Chinatowns squeezed between capitalist development, New Cold War

This article by Tina Ngo, Ningshun Chen and Wai Lee Chin Feman, first published in Liberation News shines a light on the pressures faced by Chinatowns in the US. The authors point to a longstanding trajectory of gentrification that is making Chinatowns increasingly unviable, with rising rents and major construction projects that prioritize capitalist profit over the needs of communities. “For the few Chinatowns in which working-class immigrants and families still reside, rabid gentrifying forces are pushing the local residents to fight for their lives.”

Additionally, the article discusses how the New Cold War between the US and China is affecting Chinatown communities, fomenting anti-Asian racism and McCarthyite witch-hunting. The authors draw a parallel with the Red Scare of the 1950s, when state agents “rampaged through Chinatowns in search of Chinese communists and sympathizers”, and the FBI “raided universities and student clubs in search of Asian-American radicals.” The New Cold War and the propaganda that surrounds it are creating the conditions for a new wave of repression and intimidation.

The article concludes with a call for a joined-up struggle against US militarism, racism, McCarthyism and gentrification.

For decades, Chinatowns across the United States have been under attack by racist capitalist developments. Developers, banks and politicians are competing to construct the newest arenas, the tallest mega-jails and the grayest luxury apartment condos. These seemingly upscale yet unsafe and unsound projects have effectively priced out long-time residents and small businesses. Capitalist developments have destroyed entire communities — places where people used to live, gather, and thrive — now sit as empty vessels and lifeless tourist destinations. For the few Chinatowns in which working-class immigrants and families still reside, rabid gentrifying forces are pushing the local residents to fight for their lives.

Profiteering developments are just one instance of the extensive social phenomena threatening our Chinatowns. Notably, the COVID-19 pandemic, combined with a right-wing propaganda campaign, ignited anti-Asian sentiments and hate crimes. Countless acts of violence, most of which targeted women and the elderly, took place within and around Chinatowns across the country. Victims of these hate crimes were shoved off subway platforms and sidewalks, beaten with objects, and dehumanized with racial slurs. 

Mainstream media portray these assaults as supposedly senseless incidents and reduce them to individualized racial “hate.” They exalt that the solution to these problems is to increase crime reporting, expand police budgets, and to strengthen the system of mass incarceration. The news media is cynically manipulating the plight of Asian Americans to promote reactionary “tough on crime” policies. 

Capitalists are opportunistically banking on the latest rise of anti-Asian violence to drive a wedge between oppressed communities, as a means to keep them divided and powerless. This strategy of racial division is part of the larger profit scheme to encroach on Chinatowns by dividing communities fighting for the same right to housing. 

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The China Initiative and the New McCarthyism

In this detailed video interview, Professor Ken Hammond talks with Danny Haiphong about the China Initiative and associated programs attacking Chinese academics in the US. Ken observes that, while the program is ostensibly based on protecting US intellectual property and strengthening its IT security systems, the vast majority of cases have been about individual researchers’ supposed association with the Chinese state, and in particular the People’s Liberation Army. These connections are tenuous at best. Most Chinese universities have some relationship with the People’s Liberation Army, in the same way that most US universities have some relationship with the Department of Defense. If something like the China Initiative were applied around the world, practically no US scholar would be able to engage in joint research with any institution abroad. Meanwhile, in spite of the Biden administration claiming to have shut the program down, several thousands cases are ongoing. The reality of the China Initiative and associated programs is that they are are part of a broader campaign to demonize China and contribute to public support for a New Cold War.

British intelligence services make up a James Bond film script

Republished below is an incisive article from Global Times exposing the reactionary, racist and damaging nature of the MI5’s allegations against Christine Ching Kui Lee. Ms Lee, a British citizen, is being targeted for the sole reason that she works to develop cooperative and mutually beneficial relations between Britain and China. A few years ago, during the ‘golden era’ of Britain-China relations, Ms Lee was widely praised for her work; now, however, with Britain closely following the escalating US-led New Cold War, she has suddenly become the quintessence of the ‘China threat’.

MI5 recently issued a warning to MPs, claiming Christine Lee, a woman of Chinese origin, has been working as a spy on behalf of the Communist Party of China with the aim to infiltrate Parliament to interfere in UK politics. Some MPs immediately followed suit to hype the “China threat.” MP Tom Tugendhat, chair of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee, said “the challenge from Beijing is increasing.” Meanwhile, Conservative MP and former party leader, Iain Duncan Smith, called for Ms Lee to be deported and demanded the government make a statement to the House.

MI6 is famous around the world because of the James Bond films. MI5 is a brother department of MI6. Ken McCallum, the current director general of MI5, was given the nickname “007” by his teammates before he took office in April 2020. In his annual threat update for 2021, he warned that the activities of China, Russia and other “hostile states” could have as large an impact on the public as terrorism. This is just the epitome of how deeply he is poisoned by McCarthyism. 

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Why we shouldn’t fall for the ‘Chinese influence’ scare at Westminster

We publish below two editorials from the Morning Star (Why we shouldn’t fall for the ‘Chinese influence’ scare at Westminster and China dismisses claims of an agent targeting British MPs) dealing with the absurd recent story about China allegedly buying ‘political influence’ in the British Parliament. The second editorial includes a quote from Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez noting that this escalating reds-under-the-bed narrative is performing the function of repressing individuals and organisations that oppose the West’s reckless New Cold War.

The latest scare over Chinese “influence” at Westminster should be taken with several barrels of salt.

Pointing to the convenience of a national security story being broken at a time when both Downing Street (over “partygate”) and Buckingham Palace (because of Prince Andrew’s increasing vulnerability over sex abuse allegations) could do with distracting the public will invite charges of conspiracy theories.

But the left would be naive to ignore the political role of the intelligence services.

The convention of seeing state institutions which are not party-political as not political at all works to promote the idea that the likes of MI5 are neutral professionals.

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