Event: Socialist solutions to the climate crisis

DateThursday 2 February
Time7pm Britain / 2pm US Eastern / 11am US Pacific
VenueMarx Memorial Library
London EC1R 0DU
And Zoom
OrganisersFriends of Socialist China
Morning Star
Marx Memorial Library
Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign Action Group
Cuba Solidarity Campaign

At this event, we will describe the evolving and diverse strategies being pursued in socialist and progressive countries (with a specific focus on Nicaragua, Cuba and China) in relation to preventing climate breakdown, the collapse of biodiversity, and other key ecological challenges. The speakers will compare these efforts with the alarmingly slow progress being made in the neoliberal West, which has been touting its ‘market-based solutions’ to humanity’s environmental crisis for the last three decades.

This will be a hybrid event, in-person at the Marx Memorial Library in London and online. If you register on Eventbrite, you will have the option to attend via Zoom and participate in the discussion. We will also be streaming on YouTube.

Participants

Dan Kovalik is a US-based lawyer, activist and teacher. He is the author of several books, the most recent of which is Nicaragua: A History of US Intervention and Resistance.

Guisell Morales Echaverry is Ambassador of the Republic of Nicaragua to the United Kingdom, Ireland and Iceland.

Lauren Collins is an honorary research fellow at the University of Nottingham and a member of the executive committee of the Cuba Solidarity Campaign.

Paul Atkin is a retired teacher and NEU activist, involved in setting up the NEU Climate Change Network. He is part of the Greener Jobs Alliance Steering Group and is active with No Cold War Britain.

Ben Chacko (chair) is editor of the Morning Star.

Please register and spread the word!

Summit links biodiversity with culture

The following article, published in China Daily, summarizes the proceedings of a Nature and Culture summit held during the 15th meeting of the United Nations’ Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity, held in Montreal on 11-12 December 2022. The article is particularly interesting for the points it makes regarding the role of minority groups in protecting the environment and promoting a harmonious coexistence between humanity and nature.

Huang Runqiu, China’s Minister of Ecology and Environment, and the president of COP15, “stressed the importance of cultural diversity, especially the experience and knowledge from minority groups.” Huang also highlighted the importance of fully respecting and protecting traditional cultures around the world, appreciating and making use of their understanding of biodiversity protection and encouraging the transmission of this understanding from generation to generation.

The article contrasts this approach with the colonial powers’ record of land grabs, intellectual property restrictions and profiteering. Indigenous Canadian activist and academic Priscilla Settee, professor emeritus at the University of Saskatchewan, told the meeting that “we need to get our history right. We need to acknowledge the centuries of colonialism … based in global imperialism through land grabs. We need to take a critical look at international free trade agreements that I call bills of rights for the rich and powerful.”

A global dialogue on strengthening the links between nature and cultures to achieve a sustainable and ecological civilization also highlighted the achievements and actions taken by China.

Officials, experts and nongovernmental organization (NGO) members gathered at a Nature and Culture summit during the 15th meeting of the United Nations’ Conference of the Parties (COP15) to the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) Dec 11-12, in support of the implementation of the post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF).

In his opening remarks, Huang Runqiu, the Chinese minister of ecology and environment and the president of COP15, stressed the importance of cultural diversity, especially the experience and knowledge from minority groups.

The relationship between nature and culture is vibrant, said Huang. Culture is deeply intertwined with the natural world. Chinese culture contains a clear concept of harmonious coexistence between humanity and nature, he said.

For example, Yunnan province, where the first phase of the COP15 meeting was held, is home to 26 traditional ethnic groups and 15 unique minority groups, forming a series of traditional ecological cultures such as the Hani Terrace Culture, Naxi Dongba Culture, Dai Long Mountain Culture, and Tibetan Holy Land Culture.

Their worldviews, cultural values and identities are closely connected to nature, as per their saying, “Humans and nature are half-brothers”.

Continue reading Summit links biodiversity with culture

Xi Jinping: global solidarity is the only way to protect biodiversity

The following speech by Xi Jinping, delivered at COP15 (the 15th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity), details China’s progress over the past decade in biodiversity protection, including the establishment of a system of conservation red lines, a system of national parks, and the successful protection of a large array of rare and endangered species. Xi makes it clear that China is strongly committed to improving biodiversity and will continue to work hard on ecological protection.

The speech also highlights the importance of international cooperation; that “solidarity and cooperation is the only effective way to address global challenges” such as biodiversity protection and the Covid19 pandemic. Xi calls for greater support to be given to developing countries to allow them to build capacity in dealing with climate change and biodiversity. This is a salutary reminder, at a time when the major imperialist powers are promoting “decoupling” and adopting aggressive geopolitical stances – promoting their own narrow, hegemonic interests over the wellbeing and long-term viability of humanity.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Friends,

Good morning.

On behalf of the Chinese government and people, and also in my own name, I would like to extend warm congratulations to the convening of today’s meeting.

Humanity lives in a community with a shared future. Be it in overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic, or in enhancing biodiversity protection and achieving sustainable development globally, solidarity and cooperation is the only effective way to address global challenges. A sound ecosystem is essential for the prosperity of civilization. We must work together to promote harmonious co-existence between man and Nature, build a community of all life on the Earth, and create a clean and beautiful world for us all.

— We need to build global consensus on biodiversity protection, jointly work for the conclusion of the Post-2020 Global Biodiversity Framework, and identify targets and pathways for global biodiversity protection.

— We need to push forward the global process of biodiversity protection, turn ambitions into action, support developing countries in capacity-building, and coordinate efforts to address climate change, biodiversity loss and other global challenges.

— We need to promote green development through biodiversity protection, speed up the green transition of development modes and lifestyle, and leverage the Global Development Initiative (GDI) to deliver greater benefits to people of all countries.

— We need to uphold a fair and equitable global order on biodiversity protection, firmly defend true multilateralism, firmly support the UN-centered international system and the international order underpinned by international law, and form strong synergy for protecting the Earth, our common homeland.

Continue reading Xi Jinping: global solidarity is the only way to protect biodiversity

On the development of China’s environmental policies towards an ecological civilization

We are very pleased to republish this important article by Efe Can Gürcan, Associate Professor at Türkiye’s Istinye University, which originally appeared in Volume 3 Issue 3 of the BRIQ (Belt & Road Initiative Quarterly).

The author argues that China has already developed a firm understanding of its environmental problems and their severity to the extent that it now frames them as a “matter of survival” and has brought these issues to the center of its revised national security strategy. China’s strategy is predicated on an alternative proposal for “ecological civilization”, which may potentially lead to the reversal of “ecological imperialism”. China is in the early stages of building an ecological civilization and requires a lot of work to reach a high level of ecological development.

China’s key achievements on the path towards ecological civilization involve a series of three unfolding and mutually conditioning revolutionary processes that also lead the way in international environmental cooperation. They include a clean energy revolution, a sustainable agricultural revolution, and a green urban revolution.

China has already become a global leader in green finance. It leads the eco-city movement, with over 43 percent of the world’s eco-cities being Chinese, and is the second leader in sustainable architecture, next to Canada. Many Chinese cities have dropped down or out of the list of the most polluted cities, leaving India and Pakistan at the top. China’s cities have also joined the ranks of those with the strongest sewage treatment capacity in the world. In addition, China has the most electric vehicles, bikes, and efficient public transportation. China is considered to be not only the world’s centre of electric bus production and consumption but also as having cities with the world’s longest subway systems.

From 2013 onwards, the share of coal in China’s total energy consumption has seen a noticeable decline, accompanied by the increasing share of renewable resources in total energy consumption as a result of conscious efforts at a clean energy revolution.

Key to this revolution in the making is China’s strong reputation as the world’s top investor in clean energy. As such, it has succeeded in creating the world’s largest wind, solar, and hydroelectric systems for power generation.

Finally, concerning China’s unfolding revolution in sustainable agriculture, one should acknowledge, not only its adoption of green food standards and the expansion of its agricultural area under certified organic farming, but especially the fact that, as a world leader in green agriculture, it now ranks third in the list of countries with the largest agricultural area under organic farming.

China is the world’s largest country by population size and fourth largest by surface area. Combined with its excessive demographic and geographic size is the continued legacy of Western imperialism in China as a former semi-colony, whose negative effects are amplified by current Western efforts in geopolitical and geo-economic containment. This adds to China’s resource scarcity which acts as another structural adversity constraining its development potential. China possesses only 7% of the world’s arable land and freshwater resources and 8% of the world’s natural resources, even though its population represents 22% of the world’s population. Furthermore, only 19% of its surface area is suitable for human habitation and 65% of its surface area is rugged, which severely cripples China’s farming capabilities and facilitates ethnic heterogeneity as a potential impediment to political cohesion (Morton, 2006; Naughton, 2018).

Despite such adversities, China has come to develop an exemplary model of economic development that inspires much of the developing world. The 1979-2018 period testified to an average growth rate of 9.4% in the lead of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which made China the world’s second-largest economy, top producer, and the leading exporter of technological goods (Hu, 2020). By 2015, China came to assume the global production of 40% of washing machines, 50% of textiles, 60% of buttons, 70% of shoes, 80% of televisions, and 90% of toys. Recently, China has made significant progress in the production of added higher-value products in computer, aviation, and medical technology sectors, among others. Besides its historic success in economic growth, industrial production and technological development, the Chinese economic miracle is credited for 70% of global poverty eradication between 1990 and 2015 (Gardner, 2018).

The huge ecological cost of such a fast-paced and dramatic development –unprecedented in the history of human civilization– is nothing but expected. According to 2009 estimates, the annual economic cost of environmental pollution amounts to 3.8% of China’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) (Zhang, 2014:32-48). Over 80% of China’s underground and river water resources are no longer fit for human use due to pollution (Jie, 2016). Land pollution and soil erosion are also part of China’s major environmental problems. It is common knowledge that excessive use of pesticides and industrial pollution constitute a major source of land pollution, prompting the loss of organic matter and soil erosion. 2013 estimates suggest that close to 20% of China’s cultivated farmland suffers from contamination and 38% of the soil is subjected to erosion-related loss of nutrients and organic matter (Scott et al., 2018:26; Gardner, 2018:9). Indeed, the contraction of arable land is a natural result of soil contamination and erosion. This also explains China’s over 4% loss of arable land between 1990 and 2018, from 124,481,000 to 119,488,700 hectares (FAO, 2021; Figure 1).

China being the world’s largest pesticide producer and consumer exacerbates this tendency. In the 1990- 2018 period alone, China’s pesticide use rose by 129% (FAO, 2021; see Figure 2). Furthermore, 70% of the world’s electronic waste is recycled in China at the expense of environmental and public health. Industrial pollution, environmentally detrimental recycling practices, and industrial agriculture combined to create China’s “cancer villages” (Gardner, 2018). Map 1 provides a more detailed outline of China’s major environmental problems (Sanjuan, 2018).

Continue reading On the development of China’s environmental policies towards an ecological civilization

China is building an ecological civilisation

In this detailed essay, Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez analyses China’s pursuit of an ecological civilisation, characterised by “green, circular, and low-carbon development.”

Explaining how China came to be the world’s largest emitter of greenhouse gases, and contextualising this within the country’s rapid industrialisation and development, Carlos details the steps China is taking in support of its goals to peak emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060. Its achievements to date – in the fields of renewable energy, reduction of coal usage, nuclear power, energy efficiency, low-carbon transport and forestation – are all world-leading.

Carlos concludes the article with a discussion of why China, as opposed to any of the leading capitalist countries, has emerged as the global leader in sustainable development. The central component is that “the balance of power in capitalist countries is such that even relatively progressive governments find it very difficult to prioritise long-term needs of the population over short-term interests of capital,” whereas in socialist countries, “the interests of private profit are subordinate to the needs of society.”

Referencing the role played by the construction of welfare states in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in pressuring the Western ruling classes to grant concessions to the working class (in the form of universal education, social housing and healthcare systems), the author opines that, today, “China’s environmental strategy can create pressure on the capitalist ruling classes to stop destroying the planet and commit to climate justice.”

This is an expanded and update version of the 2019 article China leads the way in tackling climate breakdown. A concise summary of the current version was carried by the Morning Star on 19 November 2022.

We must strike a balance between economic growth and environmental protection. We will be more conscientious in promoting green, circular, and low-carbon development. We will never again seek economic growth at the cost of the environment. (Xi Jinping)[1]

The cost of development

Few events in human history have resonated throughout the world as profoundly as the Chinese Revolution. Standing in Tiananmen Square on 1 October 1949, pronouncing the birth of the People’s Republic of China, Mao Zedong said “the Chinese people have stood up”. In standing up, in building a modern socialist society and throwing off the shackles of feudalism, colonialism, backwardness, illiteracy and grinding poverty, China has blazed a trail for the entire Global South. Lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty has been described even by ardent capitalists as “the greatest leap to overcome poverty in history”.[2] The UN Development Programme (UNDP) describes China’s development as having produced “the most rapid decline in absolute poverty ever witnessed”.[3] It is an extraordinary accomplishment that all Chinese people now have secure access to food, housing, clothing, clean water, modern energy, education and healthcare.

In environmental terms, however, this progress has come at a cost. Just as economic development in Europe and the Americas was fuelled by the voracious burning of fossil fuels, China’s development has been built to a significant degree on ‘Old King Coal’, the most polluting and emissions-intensive of the fossil fuels. Two decades ago, coal made up around 80 percent of China’s energy mix. Environmental law expert Barbara Finamore notes that “coal, plentiful and cheap, was the energy source of choice, not just for power plants, but also for direct combustion by heavy industry and for heating and cooking in people’s homes.”[4]

Continue reading China is building an ecological civilisation

The people need a Green New Deal, but imperialism opts for “Better dead than red”

At the recent webinar marking the first anniversary of the International Manifesto Group’s document ‘Through Pluripolarity to Socialism’, Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez made a contribution about the ecological crises faced by humanity, comparing the progress (or lack thereof) tackling global warming in the West with that made by China.

Carlos observes that, in spite of the Biden administration’s oft-stated commitment to seriously reducing its greenhouse gas emissions, the US-led proxy war against Russia is having a disastrous environmental impact, leading to an increase in fracking and coal consumption. Meanwhile China is leading the world in renewable energy, electric vehicles and afforestation; and instead of cooperating with China and finding common solutions to common problems, the West instead imposes sanctions on Chinese products that are crucial to green energy supply chains. So, while people in the West might want a Green New Deal, but what they’re actually getting is “better dead than red.”

What I’m going to address in these brief remarks is the question of climate change; how it’s covered in the Manifesto, and the developments that have taken place in the last year since the Manifesto was released.

The Manifesto talks of “an ecological emergency of climate warming, pollution and biodiversity loss, rendering our planet increasingly uninhabitable.” And it points the blame for this situation at neoliberal capitalism, which has “turned everything the earth offers humanity gratis into plunder and profit.”

In terms of what neoliberal capitalism is doing, this analysis – very sad to say – still holds true. Indeed the situation is in many ways worse than it was a year ago, in spite of a great deal of rhetoric and the passing into US law, two months ago, of the Inflation Reduction Act, including climate commitments that Joe Biden considers to be a landmark success of his presidency to date.

It is, unquestionably, the US’s must important set of climate commitments thus far. Unfortunately, that’s not saying very much. It’s still nowhere near the type of unprecedented action the world needs from the US – which, of the major countries, has the highest per capita emissions in the world, and which has contributed a full quarter to global cumulative carbon emissions, in spite of having just four percent of the world’s population.

Even if the US meets its targets under the Inflation Reduction Act – which is doubtful enough – then in five years time it will still be generating significantly less renewable energy than China will generate this year.

But anyway, it’s more fruitful to look at what the US and its allies are actually doing, as opposed to what they say they’re doing or will do.

Most obviously, the US is driving NATO’s proxy war against Russia, which is nothing short of disastrous in environmental terms.

Continue reading The people need a Green New Deal, but imperialism opts for “Better dead than red”

Video: China plans new era of revolution in 20th CPC national congress

On 21 October 2022, Friends of Socialist China co-editors Danny Haiphong and Carlos Martinez joined Multipolarista editor Ben Norton to discuss the CPC’s 20th National Congress, currently drawing to a close in Beijing.

In the 90-minute stream embedded below, the three discuss some of the key themes emerging from the Congress, including the pursuit of China’s Second Centenary Goal (“building a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful”), common prosperity, ecological civilization, whole-process people’s democracy, and the need for self-reliance and military modernization in the face of escalating hostility from the imperialist countries.

The stream was broadcast simultaneously on Multipolarista, The Left Lens, and Friends of Socialist China.

Why is the great project of Ecological Civilization specific to China?

The following article, reprinted from MR (Monthly Review) Online – and also published by the Poyang Lake Journal in China – is an extensive interview by three Chinese scholars with Professor John Bellamy Foster on the specificity of the ecological civilization project to China. Bellamy Foster is a significant and original Marxist theoretician and edits the long-established independent socialist journal Monthly Review. Much of his work in recent years has been devoted to exploring the synergy between ecology and Marxism.

The interviewers note that he opposes and refutes the severing of connections between Chinese ecological tradition and Marxism, in a way that would place the latter in opposition to Chinese traditional culture. Bellamy Foster contends that synergizing the various factors involved is a daunting task, “but I would immediately dispel the notion that… [it is] insurmountable by pointing to one of the foremost Marxist thinkers of the twentieth century: Joseph Needham.”

Bellamy Foster’s citing of Needham in this context is significant. The main compiler of the monumental, multi-volume series, Science and Civilization in China, in its obituary, the Independent newspaper described him as “possibly the greatest scholar since Erasmus.” Yet his contributions to Marxism remain largely overlooked by the left. According to Bellamy Foster, “For Needham, it was the dialectical vision of Karl Marx that was most crucial in creating a renewed ecological vision in the present day. But it was also necessary to draw on… traditional Chinese thought,” including Daoism, a method that Bellamy Foster also employs.

Developing his argument that it is specifically China’s socialist orientation that enables the country to be today’s pioneer in the development of an ecological civilization, Bellamy Foster notes:

“As Needham insisted, there are deep ecological roots in Chinese culture. Nevertheless, it is socialism with Chinese characteristics and ecological Marxism that have put the concept of ecological civilization on the agenda today in China in a way that is entirely absent in the capitalist world system itself… [President] Xi spoke of ‘socialist eco-civilization,’ involving ‘a new model of modernization with humans developing in harmony… [with] nature.’ Here he was acknowledging that there can be no true ‘global endeavor for ecological civilization’ unless it is at the same time a movement toward socialism.”

In contrast, Bellamy Foster notes that: “Although it is true that the notion of a Green New Deal has been raised by progressives in the West, that conception is usually seen as simply a Green Keynesianism or green corporatism… Moreover, while China has made moves to implement its radical conception of ecological civilization, which is built into state planning and regulation, the notion of a Green New Deal has taken concrete form nowhere in the West. It is merely a slogan at this point without any real political backing within the system. It was talked about by progressive forces and then rejected by the powers that be.”

In the course of the interview, Bellamy Foster develops his thinking on the process of urbanization and the evolving rural/urban balance in China, in the course of which he makes the important point that: “One of the extraordinary results of the Chinese Revolution that still persists today, but is not commonly understood in the West, is that despite the breakup of collective farms and the earlier communal structure, the land in China still is collectively owned by the rural population. In this sense, de-collectivization did not extend to full privatization. Agriculture is still to a considerable extent organized by village communities.”

Questioned on his assertion that “ecological communism cannot be truly realized if there is no environmental proletariat, Bellamy Foster takes issue with the historic influence of economism in socialist thought, explaining that: “The concept of the proletariat was economistically reduced to the industrial proletariat or industrial working class and commonly restricted to the urban population. Yet Marx and Engels themselves had a much wider conception of the proletariat, not restricted to, say, the role of factory workers. Nor did they see material conditions simply in narrow economic terms, but rather as encompassing the larger environment of the workers.”

This, he asserts, can be most clearly seen in Engels’ Condition of the Working Class in England, and continues: “Contrary to myth, Marx and Engels were not anti-peasant but wrote a great deal supporting peasant class struggles. Moreover, the great socialist revolutions in Russia, China, and elsewhere, involved proletarian-peasant alliances… The ‘wretched of the earth’ today are struggling over material conditions that are as much environmental as economic, with changing environmental conditions an indirect product of world capital accumulation.”

All in all, this is a very serious and thought-provoking interview that merits careful reading.

Guo Jianren: Professor Foster, thank you for doing this interview. This is my first interview with you and, as far as I know, the first interview you have completed with an ecological Marxism scholar from mainland China. The honor is mine, especially as I have a fairly long acquaintance with your great works. Back in 2004, in my doctoral dissertation, I introduced your works on ecological Marxism in a systematic way to the Chinese Marxist academic readers. In the following decades, we have studied your ecological Marxism closely, and your important contributions have been recognized, examined, and disseminated further. Thank you again for giving this lecture on “Ecological Civilization and Ecological Revolution: An Ecological Marxist Perspective” at the invitation of the Sunshine Valley Cobb Ecological Institute. This interview will mainly follow the key points of your speech.

Your lecture begins with the dialectical connections among ecological civilization, ecological Marxism, and ecological revolution, viewed from both historical and practical perspectives. You demonstrate the importance of ecological socialism or ecological Marxism in the conception of ecological civilization, and point out that in non-socialist countries, people can only talk about ecological civilization in an abstract and empty way. You oppose and refute the cultural theorist Jeremy Lent’s interpretation of the conception of Chinese ecological civilization, which separates the connections between Chinese ecological civilization, socialism, and the Marxist ideological tradition, placing Chinese traditional culture in opposition to Marxism. This makes Lent’s analysis seriously inconsistent with the historical process and practical reality of China’s ecological civilization’s conceptional development. In contrast, your analysis leads to an issue that we are very concerned about. In relation to your ecological-materialism method developed on the basis of historical materialism and dialectical materialism, and in accordance with the theoretical research into ecological Marxism and Chinese ecological civilization, the question arises: How is this connected to ideological and cultural elements other than Marxism, such as achievements in natural science, incorporation of Chinese traditional cultural concepts, or the role of Whiteheadian organic philosophy? This is a critical issue for studies of ecological Marxism in China right now, and one in which there is an urgent need for theoretical breakthroughs. Under the guidance of President Xi Jinping’s thoughts on ecological civilization in China, the practice of eco-civilization is making progress day by day. China’s practice of rapid renewal in this area requires continuous progress in theoretical updating, so that the development of practice and theory are advanced at an accelerating synergetic pace.

Continue reading Why is the great project of Ecological Civilization specific to China?

China set to open world’s largest hybrid energy plant in 2023

The following article, originally published in CGTN on 1 October 2022, details an important renewable energy project that will combine the output from the Kela Solar Power Station in Sichuan with that of the nearby Lianghekou Hydropower Station. The Kela solar plant will send its electricity output to the hydropower plant, which is already connected to the national grid. In combination, the two will be able to mitigate the problems of fluctuation and intermittency associated with both photovoltaic and hydropower technology.

When it opens in 2023, this will be the world’s largest hybrid energy plant, and will make an important contribution to China’s historic goals of peaking carbon emissions by 2030 and achieving carbon neutrality before 2060.

A nice detail from the article is that the solar panels at the Kela plant are being elevated to a height of 1.8 meters in order to allow local herdsmen to continue to feed their cows and sheep in the area.

China is upgrading a major hydro power plant as part of the world’s largest hybrid energy project, generating electricity from hydro and photovoltaic powers.

Kela Solar Power Station will be built in southwest China’s Sichuan Province, close to Lianghekou Hydropower Station, located on the Yalong River, with generating capacity of 1 million kW. The solar panels will be installed on the mountains at an altitude of up to 4,600 meters, with extra 1 million kW in capacity. The project is expected to operate for 1,735 hours in a year with an average annual power capacity of 2 billion kilowatt-hours when completed in 2023.

China is ushering in clean energy practices as it aims to peak carbon emissions in 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060.

Kela Station will help cut carbon dioxide emissions by over 1.6 million tonnes, an equivalent of burning 600,000 tonnes of coal, according to Qi Ningchun, chairman of the Yalong River Hydropower Development Co. Ltd., operator of the project.

Kela Station will be a complementary power source for the hydropower station as the two plants’ outputs change distinctively throughout the year.

Continue reading China set to open world’s largest hybrid energy plant in 2023

Xi stresses revitalization of northeast China

Chinese President Xi Jinping recently conducted an extensive inspection tour of Liaoning province. Situated in north-east China, Liaoning is one of China’s old industrial bases and borders the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). 

President Xi visited a revolutionary memorial, a river and lake management project, an enterprise and a residential community, meeting people from all walks of life. The party’s goal of realizing common prosperity was a major theme of his tour and the President stressed that no political consideration is higher than the people – so long as the party maintains its ties with the people, breathes the same air as the people, shares the same destiny, and stays connected to them, it can obtain the power to triumph over any difficulty.

He also noted that the local people had sacrificed a great deal for the liberation of north-east China and made massive contributions to the development of New China and the victory in the War to Resist US Aggression and Aid Korea, adding that, “We will never allow our socialist country to change its nature. Nor will the people.”

Xi also laid stress on ecological conservation and green development, flood control and prevention, independent innovation, promoting self-reliance in science and technology and boosting the country’s grip on core technologies, and developing elderly care programs whilst also ensuring healthy growth of the younger generation. 

He told local residents that Chinese-style modernization means common prosperity for all, not just a few. “More efforts must be made so that the people feel the CPC serves the people wholeheartedly and is always with the people,” he stressed.

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

President Xi Jinping has stressed greater sense of responsibility and endeavors in the revitalization of China’s northeast region in the new era.

During his inspection tour in Liaoning Province from Tuesday to Wednesday, Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, called for breaking new ground in the revitalization and development of the northeastern province.

Xi called for coordinating the COVID-19 response with economic and social development, balancing development and security imperatives, fully and faithfully implementing the new development philosophy, and firmly promoting high-quality development.

Efforts should be made to promote common prosperity for all, advance the modernization of China’s system and capacity for governance, and deepen the Party’s full and rigorous self-governance, to set the stage for the 20th National Congress of the CPC, said Xi.

During the inspection, Xi went to the cities of Jinzhou and Shenyang, where he visited several places, including a revolutionary memorial, a river and lake management project, an enterprise, and a community.

Continue reading Xi stresses revitalization of northeast China

Video: Changes since 2012 impact China and beyond

In the following short video, produced by China Daily, Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez discusses the extraordinary changes that have taken place in China over the last decade since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. Carlos particularly emphasises the progress in poverty alleviation, environmental protection, foreign policy, and the pursuit of common prosperity.

Why China will stick to decarbonization and sustainable development

In this article, originally published on CGTN and coinciding with the Boao Forum on Asia, Keith Lamb addresses humanity’s looming climate catastrophe and how it is exacerbated by such factors as imperialism’s profit from war. In contrast, through cooperation with the Global South and by promoting global development alongside the sustainable preservation of humanity and the biosphere, China is pointing the way towards an ecological civilization. “China’s people-centred approach means markets and capital must stay subservient to society as a whole,” the author notes.

The annual conference of the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), which brings together Asia-Pacific businesses and governments to promote economic and social development, is upon us. One of the pressing matters for this year’s forum is the climate catastrophe.

Plenty of discussion and even more action is needed if we are to meet the Sustainable Development Goals to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels. To achieve this goal, as set out by the Paris Climate Agreement, global carbon emissions need to be reduced by 45 percent by 2030, from 2010 levels, and net-zero emissions must be reached by 2050. The agreement also requests each country to outline and communicate their post-2020 climate actions, known as their nationally determined contributions.

Unfortunately, as reported in the UN’s The Sustainable Development Goals Report 2021, despite a slight downtrend in carbon emissions, due to COVID-19, by December 2020, emissions fully rebounded. Indeed, carbon emissions were 2 percent higher than in December 2019, leading the report to say “the climate crisis continues largely unabated.”

Continue reading Why China will stick to decarbonization and sustainable development

Changes since 2012 impact China and beyond

The following China Daily op-ed, written by Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez, reflects on the last decade of dramatic change in China, particularly in relation to poverty alleviation, environmental protection, foreign policy, and the pursuit of common prosperity.

In the past decade, the People’s Republic of China has grown enormously in economic strength and global stature.

At the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2012, Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, put forward the “two centenary goals”. The goals mean building a moderately well-off society in all respects by 2020, just before the centenary year of the CPC in 2021, and a great modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful by the middle of this century, while the People’s Republic’s 100th anniversary is 2049.

The Party and the leadership mobilized tens of millions of people to achieve the first goal, the key component of which was the eradication of extreme poverty, which was achieved in 2020.

At the start of the targeted poverty alleviation program in 2013, a little less than 100 million people were identified as living below the poverty line. Seven years later, the figure was zero. As Xi said, “thanks to the sustained efforts of the Chinese people from generation to generation, those who once lived in poverty no longer have to worry about food or clothing or access to education, housing and medical insurance”.

Continue reading Changes since 2012 impact China and beyond

Common prosperity in action in Anhui Province

In this video made for CGTN by Michael Dunford, Visiting Professor at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (and Friends of Socialist China advisory group member), we get a glimpse of common prosperity in action, as Michael travels to a village at Tuohu Lake, in the northeast of Anhui Province. With the aim of revitalizing the village and promoting high-quality sustainable development, the village cooperative has worked with the local authorities to improve the water system and to adopt traditional, environmentally-friendly agricultural practices. Combined with technologies such as an internet-of-things monitoring system and e-commerce, the villagers have been able to significantly improve their standard of living whilst simultaneously contributing to biodiversity and environmental protection.

Understanding China’s latest guidelines for greening the Belt and Road

This important article from China Dialogue describes a new document issued by China’s Ministry of Ecology and Environment (MEE), Guidelines for ecological and environmental protection of foreign investment cooperation and construction projects. The authors describe the guidelines as “the most comprehensive document by any country regulator to guide environmental management of overseas projects”. Guidelines include adopting international standards or China’s stricter standards for environmental protection in host countries; actively cutting pollution of all kinds; strongly favouring clean energy; and reconsidering projects with high potential biodiversity costs. The authors note that these guidelines are not enforceable, but that they “send clear signals to China’s state-owned and private enterprises.” As such, they form an important milestone towards a Green Belt and Road.

This January, less than six months after publishing the “Green development guidelines for overseas investment and cooperation”, China’s ministries of commerce and of ecology and environment issued another set of recommendations with a similar name: “Guidelines for ecological and environmental protection of foreign investment cooperation and construction projects”.

How is this document different to last year’s? And how does it add value?

Simply put, the latest release reaffirms recommendations made in the earlier guidelines but has more focus on specific issues of environmental risk management throughout the whole lifecycle of Belt and Road projects. It provides more robust direction to manage environmental risks in specific sectors, such as energy, transport and mining.

It also reflects wider developments in recent months. Since the publication of last year’s guidelines, in July, China has made important commitments to support green overseas development. Notably, President Xi pledged China would no longer build new coal-fired power plants abroad, and would support green low-carbon energy in developing countries. In November, he further elaborated that China is exploring the establishment of an early warning and assessment system for overseas project risk.

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China has become the clear global leader in solar power generation

The following report from China Environment News provides a useful summary of China’s progress in solar power. As part of its bid to reach peak carbon consumption before 2030 and carbon neutrality before 2060, China is investing heavily in generating and installing solar power. It is now by far the global leader in solar capacity and production, and its enormous investment in this area has been the key factor in the cost of solar electricity decreasing by 85 percent since 2010.

The world is adopting renewable energy at an unprecedented pace, and solar power is the energy source leading the way.

Despite a 4.5% fall in global energy demand in 2020, renewable energy technologies showed promising progress. While the growth in renewables was strong across the board, solar power led from the front with 127 gigawatts installed in 2020, its largest-ever annual capacity expansion.

The Solar Power Leaderboard

From the Americas to Oceania, countries in virtually every continent (except Antarctica) added more solar to their mix last year. Below is a snapshot of solar power capacity by country at the beginning of 2021. Data from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) shows solar power capacity by top 10 countries in 2021. This includes both solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrated solar power capacity.

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Study forecasts China investment of $75 trillion in carbon neutrality

The following article from Asia Times, written by David P Goldman, provides some indication as to China’s commitment to combating climate breakdown and the accompanying massive investment in low- and zero-carbon technology. This is “arguably the most ambitious investment program in economic history, designed to touch every sphere of China’s economic life.” Rather than demonizing China and imposing sanctions on its solar energy industry, Western countries should be closely cooperating with – and learning from – China in humanity’s shared struggle to prevent catastrophe.

China is projected to invest the equivalent of US$75 trillion (487 trillion yuan) in carbon neutrality financing over the next 30 years, representing five times its 2020 national output, according to a December 2021 study by a consortium of government, academic and private-sector experts.

The 200-page report, which encompasses the whole range of carbon-neutral technology from hydrogen-fuel vehicles to nuclear electric power, was issued by the Research Group of the Green Finance Committee of China Society for Finance and Banking under the direction of Ma Jun, president of the Beijing Institute of Finance and Sustainability, an academic unit under the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Financial Work.

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Li Jingjing interviews Carlos Martinez on Xi-Biden Summit

Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez was interviewed by CGTN journalist Li Jingjing about the recent Xi-Biden summit, the prospects for the New Cold War in the coming period, the failure of the trade war, the influence of the military-industrial complex on US policy, escalating tensions over Taiwan, and the possibilities for cooperation between the major countries on the question of climate change.

From poverty to prosperity, China’s century

This very interesting article by University of Glasgow professors Asit K Biswas and Cecilia Tortajada provides an overview of the extraordinary economic, political and scientific progress China has made since liberation – with a particular focus on the strategy of Reform and Opening Up – and analyses how this progress provides the foundations for achieving the country’s ambitious goals around sustainable development. The article was originally published in China Daily on 12 November 2021.

The speed, scale and span of the economic and social transformation of China during the past 40-odd years have been unprecedented in human history.

One hundred years ago, times were not good for China. Its 400 million people lived mainly in rural areas, mired in poverty. It was a nation ravaged by imperial mismanagement, foreign colonialism and civil wars.

On July 23 1921, 13 disillusioned Chinese young men and two representatives from the Communist International, met secretly in an inconspicuous house, 106 Rue Wantz, in Shanghai’s French Concession, which began the first national congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC). The police interrupted the meeting on July 30, and the Chinese members shifted their discussions to a tourist boat on the South Lake in Jiaxing, Zhejiang province, to continue the first National Congress. The first congress marked the founding of the CPC.

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China’s sponge cities are a ‘revolutionary rethink’ to prevent flooding

We republish below this interesting article from Euronews about China’s innovation and investment in the development of sponge cities – an urban water management system that conserves water and protects natural habitats.

The survival and development of human society depends on water. In fact, global water demand increased nearly eightfold between 1900–2010 as a result of factors like population growth, economic development and a shift in diet.

But in China, one of the world’s fastest growing economies, the vital resource is running out. The country’s 1.4 billion population needs water to thrive but it has become limited and unevenly distributed.

Continue reading China’s sponge cities are a ‘revolutionary rethink’ to prevent flooding