which are well known to be both cheaper and better than their European and North American counterparts, and could help meet Britain’s stated environmental objectives.

There is no benefit to the British working class of joining in with the new cold war. China does not pose a threat to us. China’s proposal is for mutual respect and non-interference; an economic relationship based on mutual benefit; and for close co-operation on the central issues of our era: climate change, pandemics, peace and development.

This is a vision worthy of our support.

Britain issues malicious and groundless accusations about Chinese cyberattacks

On Monday 25 March 2024, in an obviously coordinated move, the US, UK, New Zealand and Australia expressed concerns over Chinese cyber-hacking, which they claim is being leveraged by the PRC government to gather data and undermine Western democracy. On top of their unproven allegations, these countries announced the introduction of new unilateral sanctions against China.

In Britain, the charges were led by members of the viscerally anti-China Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China (IPAC), the ostensible purpose of which is to “counter the threats posed by the Chinese Communist Party to democratic principles”. IPAC lists its funding sources as the Open Society Foundations, the National Endowment for Democracy and the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy, which should give readers some idea as to its ideological orientation.

Unfortunately the two major British political parties are equally enthusiastic about waging a propaganda war against China. Writing in the Mirror of 25 March 2024, shadow foreign secretary David Lammy stated: “The wave of cyber-attacks against British politicians and the hack of 40 million voters’ data is chilling. One country, China, is responsible.” He promised that, if elected, “Labour will work with NATO allies to develop new measures designed to protect our democratic values, institutions and open societies.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lin Jian responded that “China firmly opposes and combats all kinds of cyberattacks, and is committed to working with all countries, on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit, to strengthen cooperation and jointly deal with the threats of cybersecurity through channels such as bilateral dialogue or judicial assistance.”

He further affirmed that “the evidence provided by the British side was inadequate and relevant conclusions lack professionalism”, and noted that the US, Britain and their allies have a long history of cyberattacks and espionage against China. He called on the US and Britain to “stop politicising cybersecurity issues, stop smearing China and imposing unilateral sanctions on China, and stop cyberattacks against China.”

A statement issued by the Chinese Embassy in the UK noted that “China has always adhered to the principle of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs”, adding drily that “whether the British government is good or bad, the British people will come to a conclusion sooner or later.”

An editorial in the Global Times pointed out that Britain’s shift away from a ‘golden era’ of relations with China towards a position of hostility coincides with a post-Brexit economic decline and corresponding increased dependence on the US. “It seems that the only way for Britain to secure its position in the ‘co-pilot’ seat is by closely aligning with the US and causing trouble for China.” Issuing slanders against China is simply an example of “deliberately stoking fear to advance their political agendas and achieve their political goals.”

A further Global Times report points to another incentive for Britain in painting China as a security threat: it paves the way for protectionism, for example in relation to Chinese-made electric vehicles and telecommunications infrastructure.

The Chinese Embassy statement and the two Global Times reports are reproduced below.

The Chinese Embassy in the UK issues statement to strongly condemn the UK side’s groundless accusation

On 25 March, the UK government made the groundless accusation that China had carried out cyberattacks against the UK, and announced sanctions on two Chinese individuals and one Chinese entity. In response to this, the Chinese Embassy in the UK issued a statement, strongly condemning the UK’s sinister action. The statement reads as follows:

The UK’s claim that China was responsible for malicious cyber campaigns targeting the UK is completely unfounded and constitutes malicious slander. We firmly oppose and strongly condemn this and have made a serious démarche to the UK side.

China is a major victim of cyberattacks. We have firmly fought and stopped all kinds of malicious cyber activities in accordance with the law, and have never encouraged, supported or condoned cyberattacks. The UK’s hype-up of the so-called “Chinese cyber attacks” without basis and the announcement of sanctions is outright political manipulation and malicious slander.

China has always adhered to the principle of non-interference in each other’s internal affairs. We have no interest or need to meddle in the UK’s internal affairs. Whether the British government is good or bad, the British people will come to a conclusion sooner or later.

The UK falsely accused China of attempting to interfere with UK democracy. This is nothing more than a publicity stunt. This is also a typical example of a thief crying “catch thief”.

China has always stood against illegal unilateral sanctions and will make a justified and necessary response to this.

We strongly urge the UK to immediately stop spreading false information about China, stop such self-staged, anti-China farces, and refrain from going further down the wrong path that leads only to failure.

Continue reading Britain issues malicious and groundless accusations about Chinese cyberattacks

Britain, China, and the struggle for peace

What follows is the text of a speech given by Kevan Nelson, International Secretary of the Communist Party of Britain (CPB), at a public meeting in Leeds on 13 March 2024 on the theme of The Struggle for Peace: Understanding China’s Position in 21st Century Geopolitics. The meeting was organised by the Morning Star Readers and Supporters Group in Yorkshire, and was also addressed by Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez.

Kevan starts with an overview of the British media’s portrayal of China – overwhelmingly negative and fearmongering – and goes on to explain the CPB’s position on China, which is based on a Marxist-Leninist analysis of the country’s history, politics and economy. He observes that “our Party has always been committed to the defence of countries building socialism”, and affirms the party’s firm opposition to the propaganda war and the escalating US-led New Cold War. Kevan explains that the CPB’s position is based on the pursuit of peace and cooperation, and that it wholeheartedly supports the efforts of campaigns and platforms such as Friends of Socialist China, the Stop the War Coalition, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and No Cold War.

While “income inequality remains a major concern” in China (one that is being actively addressed), Kevan argues that “the processes of capital accumulation are politically subordinated to state power aligned to socialist goals” and that “a mass communist party and the potential for popular mobilisation remains the basis of this state power”.

Kevan notes the importance of Chinese trade and investment to the British economy, and the potential for mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries. However, “the New Cold War threatens to undermine all these mutual benefits – particularly tens of thousands of jobs in the affected sectors – something trade unionists should consider when facing externally orchestrated calls for a boycott of China.”

The speech concludes with a call for developing deeper people-to-people relations between Britain and China, and building friendship and solidarity around shared interests of peace, progress and socialism.

Thanks for the invitation to speak at this important meeting which is an antidote to the relentless barrage of anti-China propaganda we are being subjected to in this period of the New Cold War against China.

Anyone reading the British press – the magnificent Morning Star excepted – is left in little doubt: China is our enemy.

The FT reported that ‘Biden vows to fight if China invades Taiwan’ – the same paper three days later ran a headline ‘China poses greatest threat, warns Blinken’.

The Guardian informs us that ‘China offers cash and spiritual rewards to citizens for national security tip offs’ (the spiritual reward being a mere certificate, not a weekend in heaven!).

The Economist (by far the worst offender) warns that ‘Chinese money is pouring into Britain’s universities. Critics say it comes at the cost of free speech’.

The Daily Mail claimed that the ‘NHS is dangerously reliant on China with 1 in 6 medical items coming from Beijing’, and a final example from the Daily Mirror: ‘I survived a labour detention camp where prisoners had organs harvested’ – this from a Falun Gong sect member who defected to Britain 15 years ago and did not witness anything of the sort.

At a Friends of Socialist China webinar last year – co-sponsored by the Morning Star – about the propaganda warfare being waged against China by the US and its allies, Danny Haiphong dismissed this relentless propaganda as ‘an imperialist and racist set of fabrications wielded in the interests of US unipolar hegemony’. The examples of this are endless and explain why many in the West increasingly perceive China as a hostile power.

The Communist Party of Britain’s attitude to China

In terms of the Communist Party’s attitude to China, our Party has always been committed to the defence of countries building socialism.

That is no less the case with China today than with the Russian Revolution in its early years, the Chinese Revolution in 1949 and the Cuban Revolution in 1959.

Looking back at Party statements, it is remarkable at how little has changed since the early days of China leaving the orbit of capitalism and imperialism.

In his report to the 21st National Congress of the Communist Party, November 1949 (75 years ago), Harry Pollitt said:

‘In the Far East, American imperialism is building up Japan… as well as maintaining puppet governments in South Korea and the Philippines, and Chiang Kai-shek in Formosa (today known as Taiwan). It has threatened New China with disruption and is fomenting counter-revolution wherever it can find agents in China. Under cover of warning the People’s Armies that any advance beyond the frontiers of China will be met by force, American imperialism is encouraging war preparations in Tibet, which is an old province of China. At the same time, the British Government has heavily reinforced Hong Kong, and may at any moment launch provocative action’.

Today the Uyghurs of Xinjiang may have replaced the Dalai Lama and Tibet as the main focus of destabilisation and propaganda, but the playbook of imperialism remains the same.

Continue reading Britain, China, and the struggle for peace

Friends of Socialist China participates in Karl Marx commemoration

Friends of Socialist China joined hundreds of comrades at the grave of Karl Marx in north London’s Highgate Cemetery on Sunday March 17 to mark the 141st anniversary of the death of the founder of scientific socialism.

In 2018, marking the 200th anniversary of his birth, Chinese leader Xi Jinping said that Marx is the “teacher of revolution for the proletariat and working people all over the world, the main founder of Marxism, creator of Marxist parties, a pathfinder for international communism and the greatest thinker of modern times.”

With noble ideals and no fear of difficulty or adversity, throughout his life, Marx devoted himself to perseveringly striving for the liberation of humanity, scaling the peak of thought in his pursuit of truth, and the unremitting fight to overturn the old world and establish a new one, Xi added.

This year’s Highgate commemoration, the largest for many years, was jointly organised by the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) and the Marx Memorial Library (MML) and chaired by Mary Davis, Secretary of the Library and Executive Committee (EC) member of the CPB.

It heard orations from Lord (John) Hendy KC, a prominent labour movement lawyer on behalf of the MML, and from Alex Gordon, Chair of the Library, President of the railworkers’ union RMT and CPB EC member.

In his address, Alex noted that: “What Marx could not foresee, because no socialist planned economy arose in his lifetime, is that the world capitalist economy in 2024 would depend for its economic growth, technological and scientific innovation, and new developments in world trade on the rise of the economies of the global South, and the leading role of socialist China.”

Alex’s full speech may be read here. And Lord Hendy’s may be read here.

Following the speeches, floral tributes were paid by the CPB and MML, the Embassy of socialist Vietnam, the communist parties of Kenya, Cyprus, Spain, Malaya, India (Marxist), Iraq, Iran, Sudan, and Greece, the Communist Front (Italy), Friends of Socialist China, the Young Communist League, the UK branch of the Student Federation of India, the Morning Star, the London District of the CPB, and a delegation of Chinese students in the UK.

Representatives of the Cuban Embassy and the Irish party Sinn Féin also attended the ceremony, which closed with the singing of the Internationale. The Friends of Socialist China comrades accompanied Booker Ngesa Omole (National Vice-Chairperson and National Organising Secretary of the Communist Party of Kenya), who addressed our event Africa, China and the Rise of the Global South the previous evening.

George Galloway: Chinese dragon soars despite West’s biased caricature

The veteran British parliamentarian and anti-imperialist campaigner George Galloway has been returned to Westminster after a dramatic February 29th byelection victory in the northwestern English town of Rochdale, caused by the death of the sitting MP, Tony Lloyd.

The leader of the Workers’ Party of Britain (WPB) polled 12,335 votes, giving him a majority of 5,697 and 39.7 percent of the vote. He began his victory speech with reference to the current leader of the British Labour Party:

“Keir Starmer, this is for Gaza. You will pay a high price for the role that you have played in enabling, encouraging and covering for the catastrophe presently going on in occupied Palestine, in the Gaza Strip.”

George Galloway is also a long-standing and prominent friend of China. In this short video, shown by CGTN on February 5, five days before the start of the Year of the Loong or Dragon, George cites examples of how western media have used dragon imagery to project a hostile picture of China. For example, the Economist had branded China as the “world’s worst polluter”, ignoring both the culpability of western countries since the industrial revolution and current per capita emissions.

Such narratives, George continues, contrast with China’s actual contributions and initiatives fostering global cooperation and prosperity. Referencing this year’s 75th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic, George notes that many western leaders have tried to stop the rise of the dragon, but all have failed in the face of modern China with its mixed economy under socialist leadership. The sun has risen in the east.

Referring to the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), in which more than 130 countries participate, George says that while China’s adversaries deliver lectures, orders, threats and invasion, China delivers airports, high-speed rail, six-lane highways and rising prosperity.

Last year, he concludes, Britain named China as its biggest threat. He relates this to the increasing dysfunction and decay of Britain’s economy, politics and society. The more China advances, the more the UK falls behind.

People gather to celebrate the life of communist activist Claudia Jones

Comrades from Friends of Socialist China participated in the third annual commemoration of the birth of Claudia Jones (21 February 1915) organised by the Communist Party of Britain (CPB) at her graveside, to the left of Karl Marx, in London’s Highgate Cemetery on Sunday February 25. 

Claudia was outstanding activist and leader of the US, British and international communist movements, who creatively enriched and developed Marxist-Leninist theory on questions of national, racial and gender oppression in particular. A staunch friend of China, she met with Chairman Mao Zedong on her 1964 visit to the People’s Republic, shortly before her tragically early death at the age of 49.

More than 50 people attended the ceremony including a delegation from the Chinese Embassy led by Minister Zhao Fei.

Dr. Claire Holder, who was the longest serving Director of the Notting Hill Carnival, Europe’s largest street festival that was originally inspired by Claudia, read the text of her February 2, 1953 speech from the dock immediately before she was imprisoned under US anti-communist legislation on account of her struggle for peace and in particular against what she called the “bestial Korean war”, which was then still raging.  

In a speech that surely ranks among the greatest made by a communist revolutionary before a bourgeois court, Claudia noted that she was being sentenced for an appeal that, “urges American mothers, Negro women and white, to emulate the peace struggles of their anti-fascist sisters in Latin America, in the new European democracies, in the Soviet Union, in Asia and Africa to end the bestial Korean war, to stop ‘Operation Killer’, to bring our boys home, to reject the militarist threat to embroil us in a war with China, so that their children should not suffer the fate of the Korean babies murdered by napalm bombs of B-29s, or the fate of Hiroshima.

“Is all this not further proof that what we were also tried for was our opposition to racist ideas, so integral a part of the desperate drive by the men of Wall Street to war and fascism.”

This theme was echoed in speeches by CPB General Secretary Robert Griffiths, who referred to the immense destruction visited upon the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the Korean people during the war of 1950-53, and by historian David Horsley of the CPB’s Anti-Racist and Anti-Fascist Committee, and the author of a pamphlet on Claudia’s life, who said that if she were still with us, Claudia would surely be at the head of every demonstration in solidarity with the Palestinian people in Gaza. 

Other speakers were veteran Pan-Africanist activist and scholar Cecil Gutzmore and Fran Heathcote, General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS), the largest trade union representing civil servants in the UK. The proceedings were chaired by CPB Chair Ruth Styles.

Floral tributes were paid by the Chinese Embassy, the CPB, the CPB London District Committee, the Young Communist League, PCS, the Greater London Association of Trade Union Councils and Friends of Socialist China. Among the attendees were Michael and Paul Crook, sons of the veteran communists and lifelong friends of China, Isabel and David Crook. Michael is also a member of the Friends of Socialist China advisory group.

The following report was originally published by the Morning Star.

More than 50 people gathered at London’s historic Highgate Cemetery on Sunday to celebrate the life of legendary communist activist Claudia Jones.

Jones, who is buried to the left of Karl Marx, died on Christmas Day 1964, having made a massive contribution to the movement for socialism in the United States and Britain.

Among the speakers was Fran Heathcote, the first female general secretary of the PCS union.

She highlighted the continued attacks and superexploitation of low-paid women and black members who work in outsourced industries.

Leading pan-African activist Cecil Gutzmore highlighted the continued racism faced by the black community in Britain.

Historian David Horsley said that he was convinced that “comrade Claudia would have been at the forefront of today’s fight for migrants and refugees.”

Dr Clare Holder, a past director of the Notting Hill Carnival, read out the statement Jones made to the US court before her deportation to Britain. She said it was as “powerful as others made by others such as Castro and Mandela.”

Communist Party general secretary Rob Griffiths recalled how the Smith Act in the US “was used against trade unionists, socialists as well as communists.”

Britain using ‘China threat’ narrative to divert from real problems

In the following article, which was originally published in the Global Times newspaper, a Chinese analyst explains that the moves by the British police to establish a new unit to counter supposed threats posed by China, Russia and Iran is actually an attempt to shift the blame for the UK’s present predicament while blindly following the United States. 

According to Zhang Jian, vice president of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations (CICIR), in the past few years, especially after Brexit, the UK has faced numerous difficulties, including economic underdevelopment and a domestic cost of living crisis:

“The ruling Conservative Party has been unable to address these problems and has instead blamed external factors, such as countries like China and Russia.”

Some extreme right-wing members of the Conservative Party are constantly seeking out the so-called threats and enemies after Brexit in order to divert public attention, he noted. “Especially with the upcoming general election in the UK, the issues of the Conservative Party’s ineffective governance are becoming more prominent, prompting them to work harder to blame their problems on foreign countries.”

The article further notes that police investigations into previous claims that China was supposedly operating “secret police stations” from businesses owned by members of the Chinese community in such places as Hendon in north London, Croydon, south of London, and Glasgow in Scotland, had concluded that there had been no illegal activity.

In response to the reports that British police are establishing a new unit to “counter threats posed by China, Russia and Iran,” Chinese experts on Sunday pointed out that the UK intends to shift the blame for its domestic underdevelopment issues onto foreign countries while blindly following the US’ diplomatic policies.

According to media reports, the UK police said on Friday that they had set up the new unit as they were very concerned about “risks ahead of a national election expected this year.” Matt Jukes, the UK’s head of counter-terrorism policing, said the evidence and the sense among his officers was that the challenge posed by hostile states was “greater now than since the days of the Cold War,” Reuters reported. 

However, this move by the British security agencies, especially the naming of certain countries, is only to shift the focus from the government’s inability to handle domestic affairs to external issues, rather than being based on justified security considerations, Chinese analysts told the Global Times on Sunday.

In the past few years, especially after Brexit, the UK has faced numerous difficulties, including economic underdevelopment and a domestic cost of living crisis, Zhang Jian, vice president of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations, told the Global Times. 

“The ruling Conservative Party has been unable to address these problems and has instead blamed external factors, such as countries like China and Russia,” Zhang said.

Some extreme right-wing members of the Conservative Party are constantly seeking out the so-called threats and enemies after Brexit in order to divert public attention, he noted. “Especially with the upcoming general election in the UK, the issues of the Conservative Party’s ineffective governance are becoming more prominent, prompting them to work harder to blame their problems on foreign countries.”

Observers pointed out that the Conservative Party has been leaning toward the US in its post-Brexit foreign policy, and the establishment of an anti-China unit is part of that policy. 

“This is because after Brexit, the UK has had to rely more on the US,” Zhang told the Global Times on Sunday. 

The UK enacted a national security act in December 2023, which the government stated “will help ensure that the UK remains the hardest operating environment for malign activity undertaken by foreign actors.” Before the act was enacted, the UK has repeatedly accused China of stealing its information or operating unofficial agencies in the country, which China has firmly opposed.

The claim that the Chinese side is suspected of “stealing British intelligence” is completely baseless and malicious slander, said a spokesperson of the Chinese Embassy in the UK in September 2023. 

“We urge the relevant British authorities to stop manipulating anti-China politics and cease this self-directed political farce,” said the embassy in a statement.

Earlier in April 2023, the Chinese Embassy in the UK also made it clear that there are no so-called Chinese overseas police stations. “It is important that some from the UK side respect the facts rather than spread false accusations,” said an embassy spokesperson.

In June, a police investigation into “secret Chinese police stations” in London has concluded that “no criminal activity” has taken place, according to the BBC. 

Embracing the Year of the Dragon

In the following article, which was originally published by China Today to coincide with the start of the Year of the Dragon, our co-editor Keith Bennett, noting that the Lunar New Year has increasingly become a common festival of people throughout the world, goes on to illustrate how it has become an integral part of British life, celebrated not only by the Chinese community and all those with a connection to China, but increasingly by people from all communities and all walks of life. 

Keith notes how the celebration in London’s Chinatown, which had already become one of the largest and most spectacular outside Asia, was brought to Trafalgar Square by progressive mayor Ken Livingstone, and due in large part to the hard work and efforts of two great friends of China, the late Redmond O’Neill and Jude Woodward. 

Highlighting how China’s late Premier Zhou Enlai had stressed that his country’s diplomacy rested on a tripod of state-to-state, party-to-party and people-to-people relations and that President Xi Jinping has often stressed that good people-to-people relations are the foundation for sound state-to-state relations, Keith concludes:

“British people from all walks of life and backgrounds have been increasingly taking Chinese New Year to their hearts. It has become part of our culture and calendar. This is one more reminder that Cold War hostility and bellicosity do not represent the interests of the people of any country and are therefore destined to fail.”

Chinese people, and people throughout the world, are looking forward to welcoming the Year of the Dragon, which falls on February 10, 2024. The Dragon is considered the most auspicious of the 12 signs in the Chinese zodiac and this year is specifically the Year of the Wood Dragon, the first since 1964. According to Lifestyle Asia, “Wood Dragons enjoy fulfilling careers. They’re likely to materialize all their ambitions into actions, coming up with truly revolutionary ideas.”

In the run up to the Chinese people’s greatest holiday, there has already been some good news. On December 22, 2023, the 78th United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution by consensus that, as from 2024, the Chinese, or Lunar, New Year shall be designated as a UN “floating holiday,” to be taken into consideration when drafting the world body’s calendar of conferences and meetings.

This might be best understood as a welcome and quite possibly overdue recognition of reality. The Lunar New Year has long since ceased to be solely a great festival for all Chinese people; for other countries and peoples in East Asia sharing a cultural heritage and numerous neighborly bonds with China; and for overseas Chinese and people of Chinese heritage on the five continents and across the four seas. It has increasingly become a common festival of people throughout the world.

In my country, Britain, it is, of course, a special occasion for our Chinese community and for all those of us with a connection to China. This naturally especially applies to Chinatowns, such as those in London, Liverpool (the oldest in Europe), Manchester and elsewhere.

The London Chinatown Chinese Association (LCCA), one of the U.K.’s most important Chinese organizations, long led by the indefatigable Chu Ting Tang, proprietor of the Imperial China restaurant, works hard throughout each year to stage one of the greatest and most spectacular Chinese New Year celebrations outside Asia, which attracts tens of thousands of people – not just Chinese people, but Londoners from every background in this most multicultural and multinational of cities, joined, too, by visitors and tourists from all over.

This great celebration had long since outgrown the crowded pavements of Gerard Street, Lisle Street, Wardour Street, Newport Place, and others in the heart of Chinatown, when Ken Livingstone, the progressive mayor of London, brought it to the heart of the capital in nearby Trafalgar Square.

This was a key part of Ken’s ambitious program to recognize and celebrate the city’s great diversity, from Ireland’s national Saint Patrick’s Day, to the Notting Hill Carnival (originally inspired by Claudia Jones, a communist of Trinidadian origin, who met Chairman Mao and is now buried to the left of Karl Marx), to the Eid, Diwali, Vaisakhi, and Hannukah festivals of the Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, and Jewish faiths.

None of this would have been possible without the devoted and tireless work of two great friends of China, who were mainstays of the mayor’s office and administration. Redmond O’Neill and Jude Woodward, socialists, Marxists, and internationalists, left us far too early, but we remember them not least at Chinese New Year. Its central place in London life is thanks in great part to them.

The Chinese New Year is also a focus for all in the business community with an interest in China and the Chinese market. This is now marked by an ever-increasing number of dinners and receptions, but the flagship event has long been the “Icebreakers” Chinese New Year Dinner, customarily held in the ballroom of the iconic Dorchester Hotel, home also to the China Tang Restaurant, founded by the late Sir David Tang, on Park Lane, and organized by the 48 Group Club. Originally hosted by the London Export Corporation (LEC), the first U.K. company to trade with the new China following the establishment of the People’s Republic, and founded by the late Jack Perry, it is now joined by the China Britain Business Council (CBBC) and the China Chamber of Commerce in the U.K. (CCCUK), and features keynote speeches by the Chinese ambassador and other VIPs, both British and Chinese. It has even received letters and messages of greetings from President Xi Jinping and other top Chinese leaders.

For the last couple of decades, the Chinese affiliates, and China interest groups, of the Conservative, Labor and Liberal Democrat parties have all also hosted celebratory dinners, although these have now been somewhat negatively impacted by the new Cold War mentality and the rise of neo-McCarthyism. My personal highpoint from these events – although they have also been attended by a number of serving prime ministers and receptions have been held at 10 Downing Street, the prime minister’s official residence – was when former Chinese Ambassador to the U.K. Liu Xiaoming joined Jeremy Corbyn, the first socialist leader of the Labor Party in at least eight decades, to celebrate at the Phoenix Palace, one of London’s most outstanding Cantonese restaurants, as well as brought the traditional lion dance to life at Labor’s headquarters.

But, as mentioned, Chinese New Year in the U.K. has now gone well beyond those with a specific China interest. It is, for example, marked with special projects and lessons in many of our primary schools up and down the country.

China’s late Premier Zhou Enlai, in my view the greatest diplomat of the 20th century, stressed that China’s diplomacy rested on a tripod of state-to-state, party-to-party, and people-to-people relations.

President Xi Jinping has often stressed that good people-to-people bonds are the foundation for sound state-to-state relations.

British people from all walks of life and backgrounds have been increasingly taking Chinese New Year to their hearts. It has become part of our culture and calendar. This is one more reminder that Cold War hostility and bellicosity do not represent the interests of the people of any country and are therefore destined to fail.

Happy New Year of the Wood Dragon!  

Benjamin Zephaniah – lifelong champion of the oppressed

The celebrated British poet, novelist and campaigner Benjamin Zephaniah passed away on 7 December 2023. Zephaniah was a friend of China and owned a flat in Beijing, spending several months a year there, writing and training in martial arts. His famous novels Refugee Boy, Gangsta Rap and Teacher’s Dead were written in China.

His funeral is being held today, 28 December 2023. We publish below a brief obituary by Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez.

One of Britain’s most important and impactful cultural workers breathed his last breath on 7 December 2023, having been diagnosed with a brain tumour eight weeks previously.

Benjamin Zephaniah was widely known as a poet, author and actor, but also as a tireless and courageous campaigner for justice. He never hesitated to speak his mind; he never put his career before his principles. He was quite unique in his ability to cut through ruling class cultural hegemony – a function of his prodigious talent and his strong roots in the British working class, in particular among oppressed communities.

As a black man from a working class Jamaican background, Zephaniah faced racism all his life, and anti-racism was one of his main areas of focus as an activist. For decades, he stood shoulder to shoulder with oppressed peoples demanding equality – indeed he was among those marching in Southall on 23 April 1979 to defend the local population against the National Front, on which occasion the Metropolitan Police, acting in defence of and in cahoots with the fascists, killed Blair Peach.

Zephaniah well understood that the fundamental purpose of racism is to divide working people. He wrote a few years ago:

“I have always thought that poor white people and poor black people should unite and confront the people who oversee all of our miseries… The biggest fear of all of the mainstream politicians is that we all reach a point where we understand how much we have in common and, instead of turning on ourselves, we turn on them. In poetry and prose I have said that unity is strength, and that we should get to a point where we are not talking about black rights or white rights, Asian rights or rights for migrant workers; we are just talking about our rights.”

He elaborated on this point in his 2018 autobiography, The Life and Rhymes of Benjamin Zephaniah, where he talked about the racism he would sometimes face doing miners’ strike solidarity work in the mid-1980s. In response to some miners in Nottinghamshire shouting derogatory remarks while he was performing, another miner jumped on stage and “delivered a diatribe against racism and urged working-class people to stick together, pointing out that I was the person who in the previous week had sent them a donation of £1,500 (a lot of money in those days) from an African-Caribbean association, and they, the miners, were happy to take the money and feed their kids.”

Reflecting on how miners’ attitudes towards black workers shifted over the course of the strike, Zephaniah noted: “The miners realised they couldn’t win the fight on their own; they needed the solidarity of their wives, black poets, Chinese chefs and Bengali factory workers… Those who were involved in that strike will never forget the picket line battles, the workers’ solidarity, the lessons learned through struggle and the dark forces of police and state that were unleashed upon those workers.”

Although his talent won him a level of acceptance within the mainstream, Zephaniah was not afraid to express revolutionary and anti-imperialist views. Interviewed by the Guardian in the aftermath of the 2017 Grenfell disaster, he stated bluntly: “I go on Question Time and I talk to politicians and get involved, but actually I’d like to just burn the lot of them. The system stinks.”

Elsewhere he discusses the hypocrisy of the bourgeois narrative in relation to democracy and freedom of speech: “Some of us think that, because we have so many TV stations, we have freedom. We don’t. We have the illusion of freedom.”

In 2018, with the US escalating its propaganda war against the People’s Republic of China, Zephaniah talked about his experiences in that country, where he had spent several extended periods writing and training in martial arts.

“Back in the year 2000 I did a tour of clubs and schools in Hong Kong. When the performances were over I was asked if I wanted to go for a day trip into what people called mainland China. How I hate that term. I won’t go on about how the British stole Hong Kong (along with lots of other stuff) and then did a ninety-nine-year deal that was completely unfair to the Chinese. Or how hypocritical the British were in criticising ‘undemocratic’ China while at the same time denying citizens of Chinese origin the right to vote in the British bit of China.”

He continued: “I quickly realised I loved the place. This was the time when everyone started talking about China’s rapid growth, and I saw it happening right in front of me. I’ve never seen a country growing so quickly… I met people who by Western standards were middle class, but one generation ago their families were slum dwellers… After that first independent visit, I would return to China many times. I found it a great place to be creative.”

Interestingly, the following year another prominent British wordsmith of African-Caribbean origin, Akala, wrote in his book Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire:

Over the past few decades, China has pulled at least 500 million people out of poverty (the Communist propagandists at the World Bank actually put the figure at around 800 million), industrialised at a pace faster than any nation before and today stands at the leading edge of many green technologies, and it has managed to do all of this without invading and colonising half the planet. For these and many other reasons – despite obvious and undeniable injustices in China – you would think China would be universally admired by those who claim to believe industrial capitalism to be the holy grail of human achievement. Yet reading about China in the press, I can’t help but feel a tinge of the old ‘yellow peril’ sentiment still lurking beneath the narratives.

Given the extraordinary pressure on anyone in the public eye to conform to the anti-China consensus, it’s impressive and hugely helpful when a courageous few speak the truth like this.

Benjamin Zephaniah was a longstanding friend of socialist Cuba and patron of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign, saying: “I am a proud friend of Cuba. We do what we do to support a small nation that is fighting to defend its sovereignty. We do what we do to gain justice for the Miami Five, to help with hurricane relief, and to support Cuban medical teams wherever they go in the world.”

His vision was truly global. He stood with the oppressed in every continent. He was a stalwart of the struggle against apartheid in both South Africa and Palestine. At a 2019 meeting of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, of which he was a patron, he recalled: “When I was young, there were two things that I really wanted to see: a free South Africa and a free Palestine.”

Visiting the Occupied Territories for the first time in 1988, he wrote: “I have come to the conclusion that Zionism is apartheid.” And three decades later, he was one of very few public figures to loudly defend then-Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn against absurd charges of antisemitism, saying on Question Time – to rapturous applause from the studio audience – that Corbyn was “the only mainstream politician who’s been arrested for anti-racism… He’s the kind of person that shouldn’t actually be in politics, because politics is so dirty.”

Zephaniah placed a special emphasis on opposing British colonialism and imperialism, and raised his voice in support of Irish freedom (including performing at Troops Out Movement events) and for the return of the Chagos Islands to Mauritius. Famously, in 2003 he turned down the offer of an OBE:

“‘Me? I thought, OBE me? Up yours, I thought. I get angry when I hear that word ‘empire’; it reminds me of slavery, it reminds of thousands of years of brutality, it reminds me of how my foremothers were raped and my forefathers brutalised… Benjamin Zephaniah OBE – no way Mr Blair, no way Mrs Queen. I am profoundly anti-empire.’

Benjamin Zephaniah will be sadly missed, but he leaves a body of work and a legacy of campaigning that will continue to inspire new generations in their struggles for a better world.

British and US hypocrisy over Chagos Islands exposes the true nature of their ‘values-based alliance’

The following article, which originally appeared in the Global Times on 9 December 2023, exposes the utter hypocrisy of the US and Britain in relation to their supposed ‘values-based alliance’ and its role in upholding a ‘rules-based international order’.

The article discusses the recent press conference by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and British Foreign Secretary David Cameron, at which Cameron refused to say whether Britain would return its Chagos Islands colony to Mauritius – as required by international law – and Blinken said that Washington “recognises UK sovereignty” over the territory. As the author points out: “The Chagos Islands do not belong to the UK; they belong to Mauritius. This has been formally determined by a UN resolution and a ruling of the International Court of Justice. It is also the general consensus of the international community and there is no dispute about it.”

Britain split the Chagos archipelago from Mauritius in 1965 in advance of the latter’s independence, essentially so that it could fulfil a promise to lease Diego Garcia – the largest of the islands – to the US as an airbase. Incidentally, this thoroughly unscrupulous act was carried out by Harold Wilson’s Labour government. The approximately 2,000 indigenous inhabitants of the islands were forcibly relocated to Mauritius and the Seychelles.

Mauritius has long fought for the return of Chagos to its sovereignty, and the Chagossian people have long fought for the right to return to their homeland. In 2019, the International Court of Justice ruled that Britain’s separation of the Chagos Islands from Mauritius was illegal, and ordered the UK to return the territory to Mauritius as soon as possible. The UN General Assembly passed a resolution by large majority calling for the same (the only six countries to vote against the resolution were Britain, the US, Australia, Israel, Hungary, and the Maldives).

The author notes that Diego Garcia has become an “‘unsinkable aircraft carrier’ for the US military in the Indian Ocean. It has been used for bombing missions in Afghanistan and Iraq and plays a crucial role in the later-introduced ‘Indo-Pacific strategy'”. Meanwhile, bizarrely, Britain and the US “argue that the island is crucial for the US, so it cannot be returned, and are even suggesting that returning it might benefit China.”

It is clear that these upholders of ‘democratic values’ are only too happy to flout international law in the pursuit of hegemony. As the article rightly concludes, “these new and old Anglo-Saxon empires still persist in attempting to apply imperialistic practices in many international affairs in 2023, treating their self-interest as international norms.”

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and visiting British Foreign Secretary David Cameron said on Thursday local time in a joint press conference that they had discussed the “vital” US-UK Indian Ocean air base at Diego Garcia. Cameron did not give a specific response when asked if the UK was dropping plans to return the Chagos Islands, of which Diego Garcia is the largest member, to Mauritius, while Blinken said that Washington “recognizes UK sovereignty over British Indian Ocean Territory.”

The word “recognize” here is full of darkness, injustice and irony. This immediately makes people think of the past and ongoing political deals between the UK and the US on the issue of the sovereignty of the Chagos Islands. The deals are extremely dirty and shameful. This is why Blinken and Cameron dare not speak clearly or elaborate.

The Chagos Islands do not belong to the UK; they belong to Mauritius. This has been formally determined by a UN resolution and a ruling of the International Court of Justice. It is also the general consensus of the international community and there is no dispute about it. As early as 2019, a UN resolution required the UK to transfer sovereignty of the Chagos Islands to Mauritius within six months, but the UK has delayed it until today, and it obviously wants to delay it further. In November last year, the UK and Mauritius decided to start negotiations, giving Mauritius some hope, but now various signs indicate that the UK is likely to change its mind again, and the negotiations are turning into a deception.

The Chagos Islands were Britain’s last colony in Africa and seen as the final “holdout” of colonialism. Britain occupied the Chagos Islands for over 200 years, during which illegal and inhumane acts of violence, plundering, and deception against the indigenous Chagossians were rampant. As the outcome of a war between colonial empires, the islands first came under British rule in 1814 after a British-led coalition defeated Napoleon, taking possession of Mauritius, including the Chagos Islands, as colonies. When Mauritius gained independence, Britain attempted to deceive Mauritius into relinquishing its sovereignty over the Chagos Islands, but this ploy was unsuccessful. It was at this point that the US entered the picture.

In 1965, the UK forcefully “acquired” the Chagos Islands. The following year, it transferred the largest island in the Chagos, Diego Garcia, as a “gift” to the US, leading to a grave humanitarian tragedy. In order to meet US military demands to “clear” the islands, the British authorities created an artificial famine by cutting off water and food supplies, prohibiting ships carrying food from reaching the island, and other measures. This forced over 2,000 indigenous people on the island to leave their ancestral homes, fleeing to Mauritius and Seychelles thousands of miles away. Many islanders resorted to suicide. Over the years, the Chagos Islanders and the Mauritius government have continuously sought justice through various avenues, including the British High Court, the European Court of Human Rights, and relevant courts and institutions in United Nations. They have achieved almost every legal victory, including the 2019 UN resolution, but remained limited to this.

After the US established the military base, the situation became even more complex. Diego Garcia Island became an “unsinkable aircraft carrier” for the US military in the Indian Ocean. It has been used for bombing missions in Afghanistan and Iraq and plays a crucial role in the later-introduced “Indo-Pacific strategy.” Some US media outlets even refer to Diego Garcia Island as “one of the most strategically important and secretive US military installations outside the US,” a description that may not be an exaggeration.

Therefore, whether the UK will return the Chagos Islands depends on the US attitude. If the US does not agree, the UK, even if willing, may not dare to return them. However, the reasons given by the UK and the US for refusing to return the islands are peculiar. They argue that the island is crucial for the US, so it cannot be returned, and are even suggesting that returning it might benefit China. This is akin to stealing someone’s belongings and then claiming it’s essential, so the stolen objects cannot be returned. What logic and reasoning is that? In the Chagos Islands issue, both the UK and the US have trampled on human rights, international norms, morality, and international law, subjects that they always talk about.

The US and the UK have one foot in the 21st century while the other remains planted in the 19th century, revealing the true nature of their “values alliance.” These new and old Anglo-Saxon empires still persist in attempting to apply imperialistic practices in many international affairs in 2023, treating their self-interest as international norms. However, they are not dealing with a “weak” Mauritius, but countless awakening developing nations. Fairness and justice are no longer dictated solely by powers like the US and the UK.

UK white paper smears China’s growing role in world development

In the following article, which was originally published by Global Times, Deng Xiaoci responds to the British government’s latest White Paper on overseas aid, which said that the UK would resist the alleged risks China “poses to open societies and good governments.” The article notes that Chinese analysts see the report as an example of “blunt smearing and desperate effort by the former colonial power to maintain its global influence and tackle its own internal social and political divisions.”

According to Li Guanjie, a research fellow at Shanghai International Studies University, the hostile tone is, “not surprising at all, as it marks simply a continuation of the China policy that the current Conservative government of the UK adopts.” He added that such hostile remarks against China are desperate attempts to tackle its own crisis, showing that the previous colonial empire is deeply troubled by its waning global influence and has met problems in positioning itself in the current world, especially after the turmoil of Brexit. 

Despite the recent appointment of David Cameron, “famous for his pragmatic China approach”, as Foreign Secretary, Britain still lacks the will to return its relations with China to the right track. The government of Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, Li notes, is in dire need of “establishing an external stimulus to unite…  the Conservative Party, which is riven by internal divisions, as well as create headlines to boost public support in order to win the next general election.”

Polling in early November showed the Conservatives trailing the Labour Party by 23% to 47%, the paper notes.

According to Li Haidong, Professor at the China Foreign Affairs University: “The goal of this white paper from the British government is to ensure that Anglo-Saxon nations continue to play a dominant role in the global development pattern, with intolerance toward any non-Anglo-Saxon nation assuming a leading position in the development pattern.”

Asked to what extent Britain’s White Paper could impact third parties around the world, Chinese experts said that most would keep their distance from such a malicious defamation of China’s role in global development, especially those who have participated in and benefit from the China-proposed Belt and Road Initiative.

The British government’s latest white paper on aid has explicitly raised the so-called concerns over China’s growing role in international development, while promising that the UK will resist the risks China “poses to open societies and good governments.” Such a move to characterize China as a “challenge” with profound prejudice is a blunt smearing and desperate effort by the former colonial power to maintain its global influence and tackle its own internal social and political divisions, Chinese analysts said on Tuesday. 

The white paper smeared the Chinese development model with accusations on its drawbacks including “lower standards and limited transparency,” while underscoring the necessity for the UK to robustly challenge China, especially when British interests are endangered by China’s significant financial role, according to the Guardian’s report on the white paper, a brainchild of British development minister Andrew Mitchell,. 

The white paper, published on Monday UK local time, claims that “between 2008 and 2021, China made $498 billion in loan commitments, equivalent to 83 percent of World Bank sovereign lending during the same period,” adding that “its increased assertiveness in seeking to shape the international order makes it essential for us to navigate the challenges that come with its evolving development role.”

Li Guanjie, a research fellow with the Shanghai Academy of Global Governance and Area Studies under the Shanghai International Studies University, found the hostile tone in the text “not surprising at all, as it marks simply a continuation of the China policy that the current conservative government of the UK adopts.”

British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak described China as the “biggest challenge of our age to global security and prosperity,” after the Group of Seven (G7) summit in May. And before that, Sunak made similar remarks, calling China “the biggest state threat” and “a systemic challenge for the world order,” during an NBC Interview in March.

Li Guangjie told the Global Times on Tuesday that such hostile remarks against China are desperate attempts to tackle its own crisis, showing that the previous colonial empire is deeply troubled by its waning global influence and has met problems in positioning itself in the current world, especially after the turmoil of Brexit. 

The white paper indicates that the Sunak administration, with the recent appointment as foreign secretary of former British prime minister David Cameron, famous for his pragmatic China approach, still lacks determination to drive China-UK relations on the right track and dig them out of the current low tide, observers said.

It also suggested that the Sunak administration is in dire need of establishing an external stimulus to unite domestic forces and the Conservative Party, which is riven by internal divisions, as well as create headlines to boost public support in order to win the next general election, Li Guangjie noted. 

Recent polling showed that as of early November, 47 percent of British adults would vote for the Labour Party in a general election, compared with 23 percent who would vote for the ruling Conservative Party.

“The goal of this white paper from the British government is to ensure that Anglo-Saxon nations continue to play a dominant role in the global development pattern, with intolerance toward any non-Anglo-Saxon nation assuming a leading position in the development pattern. Fundamentally, it’s a matter of leadership in world affairs. The UK finds itself unable to accept China playing a leading role in world affairs,” Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Tuesday. 

Opposing such an obsolete imperialist mentality, Zhang Jun, China’s permanent representative to the UN, called on Monday for expanding the voice of developing countries in global governance, at an open debate on promoting sustainable peace through common development at the UN headquarters in New York City. 

Peace, development and human rights are the three pillars of the United Nations, among which development is the master key to solving all problems and the foundation for promoting peace and safeguarding human rights, the Chinese envoy said. 

Luo Zhaohui, chairman of the China International Development Cooperation Agency, said in his address to the 2023 Tongzhou Global Development Forum on Saturday that “I can proudly say that China is the developing country that has implemented the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) the fastest. We have eliminated absolute poverty, achieved the SDG’s poverty reduction target 10 years ahead of schedule, and fully built a moderately prosperous society.” 

“As the world’s largest developing country, China’s rapid economic development is in itself a major contribution to global development. At the same time, it has accumulated valuable experience for other countries in implementing the SDGs, providing a feasible and replicable practical reference for the world to achieve modernization,” Luo remarked.

The UK might also intend to use the white paper as a reminder for the US, as relations between China and the US have significantly warmed after the leaders of two countries held a summit in San Francisco last week, observers said. 

As the UK considers that its foreign policy and views on global landscape are more advanced that those of the US, the UK may tend to release a white paper like this to remind the US that Beijing is still a threat or competitor, so as to lead or mislead the US, amid warming ties between Washington and Beijing, Li Guanjie said.

Also the “limited coordination through the multilateral system, especially of bilateral instruments like the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI),” is also mentioned in the white paper among listed drawbacks of China’s growing role in global development. 

When asked to what extent the white paper could impact third parties around the globe, Chinese observers noted that most would keep their distance from such a malicious defamation of China’s role in global development, especially those who have participated in and benefit from the China-proposed BRI.

Britain’s disdain for the Belt and Road Initiative goes against the national interest

In the following short op ed, which was originally published in China Daily, our co-editor Keith Bennett reviews the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), 10 years after it was first proposed by President Xi Jinping. 

He notes that BRI projects are becoming more focused, with an emphasis on avoiding waste and corruption, synergising with the development plans and priorities of the countries and regions concerned, ensuring both economic and ecological sustainability, and delivering real and tangible benefits to local people and communities.

Refuting the ‘China debt trap’ canard, Keith writes that China, has “no interest in some fanciful conspiracy that would only arouse the resentment of friendly countries and peoples with whom China has shared weal and woe for many decades, going back to the days of mutual national liberation struggles against colonialism and imperialism and for independence. Rather, talk of a ‘debt trap’ on the part of countries of the Global North is simply another instance of their ascribing their own behaviour to others.”

Noting that Britain could benefit greatly from participation in the BRI, he regrets that, unfortunately, the British government has chosen to follow behind the United States in its new Cold War against China.

The Third Belt and Road Summit for International Cooperation held in Beijing on Oct 18 was very timely because it coincided with the 10th anniversary of China first putting forward the initiative. In that time, the BRI has secured, to varying degrees, the support and participation of the majority of countries in the world and in the process has considerably extended beyond the first routes proposed. For example, it has drawn in countries in the South Pacific, West Africa, and Central and South America.

Moreover, as it accumulates experience, BRI projects are becoming more focused, with an emphasis on avoiding waste and corruption, synergizing with the development plans and priorities of the countries and regions concerned, ensuring both economic and ecological sustainability, delivering real and tangible benefits to local people and communities, and so on.

China lends to countries on favorable terms and is always sympathetic when they encounter difficulties. The very countries that talk the most about the so-called China’s “debt trap diplomacy” tend to be those holding most of the debt of the countries concerned – whether directly, through their private sector or through their disproportionate control over international financial institutions – and with the greatest historical responsibility for the plight of the Global South.

China has no interest in setting a “debt trap”. It lends on reasonable terms because without this, many developing countries would have no way to acquire the infrastructure and realize the modernization they so desperately need.

China responds to the needs and wishes of the countries concerned. It does not interfere in internal affairs, demand privatization, impose structural adjustment programs, instigate coups, or foment color revolutions. And it certainly has no interest in some fanciful conspiracy that would only arouse the resentment of friendly countries and peoples with whom China has shared weal and woe for many decades, going back to the days of mutual national liberation struggles against colonialism and imperialism and for independence. Rather, talk of a “debt trap” on the part of countries of the Global North is simply another instance of their ascribing their own behavior to others.

Britain could potentially benefit greatly from participation in the BRI, whether in terms of participation by British companies in projects in third countries or in terms of our own infrastructure needs. China was quite prepared to combine BRI projects with priorities identified by the UK, such as the Northern Powerhouse.

Unfortunately, the British government has chosen to follow behind the United States in its new Cold War against China. Meanwhile, the Northern Powerhouse has been abandoned, leaving the UK with progressively deteriorating and decaying infrastructure.

Last month, UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced the abandonment of the Manchester link of the HS2 high-speed rail link, from London to Birmingham to Manchester, at his party’s recent annual conference in that very city. He then proceeded to make himself look even more ridiculous when his list of alternative projects was soon exposed as being comprised, in no small part, of projects that had either already been completed or abandoned. The UK’s disdain for the BRI clearly goes against the national interest.

Stop the War Coalition condemns war preparations against China

Britain’s Stop the War Coalition held its Annual General Meeting in London on September 16.

In a significant development, a resolution proposed by Manchester Stop the War, opposing the preparation for war against China, was passed unanimously. It notes that the US Biden administration, “is overseeing a massive military buildup in the Pacific amidst constant talk of war with China”, and continues:

“Just as Ukraine served as a proxy to aggravate Russia, the US is stoking Taiwan with arms and military trainers, creating uncertainty around the One China policy agreed with China and supported internationally.”

The resolution further notes the attempts being made to extend NATO’s reach into Asia and criticises Britain’s participation in the AUKUS pact alongside the Australia and the United States, as well as its increased military collaboration with Japan.

Key speakers at the meeting included Stop the War leaders Lindsey German and Andrew Murray, Irish Member of the European Parliament Clare Daly, independent Member of Parliament for Leicester East Claudia Webbe, and President of the RMT rail and transport union Alex Gordon. Videos of their speeches can be viewed here. A message of solidarity was also read from former Leader of the Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn.

We reprint the full text of the resolution below. The full texts of all the resolutions passed can be read here along with the news report carried in the Morning Star.

Opposing the preparation for war against China

  1. This Conference notes that:
  • Biden’s administration is overseeing a massive military buildup in the Pacific amidst constant talk of war with China – now the main ‘strategic competitor’ – predictions ranging from 2 to 10 years;
  • Just as Ukraine served as a proxy to aggravate Russia, the US is stoking Taiwan with arms and military trainers, creating uncertainty around the One China policy agreed with China and supported internationally, in order to provoke aggression;
  • Increasing military activity in disputed waters in the South and East China Seas and around Taiwan runs a high risk of accidental collision escalating rapidly into a catastrophic war;
  • Increasing tensions jeopardise international cooperation essential to address the mounting climate catastrophe;
  1. We also note that:
  • With the claim ’Euro-Atlantic and IndoPacific security are linked’, the US is building an Atlantic-Pacific Global NATO-style partnership, drawing NATO into Asia, with Britain the most active accomplice;
  • Through AUKUS and a military forces exchange with Japan, Britain is not only stoking a Pacific arms race but also runs the risk of a direct clash with China;
  • Rishi Sunak has identified China as ‘the biggest challenge to the world’;
  • Spending on preparations for war with China is pushing up Britain’s military budget significantly.
  1. This Conference believes that a war between the US and China must be stopped before it starts.
  • We say no to war preparations and provocations;
  • We support the peaceful dialogue across the Taiwan Strait as well as between the countries bordering the South China Sea to resolve differences;
  • We oppose outside interference since this can only complicate dialogue, with failure likely leading into conflict;
  • We call for British withdrawal from AUKUS and from military commitments in the IndoPacific; the government should refrain from any moves that may contribute to destabilising the situation regarding Taiwan;
  • We support activists in the Pacific region opposing militarisation and the arms race, and calling for de-escalation of tensions.
  1. This Conference resolves to step up campaigning to oppose Britain’s part in the war preparations by

(i) developing understanding of the issues and dangers through discussion among our membership supported by educational materials;

(ii) raising public awareness of the dangers of Pacific militarisation and Britain’s part in this;

(iii) including in our campaigning to reverse the TUC’s decision on increasing military spending, factual material on the costs of Britain’s ‘IndoPacific tilt’.

British Museum must return Chinese cultural relics

In the two articles we reproduce below – the first an editorial followed by a news item – the influential Chinese newspaper Global Times responds to the recent news that some 2,000 artifacts have been found to be missing, believed stolen, from the British Museum, to demand the return of treasures, artifacts and cultural icons to China and other countries that were once the victims of colonial pillage by British imperialism. The paper estimates that the museum holds 23,000 cultural relics from China.

In its editorial, Global Times states: “We formally request the British Museum to return all Chinese cultural relics acquired through improper channels,” adding, “We also support the claims for the restitution of cultural relics made by other countries that have been looted by Britain, such as India, Nigeria and South Africa. We urge the British government to cooperate in the legal and other procedures to facilitate the process, which will be a test and verification of Britain’s sincerity in clearing the colonial stain and making amends for its historical sins.”

According to Global Times:

“The vast majority of the British Museum’s huge collection of up to 8 million items came from countries other than the UK, and a significant portion of it was acquired through improper channels, even dirty and sinful means. As a result, the British Museum has earned the name of the world’s largest ‘receiver of stolen goods’.”

Faced with growing demands over the years for the return of looted items by countries from Greece to Nigeria, the British Museum and the British government have fallen back on the frankly racist argument that the countries concerned are, unlike apparently the UK, incapable of taking care of their own property. The revelation of mass theft from the museum’s collections has blown that argument, such as it was, out of the water, and Global Times notes:

“The huge loopholes in the management and security of cultural objects in the British Museum exposed by this scandal have led to the collapse of a long-standing and widely circulated claim that ‘foreign cultural objects are better protected in the British Museum.'”

The editorial notes: “The UK, which has a bloody, ugly, and shameful colonial history, has always had a strong sense of moral superiority over others… We really do not know where their sense of moral superiority comes from.”

It also refers to Greece’s long-running campaign for the return of the so-called ‘Elgin Marbles’:

“Recently, Greece once again called for the return of sculptures taken from the Parthenon Temple by Britain in the past, only to be accused by British politicians of ‘blatant opportunism.’ This once again reveals the ‘traditions’ of imperialism and colonialism.”

In one of several news items recently carried by Global Times on this issue, the paper points out that: “It is estimated that 10 million artifacts were stolen from China from the first Opium War (1840-42) to the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1931-45).”

It also cites Abba Isa Tijani, director general of Nigeria’s National Commission for Museums and Monuments, on his country’s demand for the return of the Benin Bronzes, and Zahi Hawass, Egypt’s former minister of state for antiquities affairs, on his country’s campaign for the return of the Rosetta Stone.

And it notes comments made to the Guardian newspaper by Bell Ribeiro-Addy, the left Labour MP for Streatham in south London, that: “What makes it more awful is that they’ve been so lax about the [suspected] theft of other people’s items that they haven’t even bothered to assess what it is that they have.”

British Museum must return Chinese cultural relics for free

Global Times, 28 August 2023

As a Chinese media, we formally request the British Museum to return all Chinese cultural relics acquired through improper channels to China free of charge, and to refrain from adopting a resistant, protracted and perfunctory attitude. First of all, a public commitment should be made to the world for the return of the relics and this long overdue work should begin as soon as possible. We also support the claims for the restitution of cultural relics made by other countries that have been looted by Britain, such as India, Nigeria and South Africa. We urge the British government to cooperate in the legal and other procedures to facilitate the process, which will be a test and verification of Britain’s sincerity in clearing the colonial stain and making amends for its historical sins.

The recent revelation that some 2,000 artifacts from the British Museum’s collection inexplicably went missing has shocked not only the UK, but also all other countries that have collections in the British Museum. The huge number of missing artifacts, the long duration of the case, and the seriousness of the suspected internal thief have made it impossible to connect it with the British Museum, one of the largest museums in the world. People have questioned why the British police and the museum have delayed releasing photos and detailed descriptions of the stolen artifacts. The failure to release photos may indicate that the British Museum still has not been able to find out exactly how much of its vast collection has been lost, probably more than 2,000 pieces.

Continue reading British Museum must return Chinese cultural relics

Cleverly’s Beijing mission a welcome contrast to backbench warmongering

The following Morning Star editorial discusses British foreign secretary James Cleverly’s recent visit to Beijing.

Before setting off, Cleverly observed that “no significant global problem – from climate change to pandemic prevention, from economic instability to nuclear proliferation – can be solved without China.” This is certainly true. Furthermore Britain would derive clear economic benefits from improved Britain-China relations.

Unfortunately, as the editorial points out, Cleverly’s relatively balanced position stands in stark contrast to that found elsewhere in parliament, “where the foreign select committee not only urges Aukus expansion but calls for Britain to join another anti-China military bloc, the Quad, a prescription for miring us still deeper in the preparations for a Pacific war that a US general has predicted for the year after next.”

What’s more, the basic political dynamics underlying the deterioration in relations have not meaningfully changed. The US is leading a New Cold War that includes military encirclement (via AUKUS, war games, freedom of navigation assertions and so on), attempting to stoke conflict across the Taiwan Strait, sanctions, tariffs, and a vicious propaganda war. Britain has involved itself in all of this. Prioritising our status as a loyal junior partner to US imperialism has become a consensus position in British politics.

The editorial concludes that a powerful mass peace movement is a necessary force to counter the Cold Warriors in Westminster.

The Foreign Secretary’s visit to Beijing is a welcome attempt to keep communications open with an economic, scientific and technological giant.

James Cleverly is spot on when he says global problems cannot be addressed without China, whether we are talking about climate change, co-operation on pandemics or — the elephant in the room given the feverish warmongering on Tory back benches — avoiding World War III.

The government’s attitude contrasts favourably to that of critics like ex-work and pensions secretary Iain Duncan Smith. For Duncan Smith, for whom “anything to do with China is a security threat,” simply holding talks with Chinese leaders is “appeasement.”

Labour’s David Lammy does not go quite so far, though he calls on Cleverly to secure “tangible diplomatic wins” such as the removal of sanctions on British parliamentarians.

Continue reading Cleverly’s Beijing mission a welcome contrast to backbench warmongering

Chinese scholars discuss Engels in Eastbourne

The English coastal town of Eastbourne was the venue for an international conference on the life and work of Friedrich Engels’, Karl Marx’s closest comrade, friend and collaborator, in early June. The conference was co-hosted by the University of Brighton, which has a campus in Eastbourne, and the International Association of Marx & Engels Humanities Studies (MEIA).

Marxist scholars from more than 10 countries participated, marking the 175th anniversary of the publication of the Communist Manifesto, authored by Marx and Engels, and which remains a programmatic document of the communist movement worldwide. 

Eastbourne was chosen as the location as it was Engels’ favoured holiday location. After his death, and in accordance with his wishes, his ashes were scattered in the sea by Marx’s daughter and others from Beachy Head, a famous nearby landmark. An ongoing campaign to honour Engels with a commemorative plaque in the town has the support of Eastbourne Labour Party, Eastbourne Trades Council and local union branches, including those of Unite, Unison and the University & College Union (UCU). The conference was held at the View Hotel, which is owned by Unite.

Chinese scholars played a prominent role in the conference, addressing the influence of Marxism on China’s development path among other topics. 

According to Christian Høgsbjerg, the conference was, “an incredible opportunity to have so many Chinese scholars of Marxism here in Britain and to have those dialogues and make connections.” Høgsbjerg, who is senior lecturer in the School of Humanities and Social Science at the University of Brighton, is most well-known for his work on CLR James, the famous Trinidadian Marxist, and his pioneering work on the 1791-1804 Haitian revolution, first analysed by James in his seminal work, Black Jacobins.  Høgsbjerg is an author or editor of numerous books, including CLR James in Imperial Britain and Toussaint Louverture: A Black Jacobin in the Age of Revolutions. The Red and the Black: The Russian Revolution and the Black Atlantic (Racism, Resistance and Social Change), co-edited by Høgsbjerg, together with David Featherstone, outlines how the Russian revolution of 1917 was not just a world-historical event in its own right, but also struck powerful blows against racism and imperialism, and thereby inspired many black radicals internationally.

According to the publishers, Manchester University Press, it “explores the implications of the creation of the Soviet Union and the Communist International for black and colonial liberation struggles across the African diaspora…Challenging European-centred understandings of the Russian revolution and the global left, [it] offers new insights on the relations between communism, various lefts and anti-colonialisms across the Black Atlantic – including Garveyism and various other strands of Pan-Africanism.”

The following article was originally published by the Xinhua News Agency. We also embed a video report from New China TV, which is the broadcasting arm of Xinhua.

The seaside resort of Eastbourne in East Sussex, England, is hosting an international conference titled “Engels in Eastbourne,” which kicked off on Thursday and runs to Saturday.

Nearly a hundred professors, experts and scholars from more than 20 universities and research institutions in more than ten countries, including the United Kingdom, China, Germany, the United States, Ireland, Spain, Romania, Denmark, Turkey and India, hold in-depth discussions to commemorate the 175th anniversary of “The Communist manifesto.”

The conference is co-hosted by the University of Brighton and the International Association of Marx & Engels Humanities Studies (MEIA).

According to the MEIA, a British independent non-governmental organization, the subjects discussed include Friedrich Engels’ life and experiences, his contribution to the development of Marxism, the influence of Engels’ theories on the development of the contemporary world, and the influence of Marxism on China’s modernization path.

Continue reading Chinese scholars discuss Engels in Eastbourne

Britain seems doomed to join the new Washington Consensus

In this article for the Morning Star, Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez takes a look at the results of UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s recent official visit to the US. Sunak’s summit with Joe Biden produced very little of substance, but the Atlantic Declaration for a Twenty-First Century US-UK Economic Partnership reiterates Britain’s ongoing commitment to the New Cold War and the Project for an American Century. Carlos writes that the document “represents a shared commitment to doubling down on the new cold war, continuing with the encirclement and containment of China, and proceeding with the proxy war against Russia.”

While talking up the need for a “rules-based order”, the Declaration makes clear that the US and Britain intend to continue violating international law via their AUKUS nuclear pact and their extensive set of unilateral sanctions. Meanwhile, their calls for global action to tackle climate change ring decidedly hollow given their sanctioning of China’s solar energy products and the trend of replacing Russian energy with North American fracked shale gas.

Noting that Labour in its current iteration offers no improvement on the question of Britain-China relations, Carlos concludes that “Boris Johnson, Liz Truss, Sunak and Keir Starmer are all Trumpists when it comes to pursuing this incredibly reckless new cold war.”

Last Wednesday marked the second annual UK-US Friendship Day. Although this momentous occasion was met with near-universal indifference on both sides of the Atlantic, Rishi Sunak took the opportunity to celebrate by making his first official visit to the US as Prime Minister.

The discussions didn’t reap the variety of fruit Sunak had been hoping for; the Tories’ long-promised free-trade deal remains in deep freeze. Indeed, very little of substance was announced beyond the Atlantic Declaration for a Twenty-First Century US-UK Economic Partnership.

This declaration makes clear that the focus of US-UK collaboration today is to jointly manage “new challenges to international stability,” in particular “from authoritarian states such as Russia and the People’s Republic of China.”

Continue reading Britain seems doomed to join the new Washington Consensus

Rest in power Comrade Tongogara

Comrade Tongogara (born Danny Morrell), one of Britain’s staunchest and most outspoken supporters of Mao Zedong and friend of socialist China, passed away on May 11 2023. Born in Jamaica, he spent most of his adult life in north London, a life he devoted to the struggle for black liberation, socialism and communism, working tirelessly and supporting every progressive struggle. His belief in Mao’s concept and practice of the mass line made him many friends and comrades across a wide range of revolutionary and progressive organizations and campaigns, among different communities, and people from various walks of life. Alongside Marx, Lenin and Mao, he was equally inspired by the struggles of the Jamaican people, of the African liberation movements and of such African-American revolutionaries as George Jackson.

In 1970, he was a founding member of the Black Unity and Freedom Party (BUFP), whose newspaper was Black Voice. In a paper presented to the 15th Forum of the World Association for Political Economy (WAPE), hosted by Shanghai’s International Studies University in December 2021, the editors of this website cited the BUFP as one of the organizations that, “collectively constituted the mass proletarian base for China friendship and solidarity in Britain.” 

In his last years, Tongogara especially devoted his energies to the Free Mumia Campaign UK, which he launched at a meeting in Brixton, south London, in 2008. One of the most high-profile political prisoners in the United States, Mumia Abu-Jamal, a revolutionary journalist who first joined the Black Panther Party in 1968 at age 14, was originally sentenced to death on trumped up charges in 1982 and has been held in US prison hell holes ever since.

On being informed of Tongogara’s passing, FoSC co-editor Keith Bennett, who had been his friend and comrade since 1976, wrote in part:

“He was a staunch and constant supporter of Mao Zedong and his work embodied and bore testimony to Comrade Mao’s profound and powerful observation that the evil system of colonialism and imperialism arose and throve with the enslavement of black people and the trade in black people, and it will surely come to its end with the complete emancipation of the black people.

“Tongogara’s life and work helped bring that day closer. He will be remembered and honored.”

The below article was originally published in Fight Racism! Fight Imperialism! and was written by comrades in the Mumia UK Campaign.

`Brother Tongogara (born Danny Morrell) passed away peacefully in Barnet Hospital on Thursday 11 May 2023. Born in Jamaica in 1942 on 6 February (he was proud to share a birthday with Bob Marley), he lived in Tottenham, London, for most of his adult life. A long-time friend and supporter of many campaigns across London and internationally, Comrade Tongogara will be well known to many FRFI readers. He was an untiring campaigner, omnipresent at events such as Africa Liberation Day, May Day, taking political messages to Notting Hill Carnival, picketing the Home Office and outside the BBC for Irish prisoners. He supported the free Leonard Peltier campaign as well as regularly protesting outside the US embassy and the high court.

In 1970 he was a founding member of Black Unity and Freedom Party which later became the African People’s Liberation Organisation in 1998. In the 1990s he supported the work of the Colin Roach Centre in Hackney, campaigning against deaths in police custody and highlighting the racist violence of the state.  He also brought learning to the movement, organising lectures with Caribbean Labour Solidarity, and celebrating Claudia Jones with an annual event. Alongside political action he believed in political study and shared liberation literature, taking books by George Jackson, Karl Marx, Assata Shakur, Mao Tse-Tung and Mumia Abu-Jamal to events and street stalls.

In 2008 he convened a meeting in Brixton to launch the Free Mumia Campaign UK and became an untiring campaigner and spokesperson. He brought many people into the campaign when Mumia was still facing the death penalty and kept the campaign going until the present day. Along with others, Tongogara set the political tone of the campaign which has always been anti-imperialist and anti-racist.

Tongogara took the Free Mumia banner, often alone, far and wide, including outside banks, train stations and Lloyds building in the City of London, demanding the release of Mumia. He was a powerful speaker and a tireless engaging street activist who had the ability to connect people and bring new people into the movement. His kind and principled approach, together with his determination and courage has been an example for many others.

This is a glimpse into the life and legacy of comrade Tongogara. All who knew Brother T can remember with a combination of joy and gratitude what he brought and gave to the struggle for class and race liberation over exemplary decades. May he rest in power.

Aukus might create jobs – but at what cost?

This article by Jenny Clegg, originally published in the Morning Star, discusses the recent announcement by Britain’s Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions (CSEU) that it welcomes the Aukus trilateral security deal on the grounds that it will ostensibly create thousands of well-paid jobs for British engineers.

Jenny points out that, even on the basis of purely economic calculations, directing Britain’s advanced engineering sector towards a project like Aukus is utterly self-defeating. It will adversely affect ties with China – trade with which is connected to orders of magnitude more jobs than Aukus is. Furthermore, it means divesting from far more promising and worthwhile projects, particularly in relation to preventing climate breakdown.

Aukus is part of an escalating US-led drive to war against China, and what’s more it violates the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). It is patently foolish for Britain to attach itself to such a project, and particularly so for the British working class. Jenny asks of CSEU members: “Do they want to be building a world of conflict, tension and destabilisation for decades to come? Is that the kind of future they envisage for their children and grandchildren?”

THE Confederation of Shipbuilding and Engineering Unions (CSEU) has welcomed the benefits of Aukus, creating thousands of well-paid jobs, securing thousands more across the supply chains for years to come.

But what about the costs?

Within Britain’s constrained budgets, creating one job in the defence sector means cutting significantly more jobs — quite possibly those of trade union members — in sectors, for example, that provide for social welfare.

The £3 billion defence spending increase recently announced by PM Rishi Sunak to go on supporting the delivery of Aukus is enough to pay the junior doctors’ claims in full one-and-a-half times over. And it is just the start.

The benefits to the supply chain might not be that great either since over a third of MoD supplies are purchased from overseas.

The reactors to power the Aukus submarines are to be built by Rolls-Royce in Derby using weapons-grade highly enriched uranium.

Thousands of jobs will be created, yes, but these vessels are for war-fighting so this will breach the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) stipulation that the exchange of nuclear technology must be “for peaceful purposes.”

This also violates the spirit of the Nuclear Weapon Free Zones of the south Pacific and south-east Asia. There, the expanding authority of the Anglosphere is not something that is welcomed.

It goes against hopes to make the region a zone of peace, instead increasing the likelihood of regional nuclear proliferation and an escalating arms race.

A recent meeting of former Pacific leaders raised complaints about the “staggering” amount of money committed to Aukus which “flies in the face of Pacific Islands countries … crying out for climate change support,” the “threat … challenging our future existence,” they said, “is not China but climate change.”

The gross overexpansion of Britain’s military industrial base is to prepare for war with China. But China has not fought a war for 40 years; it maintains a defensive military posture with just one overseas base and only a small nuclear arsenal kept under “no first use.” By treating China as the enemy, Aukus will surely turn it into one.

China in fact is Britain’s fourth-largest trading partner; economic links have generated at least 150,000 jobs across the country and there is great potential for this to grow.

Not long ago Chinese companies stepped in to help in the rescue of Jaguar Land Rover and saved 3,000 jobs at British Steel.

Why put all this at risk? China should be seen as an opportunity not a threat.

By the time the submarines become operational in the 2040s, the world will be massively transformed.

The emerging markets of the Brics countries already exceed the G7 in economic size and will easily double this in 20 years.

A paradigm shift is under way as these rising powers reset world agendas — it is their priorities on climate change, health and tackling poverty that are now driving the world economy.

Yet Britain continues on the path of disproportionate military influence even as it drops out of the world’s top 10 economies in the coming years.

The CSEU is working with the Australian engineering unions, yet the Australian Council of Trade Unions (Actu), which brings together 36 trade unions, has not endorsed the pact and maintains its backing of Australia’s nuclear-free defence policy.

To support the huge Aukus military expansion, the Australian taxpayer will pay on average US$6bn per year for the next 30 years — a whacking total of US$245bn.

To secure Britain’s high-skilled base requires long-term contracts but the MoD’s seemingly easy solution stokes more problems for the future: the more that is invested in arms production, the harder it is to reverse — the end of a contract means thousands of jobs are at stake and the chase for investment becomes endless.

The British government has just spent over £6bn on the two aircraft carriers, now one is being mothballed. How many more white elephants are planned?

The CSEU needs to think again. Instead of delivering the labour movement into the pockets of BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce, instead of driving China onto a war-footing, it should inform its members of the implications of the scheme.

It should ask them: do they want to be building a world of conflict, tension and destabilisation for decades to come? Is that the kind of future they envisage for their children and grandchildren?

We are nowhere close to having sufficient green skills to deliver the green transition globally — the CSEU should be encouraging apprentices to hone their skills for a green future; and it should get creative and set up teams of members to come up with alternative ideas not least to serve the new agendas and growing markets of the global South.

People in Britain can only rely now on skilled engineers to ensure the economy remains relevant in the coming decades. Politicians are failing us — it is up to the unions to envisage a different future for the country and to see that Britain’s advanced engineering is put to good use in a vastly changing world.