Socialism before shareholders: China reins in big tech’s unchecked power

This important article by CJ Atkins, originally published on 25 August 2021 in People’s World, discusses the reasons for the recent wave of government regulation in China.


Shareholders beware, socialism is back.

That’s the warning being sounded by stock market analysts and financial advisors to anyone parking their money in Chinese tech stocks. Behind the investor panic is a stepped-up regulatory campaign by the Communist Party of China that aims to combat inequality, lower living costs for working families, impose order on often chaotic markets, and prevent monopoly control over key sectors of China’s economy.

President Xi Jinping told the world in July that China’s leaders were determined to “safeguard social fairness and justice and resolve the imbalances and inadequacies in development” to solve what he called “the most pressing difficulties and problems that are of great concern to the people.”

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Richard Wolff on China’s rise to global prominence

We are republishing this very interesting interview with Marxist economist Richard Wolff in Beijing Review, in which he discusses the reasons behind China’s economic success and the motivations for the US-led New Cold War.


On CPC-induced synergy 

The first book I ever read about China was The Good Earth by Pearl Buck, presenting the stories of poverty and suffering across the Chinese countryside in the early 20th century. What she described in the book actually didn’t take place too long ago, but when you look at what China has achieved over the past years and then compare it to what Buck wrote about, it makes for an incredible feat.

Since 1949, when the communist revolution succeeded, U.S. foreign aid did not go to China because the latter was a socialist country. U.S. foreign aid was, however, dispatched to every other Third World country across Asia, Africa and Latin America. Nevertheless, China has done better economically than every other country that did receive the assistance.

What does that tell us about getting aid from the West? It’s not the path to economic growth, it never was. The reality is that the path to economic growth was not to take aid from the West, but to rely on yourself. The Soviet Union once helped China, before the 1960s, but in general, the Chinese achieved it mostly by themselves. That’s a very powerful message all over the world. 

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Video: book launch event for John Ross’s ‘China’s Great Road’

On 10 July 2021, we co-hosted a book launch for John Ross’s book China’s Great Road; Lessons for Marxist Theory and Socialist Practices, along with the Morning StarTricontinental InstituteGeopolitical Economy Research Group, and Learning from China.

China’s Great Road features ten articles by Ross published between the years 2010 and 2021, all of which provide a clear analysis of China’s economic and foreign relations policies over the past decades. More importantly, Ross’ writing cuts through Western propaganda and directly addresses China’s socialist project, its history and growth, and what could be possible for future socialist countries around the world.

Speakers included:

  • John Ross (Senior Fellow, Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China)
  • Su Yue (Senior editor, Guancha.cn)
  • Kenny Coyle (Editor, Praxis press)
  • Tings Chak (Lead Designer/Researcher at Tricontinental Institute)
  • Vijay Prashad (Executive Director, Tricontinental Institute)
  • Radhika Desai (Director, Geopolitical Economy Research Group)
  • Joshua Jackson (Political activist, Britain)
  • Chair: Carlos Martinez (Co-editor, Friends of Socialist China)

A century of the Communist Party of China: No Great Wall

We are republishing this article by Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez, which originally appeared in the Morning Star on 9 July 2021. It is the sixth and final article in a series about the history of the Communist Party of China, which celebrated its centenary on 1 July 2021.


Many consider that “reform and opening up” was a total transformation of Chinese economics and politics and a negation of the first three decades of socialist construction.

Certainly, the strategy adopted by the Deng Xiaoping leadership from 1978 was in part designed to correct certain mistakes and imbalances; however, it was also a response to changing objective circumstances — specifically, a more favourable international environment resulting from the restoration of Beijing’s seat at the United Nations (1971) and the rapprochement between China and the US.

Thomas Orlik, chief economist at Bloomberg Economics, correctly observes that, “When Deng Xiaoping launched the reform and opening process, friendly relations with the United States provided the crucial underpinning. The path for Chinese goods to enter global markets was open.”

So too was the door for foreign capital, technology and expertise to enter China — first from Hong Kong and Japan, then the West. Then premier Zhou Enlai reportedly commented at the time of US secretary of state Henry Kissinger’s historic visit to Beijing in 1971 that “only America can help China to modernise.” Even allowing for Zhou’s legendary diplomatic eloquence, this statement nevertheless contains an important kernel of truth.

Mao and Zhou had seen engagement with the US as a way to break China’s international isolation. The US leadership, meanwhile, saw engagement with Beijing as a way to perpetuate and exacerbate the division between China and the Soviet. Union.

The tragic reality of the split in the world communist movement is that everyone was triangulating; for its part, the Soviet leadership was hoping to work with the US to undermine and destabilise China.

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Four charts on the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China

We are reproducing this important analysis by economist Michael Burke from Socialist Economic Bulletin, with permission.


The Communist Party of China was founded on July 1, 1921. In a short series of graphs this note aims to highlight some of the consequences of that decision for China and the world. In particular, the trends in rapid growth in Chinese living standards after the Chinese Revolution is highlighted in a way that is designed to be more readily understood in societies where nothing similar to this has taken place over a similar timescale.

Background

The Communist Party of China was founded after a series of attempts by young radicals and nationalists to agitate against foreign domination of the country. In 1839, Britain invaded China and there followed a ‘century of humiliation’ as it was territorially and economically carved up among the Western imperial powers.

One aspect demonstrating the degree of that humiliation was the enormous decline in living standards under British Empire-led rule.  This is shown in Chart 1 below (all data from Angus Maddison, unless otherwise stated).

Chart.1 Per Capita GDP in China in the Century of Humiliation, Int’l $

Under rule by foreign powers, China’s per capita GDP fell over a period of a hundred years (1850 to 1950) from $600 to $448. By contrast, and for comparison, British per capita GDP rose from $2,330 to $6,939 over the same period.

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Off the Rails: New Report by Corporate-Funded Think-Tank Reveals How Profit-Driven Motives Drive New Cold War against China

We are republishing this article by Friends of Socialist China co-editor Danny Haiphong, which originally appeared on Covert Action Magazine on 5 June 2021.


A new report published in Railway Age magazine and written by the Information Technology Innovation Foundation (ITIF) has sounded the alarm about China’s growing high-speed rail sector. The report comes amid escalations in the U.S.’s New Cold War against China, of which technology is a key component.

China is by far the world leader in high-speed rail investment and development, sporting more than 35,000 kilometers (21,700 miles) of high-speed rail, or 68 percent of the world’s total. The ITIF itself admits to China’s rapid success in this sector since its first high-speed rail line was completed in 2008:

Since then, China has opened thousands of kilometers of high-speed lines with speeds ranging from 200 to 350 kph. To do this, China spent hundreds of billions of dollars on the world’s most expensive public-works project since President Eisenhower’s Interstate Highway System of the 1950s.

The United States might learn from China’s success in investing in high-speed rail and try and emulate it; however, according to the ITIF, China’s high-speed rail policies damage “innovation” by privileging domestic market development and state-owned enterprises over the interests of private, foreign firms primarily residing in the West. China is accused of employing a form of “mercantilism” to manipulate the global market at the expense of the superior capabilities of Western, Japanese, and American investors. 

The term “mercantilism” has been used by big business interests in the U.S. and West to portray China’s policy of indigenous development as a high crime against the free market. In fact, the ITIF has been sounding the alarm about China’s prioritization of its own tech sector since 2013.

It lamented that China was no longer keeping its promise “to be a low-cost production platform for foreign multinational corporations (MNCs).” As if the Chinese government’s function was to serve the latter’s needs and not that of its own people.

The ITIF’s latest report focusing on China’s high-speed rail sector comes amid escalating U.S. attacks on China’s tech sector. Most associate this “tech war” with the Trump administration’s sanctions on China’s Huawei Corporation and social media apps such as WeChat and TikTok. However, the Biden administration and its allies have been just as aggressive in their attempts to forestall China’s technological development.

Biden has proclaimed that the U.S. is in a battle against China to “win the 21st century” and has expanded the list of Chinese telecommunications and supercomputing companies on the U.S.’s blacklist. In a recent speech to the UK-funded Chatham House, neo-con hawk and twice-failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton passionately claimed that the U.S. is at “the mercy of China” and demanded that the U.S. “take back the means of production.” 

The U.S. war on China’s tech sector therefore shares widespread bipartisan support. As this analysis will demonstrate, far from calling for more public investment in the needs of an increasingly destitute U.S. workforce, the ITIF’s new warnings about China’s high-speed rail sector reveal how powerful economic interests are pushing for a new Cold War with China alongside the perpetuation of neoliberal economic policies that prioritize the interests of multi-national corporations.

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