Standing against NATO and AUKUS a key issue for the peace movement

On Saturday January 21, Britain’s Stop the War Coalition organised its first-ever trade union conference.

Speakers included former Leader of the Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn MP; President of the RMT rail workers union Alex Gordon; Deputy President of the PCS civil service union Martin Cavanagh; Alex Kenny from the National Education Union; Liz Wheatley of public service union Unison; Ricardo de la Torre of the Fire Brigades Union (FBU); Daniel Zahedi of the junior doctors section of the British Medical Association (BMA); striking ambulance worker George Solomou; José Nivoi from the Autonomous Collective of Dockworkers in Genoa, Italy, who have repeatedly prevented arms shipments from being sent to conflict zones in the Middle East; Deputy President of Stop the War Andrew Murray; Stop the War Convenor Lindsey German; and veteran anti-war campaigner Salma Yaqoob.

China specialist Dr Jenny Clegg, who is a member of the Friends of Socialist China advisory group, introduced and led a well-attended session on the AUKUS pact between Britain, Australia and the United States, and on the ‘coming war on China’. She was joined on the panel by Dr. Kate Hudson, General Secretary of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament (CND), and Warren Smith of the Australian Maritime Union.

We reproduce Jenny’s opening remarks below, which present an admirable and concise summary of the regional situation. Their cogency and urgency are only underlined by the subsequent visit of NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg to Japan and South Korea.

Introduction

The Ukraine war, Russia, and NATO, have been demanding the attention of the anti-war movement, but there is also a whole other dimension to Global Britain that is unfolding in the Asia Pacific.

Some might say that the US and NATO want to weaken Russia before moving on to China in the future – in fact war preparations are accelerating right now in the East.

Progress on AUKUS

The announcement of AUKUS in September 2021 was a surprise, made with no democratic debate.  It came as the new Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier was engaging in multiple joint military exercises in the South China Sea – flying the flag for Johnson’s Global Britain, demonstrating the new Indo Pacific tilt, but the F35 fighter jets it carried actually belonged to the USAF.

The key feature of the AUKUS pact was seen to be the US and UK agreement to assist Australia in acquiring nuclear powered submarines.  BAE systems declared itself ready to support production. However, over the last year, as the US and UK have tried to wangle their way around the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) without apparent success, the deal has struggled and it is not certain that the US and UK can take on the building work given their own nuclear submarines programme commitments.

However, AUKUS is more than just the submarines: it is about Australian militarisation, about advancing military technologies and military industrial cooperation.  BAE systems, Rolls Royce and MBDA have long had subsidiaries in Australia helping to supply its armed forces.

Continue reading Standing against NATO and AUKUS a key issue for the peace movement

Presentation: Give Peace A Chance – China and the World Today

This presentation by Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez was given at a webinar organised by the Communist Party of the United States of America (CPUSA) Education Commission on the theme ‘Give peace a chance – China and the world today.’ The webinar took place on 22 January 2023.

Carlos discusses the current state of US-China relations, the reason for the deterioration in recent years, the bipartisan nature of the New Cold War, the dangers of ‘decoupling’, and the possibilities for moving towards a trajectory of peace and cooperation. He also answers the assertion that the hostility between US and China is a case of inter-imperialist rivalry, and explains why ‘Neither Washington Nor Beijing’ is a reactionary slogan, the effect of which runs counter to the aims of peace, progress, multipolarity and socialism.

Decoupling from China, Russia suicidal for Europe

This article by Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez, originally published in Global Times, discusses the record of the Biden administration in ramping up Cold War hostilities against China and Russia, and its attempts to get Europe on board with its strategy for protecting US hegemony. Carlos points out that “Anti-Russia and anti-China positions are harming the people of Europe”: sanctions on China’s semiconductor and solar energy industries are utterly self-defeating, and sanctions on Russian energy are feeding directly into a very serious cost of living crisis. He concludes that “the countries of Europe would be well advised to exercise foreign policy independence and to make decisions based on the needs of their own populations, which are calling out for peace, prosperity and a sustainable future.”

When Joe Biden was elected in November 2020, many around the world were hoping for a change of course in the US’ reckless new Cold War.

US-China relations have always been complex and difficult; yet from the early 1970s onward, the trajectory had been toward deepening economic cooperation and a nuanced handling of the contradictions immanent in the relationship. Even with the Obama-Clinton “Pivot to Asia,” which signaled the US’ shift in geostrategic focus toward China containment, there was still significant and productive cooperation between the two countries – most notably in the drafting of the Paris Agreement.

Donald Trump came to power with a promise to stop China “raping” the US economy. Blaming China soon became the new magic wand for explaining away the problems of US capitalism without having to deal with any of the real underlying causes of American decline. Singaporean academic and former diplomat Kishore Mahbubani noted that, rather than blaming China for everything, living standards in the US might improve if America stopped fighting unnecessary foreign wars and used its resources to improve the well-being of its people.

The Trump team initiated a trade war, imposed a ban on Huawei, and sought to ban TikTok and WeChat. They aimed to generate mass anti-China sentiment by engaging in flagrant racism, most infamously blaming the coronavirus pandemic on China. They introduced sanctions and issued disgraceful slanders. So it was assumed that surely, things would only get better under Biden.

Continue reading Decoupling from China, Russia suicidal for Europe

Webinar: Give peace a chance – China and the world today (22 January)

On Sunday 22 January (at 11am EST, 8am PST, 4pm GMT), the CPUSA Education Commission is organizing a webinar on the theme Give peace a chance – China and the world today. There will be a presentation by Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez, followed by discussion and Q&A.

Demonizing China’s Covid policies is fearmongering

In this insightful article for Global Times, Friends of Socialist China advisory group member Ken Hammond provides an overview of China’s evolving strategy for dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic – a strategy that has saved literally millions of lives to date.

Ken also discusses the extraordinary hypocrisy of the Western media’s portrayal of this strategy. For almost three years of Dynamic Zero Covid, “terms like ‘draconian’ were constantly used to criticize China’s measures to control and contain the virus”. Now restrictions have been loosened and “China is denounced for recklessly endangering its people and the rest of the world” – in spite of the fact that “governments in America and Europe have effectively abandoned any efforts to deal with the pandemic over the past year.”

The author makes the important point that this hypocritical reporting is part of a broader campaign of demonization – a reflection of rising anger among the US ruling class as all hopes fade away that China might be subjected to a ‘color revolution’ and become “a compliant, subordinate component of the American-dominated global capitalist order.” Ken opines that the relentless China-bashing is the product of a social class that has come to fear “the loss of the power and privileges they have so long enjoyed based on the extraction of wealth from working people around the planet.”

This demonization campaign creates a dangerous situation, fomenting conflict and standing in the way of the development of cooperation and understanding. People who support peace and progress should firmly oppose the propaganda war on China.

China’s COVID policies have saved millions of lives over the past three years. Yet those policies were attacked by some Western politicians, media pundits, and academics every day. Terms like “draconian” were constantly used to criticize China’s measures to control and contain the virus. China’s achievements in managing the epidemic were unmatched anywhere in the world, yet an ordinary citizen of a Western country can have very little idea of that given the relentless demonization of China to which they are regularly exposed.

Now, in the context of new scientific understandings of the latest variants of the virus, and in an effort to balance the ongoing need to protect the lives of the Chinese people with the goal of carrying forward the development of their economy, a new set of policies and practices is being implemented, relaxing many of the restrictions and controls which have been used over the last three years. One might expect that this would be welcomed in the West, yet quite the opposite has been the case. 

China is now denounced for recklessly endangering its people and the rest of the world, even as governments in America and Europe have effectively abandoned any efforts to deal with the pandemic over the past year. Well over 1.1 million people have died in the US. The same media voices, like the New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal, or The Guardian, which railed against China’s so-called “oppressive” COVID policies, now spout a steady stream of condemnation of China’s efforts to pursue a more flexible, adaptive COVID policy package.

Continue reading Demonizing China’s Covid policies is fearmongering

Video: How the US’s Taiwan policy makes war with China a self-fulfilling prophecy

In this important episode of The Socialist Program on BreakThrough News, Brian Becker and Ken Hammond conduct a detailed discussion about the US strategy of fomenting tensions across the Taiwan Strait. Taking as their starting point a recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled ‘To Deter China, Taiwan Must Prepare for War’, Brian and Ken describe how the US is deliberately and determinedly creating instability in the region, encouraging Taiwanese separatism and undermining the One China Principle in order to create a potential war scenario that will slow down China’s rise and undermine popular support for the CPC-led government. The geopolitical context, of course, is that of a global New Cold War in which US imperialism is hitting out in all directions in order to perpetuate American global dominance and reverse its process of decline.

Brian and Ken note that China’s position in relation to Taiwan has not changed in the course of many decades: China is very clear that the Taiwan question is an internal affair and will be resolved by Chinese people on both sides of the Straits. The CPC has consistently stated – including most recently at its 20th National Congress in October 2022 – that it aims to achieve reunification by peaceful means. While the Western media narrative is that recent escalated tensions are due to Chinese truculence, what has changed isn’t the Chinese position but the US’s steady erosion of the One China Principle and its flouting of international law – including its recent commitment to provide direct military aid to Taiwan.

Brian and Ken also observe that, sadly, this strategy has bipartisan support within US ruling circles and that meaningful opposition to imperialist aggression will have to be based on the action of the masses of the people fighting for peace.

Wave of anti-Asian racism fuelled by the New Cold War

We are pleased to publish below the text of the speech by an activist from the Goldsmiths Anti-Imperialist Society, given on 17 December at the second of two online seminars on the theme ‘The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and its World Significance’, organised jointly by Friends of Socialist China and the International Department of the Communist Party of China.

The speech focuses on the problems faced by minority communities in Britain, particularly people of Chinese descent in the context of a rising New Cold War, linking the recent rise in anti-Asian racism to the ‘yellow peril’ narrative pioneered in Britain in the 19th and 20th centuries – part of a campaign of demonisation connected to Britain’s attempts to impose colonial domination on China. Today’s anti-Asian racism represents “the imperialist legacy of the Yellow Peril in the 21st century, propagated by the New Cold War.” In spite of these problems, the speech concludes on an optimistic note, observing that there is a “growing number of young people who are fighting back against the propaganda that seeks to divide us and isolate us from each other”. This generation is building a united front based on opposing racism, imperialism and capitalism, and stands “in solidarity with our Chinese comrades and all our siblings in the Global South in self-determining and working together to create a fairer, multilateral world.”

I would like to use this opportunity to thank Friends of Socialist China and the Communist Party of China for hosting this meeting here today. My speech is from the perspective of an activist in anti-racist collectives. When I refer to the term ‘black’ in this speech it is used as an umbrella term referring to African, Asian, Arab, Caribbean and all non-white communities.

As a member of the Chinese diaspora, a British Born Chinese, it brings me great joy to speak with you all, though the topics of what I will be sharing will not be so joyous. In sharing my lived experience and material analysis of the current socio-political environment, I hope to share insight on what it is like to live as a Chinese in Britain and the impact of anti-China rhetoric on Asian communities.

After the murder of George Floyd, the Black Lives Matter movements that emerged around the world highlighted the institutional racism embedded in every aspect of western society, from how the media portrays Black children in negative, stereotypical ways to how the police brutalise Black people. Institutional racism towards Asian communities is perhaps not as overt as it is towards our African and Caribbean siblings but it is equally as insidious.

Racism against Asian communities has relied on the same vestiges of Yellow Peril that never left British shores after it arrived on the coattails of the Opium Wars almost two centuries’ ago. This “Yellow Peril” is the fear of the East – the anxiety that the so-called Orient was coming to colonise and conquer the West in the same way it has done. Historically, the Yellow Peril was enshrined in law such as the Chinese Exclusion Act in the US and Home Office policies that led to the deportation of Chinese seamen in Liverpool, UK. How many of us here know that 6 Chinese seamen survived the sinking of Titanic? Now Chinatowns are bustling hubs of culture and commerce. But there was a time when some Chinatowns were formed as self-contained protective enclaves against the tides of white supremacists intent on driving Asian immigrants out of their jobs.

For a while, the concept of the “model minority myth” has acted in counter to the yellow peril: quelling fears of Asian world domination with stereotypes of the typical Asian being smart but submissive, adept at assimilating, unthreatening to the white worker. Though it may seem harmless at first glance, Asians have been required to fulfil the role of the quiet, unassuming worker in order to be accepted as legitimate citizens. But this acceptance has been conditional. The Asian diaspora lives in the duality of being the Yellow Peril or the Model Minority. When the Asian diaspora has fought back or challenged anti-China, anti-Asian rhetoric, they – we – are no longer seen as friends but foes. Spies, saboteurs, traitors to the state.

When the Covid pandemic hit in 2020, this awoke the dormant beast of Yellow Peril once more. It became acceptable to spread vitriol, fake news, and disinformation as long as the precedent was set that there was no blame to be placed on the British state or the UK government for mismanagement of the pandemic.

Instead of reflecting inwards on how it could have handled the pandemic better, the British state opted to blame China for its failure to curb the early waves and with the mainstream media’s help, made China culpable for the deaths of hundreds of thousands in the UK. This was internalised by the general public.

“China” became synonymous with Asian which became synonymous with everything bad in the world. The novel coronavirus wasn’t just associated with China or Chinese people; Chinese people were seen as the virus itself. Everyone who looked Chinese became a sitting target for abuse and hatred; it did not matter their ethnicity nor place of birth.

Continue reading Wave of anti-Asian racism fuelled by the New Cold War

Jenny Clegg on the complex and evolving US-China relationship

On the proposal of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (IDCPC), Friends of Socialist China (FoSC) and the IDCPC jointly organised two online seminars, with participation by invitation, on the theme of, ‘The 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China and its World Significance’, on December 10th and 17th.

A total of 36 supporters and friends of FoSC from England, Scotland, Wales and the north of Ireland, from various nationalities and walks of life, and from a broad range of progressive organisations and areas of struggle, participated, the majority of them in both events.

The first seminar focused on expert presentations, with the speakers being:

  • Liu Genfa, Deputy Director, Department of International Exchange, Training and Development of the China Executive Leadership Academy, Pudong;
  • Qu Bo, Associate Professor and Director, Institute of International Relations, China Foreign Affairs University;
  • Dr Hugh Goodacre, Managing Director of the Institute for Independence Studies and Lecturer in the History of Economic Thought at University College London(UCL);
  • Dr Jenny Clegg, China specialist and former Senior Lecturer in Asia Pacific Studies at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLAN).

The second seminar concentrated more on an exchange of views and experiences, with younger comrades taking the lead. The speakers were:

  • Ms Wang Yingchun, Deputy Director General of Bureau VII of the IDCPC;
  • Ms Li Na, Communist Youth League Branch Secretary of Bureau VII of the IDCPC;
  • Eben Williams, Member of the International Committee and Chair of the Glasgow branch of the Young Communist League;
  • Fiona Sim, Organiser with Goldsmiths Anti-Imperialist Society

We plan to publish those of the papers for which we have the text on our website in the coming period and hope to organise more such joint activities with our comrades in the IDCPC in the new year.

Below is the speech given by Jenny Clegg at the session on December 10th. Jenny’s presentation explores in some detail the complex and evolving relationship between the US and China, as well as providing an overview of (and raising some questions for discussion in relation to) China’s socialist modernisation.

My contribution comes in two parts – firstly I focus on the US-China relationship with a view to making some assessment, at the current international conjuncture, of the recent Xi-Biden meeting on the sidelines of the G20 Bali summit.  Secondly I raise some issues about China’s last stages of socialist modernisation.

The US-China relationship: the background

The US China relationship has become the dominant influence on the overall dynamics of international relations.

China’s rise counters US hegemonism; it challenges the system of imperialist rule-making; at the same time China’s socialist orientation shows there is an alternative to capitalism.

These three intertwined contradictions are fundamentally antagonistic but as Mao suggested antagonistic contradictions can also be handled in a non antagonistic way – of course depending on the circumstances. Today it is amidst the increasingly complex context of polycrises – of climate change, the pandemic, debt and economic recession, and now the Ukraine war – that we see the US and China engaged in a sharpening trial of strength. 

Continue reading Jenny Clegg on the complex and evolving US-China relationship

Join hands in building global mass opposition to the New Cold War

On 22 October 2022, Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez spoke at a teach-in organised by Hamilton Coalition to Stop War on the theme ‘Geopolitical Conflict and the Prospect for Peace’. Carlos’s remarks focused specifically on US-China relations and the various twists and turns they’ve gone through since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. Carlos describes the nature of, reasons behind and dangers associated with the escalating US-led New Cold War on China, and concludes by urging “progressive and peace-loving people the world over join hands in building global mass opposition to this insanity.”

We embed the video of Carlos’s speech below, along with the text.

I’d like to talk about the journey that US-China relations have taken over the years.

We talk about there being a New Cold War, but China was also one of the key targets of the original Cold War.

In terms of the rise of McCarthyism, the extreme militant anti-communism of the Truman administration, the genocidal war against Korea: a great deal of this was connected to the whole “loss of China” discourse. How could US imperialism just helplessly allow the most populous country in the world, of massive historical and strategic importance, to have a communist revolution, to join the socialist camp, to enter into an alliance with the Soviet Union?

One of the early acts of the Cold War was to prevent The People’s Republic of China from taking up its rightful place at the United Nations. Between 1949 and 1971, it was the so-called Republic of China – that is to say, the breakaway capitalist dictatorship in Taiwan – that represented China on the Security Council and in the General Assembly.

And for those two decades, relations between the US and China were characterised by outright hostility and an attempt by the US to blockade China – militarily, economically and diplomatically.

Then in the early 1970s, strategists in the US decided on a path of engaging with China – for a variety of reasons, including that its policy of non-recognition simply wasn’t viable, especially given the support China enjoyed among the newly-liberated countries of Africa and elsewhere. But the most important reason was almost certainly that the US thought it could strengthen its position vis-a-vis the Soviet Union, which by this point was involved in a bitter ideological split with China that lasted from the early 1960s until the late 1980s.

Continue reading Join hands in building global mass opposition to the New Cold War

Circuits of War: on Biden’s technological offensive against China

This article by Italian social theorist Marco d’Eramo, which originally appeared in Sidecar (a blog published by New Left Review), provides a detailed and insightful analysis of the “chip war” being waged by the US as part of its broader New Cold War on China. D’Eramo explains the profound importance of the semiconductor industry to the overall trajectory of modern technology, and describes the extent to which semiconductor supply chains are today dominated by the US. While China uses more than 70 percent of the world’s semiconductor products, it only produces 15 percent – and these are not of the latest generation of chip design.

The Biden administration has announced wide-ranging and unprecedented restrictions on the export of semiconductors, with a view to protecting its dominance of the industry at all costs. D’Eramo quotes Martin Wolf in the Financial Times saying that the chip war launched by the Biden administration is “far more threatening to Beijing than anything Donald Trump did. The aim is clearly to slow China’s economic development. That is an act of economic warfare… It will have huge geopolitical consequences.”

The author however observes that Biden’s chip war will not be plain sailing, as it relies on the cooperation both of major US technology companies – which earn handsome profits from exporting to China – but also the US’s allies abroad, including for example Germany, which “has grounded its economic – and therefore political – fortunes in its relationship with China, its principal commercial partner (with $264 billion worth of annual trade).” In this context, Chancellor Scholz’s recent trip to Beijing “seems like a major act of insubordination.”

Another factor, not directly addressed by the article, is the record of Chinese socialism in overcoming this sort of difficulty. For example, very few would have thought that China could develop its own nuclear deterrent, carrying out its first successful test of an atomic bomb in 1964, at a time when it was still a poor and backward country, blockaded by the US and without the support of the Soviet Union, with which it was engaged in a bitter ideological dispute. Even with the seemingly unbreachable gap between the US and China in terms of semiconductor technology, the likely effect of these new US restrictions will be to accelerate China’s own research and investment in the sector. A decade ago, China wasn’t the global leader in renewable energy technology; today it is. We shouldn’t be surprised if China is able to catch up with the US in the coming years.

A world war was declared on 7 October. No news station reported on it, even though we will all have to suffer its effects. That day, the Biden administration launched a technological offensive against China, placing stringent limits and extensive controls on the export not only of integrated circuits, but also their designs, the machines used to ‘write’ them on silicon and the tools these machines produce. Henceforth, if a Chinese factory requires any of these components to produce goods – like Apple’s mobile phones, or GM’s cars – other firms must request a special licence to export them.

Why has the US implemented these sanctions? And why are they so severe? Because, as Chris Miller writes in his recent book Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology (2022), ‘the semiconductor industry produces more transistors every day than there are cells in the human body’. Integrated circuits (‘chips’) are part of every product we consume – that is to say, everything China makes – from cars to phones, washing machines, toasters, televisions and microwaves. That’s why China uses more than 70% of the world’s semiconductor products, although contrary to common perception it only produces 15%. In fact, this latter figure is misleading, as China doesn’t produce any of the latest chips, those used in artificial intelligence or advanced weapons systems.

Continue reading Circuits of War: on Biden’s technological offensive against China

The Biden-Xi summit and our need to resist a cold war against China

The following editorial, published by the Morning Star following the meeting between the Chinese and US presidents in Indonesia, makes a number of important points. It states that: “Western media has attacked every Chinese administration since it became clear economic reforms were never intended to lead to Western-style market primacy — when Hu Jintao retired a decade ago pundits were bewailing China’s ‘lost decade’ under his leadership since it had still not dispensed with the dominant role of public ownership (it still hasn’t).”

Refuting the claim that China is pursuing isolationist policies, it notes that the Belt and Road Initiative has eclipsed the World Bank as the biggest source of development credit worldwide and that China is the biggest trading partner of a majority of nations. It adds: “US policy has created the cold war. It is the product of an effort to maintain the hegemony of Washington and the Washington consensus — an international economic pecking order no socialist should support… The lesson is clear. Support for the new cold war on China is contrary to everything the left stands for — it’s a threat to peace and a defence of a grossly unjust world order… A serious socialist left should neither accept nor ignore the normalisation of anti-China aggression. It serves the interests of our ruling class — and undermines our own.”

Joe Biden claims a new cold war with China can be avoided.

Washington and Beijing have a responsibility to “manage our differences”, the US president says.

Fine words, and welcome, if the three-hour head to head between Biden and Xi Jinping has actually opened a path to greater co-operation.

We must hope so. China and the United States are the world’s largest economies, the world’s biggest emitters of greenhouse gases, the world leaders in scientific development.

Arresting global warming is one crucial area where it is difficult to see how progress can be made unless the breakdown in relations between Washington and Beijing is reversed.

But given the barrage of misinformation that substitutes for fact-based assessments of China across the West, we need to take Biden’s description of the cold war with a pinch of salt.

The narrative pushed openly by the Biden administration and parroted by the gormless war hawks who lead Britain’s Conservative and Labour parties is that the democratic West faces an existential threat from rising “authoritarian powers,” notably China and Russia.

Continue reading The Biden-Xi summit and our need to resist a cold war against China

The Xi-Biden summit shows China has created a space for peace

In this article, first published in the Morning Star, Doug Nicholls, General Secretary of Britain’s General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU), analyses the meeting between Xi Jinping and Joe Biden, which he says, “creates an opportunity to build for peace.”

Doug attributes this to China’s skillful manoeuvering as well as to the fact that, “more countries throughout the world want peaceful coexistence between nations and multipolar political equality rather than US hegemony. China is recognised as the leading advocate of this position.” He also notes that, “China expressed its very powerful alternative vision of a socialist world eloquently in the talks.”

We are very pleased to make available this excellent analysis.

AFTER I had been startled by John Pilger’s film The Coming War on China which charts the military and policy escalation against the country, I started to take closer note of how the US was driving fast to a hot war, using its proxy war against Russia in the Ukraine and a spectacular global misinformation programme.

The Labour and Tory parties’ dutiful allegiance to the “special relationship” with the US, and the extreme belligerence of them both against China, were convincing me that the war drums were about to accompany bombers and troops.

And I think they would have done by now had China and its allies not so skilfully outmanoeuvred the US and forced them into a significant retreat. The talks between PresidentS Biden and Xi in Bali were historic. They create an opportunity to build for peace.

While it had been obvious to the world in the lead-up to the talks that the US was doing everything it could to provoke real aggression against China, as soon as Biden opened his mouth in the public session and declared military conflict was not the US intention, a global sigh of relief could be heard.

However hard it is to believe any word a US president says, this was not a position we can condemn and we should recognise the significance of the climbdown. It is not going to be easy to renege upon quickly, and any breathing room in this febrile situation is welcome.

A number of factors had weakened Biden’s hand in negotiations. They all relate in one way or another to the fact that more countries throughout the world want peaceful coexistence between nations and multipolar political equality rather than US hegemony. China is recognised as the leading advocate of this position.

Continue reading The Xi-Biden summit shows China has created a space for peace

‘Managed competition’ with China or real peace?

This valuable editorial from the Party for Socialism and Liberation assesses the bilateral meeting that took place between Xi Jinping and Joe Biden on 14 November 2022. Whilst welcoming the possibility of a lessening of hostilities between the world’s two biggest economies, and celebrating the return to dialogue on the key issues facing humanity, the authors point out that US administrations – both Democrat and Republican – have been building up a new Cold War against China over the course of more than a decade. “A new Cold War has already been set in motion through the actions of successive US administrations that have identified China as their number one target and taken aggressive measures to deepen confrontation.”

The editorial observes that several major capitalist powers and US allies such as France and Germany do not consider a full-scale “decoupling” to be in their interests, and that Biden may well be “at least rhetorically softening the US position in a nod to other nations that are uncomfortable with the pace of escalation.”

Lasting peace and wide-ranging cooperation between US and China would be of tremendous benefit to the people of the US, China and indeed the world, but it will require the US to give up on its strategy of hybrid warfare, of containment and encirclement. Most immediately, the US will need to respect China’s territorial integrity, stop supporting Taiwanese separatism, and ends its undermining of the One China principle.

President Biden and Chinese President Xi Jinping held their first meeting since Biden took office today, a high-profile summit meant to set the tone for U.S.-China relations in the coming period. Outwardly, the two leaders remained cordial and affirmed their willingness to maintain dialogue with one another, with Biden going so far as to say “there need not be a new Cold War” between the two powers. The two sides agreed to restart regular talks relating to cooperation in the fight against climate change, and Secretary of State Blinken is set to travel to China for follow up discussions in the near future. 

But in fact, a new Cold War has already been set in motion through the actions of successive U.S. administrations that have identified China as their number one target and taken aggressive measures to deepen confrontation. Real peace would require a complete reorientation of U.S. policy — one that is desperately needed if the world is to avoid catastrophic conflict on a global scale. 

The Biden administration presented today’s meeting in the framework of what they call “managed competition.” This is a reference to the overarching U.S. imperial doctrine of “great power competition,” essentially a euphemism for the new Cold War. For instance, Biden said in a press conference following the summit, “We’re going to compete vigorously. But I’m not looking for conflict, I’m looking to manage this competition responsibly.” 

Biden is signaling his desire to maintain the United States’ posture of fundamental hostility to China, but at least rhetorically softening the U.S. position in a nod to other nations that are uncomfortable with the pace of escalation. China’s economy remains deeply integrated in the world market, and even major capitalist powers like France and Germany do not desire a complete breakdown in relations despite their underlying hostility to China’s socialist system. Given the existing balance of forces in world politics, the United States may calculate that a momentary easing of pressure could reduce the likelihood that the alliance between China and Russia will deepen.  

Continue reading ‘Managed competition’ with China or real peace?

Xi Jinping meets with Joe Biden in Bali

The meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Joe Biden in Bali, Indonesia, on November 14th attracted huge attention around the world, as a positive outcome could help to halt or even reverse the dangerous slide to confrontation triggered by the US’ initiation of a new cold war.

China reported that the two presidents had a “candid and in-depth exchange of views on issues of strategic importance in China-US relations and on major global and regional issues.

“President Xi pointed out the current state of China-US relations is not in the fundamental interests of the two countries and peoples and is not what the international community expects. China and the United States need to have a sense of responsibility for history, for the world and for the people, explore the right way to get along with each other in the new era, put the relationship on the right course, and bring it back to the track of healthy and stable growth to the benefit of the two countries and the world as a whole.”

The Chinese leader explained that the policies of his party and government are “open and transparent, with clearly stated and transparent strategic intentions and great continuity and stability.” He further stressed that the Taiwan question “is at the very core of China’s core interests, the bedrock of the political foundation of China-US relations, and the first red line that must not be crossed in China-US relations… Anyone that seeks to split Taiwan from China will be violating the fundamental interests of the Chinese nation; the Chinese people will absolutely not let that happen!”

He also pointed out that “the two countries take different paths; while the United States practices capitalism, China practices socialism. Such difference is nothing new and will continue to exist,” adding, “it is in our mutual interest to benefit from each other’s development. It is also in our mutual interest to promote post-COVID global recovery, tackle climate change and resolve regional issues through China-US coordination and cooperation.”

Xi Jinping’s approach to his talk with Biden was exemplary in combining firmness in principle with flexibility and magnanimity in tactics. Given the extreme importance of the relations between China and the United States to the whole of humanity, it is vitally important to understand what China’s leadership is saying in this regard. We are therefore pleased to reproduce China’s official report of the meeting, taken from the website of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China.

On the afternoon of 14 November local time, President Xi Jinping had a meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden in Bali, Indonesia. The two presidents had a candid and in-depth exchange of views on issues of strategic importance in China-U.S. relations and on major global and regional issues.

President Xi pointed out the current state of China-U.S. relations is not in the fundamental interests of the two countries and peoples, and is not what the international community expects. China and the United States need to have a sense of responsibility for history, for the world and for the people, explore the right way to get along with each other in the new era, put the relationship on the right course, and bring it back to the track of healthy and stable growth to the benefit of the two countries and the world as a whole.

President Xi expounded on the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and its key outcomes. He pointed out that the domestic and foreign policies of the CPC and the Chinese government are open and transparent, with clearly stated and transparent strategic intentions and great continuity and stability. We are advancing the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts through a Chinese path to modernization, basing our efforts on the goal of meeting people’s aspirations for a better life, unswervingly pursuing reform and opening-up, and promoting the building of an open global economy. China remains firm in pursuing an independent foreign policy of peace, always decides its position and attitude based on the merits of issues, and advocates resolving disputes peacefully through dialogue and consultation. China is committed to deepening and expanding global partnerships, safeguarding the international system with the United Nations at its core and the international order underpinned by international law, and building a community with a shared future for mankind. China will stay committed to peaceful development, open development and win-win development, participate in and contribute to global development, and pursue common development with countries across the world.

Continue reading Xi Jinping meets with Joe Biden in Bali

Arnold August: China’s rise is the West’s main fear

We are pleased to reproduce extracts of the November 13, 2022, edition of Press TV’s show Spotlight on the current South China Sea tensions, with Canadian author/journalist Arnold August and Teheran-based anchor/producer Kaveh Taghvai. August focused on China, the BRICS alternative non-US dollar currency as a very significant challenge to US hegemony, and the US vision for leveraging Taiwan against the People’s Republic of China, much as Ukraine is today being used as a pawn in the US/NATO war against the Russian Federation.

Former First Minister condemns UK government attack on Confucius Institutes in Scotland

Alex Salmond, former First Minister of Scotland and currently the Leader of the Alba Party, has condemned the British government’s announced intention to close Confucius Institutes, describing it as, “the sort of Cold War mentality on display in Westminster which ends in hot wars.”

Salmond added his condemnation to that expressed by his party’s Westminster Leader Neale Hanvey MP. Hanvey noted that: “Westminster’s feud with China undermines and will deeply damage over a century of Sino-Scottish educational relations.”

The first known student from China to study in the UK enrolled to study medicine at Edinburgh University in the 1860s.

Alex Salmond strongly supported friendship and cooperation with China throughout his time as Scotland’s First Minister, 2007-2014. The March 2014 edition of Voice of Friendship, the magazine of the Chinese People’s Association for Friendship with Foreign Countries, reported on his November 2013 visit to Beijing, describing him as, “an old friend who visited China successively in the years from 2009-2011.” 

On that occasion, Salmond presented State Councillor Yang Jiechi with his government’s document, ‘Scotland’s Strategy for Stronger Engagement with China’. 

Reporting his visit to the Confucius Institute Headquarters, Voice of Friendship noted: “Since he took office, Mr. Salmond has attached great importance to carrying out cultural exchanges with China. Right now, Confucius Institutes have been set up in four universities and Confucius Classrooms in 13 primary and secondary schools in Scotland, with a total of 150 schools and institutions teaching Mandarin.”

Mr. Salmond and the Alba party are to be congratulated for sticking to their principled stand in favour of positive and constructive relations with China. We reprint their statement below.

ALBA Party Leader and Former First Minister Alex Salmond has added his condemnation to the UK Government’s attack on Confucius Institutes in Scotland. 

Commenting Alex Salmond said: 

“This is the sort of Cold War mentality on display by Westminster which ends in hot wars. The Scottish Government should defend these valuable cultural exchanges and oppose any attempts by the UK Government to close them down. We have nothing to fear from talking and exchanging culture. The real danger is from those who wish to divide the world into armed camps and who wish to shut Scotland out from the international community.”

Earlier ALBA Westminster Leader Neale Hanvey MP also reacted to Minister of State for Security Tom Tugendhat MPs announcement that Confucius Institutes in the UK are to close. He said: 

“Scotland’s educational links with China have long presented opportunities to increase trade and secure Chinese investment in industry and infrastructure. 

“The Confucius programme helps promote Scotland’s innovative and creative sector through cultural exchanges and sporting links with China and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. These links also promote Scotland as a destination of choice for Chinese tourists – something which pre pandemic delivered 172,000 visits to Scotland from China bringing £142M into the Scottish economy. 

“While the Confucius scheme invests £3M in Scotland to foster these bonds between our two countries, this modest investment has generated a fee income of £790 million for our world class Scottish Universities. 

“Westminster’s unilateral decision to block this programme takes no account of Scotland and China’s cultural links and will have a devastating impact on the entire Scottish Higher Education system. 

“Westminster’s feud with China undermines and will deeply damage over a century of Sino-Scottish educational relations”

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”

The left should resist the propaganda war against Beijing

The following Morning Star editorial highlights how absurd it is for ordinary people in Britain to blindly accept the dominant anti-China narrative, pointing to the impressive progress China has made in improving people’s lives at a time when Britain has been suffering under a brutal austerity and neoliberal free-market fundamentalism.

For example, while wages have consistently fallen in real terms over the last decade in Britain, in China they have been increasing at a rate of 10 percent per year. Meanwhile, while “China is developing mass rapid transit systems and leading the world in green technology,” Britain is “actively degrading its transport network and subsidising fossil fuel profits.”

The purpose of this relentless propaganda against China is to build public support for the New Cold War. The article concludes: “It is time socialists adopted greater scepticism towards our rulers’ claims about China. They are aimed at enrolling us in the defence of US and British imperialism — and undermining our systemic challenge to capitalism at home.”

Rising prices, falling living standards, a government in turmoil although united around its anti-union, anti-democratic and anti-environment agenda — but at least we don’t live in China.

That’s been the message of an amplifying propaganda discourse against Beijing in the run-up to its 20th Communist Party congress, which opened today.

Read Martin Wolf or Gideon Rachman in the Financial Times, and China’s economic policies are disastrous, even if they have delivered (as Rachman notes) “thousands of miles of new motorways and high-speed rail over the past 20 years” and made “Western executives sigh in envy at China’s ability to plan for the long term.”

British workers, who have endured more than a decade of falling pay, might envy China’s record (average wages have risen at over 10 per cent a year since 2010, leading the median wage to rise from 37,147 yuan in 2010 to 97,379 in 2020, a 162 per cent increase).

Of course, it is from a poorer base. But China’s GDP grew by 120 per cent between 2010 and 2020. So wages have outpaced GDP growth in China, while in Britain wages flatlined even while the economy was growing.

Continue reading The left should resist the propaganda war against Beijing

Xi Jinping’s ‘authoritarian turn’: the CPC’s 20th Congress maintains internal stability at a time of multiple global crises

This article by Jenny Clegg, author of China’s Global Strategy: towards a multipolar world, addresses the question of China’s putative ‘authoritarianism’, and in particular the issue of Xi Jinping’s election for a third five-year term as General Secretary of the CPC, which marks a break with the two-term limit introduced in the 1980s.

The author opines that China is opting for continuity and stability, in the face of “complex, unpredictable and fast changing international currents” – in particular the escalating US-led New Cold War – and a crucial shift in the emphasis of China’s economic strategy towards common prosperity and sustainable development.

Jenny writes that Xi’s supposed ‘authoritarian turn’ is “keeping China on a steady course, united in purpose”, whilst continuing to encourage vibrant inner-party democracy and exhaustive debate on key policies. “At a time of growing political chaos as the world’s dominant ruling classes flail about amidst multiple crises, the 20th CPC Congress stands out as an example of orderliness and clarity of direction.”

The 20th Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) has made headlines in the mainstream media, but hardly because China’s future is of great consequence for the future of the world – rather, all eyes are on Xi Jinping’s continuing into a third 5-year term as Party General Secretary.  What an opportunity, so the pundits think, to hype up the New Cold War by contrasting China’s ‘autocratic’ methods of leadership succession against the virtues of the West’s democratic ways.

Xi is being ‘anointed,’ we are told, or ‘crowned’, as China’s leader. 

When, from the 1990s, the CPC introduced collective leadership, two-term limits on key posts, and other mechanisms institutionalising leadership selection in order to guard against the re-emergence of personality cults and political upheaval, this was widely welcomed both within China and beyond as a step forward in modernising and democratising the Party.  In 2018 however, under Xi’s leadership, the two-term limit was abolished – a major factor in causing Western political elites to give up hope of integrating China into the existing global system under their dominance.

Of course, China’s centralised system has cultural and historical roots going back millennia.  However, these traditions were profoundly transformed after 1949 by the CPC’s practice of democratic centralism – of ‘top-down, ‘bottom up’ processes of decision-making. Throughout its history the CPC has nevertheless gone through phases of relative tightening and relaxing of central control.

It is important then to understand why the CPC is once again strengthening its leadership, seeking to consolidate authority under a single leadership figure, at this time.  A number of factors are at play.

External conditions

In the first place there are the external conditions to consider. Since 2011 when Obama announced his Asian pivot, the US has increasingly squeezed China using both military and economic pressure not only to block China’s growing global influence – which has extended peacefully through for example the Belt and Road Initiative – but also, going beyond containment, to aggressively enforce technological and economic decoupling.  The US has now effectively pledged to do all it can to obstruct China’s further development whilst mobilising all possible global forces and resources in preparation for a war, with Taiwan as the most likely pretext. 

Amidst complex, unpredictable and fast changing international currents, the CPC must stay both firm and flexible in order to respond effectively at a time when China is also undergoing huge structural changes.

Continue reading Xi Jinping’s ‘authoritarian turn’: the CPC’s 20th Congress maintains internal stability at a time of multiple global crises

Why Biden is unleashing a full scale chip war against China

The following article, by Marc Vandepitte and Jan Jonckheere, was originally published in Dutch on De Wereld Morgen. It explains the crucial significance of semiconductor chips to advances in modern technology, and goes on to describe the “chip war” currently being waged by the US government against China. The authors note that this is not the first time the US has attempted to suppress another country’s technological development, but they express significant doubt about the chances of success in this case. “In the past, the US has often succeeded in bringing countries to order and keeping them in line. However, whether it will succeed with China is highly questionable.”

Keith Lamb’s article Blocking China’s semiconductor industry is an attempt to impede the construction of socialism provides useful supplementary reading.

Recently, the US has identified China as its main enemy and is trying to thwart its economic and technological rise. Chips play a key role in this as they are the backbone of economic and military performance in the digital age. Whether the U.S. will succeed in its endeavour is highly questionable.

The key to the future

Technology is the key to the future. It is the basis for military might on the one hand, and economic productivity and a competitive position in the world market on the other.

Until recently, the US had an unassailable, dominant position on both fronts. The White House wants to maintain that hegemony at all costs, but the rise of China threatens to put an end to that.

According to US Presidential Security Adviser Sullivan, “we are facing a competitor that is determined to overtake US technological leadership and willing to devote nearly limitless resources to that goal”.

That is why the US has identified the People’s Republic of China as its main enemy and is trying to thwart the economic and technological ascent of this Asian giant.

Chip War

Semiconductors and chips[1] are particularly targeted. This makes sense, because in the future geopolitical supremacy may increasingly depend on computer chips. Chips are integrated circuits that are pretty much the nervous system of electronic devices.

Until last century, military strength was based on firearms, warships, fighter jets or (nuclear) missiles. In the digital age, chips are the backbone of economic as well as military performance.

According to James Mulvenon, an expert on Chinese cybersecurity, “the Pentagon has decided that semiconductors is the hill that they are willing to die on. The sector of semiconductors is the last industry in which the US is leading, and it is the one on which everything else is built”.

In early October 2022, the White House put its money where its mouth is. The Biden administration introduced sweeping export controls that will severely hamper Chinese companies’ attempts to obtain or manufacture advanced computer chips.

Under Trump, US companies were no longer allowed to sell chips to Huawei. Biden has now extended those trade restrictions to more than 40 Chinese companies, including several chip makers. The new measure effectively prohibits any US or non-US company from supplying those Chinese companies with hardware or software whose supply chain includes US technology.

The export restrictions not only target military applications but seek to block the development of China’s technological power by all means available. The strategy is to cut China off from the rest of the world in chip supply chains in order to deny it the opportunity to indigenise its semiconductor industry.

Paul Triolo, China and technology expert describes the new measure as a “major watershed” in US-China relations. “The US has essentially declared war on China’s ability to advance the country’s use of high-performance computing for economic and security gains.”

Conversely, the US is doing all it can to further increase its technological lead. For example, the White House’s National Science and Technology Council has just published a 47-page ‘National Strategy for Advanced Manufacturing’ that includes 11 strategic goals to increase US competitiveness in chips.

Geopolitics aside, the chip industry is also big business. The market capitalization of the largest listed chip firms now exceeds $4,000 billion. China spends more on computer chip imports than on oil.

Quest for allies

Although Biden claims to be eager to work with allies, this chip war is only initiated by the US. Experts admit that if other countries continue to supply China, the restrictions will have little effect. The only consequence then is that US chip companies will miss out on the large Chinese market.

In the past, the US already pressured other countries and regions to stop supplying high-tech products to China. In the case of chips, this mainly involves South Korea, Japan, the Netherlands and the de facto autonomous Chinese province of Taiwan. With the new measure, foreign companies working with US technology are now supposed to act following US restrictions. They must seek US permission on a case-by-case basis.

Of course, foreign countries are not eager to comply with that, because China is a very important if not the most important customer. Samsung, for example, is the world’s largest builder of memory chips. Partly as a result of the new measure, this South Korean company expects 32 percent less revenue. It remains to be seen whether and to what extent these countries will seek and find possible loopholes.

Washington especially wants to bring Taiwan along in its isolation strategy. Taiwan accounts for 92 percent of the world’s high-value chips. For China, imports from Taiwan are economically and technologically vital

It is in the context of this chip war that the provocative visit by Pelosi and other US politicians to the separatist leadership of Taiwan must be viewed. Mid-September, the US Senate approved a bill providing $6.5 billion in direct military aid to the island. Washington is putting pressure on China on several fronts.

Chances of success?

Chips are the main engine of electronics. China itself manufactures about 12 percent of global production. That is by no means enough for its own use. Only one-sixth of what it needs in chips is produced domestically. Moreover, for the time being, it is still unable to produce the most advanced chips.

In other words, in terms of chips, the country is highly dependent on imports. Annually they account for about $400 billion. If that supply were compromised, it would not only mean a very large economic loss, but it would also seriously undermine technological progress. In this sense, chips are considered the Achilles heel of Chinese industry.

To overcome that dependency and catch up with the technological backlog, China is investing more than any other country in this strategic industry. The country has already made serious progress in a number of areas. For example, it has successfully produced a 7 nanometre chip.[2] This puts it only one or two ‘generations’ behind industry leaders in Taiwan and South Korea.  

But with these breakthroughs, it will remain dependent on imports of parts from other countries for the time being.[3] It doesn’t have to stay that way. Analysys Mason, a leading consulting firm, says in a recent report that China could be self-sufficient in chips within three to four years.

In any case, the US restrictive strategy will motivate the Chinese government to allocate even more resources and make breakthroughs. Asia Times gives the example of the 2015 blocking of the supply of Intel’s high-end Xeon Phi processors to Chinese supercomputer makers. A year later, Chinese researchers developed those processors themselves.

In the past, the US has often succeeded in bringing countries to order and keeping them in line. However, whether it will succeed with China is highly questionable. By the end of this decade, we will know whether the US attempt to wreck China’s chip industry has succeeded or failed.

Notes:

[1] Semiconductors are electronic components based on semiconductor material. A diode and a transistor are examples of semiconductors. In a sense you can think of semiconductors as the building blocks of chips. Chips are integrated circuits, small in size. They are part of a computer or other electronic devices. In the mainstream media, there is usually no distinction between semiconductors and chips.

[2] The company in question, SMCI, is reportedly now working on even more advanced 5 nanometer chips.

[3] For example, China cannot make advanced semiconductor devices without EUV lithography equipment from ASML (Netherlands) and electronic design automation (EDA) tools from Synopsis and Cadence (US) or Siemens (Germany).