Video: Whose democracy? Beijing, New York show vast contrast

The video embedded below is the last in a three-part series on democracy made by China Daily, based on an interview with Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez. In this segment, Carlos talks about visiting both New York City and Beijing for the first time in 2019, and the stark contrast between the two cities. New York, in spite of being a major centre of wealth, contains terrible levels of poverty, inequality, homelessness and discrimination, and its infrastructure is collapsing. Beijing on the other hand is modern, efficient, clean and well-organised, and the fundamental human rights of all its citizens are guaranteed. What this small example reflects is the difference between Western democracy – a democracy for the elite – and Chinese socialist democracy, which works for the masses of the people.

You can also see part 1 and part 2 of the series.

The US is a serial human rights abuser

The following article by Carlos Martinez, written for the Chinese magazine China Today (founded under the name China Reconstructs by Soong Ching-ling in 1952), comments on the recent report issued by the China Society for Human Rights Studies (CSHRS) entitled U.S. commits serious crimes of violating human rights in the Middle East and beyond. Carlos discusses the irony of the US having such a disastrous human rights record at home and abroad, given that “it so often frames its aggressive foreign policy precisely within a context of human rights.” He further contrasts the US’s record with that of China, concluding that “the West’s attempts to smear China as a human rights abuser – and to portray the U.S. and its allies as upholders of freedom and democracy – are nothing but the hypocritical lies of a collapsing hegemonic world order.”

The latest report from the China Society for Human Rights Studies (CSHRS), entitled “U.S. commits serious crimes of violating human rights in the Middle East and beyond,” provides a detailed assessment of the United States’ human rights record, particularly in relation to its wars and regime change operations in the Middle East. 

Noting that U.S. imperialism has caused “permanent damage and irreparable losses to countries and people in the region,” the report highlights a valuable lesson to be learned by the peoples of the world: that the pervasive Western narrative of democracy and human rights is nothing but a façade, behind which lies hegemony, inequality, cruelty and violence.

A great irony of the U.S.’ record of human rights abuses is that it so often frames its aggressive foreign policy precisely within a context of human rights. For example, in early 2011, journalists and politicians in the West loudly raised their voices about the abuses supposedly being perpetrated by the government of Muammar Gaddafi in Libya. They spread numerous stories: that the government was preparing a massacre in Benghazi; that sub-Saharan Africans were being forced to fight for the government; that Gaddafi was instructing pro-government troops to use rape as a weapon of war. 

Continue reading The US is a serial human rights abuser

20th Congress of the CPC proposed for October 2022

The Communist Party of China announced on August 30 that it plans to open its 20th Congress on October 16. According to the Xinhua News Agency: 

“It was stressed at the meeting that the 20th CPC National Congress is a congress of great significance to be convened at a crucial moment, as the whole Party and the entire nation embark on a new journey toward building a modern socialist country in all respects, and advance toward the Second Centenary Goal…

“The congress will thoroughly review the international and domestic situations, comprehensively grasp the new requirements for the development of the cause of the Party and the country on the new journey in the new era, as well as the new expectations of the people.

“The congress will formulate action plans and major policies, mobilize all Party members and people from all ethnic groups across the country to firm up confidence in history, strengthen historical initiative, innovate on the basis of what has been done, and bravely charge ahead.”

The following report was originally carried by the Xinhua News Agency.

The Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee on Tuesday held a meeting on the preparatory work for the seventh plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee, and the 20th CPC National Congress. Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, presided over the meeting.

The meeting decided that the seventh plenary session of the 19th CPC Central Committee is to be convened on Oct. 9 in Beijing. The Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee will propose to the plenary session that the 20th CPC National Congress be convened on Oct. 16 in Beijing.

It was stressed at the meeting that the 20th CPC National Congress is a congress of great significance to be convened at a crucial moment, as the whole Party and the entire nation embark on a new journey toward building a modern socialist country in all respects, and advance toward the Second Centenary Goal.

The congress will hold high the great banner of socialism with Chinese characteristics, uphold Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought, Deng Xiaoping Theory, the Theory of Three Represents and the Scientific Outlook on Development, and thoroughly implement Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era.

The congress will take stock of the Party’s work over the past five years, as well as major achievements and valuable experience of the Party’s Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core in uniting and leading the whole Party and Chinese people of all ethnic groups to uphold and develop socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.

The congress will thoroughly review the international and domestic situations, comprehensively grasp the new requirements for the development of the cause of the Party and the country on the new journey in the new era, as well as the new expectations of the people.

The congress will formulate action plans and major policies, mobilize all Party members and people from all ethnic groups across the country to firm up confidence in history, strengthen historical initiative, innovate on the basis of what has been done, and bravely charge ahead.

All Party members and people from all ethnic groups across the country will be mobilized to continue advancing the Five-Sphere Integrated Plan and the Four-Pronged Comprehensive Strategy in a coordinated manner, pushing forward common prosperity for all, advancing the great new project of Party building, and promoting the building of a community with a shared future for humanity.

All Party members and people from all ethnic groups across the country will be mobilized to work together for building China into a modern socialist country in all respects and advancing the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts.

A new CPC Central Committee and a new CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection will be elected at the congress.

All preparatory work for the congress is proceeding smoothly and preparations should be continued earnestly to ensure a successful congress, according to the meeting.

Other issues were also discussed at the meeting.

Video: China’s democracy serves the people

The video embedded below is the second in a three-part series on democracy made by China Daily, based on an interview with Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez. In this segment, Carlos contrasts Western capitalist democracy with China’s socialist democracy, observing that the political process prevailing in countries such as the US and Britain is closer to plutocracy than democracy, owing to the persistent connection between wealth and power. “In the US, you can choose between Democrats and Republicans, but both are going to represent the capitalist class; and both are going to pursue American imperialism.” Giving an overview of the structures of China’s whole-process people’s democracy, he concludes that China is much more meaningfully democratic than the capitalist world.

Part 1 of the series can be viewed here.

Video: Chinese democracy far more effective than Western democracy

Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez was recently interviewed by China Daily about the differences between Chinese and Western democracy. Citing the examples of China’s commitment to eradicating poverty, suppressing the Covid pandemic and preventing climate breakdown, Carlos asserts that Chinese democracy is proving itself far superior to the Western model in terms of being responsive to the needs and demands of the people.

The interview is embedded below.

On the continuous development of human rights in China

Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez was recently interviewed on the subject of democracy and human rights for the Chinese edition of People’s Daily. We publish below the English translation.

“The Chinese government listens to the voices of the people, is committed to meeting the needs of the people, and promotes the continuous development of the cause of human rights.” Recently, British writer and political commentator Carlos Martinez said in an interview with this reporter that the Chinese Communist Party leads the Chinese people. Unprecedented progress has been made in finding a human rights development path that suits the national conditions of the country. What is important is that China breaks the narrow definition of human rights in the West, “China’s human rights protection is extensive and sufficient”.

Martinez was deeply impressed by the whole process of people’s democracy in China. He said that this concept highlights the essential difference between socialist democracy with Chinese characteristics and Western capitalist democracy. The Chinese side believes that if the people are awakened only when they vote, and then go into a hibernation period, they only listen to hype slogans during elections, they have no right to speak after the election, they are favored during canvassing, and they are left out after the election. Such a democracy is not true democracy. Martinez agrees.

“The participation of ordinary Chinese people in running society is higher than that of Western countries. In terms of representing the basic interests of ordinary people, the Chinese government has done a far better job than Western governments.” Martinez said that in the whole process of China’s development of people’s democracy, the people have always enjoyed democratic rights, not limited to elections; available to all social classes, not limited to certain groups. China’s democratic system has its own historical background. It can ensure the enjoyment of democratic rights by the broadest masses of people and provide important support and guarantee for social governance.

Martinez said that China’s achievements lie not only in achieving rapid economic growth, but also in the government’s wholehearted commitment to improving the living standards of ordinary people. The Chinese government pays attention to poverty eradication, environmental protection, education development, etc., to improve people’s lives in general. “People’s demands are reflected in the government’s work, which is the real people’s democracy.” Martinez said.

“Eliminating absolute poverty in a developing country with a population of more than 1.4 billion is an extraordinary achievement and has historical significance.” Martinez specifically mentioned that due to the impact of the new coronavirus epidemic and geopolitical factors, poverty is rising. The Chinese government has historically solved the problem of absolute poverty and made important contributions to human development and progress. He said that while carrying out targeted poverty alleviation, China has actively shared its experience with other countries and regions, participated in many poverty alleviation projects in Africa, and carried out various cooperation with developing countries, which has promoted the sustainable development of these countries and regions.

Xi Jinping speech at the Central People’s Congress Work Conference

We are very pleased to publish the full text of President Xi Jinping’s speech on China’s practice of socialist democracy via the system of people’s congresses. This was originally delivered to the Central People’s Congress Work Conference on October 13th 2021. The full text has just been published in the latest Chinese and English language editions of Qiushi, the lead theoretical journal of the Communist Party of China.

President Xi dates China’s system of people’s congresses to ideas first put forward by Mao Zedong in 1945, four years before liberation, and notes that since the Party’s 18th National Congress in 2012, this system has been further developed in six aspects, namely:

  • Upholding the Communist Party’s leadership;
  • Making institutional provisions to ensure that the people actually run the country;
  • Advancing law-based governance;
  • Upholding democratic centralism;
  • Keeping to the path of socialist political development with Chinese characteristics;
  • Continuing to modernise China’s governance system and capacity.

To further improve the work of people’s congresses as China advances towards the status of a modern socialist country, Xi Jinping put forward a further six key tasks:

  • To ensure the full implementation of the constitution and safeguard its authority;
  • Improve the socialist legal system and use the law to ensure good governance;
  • People’s congresses should make good use of their oversight powers;
  • People’s congress deputies should respond to the demands of the people;
  • People’s congresses should intensify their self-improvement;
  • The party’s overall leadership should be strengthened.

In his speech, President Xi draws a powerful line of demarcation between bourgeois democracy and socialist democracy, stating:

“Democracy is not an ornament to be put on display, but an instrument for addressing the issues that concern the people. Whether a country is democratic or not depends on whether its people are truly the masters of the country. It depends on whether the people have the right to vote, and more importantly, the right to participate; what promises they are given during elections, and more importantly, how many of these promises are delivered after elections; what kind of political procedures and rules are set through state systems and laws, and more importantly, whether these systems and laws are truly enforced; and whether the rules and procedures for the exercise of power are democratic, and more importantly, whether the exercise of power is genuinely subject to public oversight and checks. If the people are only engaged with to solicit votes and then are left in the dark, if they must listen to grandiose election slogans but have no voice when the elections are over, or if they are only treated well by candidates during elections and are ignored after, this is not true democracy…

“The Communist Party of China has always upheld people’s democracy and has always adhered to the following basic ideas. First, people’s democracy is the life of socialism; without democracy, there would be no socialism, socialist modernisation, or national rejuvenation. Second, the running of the country by the people is the essence and heart of socialist democracy. The very purpose of developing socialist democracy is to give full expression to the will of the people, protect their rights and interests, spark their creativity, and provide a system of institutions to ensure that it is they who are running the country. Third, the Chinese socialist path of political development is the right path, as it conforms to China’s national conditions and guarantees the position of the people as the masters of the country. It is the logical outcome of history, theory, and practice based on the strenuous efforts of the Chinese people in modern times. It is a requisite for maintaining the very nature of our Party and fulfilling its fundamental purpose. Fourth, China’s socialist democracy takes two important forms: one in which the people exercise rights by means of elections and voting, and another in which people from all walks of life are consulted extensively in order to reach the widest possible consensus on matters of common concern before major decisions are made. Together these make up the institutional features and strengths of China’s socialist democracy. Fifth, the key to developing China’s socialist democracy is to fully leverage its features and strengths. As we continue to advance socialist democracy with well-defined institutions, standards, and procedures, we can provide better institutional safeguards for our Party and country’s prosperity and long-term stability.”

And the Chinese leader reminded his audience: “Deng Xiaoping once said, ‘The democracy in capitalist societies is bourgeois democracy – in fact, it is the democracy of monopoly capitalists.'”

This year marks the centenary of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Upon its founding a hundred years ago, our Party made the pursuit of happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation its founding aspiration and mission, and it has since explored every means to ensure that it is the people who run the country. During the New Democratic Revolution, our Party established people’s governments in base areas and provided practical experience for building a new political system. 

Through practice and theoretical reflection, Chinese Communists, with Mao Zedong as their chief representative, put forward the original idea to implement a system of people’s congresses. As early as April 1945, Mao Zedong said, “The organizational principle of the new democratic state should be democratic centralism, with the people’s congresses at all levels determining the major policies and electing the governments. It is both democratic and centralized, that is, centralized on the basis of democracy and democratic under centralized guidance. This is the only system that can give full expression to democracy with full powers vested in the people’s congresses at various levels and, at the same time, ensure centralized administration with the governments at each level exercising centralized management of all the affairs entrusted to them by the people’s congresses at the corresponding level and safeguarding whatever is essential to the democratic activities of the people.” 

Continue reading Xi Jinping speech at the Central People’s Congress Work Conference

Fact Sheet on the National Endowment for Democracy

We are pleased to republish below this comprehensive and thoroughly-researched report by China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs about the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). The report exposes the NED’s origins and rationale – as essentially an extension of the CIA, funded and controlled by the US government. It goes into detail, uncovering the NED’s extensive operations on behalf of US imperialism throughout the world, both in China (backing pro-independence and anti-China groups in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong) and in other countries that refuse to go along with US diktat (including Bolivia, Venezuela, Cuba, Nicaragua, Belarus, Libya, Syria, Algeria, and more). The report is well worth reading in full.

Foreword

The United States has long used democracy as a tool and a weapon to undermine democracy in the name of democracy, to incite division and confrontation, and to meddle in other countries’ internal affairs, causing catastrophic consequences. 

The National Endowment for Democracy (NED), as one of the US government’s main “foot soldiers”, “white gloves” and “democracy crusaders”, has subverted lawful governments and cultivated pro-US puppet forces around the world under the pretext of promoting democracy. Its disgraceful record has aroused strong discontent in the international community. 

In today’s world, peace and development is the theme of the times, and the trend towards greater democracy in international relations is unstoppable. Any attempt to interfere in other countries’ internal affairs in the name of democracy is unpopular and is doomed to failure.

Continue reading Fact Sheet on the National Endowment for Democracy

Arnold August: Revolutionary democracy in China and Cuba has resulted in huge advances in human rights

Embedded below is a clip of Canadian author and political scientist Arnold August, speaking at a virtual conference – Human Rights Today: Universal and Global? – organized by Central South University, Changsha, China, on February 27, 2022. Arnold addresses the accusations that China and Cuba are ‘undemocratic’, exposes how this label is weaponized by the US against its political enemies, and explains how the Chinese and Cuban revolutions (in 1949 and 1959) created a type of popular democracy which gives expression to the needs and aspirations of ordinary people.

Whole-Process People’s Democracy has deep roots in China’s history and the Chinese Revolution

Friends of Socialist China were honored to be invited to speak at a March 22 webinar organised by our friends in the Pakistan China Institute under the banner of Friends of Silk Road. The webinar, entitled Whole-Process People’s Democracy: Understanding the Chinese System, used this concept of President Xi Jinping’s to explore various aspects of China’s unique form of socialist democracy. It was chaired by Senator Mushahid Hussain Sayed, who chairs both the Defense Committee in the Pakistan Senate as well as the Pakistan China Institute, and who is also a member of the Friends of Socialist China advisory group.

Opening the event, Senator Hussain noted that it coincided with Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi’s speech as a special guest at the ministerial meeting of the 57-member Organisation for Islamic Cooperation (OIC), also being held in Islamabad. A highlight of Minister Wang’s South Asian tour, this historic first, Senator Hussain noted, represented the close camaraderie and support to Muslim countries and Muslim causes, such as Kashmir and Palestine, on the part of China.

Joining our co-editor Keith Bennett as speakers were HE Ambassador Masood Khalid, Pakistan’s former Ambassador to China; Group Captain Sultan M. Hali, author of four books on China; Zoon Ahmed Khan, a research fellow at the Center for China and Globalisation in Beijing; and Raza Naeem, President of the Progressive Writers Association in Lahore.

The webinar was reported in Pakistan’s leading English-language daily newspapers, Dawn and The News.

The full webinar is embedded below, followed by Keith Bennett’s speech.

Deteriorating healthcare system reflects deep-rooted problems with US democracy

The following article by Carlos Martinez, first published in CGTN, describes the escalating healthcare crisis in the US, particularly the wave of maternity ward closures in low-income and remote areas. Carlos compares this with the universal public healthcare system in China, which continues to gain strength.

A recent Vox report notes that maternity wards throughout the United States have been closing down, a process that has been underway for several years but which has accelerated over the course of the pandemic.

Predictably, this wave of maternity ward closures has resulted in increased travel times for women in labor. There have even been reports of people having to give birth on the side of the road, unable to reach a medical facility in time. Such a situation is scandalous, particularly in one of the world’s richest countries and a country that considers itself a leading force of democracy and human advancement. And yet it is barely considered newsworthy to the Western media.

As is so often the case, low-income and ethnic minority groups are disproportionately impacted. This is a direct function of the private healthcare system in the U.S., which is driven by profits rather than the imperative of providing crucial services to the population. It is often not financially viable for hospitals to provide labor and delivery services in remote rural or low-income areas.

Continue reading Deteriorating healthcare system reflects deep-rooted problems with US democracy

China’s Two Sessions vs Biden’s State of the Union: A tale of system divergence

In his latest article on The Chronicles of Haiphong, Danny Haiphong compares two recently-held major political events: China’s ‘Two Sessions’ and the US State of the Union address. Danny observes that, while Biden’s address was a predictable sequence of false promises and assertions of American hegemony, China’s Two Sessions were an exercise in democracy, summing up thousands of intensive discussions and debates over the past year and, on that basis, setting out concrete tasks for the coming year – with a clear focus on improving living standards and stepping up efforts to tackle climate change and biodiversity. Danny notes that this system divergence, with China continuing to rise and the US continuing to decline, is a major part of the US ruling class’s motivation in fomenting the current New Cold War, which offers nothing for ordinary people in the West and which must be firmly opposed.

The two largest economies in the world have been busy on the political front. U.S. President Joe Biden opened the month of March with his first State of the Union (SOTU) Address. China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) convened at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on March 4th for the annual two sessions conference. Rarely are these events discussed together. What binds them is a tale of system divergence.

Joe Biden’s SOTU presented a snapshot into an empire in decline. The first fifteen-plus minutes of the speech were spent beating the drums of war with Russia over its intervention in Ukraine. Biden announced new restrictions on airline flights to and from Russia that pile onto an already intense package of sanctions designed to starve Russia into submission. Ukraine was portrayed in a predictably heroic light, with Biden passionately asserting that the U.S. stands with the people of Ukraine for “freedom over tyranny.” Biden promised that the U.S. would punish Russian President Vladimir Putin for his so-called rejection of diplomacy, but stopped short of calling for direct U.S. military involvement.

Beyond pouring gasoline on the Russia-Ukraine crisis, Biden used the State of the Union to pour American exceptionalism on the U.S. public. “We are going to be okay” assured Biden, detailing accomplishment after accomplishment with the typical American hubris. Job numbers are growing. The pandemic situation has improved. And Biden made sure to spend ample time promising the public more jobs and a revival of manufacturing to win the battle of “democracy” versus China’s “autocracy.”

Continue reading China’s Two Sessions vs Biden’s State of the Union: A tale of system divergence

Interview: China’s democracy represents people while Western-style democracy serves the interests of monopoly capitalism

This interview with Friends of Socialist China co-editor Danny Haiphong was published in Global Times on 7 March 2022. Global Times reporter Yu Jincui asks Danny’s opinion regarding the 2022 ‘Two Sessions’, the evolution of China’s whole-process people’s democracy, the comparison between Chinese and Western democracy, and the motivation for setting up Friends of Socialist China.

GT: What’s your expectation for the Two Sessions this year and how do you view its significance concerning China’s future development?  

Haiphong:
 China is holding the two sessions in a moment of unprecedented global crisis. The resurgence of COVID-19 due to the Omicron variant has dampened the economic forecast in China and the ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict has certainly raised questions about the future of international stability and China’s role in helping secure it.

Despite the gravity of these developments, China will use the two sessions to begin discussions on a number of policies that embody the spirit and mission  of the 14th Five-Year plan. At the top of the agenda is the dual management of COVID-19 and economic growth targets. Issues and policies relating to China’s goal of achieving “common prosperity” on the road to fully building a modern socialist country by 2050 will undoubtedly be the subject of deliberations at the two sessions. 

My expectation is that the two sessions will reaffirm China’s capacity to lead by example through whole-process democracy. China is the only world power at the moment in a position to chart a development plan that meets the interests of the people for a better life. Through direct consultation and participation of grassroots deputies representing all levels of society, China possesses a mechanism in the two sessions which can chart a clear path toward meeting concrete development goals.

GT: How do you understand whole-process people’s democracy? Compared with Western-style democracy, what do you think is the biggest difference?

Haiphong:
 Whole-process people’s democracy is a governance system congruent with socialism with Chinese characteristics. Whole-process people’s democracy establishes a system of consultation and grassroots mobilization which takes into account China’s specific conditions of development. Direct elections are held at the village level and corresponding deputies at higher levels are subsequently elected by lower levels of the governance system based upon a record of service to the people. Whole-process democracy is bidirectional, meaning that regular consultation occurs between higher levels of the governance system such as the NPC and provincial and local authorities to ensure policies properly balance national priorities and local considerations.Whole-process people’s democracy is different from Western-style democracy in several areas. The biggest difference is that whole-process people’s democracy is structured to meet the goals and plans set forth by the system of socialism with Chinese characteristics while Western-style democracy is structured to serve the interests of monopoly capitalism. Unlike Western-style democracy, whole-process people’s democracy does not view procedure as an achievement in and of itself. A major measure of success is how well deputies and governance structures serve the desire of the people for a better life. Western-style democracy, on the other hand, views the election of representatives itself as the highest achievement. The question of whether this system serves the needs of the broad masses of people is generally ignored in order to obscure the fact that powerful corporate interests set the policy agenda well before votes are cast.

GT: Over 5,000 deputies of the National People’s Congress (NPC) and members of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference are gathering in Beijing. They come from all walks of life across the country. How do you see the difference between Chinese lawmakers and American lawmakers? A view holds that US lawmakers are more adept at playing electoral politics rather than solving real problems facing the country. How do you view this? 

Haiphong:
 US lawmakers are generally selected by wealthy elites first and elected by the people second. The majority of representatives in the US Congress are millionaires who accumulated their wealth through satisfying the interests of monopoly corporations and private financial institutions.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, for example, has achieved a net worth of about $100 million during her more than 30-year career in Congress. US lawmakers and their staff often move from government positions to the corporate boardrooms of their donors and lobbyists. Several former aides to Democratic Party Senator Joe Manchin currently work for energy lobbies that played a key role in stymying increased investment in infrastructure and renewable energy development.

The immense influence of private wealth over the political careers and policies of US lawmakers incentivizes procedure over solving real problems that impact the lives of the impoverished and oppressed. Unlike China, where the government is structured to enact people-centered development plans, the US governance system is designed to reproduce policies that reinforce the status quo. This explains why despite rhetorical differences on certain issues, Democrats and Republicans from Joe Biden and Donald Trump to members of Congress often carry out a similar policy framework of increased war spending, subsidies for the wealthiest corporations, and austerity measures that negatively impact the livelihoods of ordinary people.

Another stark difference between lawmakers in the US and China is their social character. Poor workers in the US generally do not have the means or wealth to compete in elections that require massive financial expenditures to run successful campaigns. Furthermore, the interests of ethnic and racial minorities are only given attention when social conditions, such as the Black Lives Matter protests, demand it. It’s clear, however, that Joe Biden’s key role in writing legislation that led to an enormous rise in the African-American prison population and his support of militarizing police departments that exacerbate racial tensions indicate that the interests of racial minorities are treated as an afterthought.

In China, ethnic minorities are not only provided representation at the highest levels of governance but their economic, cultural, and political interests also find expression in policy discussion and implementation. Furthermore, wealth is not a determinant of political participation. Lawmakers come from all walks of life and are judged by their service to the village, municipality, province, and the nation at large.

GT: China insists that countries with different political systems can coexist, and it emphasizes win-win results in the development process. However, the US and some Western countries want to divide the world into democracy vs autocracy. What risks and consequences will this bring to the world?

Haiphong:
 Viewing the world from the prism of “democracy” and “autocracy” is indicative of a new Cold War mentality. The US describes China, Russia, and a select number of countries as “autocratic” to justify its policy of unipolar aggression. The label “autocracy” comes with an equally aggressive propaganda campaign that influences public opinion to support war. Furthermore, Americans and citizens of the West are taught to blame their problems on a foreign “adversary.” Major threats to humanity such as war, climate change, and poverty become increasingly difficult to address when so-called “democracies” in the West pursue narrow self-interests and divide the world instead of win-win cooperation. This is the true character of Western-style “democracy:” endless militarism and domestic policies that favor a small, wealthy minority of the population.

GT: Friends of Socialist China is aimed at spreading an understanding of Chinese socialism. Why do you choose to engage in such a work? Being an editor of Friends of Socialist China, What are the difficulties in promoting the understanding of Chinese socialism in the Western world?

Haiphong:
 Friends of Socialist China was conceived by myself and colleagues of mine amid great dissatisfaction with the low level of solidarity with China that exists even among the most progressive-minded journalists and activists in the West. 

It is important to us that the New Cold War being led by the US is challenged not just on the basis of its irrationality and negative consequences for humanity, but also from the standpoint of an endless stream of misinformation about China.

Much of the propaganda spread by Western media is based on a Cold War understanding of China that negates the important achievements of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the modern era. This is a great disservice to people in the West. People in the West are denied the right to learn from China’s successes in poverty alleviation, renewable energy, high-technology, COVID-19 containment, infrastructure development and more. We hope to change that in the interest of peace. People in the West need to know the real China if they are to develop the empathy and solidarity required in the development of world peace. 

The biggest impediment to this work is the highly concentrated private media in the West and how it acts as a lever of misinformation for US-led cold war policies. Public opinion on China has declined significantly, and anti-China propaganda has led to a spike in racist incidents toward Chinese and people of Asian descent in the US and the West. All of this creates inevitable hostilities to our work, but we have also seen an increasing number of people take interest in China and want to do their part to reverse these troubling trends.

GT: Under the crisis of capitalism and democracy in the US, what changes have occurred in the attitudes of young Americans toward socialism? Is socialism becoming more attractive?

Haiphong:
 Rampant inequality and dim prospects for the future have indeed increased interest in socialism in the US, especially for young Americans under the age of 35.

This is a massive shift in the post-Cold War status quo in the US which argued that the world had entered the “end of history”, meaning capitalism would forever remain hegemonic. The collapse of the Soviet Union paved the way for an unprecedented expansion of US aggression and wars on Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, Iraq, and several others. Finance capital also found ample room to expand to the point where it became “too big to fail” after causing the biggest global economic crisis since the Great Depression in 2007-08. 

Amid increased spending for war and decreased spending on social needs, young Americans have become frustrated with low wages, diminished job prospects, high costs of living, blatant racial injustices, and the hypocrisy of political officials spending enormous resources on massive defense budgets, fossil fuel subsidies, and stimulus packages for the wealthiest financial institutions responsible for their problems. Young Americans desire a kind of “common prosperity” that takes their interests into account. They believe that socialism is worth exploring as a possible way forward. However, the debate over what socialism would look like in the US remains unresolved. We at Friends of Socialist China understand that while China’s model of socialism cannot be exported to the US, its commitment to improving the lives of the people certainly deserves more attention.

Political structures in socialist China

This month sees the annual sessions of China’s leading advisory and legislative bodies – the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) and the National People’s Congress (NPC). They are a key event in the country’s political calendar where the programme for government is debated and agreed. In this article, Charles McKelvey provides valuable insights into China’s socialist democracy and how it differs from bourgeois democracy.

In the Wikipedia entry on China, there is a section on “Politics of China,” and a subsection on “National People’s Congress.”  As is evident from the extensive citations, this subsection on the “National People’s Congress” was written on the basis of the archives and documents of the government of China, including those of the National People’s Congress.  It is a straightforward description, revealing the structures through which the Chinese political process favors the power of the people and limits the possibility for control of the decision-making process by the bureaucracy of the Chinese state, a Chinese capitalist class, or foreign capitalist or imperialist interests.  At the same, these structures permit the Communist Party of China to control the political process only insofar as the Party has support of a strong majority of the people.

One does not find in the Wikipedia entry on China any correction of supposed misstatements of fact or alleged distorted understandings found in the above-mentioned subsection on the “National People’s Congress.”  This is curious, given that the Western intellectuals who disseminate their claim of authoritarianism in China certainly have the means and resources to rectify any errors that appear in the English-language entry on China in Wikipedia.  The reason for this curiosity is that Western intellectuals who disseminate the claim of authoritarianism in China (and other states constructing socialism) use a strategy of ignoring the structures of people’s power.  They pretend that structures of people’s power do not exist, with the realistic expectation that their audience will not be informed about such structures, thus permitting Western “anti-authoritarian” intellectuals to get away with claims that are contradicted by reality.  Rather than refuting particular explanations offered in defense of the structures of people’s power, the strategy of the Western intellectuals is to depend on the deep-seeded and wide tendency to not pay attention to such explanations.  They therefore have no response to a fact-based description of the structures and processes of the National People’s Congress in China.

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China is not a democracy… or is it? The Chinese Toolkit

The following article, written by independent researcher and Friends of Socialist China advisory group member Stefania Fusero, explores China’s system of socialist democracy, providing a valuable corrective to the lazy stereotypes so widely spread in the West that China is “authoritarian” and “undemocratic.”

On December 4, 2021, the State Council of China published a white paper on the Chinese political system entitled Democracy that Works. It opens like this:

Peace, development, fairness, justice, democracy, and freedom are common values of humanity. Democracy is not a prerogative of a certain country or a group of countries, but a universal right of all peoples. It can be realized in multiple ways, and no model can fit all countries… Ultimately, it relies on the support of the people and will be proven by its contribution to human progress.

Therefore, a basic criterion of democracy should be about the people, i.e. whether the people have the right to govern their country, whether their needs are met, and whether they have a sense of fulfilment and happiness. If the people are only awakened when casting their votes and sent back to hibernation when voting is over, if they are served with sweet-sounding slogans in campaigns but have no say after the election, if they are wooed during canvassing but left out in the cold after that, this is not a genuine democracy.”

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Syrian ambassador: China’s progress is a threat to US domination

We are very pleased to make available this edition of CGTN’s Dialogue, in which Xu Qinduo conducts an extensive interview with His Excellency Imad Moustapha, Ambassador of the Syrian Arab Republic to China, in the year that sees the 66th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the two countries as well as the 11th year since the outbreak of the imperialist-inspired crisis in Syria.

In this wide-ranging dialogue, Ambassador Moustapha highlights the difference between China’s whole process people’s democracy and the type of democracy that exists in the United States and other major capitalist countries. The former, he explains, is from the people and for the people, whilst the latter is for the 1% and by the 1%. This in turn, he continues, has its roots in the USA’s origins in the genocide of Native Americans, its development through chattel slavery and its sustenance through continuous wars of aggression.

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Zhao Lijian: US democracy is based on an inextricable link between wealth and power

American-style democracy has become a money game for the rich. The 2020 US presidential and congressional elections cost as much as $14 billion. US politicians make promises in exchange for electoral funding and spend a fortune on publicity. When in office, the politicians engage in corruption considered legitimate by openly exchanging power for money through lobbying and political donations. When their term ends, they would smoothly move from political circles to business sectors through the ‘revolving door’. Such whole-process corruption with no missing link is strictly punished in other countries. It is contemptible that corruption is legitimized and openly practiced in the US.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s Regular Press Conference on December 22, 2021

China and the other socialist countries are smashing the myth of socialism as undemocratic

Friends of Socialist China was honoured to be invited by the International Department of the Communist Party of China to participate in a virtual meeting of Marxist parties in Europe, North America and Oceania, entitled ‘Democracy, Justice, Development and Progress: The Pursuit of Marxist Political Parties’ on 15 December 2021. This meeting brought together over 20 Marxist political parties and organisations to discuss and share insights on these themes, as well as to compare notes on innovation in Marxist theory and practice.

The keynote speech was given by Song Tao, head of the CPC’s International Department. He began by recalling internationalist comrades such as Norman Bethune who had assisted the revolutionary struggle of the Chinese people. Locating the failure of the Paris Commune in the lack of a strong leadership core and guiding ideology, he noted that Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era was a new breakthrough in adapting Marxism to Chinese conditions, thereby creating a brand new image of socialism in the world, positively impacting the global balance of forces between socialism and capitalism, and thereby promoting the emancipation of all humanity.

Comrade Song’s speech was followed by those from the leaders of the Communist Party of Australia, Hungarian Worker’s Party, Italian Communist Party, Communist Party of Canada, Communist Party of Britain, Communist Party of Denmark, Communist Party of Finland, Communist Party of Spain and the Communist Party of the USA.

Closing the meeting, Qian Hongshan, Deputy Head of the CPC International Department, again underlined that the emancipation of all humanity was the strategic goal of all Marxist parties throughout the world.

Friends of Socialist China co-editors Keith Bennett and Carlos Martinez submitted written speeches to the meeting on invitation. The following is the contribution prepared by Carlos Martinez.

Dear comrades and friends,

The themes of today’s event are democracy, justice, development and progress. These are concepts that capitalism has long tried to exercise a monopoly over. The capitalist world, led by the US, has sought to portray itself as the central force for democracy and progress globally. Conversely it has sought to portray the socialist world as the enemy of democracy and progress; as a force of authoritarianism and backwardness. This was a core pillar of the propaganda connected with the Cold War, and is now central to the New Cold War.

In recent years, the idea of the socialist countries being ‘backward’ or ‘undeveloped’ has started to lose any of the resonance it once had, even among people in the West. The People’s Republic of China in particular has emerged as a powerhouse in science and technology; it is among the world leaders in 5G, in artificial intelligence, in quantum computing, in nanotechnology, in space research, and more. China’s successful campaigns to suppress Covid-19 and to eliminate extreme poverty have caught the world’s attention, and the ‘backward’ label just does not stick.

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The universalization of ‘liberal democracy’

The following article, written by Danny Haiphong and Carlos Martinez, has been accepted for publication in the journal International Critical Thought, where it will appear in early 2022. We have permission to publish the draft on this website, since the subject matter is particularly pertinent to current debates on the question of democracy.

The word democracy is connected to a large and diverse body of meaning. In the broadest sense, it simply refers to the exercise of power – directly or indirectly – by the people. However, in the leading capitalist countries, its meaning is much more specific: it has become synonymous with the system of ‘liberal democracy’, characterized by a multi-party parliament, universal suffrage, the separation of powers, and a strong emphasis on the protection of private property.

This narrow definition is widely considered in the West as a universal and absolute truth. Indeed, in the dominant Western narrative, adherence to the principles of liberal democracy constitutes the fundamental dividing line in global politics. On one side there is a group of ‘democracies’ (including the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, most of Europe, Japan, India and South Korea) and on the other side a group of ‘non-democracies’ or ‘authoritarian regimes’ (including the People’s Republic of China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cuba, Iran, Russia, Venezuela, and most of the countries of Asia, Africa and Latin America).

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Charles McKelvey: Does the world need capitalist democracy or socialist democracy?

We are pleased to republish these reflections on our recent event, The Summit for Socialist Democracy, originally posted by Charles McKelvey on his Substack.

With respect the December 9-10 “Summit for Democracy,” hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden, the Korean intellectual Kiyul Chung had the quote of the day.  Kiyul characterized the event as an “imperial circus,” and he declared that “if Malcolm X were still alive, he would probably say that all of the house Negroes have been invited, but all of the field Negroes have not been invited.”

In response to the imperial circus, the Friends of Socialist China and the International Manifesto Group organized The Summit for Socialist Democracy.  The participants in the December 11 panel were:

Continue reading Charles McKelvey: Does the world need capitalist democracy or socialist democracy?