China’s loans and projects transformed Malta’s economy

This year sees the 50th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between China and Malta. China is a large country in East Asia with a population of some 1.4 billion people. Malta is a small European country in the Mediterranean with a population of less than half a million. Yet the two countries share a deep and profound friendship.

With the Golden Jubilee of diplomatic relations approaching, on January 10, President Xi Jinping had a telephone conversation with his Maltese counterpart George Vella. According to the official read out from the Chinese Foreign Ministry:

“Xi Jinping pointed out, China and Malta are old and good friends that have withstood the test of time. Half a century ago, the elder generation of Chinese and Maltese leaders, with great vision and foresight, jointly forged friendly relations between China and Malta. Over the past 50 years, no matter how the international situation changes, China-Malta relations have been developing in a sound and steady manner, with deepening friendship and fruitful cooperation in various fields. In the face of challenges such as the international financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic, the two sides have always helped and supported each other.”

For his part, President Vella responded: “Bilateral relations have become more mature and made remarkable achievements, setting a good example of state-to-state relations. Malta is firmly committed to further developing its friendly relations with China and is ready to strengthen high-level exchanges and deepen practical cooperation with China in various fields. Malta cherishes the precious opportunities brought by Belt and Road cooperation and is ready to continue to advance relevant cooperation with China. I hope that Malta-China relations will develop even better in the next 50 years and bring more benefits to the two peoples. Malta firmly adheres to the one-China principle and firmly supports multilateralism. Malta is ready to play a positive role in promoting the development of EU-China relations. Malta highly appreciates China’s vaccine aid for the international community’s fight against the COVID-19 pandemic and its positive contribution to the global response to climate change, and looks forward to closer cooperation with China.”

Although Malta won its independence from a century and a half of British colonial rule in 1964, it remained a neo-colony under the military and economic domination of British imperialism. All that was set to change with the election of a Labour government under the Prime Ministership of Dom Mintoff in 1971. Under his visionary leadership, Malta was transformed from a British neo-colony into a bastion of anti-imperialism and a mainstay of the Non-Aligned Movement. He also expanded the state and public sector of the economy, with extensive nationalisation, established a comprehensive welfare state, and enacted key social reforms, including equal pay for men and women and the decriminalisation of homosexuality. All this required the forging of international alliances and Mintoff assiduously developed close friendships with such outstanding revolutionary leaders of the developing world as Mao Zedong, Kim Il Sung, Muammar Gadaffi and Nicolae Ceausescu, among others. Above all, it was Mintoff’s deep and genuine friendship with Socialist China that enabled Malta to expel the British military bases and to stand up in the world. This writer vividly remembers the consternation of the British TV newsreader reporting Mintoff’s crossing back into the then British colony of Hong Kong, sporting a large badge of Chairman Mao on his suit jacket lapel following a meeting in Beijing with the Chinese leader.

Naturally all this earned Mintoff the undying hatred of the British ruling class. Particular and sustained vitriol was poured by the Daily Mail, a right wing British daily which had supported the British Union of Fascists in the 1930s, who dubbed him “desperate Dom”. Their hatred became positively apoplectic when his daughter Yana, then a student in London, and a key activist in the Troops Out Movement (TOM), campaigning for Irish independence and reunification, hurled horse dung on MPs from the public gallery of the House of Commons in solidarity with the ‘dirty protest’ waged by Irish Republican prisoners in the north of Ireland. (The ‘dirty protest’ was to culminate in the 1981 hunger strike in which 10 young Volunteers from the Irish Republican Army and the Irish National Liberation Army were to heroically lay down their lives.)

Without the British military bases, Malta would have faced economic ruin. That is why, in 1975, China built Dock Number Six in the harbour of the Maltese capital Valetta. Far better known as the Red China Dock, this engineering feat remains the largest dry dock in the Mediterranean. At that time, China was still a poor country and its economy was reeling from the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution. On a per capita basis, Malta was clearly a more prosperous country. But Chairman Mao and Premier Zhou Enlai saw it as their solemn internationalist duty to help Malta take the road of independence and the building of a new society.

Visiting the Red China Dock on 7th September 2021, China’s Ambassador to Malta Yu Dunhai noted that it is, “a significant symbol of China-Malta friendship and remains as a monument in the heart of the people devoting themselves to China-Malta friendship. More than 40 years ago, China overcame its economic and technological limits, provided 100 million RMB interest-free loan and sent about 800 technicians to Malta to construct the dry dock, which showcases the sincere friendship between our two countries. Two Chinese engineers, Mr. Xu Huizhong and Mr. Gu Zhaoyan, lost their lives during the construction. Their great effort and sacrifice laid solid foundation for China-Malta ongoing friendship.”

We are therefore very pleased to reproduce from Shine News, the online platform of the prestigious Shanghai Daily, the following interview with Dr Alex Sceberras Trigona, Foreign Minister of Malta from 1981-87. In this period, Dr Trigona worked closely with Deng Xiaoping to carry forward and develop the friendship established with the preceding generation of Chinese leaders.

(Introduction by Friends of Socialist China co-editor Keith Bennett).

Dr Alex Sceberras Trigona recalls the big moment when he had to arrange a meeting between Malta Prime Minister Dom Mintoff and Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in 1982 when he served as Malta’s minister for foreign affairs.

China and Malta established diplomatic ties in 1972, and Sceberras Trigona was instrumental in strengthening the relationship between the two countries during his tenure as foreign minister from 1981 to 1987. He has lost track of the number of times he has visited China but thinks “it could be 30 to 40 times” at least.

He has experienced the “hospitality and big heart” of China and was involved in the documentation and negotiations of projects that China helped build in Malta. He had negotiated and concluded Malta’s Neutrality Agreements in the worst years of the Cold War and has met generations of the Chinese people, from leaders to young students. He opened Malta’s embassy in Beijing.

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Damning imperialism: Marx’s writing on China

We are pleased to republish this article by Nick Matthews highlighting Karl Marx’s writings on China, originally published in the Morning Star.

Although not as well-known as his writings on Ireland and India, Marx paid a great deal of attention to China and not least to its relations with Western powers, Britain in particular. Much of his writing on the subject originally appeared in the form of articles for the New York Daily Tribune. As a passionate opponent of colonialism, Marx was outraged at Britain’s predatory Opium Wars against China and he supported the Chinese people’s resistance to foreign aggression without any equivocation.

Matthews’ article also contains useful background information on the New York Daily Tribune as well as on the work of Donna Torr, a foundation member of the Communist Party of Great Britain, whose work in Moscow included translating the works of Marx and Engels and who edited the definitive collection of Marx’s journalistic work on China, first published in 1951.

China and Marxism have been much discussed lately. Hearing these voices reminded me that Karl Marx himself had written extensively about China. How his views have come down to us is quite a tale.

In the late 1840s, Charles Anderson Dana, like many well-to-do Americans, took a trip to Europe.

In Paris he came across an uncompromising German radical who seemed to understand everything that was going on in those revolutionary times. This was of course Karl Marx.

Continue reading Damning imperialism: Marx’s writing on China

Zhang Tailei: ‘Thunderstorm’ of China’s revolution

In this paper, presented at the Fifteenth Forum of the World Association for Political Economy (WAPE), held 18-19 December 2021 at the Shanghai International Studies University and online, John Riddell introduces the life of an early pioneer and martyr of the Chinese revolution, honoured in his own country, but who deserves to be better known internationally. John, a lifelong socialist activist, is the founding editor of the Comintern Publishing Project and probably the foremost contemporary scholar of the early Communist International (Comintern) working in the English language. He has translated and edited numerous volumes of Comintern proceedings. We are grateful to him for making his paper available to us.

To understand the rise of China, it is helpful to get acquainted with the life and work of lesser-known figures who contributed to the liberation struggle. Such an activist is Zhang Tailei (1898–1927), whom I learned of while translating the proceedings of a global Communist congress held in 1921.[1] Little documentation on Zhang is available in the West. This brief sketch aims to highlight his main achievements; I hope it may help lead us to an account based on fuller access to Chinese sources.

Among the early leaders of the Communist Party of China (CPC), Zhang Tailei was one of the first to propose unity in action of diverse political forces to defend China against aggression by the imperialist powers. Zhang was a respected leader not only of his party but also of a world revolutionary association, the Communist International.[2]

Continue reading Zhang Tailei: ‘Thunderstorm’ of China’s revolution

New Year address by President Xi Jinping

We reprint here President Xi Jinping’s New Year Address for 2022 delivered from Beijing on New Year’s Eve. In direct and vivid language, the Chinese President succinctly covers a broad canvas ranging from nature to sports to space exploration. He reflects on the great achievements of an extraordinary year that saw the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China and the adoption of a major resolution on party history:

Standing on the Tian’anmen Rostrum, one could only marvel at the extraordinary journey traveled by this major Party, a journey of Chinese Communists leading the Chinese people, in their hundreds of millions, in an unyielding struggle against all obstacles and challenges, and scoring spectacular, epoch-making achievements over the past century.

China’s historic victory over extreme poverty was naturally another major theme. As a seasoned Marxist, in his Address, Comrade Xi integrated the general with the particular on the basis of the mass line:

The myriad of things we attend to all boil down to matters concerning every household… The concerns of the people are what I always care about, and the aspirations of the people are what I always strive for.

Reviewing his country’s signal contribution to the global battle against Covid-19, the Chinese President noted:

Only through unity, solidarity and cooperation can countries around the world write a new chapter in building a community with a shared future for mankind.

Embedded below the text is CGTN’s video version of the speech, with English subtitles.

My greetings to you all. The year 2022 is approaching. From Beijing, I extend New Year wishes to all of you!

The past year has been a year of exceptional significance. We have lived through landmark events in the history of our Party and our country. At the historical convergence of the Two Centenary Goals, we have set out on a new journey of building a modern socialist country in all respects and are making confident strides on the path toward the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.

Continue reading New Year address by President Xi Jinping

The CPC at 100 – An exemplar in the innovation and adaptation of Marxism

The 12th World Socialism Forum was held on December 21st 2021, hosted by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) and organised by the World Socialism Research Centre, the Academy of Marxism and the Research Centre of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era of CASS. It was held in the Chinese Academy of History of CASS, with both offline and online participation.

The theme of the event was the Preservation and Innovation of Marxism in the 21st Century, with a key focus on:

  • The Major Achievements and Inspiring Experience of the Communist Party of China over the Past Century
  • The Contribution of the Path of Socialist Political Development with Chinese Characteristics to Political Civilisations of Humanity
  • Lessons and Insights from the Downfall of the Soviet Communist Party and the Dissolution of the Soviet Union
  • Upholding and Developing Marxism in the 21st Century

The Forum heard a total of 23 presentations, including 13 from leading Chinese Marxist thinkers and theoreticians as well as from the Cuban Ambassador to China; Egon Krenz, former leader of the German Democratic Republic (GDR); two speakers from Russia, including the Vice Chair of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation (CPRF); Keith Bennett, Co-Editor of Friends of Socialist China; and speakers from Argentina, Italy, Cameroon, Venezuela and Vietnam.

We print below Keith Bennett’s speech to the Forum.

Dear Comrades and Friends

On behalf of Friends of Socialist China, a platform established earlier this year to support the People’s Republic of China and spread understanding of Chinese socialism on the basis of Marxism, I’d like to extend our thanks to the World Socialism Forum for inviting us to attend this important meeting and to submit a paper. We also extend warm greetings to everyone participating and hope that we can find concrete ways of working together in the future.

Continue reading The CPC at 100 – An exemplar in the innovation and adaptation of Marxism

John Ross: The international and historical significance of the resolution on the history of the CPC

In his latest article, which we are pleased to republish from Learning from China, John Ross provides a useful summary of the three key resolutions on party history adopted by the Communist Party of China in its century of struggle. Against this background, John further outlines how generations of Chinese communists, and especially Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping and Xi Jinping, have defended, applied, enriched and developed Marxism-Leninism and in so doing have not only immeasurably improved the lives of the Chinese people but also contributed significantly  to the progress of humanity, especially to the liberation struggles of the countries and peoples of Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The following article was originally published in Chinese by Guancha.cn.

The “Resolution on the Major Achievements and Historical Experience of the Party over the Past Century”, adopted by the Sixth Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) in November 2021, is, rightly, regarded as in the first place an issue for China itself. As the Resolution notes in its first sentence: “Since its founding in 1921, the Communist Party of China (CPC) has remained true to its original aspiration and mission of seeking happiness for the Chinese people and rejuvenation for the Chinese nation.”

It is obviously correct to start with the position of China itself. But the second sentence of the Resolution starts by noting the connection of China’s national struggle with international developments – in particular in regard to socialism: “Staying committed to communist ideals and socialist convictions, it [the CPC] has united and led Chinese people of all ethnic groups in working tirelessly to achieve national independence and liberation.” Indeed, for reasons that will be analysed, this resolution on the history of the CPC is of very great international and historical importance for all countries as well as for China itself. Therefore, while in no way wishing to deflect from the correctly China focussed nature of discussion on the Resolution, it is also hoped here it may cast some light on the discussion if international aspects of the significance of the Resolution are also considered.

Continue reading John Ross: The international and historical significance of the resolution on the history of the CPC

Xi’s explanation of resolution on major achievements and historical experience of CPC over past century

The following address was given by Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China, to the plenary meeting of the Party’s Central Committee, held in Beijing from 8 to 11 November 2021. It provides a detailed explanation of the contents of the Resolution on the Major Achievements and Historical Experience of the Party over the Past Century that was adopted by the meeting as well as outlining how the document was drafted and revised. It provides an excellent introduction to and summary of the Resolution and deserves careful study.

On behalf of the Political Bureau of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC), I will now brief you on the Resolution of the CPC Central Committee on the Major Achievements and Historical Experience of the Party over the Past Century and related issues.

I. Considerations on the Agenda of the Sixth Plenary Session of the 19th CPC Central Committee

Our Party has always attached great importance to reviewing its historical experience. As early as in the Yan’an period, Comrade Mao Zedong pointed out, “We will not be able to achieve greater success unless we have a clear understanding of our history and of the roads we have traveled.”

In 1945, at the critical juncture for securing final victory in the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression, the Sixth CPC Central Committee convened its seventh plenary session and adopted the Resolution on Certain Questions in the History of Our Party. The resolution reviewed the history of the Party and the experience it had gained and lessons it had learned since its founding in 1921, especially those in the period between the fourth plenary session of the Sixth Central Committee in January 1931 and the Zunyi Meeting in January 1935. It drew conclusions on major historical issues of the Party, leading to a broad consensus among all Party members, particularly high-ranking officials, on fundamental questions pertaining to the Chinese revolution. It served to strengthen the solidarity of the Party, paved the way for the convocation of the Seventh CPC National Congress, and helped advance the Chinese revolution significantly.

Continue reading Xi’s explanation of resolution on major achievements and historical experience of CPC over past century

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.

Continue reading From poverty to prosperity, China’s century

Reminder: Special online showing of ‘1921’ (2 October)

Friends of Socialist China are pleased to offer a rare opportunity to watch the film 1921.

  • Date: Saturday 2 October 2021
  • Time: 7pm Britain / 2pm US Eastern / 11am US Pacific
  • Registration: Eventbrite

About ‘1921’

‘1921’ is a full length feature film produced to mark this year’s centenary of the Communist Party of China. It is set against the background of the intense class struggle waged by the young Chinese working class in Shanghai in particular. The action also takes us to Moscow, Paris and elsewhere. Key early Chinese communists like Li Dazhao, Chen Duxiu, Mao Zedong and Deng Xiaoping all feature in this not to be missed film. As gripping as any Hollywood blockbuster, it is also an education and an inspiration.

A review by Friends of Socialist China co-editor Keith Bennett can be read online.

Please note the film is in Mandarin Chinese with English subtitles.

Who is organising the screening?

This event is organised by Friends of Socialist China, in coordination with Trinity Cine Asia. It is co-sponsored by the Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding, the Morning Star, the Geopolitical Economy Research Group, the International Manifesto Group, and Qiao Collective.

How does the online screening work?

At the start time (7pm Britain, 2pm US Eastern, 11am US Pacific), registered users will receive (by email) a link to stream the film. They will then have a three-hour window in which to watch it.

Why are we charging for this event?

Please note that Friends of Socialist China are not making any money from the showing; our purpose in arranging it is to ensure that its important political and cultural content reaches a wider audience. However, Trinity Cine Asia, with whom we are partnering to organise the screening, have paid the costs of distribution and marketing; therefore all proceeds go to them.

The liberation of Shanghai: ‘I found PLA soldiers sleeping on the pavement’

In this short video from CGTN, Betty Bar and her husband George Wang discuss their experiences living in Shanghai, from the 1930s up to the present. They remember the intense poverty in the city before liberation; the horrors of the Japanese occupation; the professional, disciplined and people-oriented nature of the People’s Liberation Army when entering Shanghai; and the extraordinary improvements in people’s lives in the ensuing decades. George Wang comments: “Without the Communist Party, without Mao Zedong, what would our life be today?”


A century of struggle: the glorious achievements and historic contributions of the Communist Party of China

This reflection on the history of the CPC, written by Qu Qingshan – Director of the Central Institute of Party History and Literature of the CPC Central Committee – was originally published in Qiushi. It provides an overview of each generation of leadership of the CPC (under Mao Zedong, Deng Xiaoping, Jiang Zemin, Hu Jintao and Xi Jinping) and describes how they each feed in to an overall trajectory towards an advanced socialism and national rejuvenation. It highlights the party’s clear position that Marxism must continue to provide the ideological base of its work: “If we deviate from Chinese socialism, all our previous efforts will go up in smoke”.


As General Secretary Xi Jinping has said, the past century has witnessed the Communist Party of China (CPC) work with devotion in pursuit of its founding mission, blaze new trails while enduring bitter hardships, and strive toward a brighter future. Since its founding in 1921, the CPC has surmounted one obstacle after another and achieved victory after victory by relying closely on the people. In this ancient land of China, it has brought about epic milestones in the history of human development and made groundbreaking contributions to the Chinese nation. 

Continue reading A century of struggle: the glorious achievements and historic contributions of the Communist Party of China

A hundred years of the Communist Party of China

We are republishing this useful historical outline of the CPC by Belgian journalist Marc Vandepitte. The article first appeared on ChinaSquare (in Dutch), and the English translation was first published on Global Research.


Historical context

For centuries, China had been a leading and powerful empire. That situation changed dramatically after the opium wars starting in 1840.[i] The country was relegated to the status of a semi-colony. Large areas were occupied by foreign powers or fell under their sphere of influence. The imperialist countries destroyed the fledgling industrialization. The population was totally impoverished, riddled with famines.[ii] Tens of millions of Chinese perished during that period through deprivation and political violence. It was also during this period that the black slave trade was replaced by the yellow trade in Chinese people.

Repeatedly, the Chinese revolted against the poor living conditions and for national independence. In 1911 there was a revolution in which the emperor was ousted. The new president Sun Yat-sen was the founder of the Republic of China. However, he failed to get rid of foreign domination and the feudal structures of the country.

That was the context in which, ten years later, thirteen men met in secret to establish a new, Communist Party (CPC). One of them was Mao Zedong. Their great example was the Russian Revolution of 1917. At the time, the party had only 53 members.

Continue reading A hundred years of the Communist Party of China

The first international Marxist study group in Shanghai

We are pleased to republish this fascinating history, written by Zhang Wei and published in the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries‘ quarterly magazine ‘Voice of Friendship’ (June 2021), about the first international Marxist study group in Shanghai. The group was supported by Soong Chingling and included such legendary friends of China as Rewi Alley, Agnes Smedley and Helen Foster Snow.


In 1934, encouraged and supported by Soong Ching Ling, about 20 Chinese and foreign leftists established the first international Marxist study group in Shanghai. They studied classic theories, conducted social research, discussed current affairs and actively joined in and assisted the struggle of the Communist Party of China. In fact, the group became the foreign ally of the Chinese revolution.

Three core members

Rewi Alley, a core member of the study group, was a social activist and writer from New Zealand. At the time, he was chief inspector of the fire department and the chief of the industrial department under the municipal council in the Shanghai international settlement. He was shocked to witness a large number of Chinese people in deep distress during an inspection of the factories. He gave an important description of the study group in the 1980s when recalling those days. He presented a clear list of the members of the group as follows:

“In 1934, like-minded people gradually gathered together to discuss politics. The idea was mainly put forward by German political economy writer Hans Shippe. He wrote articles for the English magazine Pacific Affairs under the pen name Asiaticus. His Chinese name is Xibo. Agnes Smedley said that “we were supposed to know the theories,” but she was too busy and didn’t understand the theories herself. Alec Camplin, an electrical engineer who lived in the same apartment with me in a three-story building on Yuyuan Road, joined our study group. There was also Dr. Hatem, whom Agnes considered a potential participant for the revolution. Other members included the young Austrian progressive Ruth Weiss; Hans Shippe’s wife, Gertrude Rosenberg; the Dutch manager of the leftist Zeitgeist Book Store, Irene Wiedemeyer; four secretaries of the Young Women’s Christian Association, namely, Talitha Gerlach, Maud Russell, Lillian Haass, and Deng Yuzhi; and a teacher at Medhurst High School, Cao Liang. Hans Shippe served as our political instructor. Later, he was killed by enemies while working in the New Fourth Army at Yimeng Mountain, Shandong.”

Continue reading The first international Marxist study group in Shanghai

Video: No Great wall – the continuities of the Chinese Revolution

The Communist Party of China (CPC) was formed a century ago, in July 1921. From that time up to the present day, it has led the Chinese Revolution – a revolution to eliminate feudalism, to regain China’s national sovereignty, to end foreign domination of China, to build socialism, to create a better life for the Chinese people, and to contribute to a peaceful and prosperous future for humanity.

In this video lecture, Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez argues that, while the Chinese Revolution has taken numerous twists and turns, and while the CPC leadership has adopted different strategies at different times, there is a common thread running through modern Chinese history: of the CPC dedicating itself to navigating a path to socialism, development and independence, improving the lot of the Chinese people, and contributing to a peaceful and prosperous future for humanity.

The video is based on the essay No Great Wall: on the continuities of the Chinese Revolution.


Documentary: Isabel Crook – We belonged and this is why we stayed

This feature length documentary aired by CGTN last week provides a vivid account of the lifelong dedication to the Chinese revolution on the part of communist fighters David and Isabel Crook and of the love and respect in which they have been held by successive generations of Chinese people from all walks of life.


Film review: 1921 – A vivid panorama of revolution

Review written by Friends of Socialist China co-editor Keith Bennett


The 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China has been the occasion for many grand and impressive events throughout July. 1921, which has also been playing in selected cinemas in Britain and Ireland, and doubtless elsewhere, is the film for the centenary.

A feature film, with special effects worthy of any Hollywood blockbuster, it also features some documentary footage, skilfully heightening the sense of both drama and realism.

Whilst 1921 is focused on that momentous year, it deploys flashbacks as far as the 1850s, showing China’s degradation to a semi-colonial and semi-feudal ruined nation and then at its conclusion a potted but vivid historical reconstruction of subsequent years, which culminates in Chairman Mao proclaiming the founding of the People’s Republic on October 1st 1949, as well as Young Pioneers visiting the restored site of the first party congress 100 years later.

A similar historical technique is deployed to depict aspects of some of the key characters, including such pioneering Chinese communists as Li Dazhao, Chen Duxiu, Li Da and, of course, Mao Zedong. Particularly moving is the depiction of the tragic and heroic fates of some of the key early martyrs of Chinese communism, including Yang Kaihui, Mao’s first wife and great love. This provides a raw and poignant contrast to the youthful idealism, frenetic activity and infectious optimism of many of the key characters as they throw themselves into the preparations for the founding of the party whilst simultaneously immersing themselves in the surging movement of the young but extremely militant Chinese working class along with the youth and students. Shanghai, in particular, where the party was founded, is accurately depicted as a playground for wealthy Chinese and above all for foreign overlords, but as a living hell for the masses of Chinese people.

Continue reading Film review: 1921 – A vivid panorama of revolution

Michael Crook in conversation with Dr Frances Wood

In this interesting video of a webinar organised by our friends in the Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding (SACU) the distinguished Sinologist Dr Frances Wood discusses with Michael Crook about his family’s long connection with China, the Chinese cooperative movement and some of the many British people who supported and helped the Chinese revolution.

Michael was born and brought up in China. He is the son of David and Isabel Crook,  communists, internationalists and staunch supporters of the Chinese revolution. Born in 1915, Isabel still lives in Beijing. In 2019, President Xi Jinping awarded her the Friendship Medal of the People’s Republic of China. Among the small number of other recipients was Cuban revolutionary leader Raúl Castro.


Jenny Clegg: Was Mao a Marxist?

In this session for the Marx Memorial Library on 1 July 2021, Jenny Clegg explores how Mao adapted Marxist ideology to drive the Chinese peasant revolution from 1925-1949.


Introduction

Edgar Snow’s famous book Red Star over China opens with a series of questions he was looking to answer as he set off for Yenan in 1936:  was the CPC a genuine Marxist Party or just a bunch of Red bandits? was the Red Army essentially a mob of hungry brigands as the Right wing KMT Nationalists made out?

From the Left also, Mao was being accused of departing from proletarian politics – for Trotsky the CPC under Mao’s leadership had been ‘captured by the peasants’ rich peasants at that.

Today similar scepticism is directed at whether or not China is genuinely socialist referencing these doubts about the earlier CPC history.

Mao was indeed a peasant leader; the Communist Party could not have come to power without the support of hundreds of millions of peasants  – they joined its mass organisations, they joined the Party itself, they carried out and conformed with its policies, and they gave material support in paying taxes and enlisting in its armies.  

Mao’s strategy of protracted revolution, building Red bases in the countryside to encircle the towns, is familiar to most people and will not be my focus here.

To answer the question ‘was Mao a Marxist’ it might be expected then that I start with his essays on philosophy – On Practice and On Contradiction.  But these essays in themselves are not the focus of my discussion either.  

Continue reading Jenny Clegg: Was Mao a Marxist?

Jenny Clegg reflects on a hundred years of the CPC

The following is the text of a speech given by British author, academic and campaigner Jenny Clegg at a recent webinar hosted by the Morning Star and Friends of Socialist China to celebrate the centenary of the CPC. Jenny discusses China’s unique contributions to Marxism, as well as outlining the history of the revolution and analysing the reasons for its continuing successes.

The story of how the CPC, founded in secret by just a handful of people, grew into an organisation of some 95 million members is truly remarkable.

It is a story that goes together with that of China’s transformation from the ‘Sick Man of Asia’ into the world’s second largest economy.  It is the Party that provided the political architecture that has made this possible. 

Taking stock at 100 years means looking not only at China’s achievements but also what this has meant – and means – for the world.

The CPC’s story is one of twists and turns, of tenacity against adversity, retreating when retreat was necessary but also daring to seize the time when the opportunity arose.  What has given the CPC its strength, its courage to face reality, to learn from mistakes, was and is Marxism.  For the CPC, Marxism is not a dogma, but a set of tools applied concretely to solve China’s problems.

The key to the success of the Revolution in 1949 lay mainly in the Party’s ability to mobilise the people effectively both around national and around class goals.  For this it drew on Marxist class analysis to devise a revolutionary strategy of shared benefit so as to unite all who could be united in the common goals of ending foreign domination and building the nation.

Fundamental here was land reform which gained the CPC the support of hundreds of millions of peasants  – they participated in its mass organisations, they joined the Party itself, they carried out and conformed with its policies, and they gave material support in paying taxes and enlisting in its armies.  

China’s contribution to the defeat of worldwide fascism in 1945 is often overlooked in the West.  It was Communist resistance together with the Nationalist armies that kept Japanese troops bogged down in China so that the Soviets could concentrate all their forces against the Nazis on the Western front.  This cost up to 20 million Chinese lives.  Nor is it widely understood that China the first country to end colonial rule as the Allies agreed to give up the Unequal Treaties in 1943.  China was to be one of the four founding members of the United Nations and the CPC was present at the occasion.

This example of how the Chinese people, led by a Communist Party, gained liberation in 1949 shone a bright light for colonised people around the world. Its experience of people’s war, revolution and the transformation of rural society was to be the inspiration for national liberation movements in many different countries in the years to come.

Continue reading Jenny Clegg reflects on a hundred years of the CPC