Hugo Chávez, Xi Jinping, and a global community of shared future

The following is the text of the presentation delivered by Carlos Martinez, co-editor of Friends of Socialist China, at a round-table discussion on Venezuela’s foreign policy in a changing world, held on 20 February 2024 at Bolivar Hall in London. The event was organised by the Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the UK in coordination with the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign.

The speech discusses Hugo Chávez’s vision of a multipolar world, and explores how that vision overlaps with China’s strategy of pursuing a global community of shared future.

Other speakers at the event included Her Excellency Rocío Maneiro, Ambassador of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in the UK; Francisco Domínguez, Secretary of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign; Calvin Tucker, Campaigns Manager of the Morning Star; and Radhika Desai, Convenor of the International Manifesto Group.

Dear friends and comrades, thanks so much for inviting me to today’s important event.

And thank you in particular to Her Excellency compañera-embajadora Rocío Maneiro, who continues to do such a wonderful job representing her country and standing in solidarity with the progressive movement here in Britain and with the working class and oppressed peoples of the world.

Thanks also to the indefatigable comrade Francisco Domínguez for his hard work putting this event together.

I’m going to focus these brief remarks on the connection between Venezuela’s foreign policy and that of China.

As you’re all no doubt aware, Hugo Chávez had an extremely far-sighted worldview. While the Bolivarian Revolution has always aimed to have good relations with the US, its foreign policy has nonetheless been informed by the identification of that country as the principal enemy to sovereignty and to socialism, not just in Venezuela but throughout the world.

And of course the US’s consistently aggressive stance in relation to Venezuela – its campaign of sanctions, of coercion, of destabilisation – has only confirmed what Chávez and his comrades already knew.

Chávez saw Venezuela as part of a global movement challenging half a millennium of colonialism, imperialism and racism; a global movement that included the growing leftist and pro-sovereignty trend in Latin America and the Caribbean, but also China, Cuba, Russia, Libya (until NATO’s war of regime change in 2011), Syria, South Africa, Vietnam, Iran, the DPRK, Belarus and others.

This global movement seeks to put an end to the unipolar era of US hegemony, and to create a multipolar – or as Chávez called it, pluripolar – world, with multiple centres of power, in which countries and regions all have their role in global politics and in which no one power can impose its will on others.

Under the guidance of Hugo Chávez and then Nicolás Maduro, Venezuela has become one of the most prominent voices in support of this multipolar project.

Indeed, one of the slogans of Chávez’s 2012 presidential election campaign was: “to develop a new international geopolitics forming a multicentric and pluripolar world to achieve equilibrium in the universe and guarantee planetary peace.”

Continue reading Hugo Chávez, Xi Jinping, and a global community of shared future

Isabel Crook: an appreciation

We are very pleased to publish this touching and informative tribute to the outstanding communist and lifelong friend of China, Isabel Crook (1915-2023), written by her close friend of many decades, Dr. Jenny Clegg.

Jenny, a retired academic, peace activist and member of our advisory group, provides rich insights in the course of summing up Isabel’s lifelong commitment to the Chinese revolution, her unique and path breaking approach to anthropology, her deep empathy for China’s rural poor, and her enduring yet careful optimism regarding the future of socialist China.

We previously reported on Isabel’s death, including here. Among many other obituaries were those published by British newspapers, The TimesFinancial Times, Guardian, and Economist; the New York Times and Canada’s Globe and Mail

“A rare bridge between the West and China”; “a committed communist”; “a peoples’ diplomat”; “a pioneering anthropologist” – so read the obituaries for Isabel Crook (1915-2023). Indeed, she was all of these in one.

Isabel’s 107 years, almost all spent in China, were to span two world wars, two great revolutions, a socialist transition under a Cold War, all through the twists and turns of Mao’s mass campaigns to Deng’s reform and opening up, with China now led by Xi Jinping stepping onto the world stage.

No mere observer, Isabel’s participation in the New China along with husband David saw them personally suffer under the excesses of the Cultural Revolution.  Isabel was kept in confinement for three years by Red Guards, in a room on the top floor of a campus building separated from her boys, still only teenagers, and with husband David in prison. Freed from detention in 1972, both were cleared of all charges in 1973 and, along with other foreign experts, received an apology from Premier Zhou Enlai.

Her commitment was again put to the test with the suppression of the Tiananmen protests in 1989 – the Crooks had called on the government not to use force. Yet despite all this Isabel was to remain optimistic as to China’s future under CPC leadership.

To properly appreciate Isabel’s special contribution to understanding China, and the reasons why she never succumbed to disillusionment, requires both a consideration of her life experiences as well as her anthropological work on rural China.

In particular, through many months spent in the rural areas, living among the people gathering materials on village life, Isabel was to develop a particular empathy for Chinese country folk. Her two separate studies of villages undergoing reform, under first a Nationalist, then a Communist-led government, provided deep insight from a comparison between the failure of one and the success of the other.

Early influences: the Rural Reconstruction Movement

Isabel was born in China, the daughter of Canadian missionary educators.  Leaving for Canada to study, she was to graduate from the University of Toronto with a bachelors and then a masters degree[1] [2] , returning to China in 1939 aged 24 to do anthropological field research in the western province of Sichuan among the Yi, a slave owning society. 

From this remote ‘opium country’, she moved nearer to the wartime capital of Chongqing in 1941 to take part in a year-long ‘action research’ project sponsored by the National Christian Council.  Hired by rural reformer, THSun, Isabel was to carry out a survey of a small market town of 1,500 households.  With the overwhelming majority of its families living in desperate poverty, Prosperity township was decidedly ill-named.

Joining a small team including two experts on cooperatives, Isabel was introduced to the progressive ideas of the rural reconstruction movement.  Founded in 1926 by the influential James Yen, whose work in mass literacy, begun amongst the Chinese labourers in France during World War I, was to gain international acclaim, the movement had a strong following among China’s Christian community and the left wing of the nationalist KMT.

Continue reading Isabel Crook: an appreciation

A tale of two Chinas: Rhetoric on foreign domination and domestic instability

The following original article, submitted to Friends of Socialist China by Nolan Long (a Canadian undergraduate student studying politics at the University of Saskatchewan), shines a light on the absurdly contradictory Western media coverage of China. “First, China is described as a global superpower in terms of its supposedly dominating and exploitative foreign policy; on the other hand, China is represented as an unstable, backward, underdeveloped country, bound to inevitably collapse due to the failures of socialism.”

This portrayal and the various popular narratives associated with it – that China is engaged in “debt trap diplomacy”, or that the Belt and Road Initiative is a form of colonialism, or that the Chinese economy is on the verge of collapse – are promoted as part of an ongoing propaganda war, itself a crucial component of an escalating effort to contain and encircle the People’s Republic. These various claims “exist at the heart of the West’s insecurity about its decreasing relevancy and power in the twenty-first century.”

The falsity of this anti-China hysteria is amply exposed by its contradictory nature; and yet it is unlikely to go away any time soon. As Nolan concludes: “The tale of two Chinas presents a picture of Western insecurity and modern Chinese power, a theme that will increasingly come to the fore as China continues to develop on its own and on the world stage.”

Contemporary rhetoric on the People’s Republic of China, as disseminated by Western corporate media, is made up of contradictory claims about Chinese domination and Chinese instability. It is simple enough to find intentionally missing information or context, exaggerations, and even outright lies in the muniments of most corporate media. But a deeper analysis reveals two competing narratives, both of which have become increasingly (and paradoxically) common over the last few years.

First, China is described as a global superpower in terms of its supposedly dominating and exploitative foreign policy; on the other hand, China is represented as an unstable, backward, underdeveloped country, bound to inevitably collapse due to the failures of socialism.

Notably, the first typified China is used in Western capitalist media to generate fears about China’s development efforts in the Global South, which have largely been at the expense of Western hegemony and financial interests. Despite the positive results of the Belt and Road Initiative, capitalist media portrays China as a rapacious villain running rampant across the globe.

Here, China is described as an economic powerhouse. But when discussing Chinese domestic affairs, Western journalists suddenly think China is a poor, underdeveloped state, sometimes on the brink of complete collapse. These two conceptions of China cannot coexist, and go a long way in demonstrating the irrationality and lack of scholarship among anti-communists and defenders of American hegemony.

Continue reading A tale of two Chinas: Rhetoric on foreign domination and domestic instability

The BRICS and China: towards an International New Democracy

We are very pleased to publish this important discussion article by Dr Jenny Clegg on the interrelationship between the development of the BRICS cooperation mechanism and multipolarity, anti-imperialism and socialism. 

Jenny looks carefully at the contrasting positions of those she dubs BRICS optimists and BRICS pessimists, as well as those occupying a political and analytical space between these two poles. Whilst there is a certain consensus that multipolarity is on the rise, there is a wide divergence of views as to how this relates to anti-imperialism let alone socialism. However, for Jenny, “the challenge for the left is to understand the interconnections: to fail to grasp the threats and opportunities at this momentous international juncture would be to fail spectacularly.”

Having discussed the political standpoint of the BRICS, assessed the prospects for their replacing dollar hegemony, and outlined the anti-imperialist framework of President Xi Jinping’s various global initiatives, Jenny draws attention to Mao Zedong’s and the Communist Party of China’s development of the concept of new democracy during the war of resistance to Japanese aggression, arguing forcefully for its applicability to the international terrain in the current period:

“As China now directs its efforts towards encouraging an international anti-imperialist movement among states of the Global South, with the BRICS as a significant group, the concept of New Democracy can shed light on the thinking behind this. There are three key points to highlight: an understanding that world revolution develops through stages; an analysis of the national bourgeoisie which recognises their potential to resist imperialist subordination and take part in independent development; and the assessment of the overall international situation given the existence of a major socialist state.”

In her conclusion, Jenny writes that: 

“Anti-imperialism and socialism are… not the same but they are inter-related: in the ebb and flow of the international situation the BRICS may swing this way and that, but what does make a difference to the anti-imperialist struggle in its international dimension is the solidity of China’s socialism.

“As a socialist country China is the most firm in its anti-imperialist stance: it has the strength, unity and manoeuvrability to stand up to and resist US pressure; it has its past experience to draw lessons from, failures as well as successes; it can stabilise the vacillations of the BRICS members to foster the group’s collective focus; it has the commitment and the sense of direction for the future to open the way ahead for the wider Global South in its struggle against imperialism.

“Through its own development, China is able to offer an enabling environment for other developing countries to remove those obstacles still constraining their national development.” 

Jenny’s article, which is based on her presentation to a conference hosted by the Shanghai University of Finance and Economics in September, represents a profound and original contribution to a vital debate and deserves the widest possible readership and discussion.

A member of our advisory group, Jenny is a retired academic and an activist in the anti-nuclear, peace and friendship movements. She is the author of China’s Global Strategy Towards a Multipolar World, published by Pluto Press.

Introduction

Over the last year or so the world has undergone a transition: from the all out drive by the US to assert its dominance through the New Cold War on China and Russia, it is now agreed across the international political spectrum – and widely acknowledged in the mainstream press – that a multipolar era has arrived.

When Biden, visiting Latin America, the Middle East, and then Southeast Asia through the summer months of 2022, failed to rally support for Ukraine and for isolating Russia economically, it became clear that the multipolar surge was cresting.  2023 then brought numbers of proposals for peace and offers of mediation from across the Global South – China, Brazil, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, the African peace delegation.  Meanwhile, squeezed ever further as Western banks jacked up interest rates, developing countries began to come forward with their own proposals to change the system of debt financing.[1]

The BRICS summit in August was seen to mark the watershed moment with its expanded membership now looking to eclipse the G7 as leaders agreed to explore ways to sidestep the dollar.

With US hegemony fraying and numbers of countries starting to break free from its dominance, what is the left to make of this? What kind of a group is the BRICS with its mix of capitalist countries together with socialist China? 

Reactions to the summit exposed divisions amongst the left.  On the one hand, there are those who welcome unequivocally the rise of BRICS in the multipolar terrain as an advance for anti-imperialism.  Hailing the summit as a ‘giant step for multipolarity’, Pepe Escobar, well-known leftist geopolitical analyst and contributor to the Asia Times, reported its calling to ‘abandon the US dollar,’ whilst Fiona Edwards of No Cold War offered unalloyed support with the summit presenting a new high in the rise of the Global South and the priorities of economic co-operation and peace.[2]  Meanwhile, Ben Norton of the Geopolitical Economy Report website is constantly positive about the BRICS as, with the financial architecture of the world fracturing, the group works ‘to develop a fairer system of monetary exchange’.[3]

At the other end of the spectrum, political economist Patrick Bond has emphasised the ‘sub-imperialist and neo-imperialist tendencies of powerful BRICS members’, claiming this renders them ‘helpless to enact any substantive changes’.[4]  In similar vein, in a recent piece entitled Multipolarity: false hope for the Left, Zoltan Zigedy, a US-based communist, launches an uncompromising critique of left-wing intellectuals and academics who ‘cheer any force that attempts to diminish US power’: warning against the confusion of multipolarisation with anti-imperialism, he claims these analysts have just ‘become observers of a chess game between capitalist governments’.  What he asks, has this got to do with socialism?[5]

Between these BRICS pessimists and BRICS optimists are numbers who bridge both sides of the argument, including Vijay Prashad of the Tricontinental Institute who, seeing the development of the BRICS as part of a long history of struggle against colonialism and imperialism, hails the summit ‘for peace and development’ whilst pointing to a certain neo-liberal influence, as well as Andrew Murray and the editors of the Morning Star for whom BRICS is necessary but ultimately, lacking political cohesion, not enough.[6]

Continue reading The BRICS and China: towards an International New Democracy

On the strategic relationship between Venezuela and China

During a state visit to the People’s Republic of China in September 2023, Venezuelan president, Nicolas Maduro met president Xi Jinping and both agreed to strengthen the relationship of their countries by establishing seven sub commissions to elevate it to the level of ‘all-weather strategic partnership’. This is the culmination of a relationship that began with president Hugo Chavez’s first visit to Beijing in 1999, the very first year of his presidency.

Chavez’s first visit went well beyond friendly diplomacy since Venezuela’s president and the then president of China, Jiang Zemin, signed fifteen cooperation and commercial agreements. This was followed by President Jiang’s visit to Venezuela in 2001. Trade between the two countries in 1998 amounted to a paltry US$182.8 million, which would grow hundred-fold by the 21st century’s second decade.

In his 1999 visit Chavez described the People’s Republic as “a true model and example of mutual respect”, adding “we [in Venezuela] have developed an autonomous foreign policy, independent from any world power and on that, we resemble China.” After that, high officials from both governments would visit each other’s country to develop a commercial and political relationship, which has grown stronger ever since.

Whilst Hugo Chavez was president of Venezuela, he visited China in 2001, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013. President Maduro did so in 2013, 2015, 2018, 2021 and 2023. For their part, Chinese leaders also visited Venezuela: after Jiang Zemin’s 2001 visit, Xi Jinping (then vice-president) visited in 2009 and in 2013, president Hu Jintao planned a visit in 2010 (interrupted due an earthquake in China), and Xi Jinping, as president, visited in 2014.

This detailed article by Francisco Dominguez – an expert on Latin American politics, National Secretary of the Venezuela Solidarity Campaign, and Friends of Socialist China advisory group member – endeavours to chart the evolution of the relationship between Bolivarian Venezuela and the People’s Republic of China and its significance for Latin America as a whole.

Introduction

Being a consummate strategist, Hugo Chavez understood earlier than other Latin American left-wing leaders, the significance and weight of China in world politics and economics, especially, the rising Asian power’s commitment to build a multipolar world. Chavez, an avid reader, endowed with a formidable intellect, was also aware not only of the significance of the 1949 Chinese revolution and the leading role played by Mao Zedong, but also of Deng Xiaoping’s economic reform in bringing about China’s extraordinary economic development. He knew that given the affinities between the Bolivarian and Chinese revolutions, the People’s Republic was a friendly ally.

Chavez communicated as much to his host, China’s president Jiang Zemin, and to the people of China in his first visit to the People’s Republic in October 1999. During the visit he went to Mao’s Mausoleum and declared, “I have been a Maoist all my life”. The 1999 visit to China was part of a tour for markets for Venezuelan and potential commercial partners to help break the overwhelming economic dominance of the United States over Venezuela. The tour included visits to Hong Kong, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.

Though the tour produced positive results in all the other Asian countries, the outcome of his visit to China went well beyond all expectations: to the already existing eight cooperation agreements between Venezuela and China signed since Chavez coming to office in February 1999, his visit in October produced seven more covering the fields of energy, oil, credits to purchase agricultural machinery, investment, diplomacy and academia.

Chavez combined his strategic political audacity in promulgating an anti-neoliberal constitution in 1999, with a vigorously independent foreign policy seeking to establish strong links of every kind with the People’s Republic of China, as an alternative to Venezuela’s heavy dependence on the US. The Comandante knew Washington had activated all its resources aimed at ousting him and eliminating his government – perceived by the US as an abhorrent anomaly. Chavez’s political courage is even more impressive considering that in 1999, Latin America, with the exception of Cuba, was a sea of neoliberalism.

Washington’s relations with the People’s Republic had begun to sour because in 1996 Clinton had authorised a visit by Taiwan president, Lee Teng-hui, reversing a fifteen-year-old policy against granting visas to Taiwan’s leaders. Worse, in May 1999, NATO, during its war against Yugoslavia, had “accidentally” bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade killing three Chinese journalists. Though for Venezuela and China, the United States was an important trading partner, they both agreed to comprehensive levels of cooperation knowing that over time it would be viewed with hostility in Washington.

Hugo Chavez opened the gates and was a pioneer in the relations with the Peoples’ Republic of China for the rest of Latin America. Chavez was elected in 1999; the second left wing government in this ‘Pink Tide’ to be elected was Lula in 2002 in Brazil, who would be inaugurated in 2003. That is, four years later. Between 1999 and 2003, Chavez’s government faced intense US-led destabilization, which included right wing street violence, a worldwide media demonization campaign, national protests, economic sabotage, a short-lived coup d’état and a 64-day oil lockout that nearly brought about the country’s economic collapse. Though fully aware of this context, president Jiang Zemin paid a formal visit to Venezuela in 2001, occasion in which both countries decided to establish a “Strategic Association for Shared Development” and set up a High Level Chinese-Venezuelan Commission.

Continue reading On the strategic relationship between Venezuela and China

Fish and Chips: microchips and the nuclear contamination of seafoods

In this brief commentary submitted to us, James De Burghe, a British socialist who is a long-term resident in China, takes a look at two current areas of contention between China and the imperialist powers. Fish and chips have both become factors in international relations, but not, he argues without imposing costs on the United States and Japan.

The USA’s attempt to throttle Chinese economic growth by interfering with the supply chain of materials, equipment, and technologies, that are crucial to the development of microchips is a clear breach of both World Trade Organization (WTO) rules as well as of international law generally. It is yet another provocation aimed at China by the US and follows on from a list of other sanctions designed to hamper China’s economic growth. However, the impact of these sanctions has damaged US companies that were based in China developing advanced electronics. The US action went so far as to make it illegal for any US citizen to work in any Chinese company developing microchips. Now after a year of failed diplomacy China has hit back by restricting the sale to the US of rare earths needed to produce microchips. The results are predictable. Janet Yellen, the US Treasury Secretary, rushed to China and loudly declared the ban to be an unfair trading practise. These somewhat childish and certainly hypocritical outbursts by senior US politicians are becoming all too frequent as it finally registers wth the US that they are losing both the propaganda and economic war against China.

Seafood is a key part of the Chinese diet and the country has imported a great deal of fish and other aquatic products from Japan over the last two decades. A significant part of that trade is now in jeopardy as the Japanese government plans to dump radioactive wastewater into the Pacific Ocean. On July 4, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) published a report announcing that Japan’s dumping plan meets the IAEA’s safety standards.

Within days of the report being released, scepticism was mounting. And it sparked a strong backlash in countries in the Asia Pacific region that will be impacted by the scheduled dumping.

Chinese experts told the Global Times newspaper, that “the risks associated with the dumping of nuclear-contaminated wastewater from Fukushima are real. From the perspective of the interests of all humankind, there should have been better options considered, but Japan has disregarded them and chosen the most favourable approach for itself.

“Deng Ge, secretary general of the CAEA [China Atomic Energy Authority], noted that according to the IAEA report, the Advanced Liquid Processing System (ALPS) method used by Japan cannot remove all radioactive nuclides from the nuclear-contaminated wastewater. Based on previous operation results, it has been proven that the ALPS method is ineffective in removing radioactive nuclides such as tritium and carbon-14. The effectiveness of ALPS in removing other radioactive nuclides also requires further testing and verification through experiments and engineering.”

As Japan plans to release hundreds of tons of the wastewater into the Pacific Ocean over the next few years, it is inconceivable that these radioactive nuclides, with their known propensity to cause cancers and other major health hazards, will not enter the human food chain or indeed damage the ocean’s flora and fauna. The trouble is that by the time we find this out it will be too late to do anything about it.

Kerry must understand – the climate crisis lives in a developmental context

In the following article, submitted to us by Keith Lamb, the author argues that the current China visit by John Kerry, the US Special Presidential Envoy for Climate, provides an opportunity for the two countries to cooperate in an area that is vital for the future, indeed the survival, of humanity. However, he notes that approaching this issue in isolation is not feasible in the long-term. The fight against climate catastrophe has to be combined with that for development as well as against war and for peace. The Global Development Initiative (GDI), proposed by President Xi Jinping, provides just such a holistic template and approach and is already reflected in numerous agreements between China and other countries of the Global South.

“How can we achieve our global climate goals without having Beijing working with us? We can’t, it’s that simple! There’s no way any one country can solve this crisis and particularly if we’re large emitting nations.” This was the answer of US climate envoy John Kerry being interviewed on MSNBC. He went on to claim that China and the US had agreed to separate climate, which affects us all, from the many other bilateral Sino-US issues.

This sensible recognition that there is a wider commonality binding humanity together is a welcome change from the hegemonic “America first” and faux human-rights rhetoric too often emanating from US circles. When it comes to climate and cooperation with China, Kerry went on to say that, “it’s not a question of the US giving away something, by cooperating we all gain something.”

This pragmatic win-win attitude should serve the diplomatic and well-mannered Kerry well on his current July 16-19 trip to Beijing, where he will discuss the climate crisis and hopefully promote a successful COP28 climate change conference, due to be held in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Coming after the recent visit by US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, it may also serve to thaw Sino-US tensions.

However, for real climate cooperation, which seeks the salvation of our planet and humanity, the many Sino-US tensions to which Kerry alludes cannot be bracketed off indefinitely. These tensions include the trade war, sanctions, interference in China’s domestic affairs, not least regarding Xinjiang, Hong Kong and Taiwan, and the US’ military containment of China.

To illustrate this point, climate talks have been suspended in the past, due to Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan. The weather balloon debacle led to Secretary of State Antony Blinken canceling his Beijing visit. The pushing of China’s red lines, the threatening of China’s integrity, and the China threat hysteria all push the world closer to the possibility of environmental annihilation, as the US plays a fool’s game of ‘chicken’, risking nuclear catastrophe.

Even without this dire outcome, according to Brown University, the US military is responsible for twice the amount of greenhouse emissions as all the cars in the US. War causes incalculable damage to the environment due to factors such as fuel infrastructure destruction and the use of depleted uranium.[1] In Ukraine, we have seen how the destruction of energy infrastructure has led to renewed use of coal and the purchasing of expensive and environmentally damaging US fracked gas by Europe.

Continue reading Kerry must understand – the climate crisis lives in a developmental context

Is Japan once again treading the path of aggressive militarism?

We are pleased to publish the below article about the dangers of revived Japanese militarism, and its historical antecedents, which has been submitted to us by James De Burghe, a British socialist long resident in the People’s Republic of China.

James outlines how Shinzo Abe, a former Japanese Prime Minister assassinated in 2022, imbibed far-right, racist and militarist views from his grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, who had been in charge of economic policy when the Japanese occupied northeast China. Initially imprisoned as a class A war criminal by the American occupation authorities after Japan’s defeat in World War 2, he was soon released in order to play a key part in setting up the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), which has largely dominated Japanese politics ever since, eventually serving as Prime Minister, 1957-1960.

Abe, who served as Prime Minister from 2006-2007 and again from 2012-2020, followed in the same path as his notorious grandparent, controversially revising school textbooks, declining to apologize for – or even acknowledge – Japanese war crimes, and seeking to repeal or revise Article 9, the supposed ‘peace clause’ of the post-war Japanese constitution.

These revanchist policies are now being pursued with a vengeance under Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, leading to fraught relations with Japan’s neighbors, along with increasing resistance from people at home.

There are alarming signs that Japan is once again drifting towards becoming a fascist-led aggressive militaristic state. The legacy of Nobusuke Kishi has borne fruit through the efforts of his grandson, Shinzo Abe, who was Japanese Prime Minister from 2006–2007 and 2012–2020.     

Nobusuke Kishi was the minister who ran Japan’s economic policy in Japanese-occupied Manchuria from 1937 to 1940. He was a convinced supporter of the Yamato race theory that proclaimed Japan as a racially superior nation.  Kishi had nothing but contempt for the Chinese as a people, and he regarded them as “dogs – that need to be trained to obey us without question”. His brutal policies led directly to the deaths of thousands of Chinese civilians forced to work a 120-hour week at gunpoint for meagre food rations. There was no attempt to make working conditions safe, and many slave laborers perished through accidents with molten metals. Thousands more perished from starvation and disease or were executed. Kishi believed there was no point to establishing the rule of law in Manchukuo (as the Japanese called north east China when it was under their occupation) – instead brute force was what was needed to maintain Japanese control.

Continue reading Is Japan once again treading the path of aggressive militarism?

The France-China strategic partnership: towards a different type of international relations?

The recent state visit of French President Macron to China, and his subsequent comments regarding Taiwan and the overlapping relationships between China, Europe and the United States, have led to considerable furore on the part of other imperialist powers and politicians and certainly appear to indicate a significant breach in the coalition that US President Biden has been seeking to construct against China. 

In this thoughtful and incisive analysis, written specially for Friends of Socialist China, Dr Jenny Clegg, author and campaigner, who is a member of our advisory group, takes a deep dive into the issues surrounding the visit and its aftermath, including:

  • To what extent does it indicate a return to a more independent Gaullist tradition in French foreign policy?
  • Does the Sino-French 51-point Joint Statement offer a fresh template for relations between major developed and developing countries?
  • How can all this contribute to the search for peace in Ukraine and to averting the danger of war in the Asia Pacific Region?
  • How does it relate to President Xi Jinping’s recently announced Global Civilisation Initiative?

Jenny concludes with the observation that, “even if the path is twisted, multipolarity is the objective trend – and a work in progress.”

Introduction

The French President Emmanuel Macron departed for China in early April, apparently on a mission on behalf of the ‘collective West’ to get President Xi Jinping to “bring Russia to its senses”; he came away, however, with quite a different message, calling on the EU to not be too dependent on the US.  It seems it was Xi’s mission to encourage Macron’s Gaullist instinct for ‘strategic autonomy’ that prevailed over the course of the three day state visit.

The fact that Macron was accompanied by a large group of businesspeople suggested that other, more commercial, motives were also at play. Indeed, China’s offer to bulk purchase 140 Airbus aircraft for $17bn was very generous. But this visit was by no means simply just another delegation along the vaunted ‘commerce over human rights’ pattern.

The meeting between leaders of the second and the seventh largest world economies – the largest developing and fourth largest developed respectively –  between two of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council and officially recognised nuclear powers, was made all the more significant by the exceptional times. 

The summit took place following a few short weeks of intense diplomatic manoeuvres – from China’s Ukraine and Middle East peace initiatives and summitry with Putin to the bizarre Sinophobic ‘balloon incident’ in the US, which saw Secretary of State Antony Blinken call off his visit to China, and, in the Pacific, the AUKUS expansion of nuclear-powered submarine capacity. All this reflected the extremely precarious situation internationally, with the Ukraine conflict on the verge of escalation, and now US provocations over Taiwan, potentially bringing major powers to the point of a Third World War.

The prospect of working towards a lasting Sino-French comprehensive strategic partnership held the promise of injecting some rationality into a chaotic situation in danger of veering out of control.

For China, the summit was a key part of its major power diplomacy aimed at promoting a sound interaction between the world’s main players as set out in its recently released Global Security Initiative Concept Paper.  As major powers, both permanent members of the UN Security Council, as China sees it, China and France have a particular responsibility to address the current situation of growing global deficits in peace, development, security and governance, even as the international community confronts multiple risks and challenges.

The Sino-French 51 point joint statement

US President Biden’s New Cold War China policy formula to ‘compete, confront and cooperate’ carries great risks of muddle and incoherence in practice whilst narrowly and unrealistically restricting cooperation to the window of climate change.

The 51-point France-China Joint Statement in contrast opens up a wide range of areas for cooperation – political and strategic; economic and business; cultural and educational – and not only on a bilateral but also a multilateral basis, setting the frame, as major powers on the world stage, of “a shared view of a multipolar world” with “the United Nations at its core”.

On the vital question of the Ukraine crisis, there was support for “efforts to restore peace…on the basis of international law and the purposes and principles of the UN Charter” and, although there was no explicit call for a ceasefire, acknowledgement of Russia’s legitimate security concerns or opposition to unilateral sanctions – all covered in China’s 12 point proposal on the Ukraine crisis – what was of significance was the call for “no action that could heighten the risk of tension”,  given recognition of the dangers of escalation and even nuclear war.

On bilateral cooperation, from artificial intelligence and the digital economy, including 5G, from the general improvement of market access on both sides, to science and technology cooperation, language teaching, inter-university and cultural exchanges, there is little evidence of the paranoia that now permeates the US, UK and the rest of the Anglosphere over alleged Chinese ‘spying’ and the supposed hidden threat in all these to national security.

Continue reading The France-China strategic partnership: towards a different type of international relations?

The TikTok conspiracy – the Montana connection

In the following article, written for Friends of Socialist China, Keith Lamb uncovers the real reasons behind the move by lawmakers in the US state of Montana to ban the hugely popular TikTok app. 

Keith refutes the suggestion that the app presents any national security threat to the US, highlighting instead the degeneration of much of US popular culture as well as the contrast between a bourgeois government in the US – in hock to capital, including the big tech companies – and a socialist government in China, that prioritizes people’s welfare, including the balanced development of the younger generation. 

He also looks at why Montana is the first US state to take this drastic step.

Montana lawmakers have decided to ban TikTok, the popular app owned by the Chinese company ByteDance. Now their decision will go to Montana’s Republican governor, Greg Gianforte, for consideration. The argument for banning TikTok is based on several conspiracy theories. But the real conspiracy theory, which Montana has a role in, isn’t being reported.

The popular conspiracy theory narrative is that China will be able to spy on US citizens, propagandize them, and that China is even using TikTok to dumb down Americans while the Chinese version of the app is used to edify China’s citizens.

First, even the CIA has stated there is no evidence that the Chinese government has access to US TikTok data. Indeed, TikTok stores US data on servers based in Texas. As such, the reasoning for banning TikTok is based on made up and hypothetical situations rather than factual evidence.

Second, it is vacuous to claim that China is using TikTok to propagandize US citizens as US TikTok users overwhelmingly consume homegrown content. Banning TikTok would only mean US content creators would migrate to different apps – this is probably the intention!

In terms of the Chinese version of TikTok, an episode of the 60 Minutes TV show argued that it is more likely to show edifying content to Chinese youth while US children get the dumbed-down version. Thus, the reasoning goes, China is purposely dumbing down Americans!

This dumbed-down argument speaks volumes to the ignorance that masks the real causes for seeking to ban TikTok. Any serious self-reflection on popular US culture would recognize that it has long been dumbed down before TikTok’s advent.

Ignorance and mindless hedonism, combined with the generally illusory prospect of quick wealth added onto a catchy jingle, has long been the background melody that big business has used to propagandize American youth. Without widespread ignorance arguments that combine multiple foreign invasions with notions of “democracy” and “the good guys” would be untenable.

Continue reading The TikTok conspiracy – the Montana connection

Securing US global primacy: how the US prepares for war on China

In this detailed essay, British author and peace campaigner Jenny Clegg provides a comprehensive overview of the US drive to war against China.

Jenny describes the attempts being made to construct a Global NATO, leveraging AUKUS, the remilitarisation of Japan, the undermining of the One China Principle and the prolonging of the Ukraine crisis in order to link the Euro-Atlantic and Indo-Pacific theatres of war. Britain and Japan are emerging as the most important partners in this phenomenally dangerous strategy which, taken as a whole, constitutes “a historic restructuring of the international security order: strengthening of the NATO transatlantic military axis against Russia whilst elevating the US-Japan trans-pacific military axis at the core of newly created regional NATO-like multilateral security frame.”

The aim of this strategy is, of course, “to contain the growing multipolar trend”.

We must build a formidable global opposition to this warmongering. Thanks to an already-developing multipolarity, countries of the Global South are “starting to wake up to the real nature of US intentions”, and as such “a non-aligned resistance is taking shape”, with these countries asserting their sovereignty and interests. For anti-war activists in the West meanwhile, as we recall the historic protests against the Iraq War 20 years ago, Jenny writes that the task of playing our part in a worldwide mass movement for peace will require us to “resist the insidious influence of imperialism permeating through social democracy”.

The trajectory of war: Iraq then, China now?

Back in September 2002, Dan Plesch wrote an article in the Guardian entitled ‘Iraq first, Iran and China next’.  Less than a year earlier, George W. Bush had put China on a nuclear ‘hit list’ along with Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria and North Korea. Twenty years on, it seems China’s turn has arrived, now identified as ‘America’s most consequential geopolitical challenge’.

Iraq was a turning point for the world as Bush ‘seized the unipolar moment’: ‘shock and awe’ and ‘full spectrum dominance’ in air, land, sea and space presaged a new militarism to secure US global primacy; and, blatantly displacing the UN on the pretext of ‘humanitarian intervention’, the US found a new means of rallying allies in a ‘coalition of the willing’, embedding key NATO partners into ‘out of area’ operations.

All this was in line with the neocons’ Project for a New American Century which had advocated for the US pursuit of hegemony through the preeminence of its military forces.

As Plesch foresaw, the 2003 war set precedents to be used against other states that stood up against US global control.  US militarism has advanced into ‘air sea battle’ plans to wipe out multiple cities across China at a single strike, with trillions of dollars sunk into upgrading ‘full spectrum dominance’ capabilities; ‘humanitarian intervention’ has evolved into a New Cold War of ‘democracies against autocracies’ edging the UN further aside.  And now, using the Ukraine war to subjugate Europe and weaken Russia, the US is starting to assemble a new ‘coalition of the willing’ in the ‘defence of Taiwan’, ordering the global security architecture anew as it sets the stage for a new war on China.

But much has also changed over twenty years with the rise of China and the emergence of a multipolar world: as the economic balance shifts from West to East, countries in the Global South are not so easily influenced to follow US leadership.

What does China want?

US political elites have convinced themselves that China is bent on global hegemony.  Despite Xi Jinping’s assurances to Biden that China ‘has no intention to challenge or displace the United States’, they revert to racialised stereotypes of the Chinese as inveterate liars – recall the words of the popular 1880s music hall song: ‘for ways that are dark and tricks that are vain, the Heathen China is peculiar’ – rather than face history.[1]

That China was its ally in WW2 is something the West conveniently forgets. KMT Nationalist and Communist armies successfully blocked the bulk of the Japanese forces from advancing west, a vital contribution recognised by Churchill and Roosevelt when they signed, with Chiang Kaishek, the 1943 Cairo Agreement.  This stipulated that the territories seized by Japan from China, including Taiwan, be restored, and that Japan be stripped of all the islands in the Pacific seized or occupied since 1914.

As one of the allies, China took part in the establishment of the United Nations, assuming a permanent seat on the Security Council.  But the UN order as based on the Cairo Agreement, confirmed in the 1945 Potsdam Declaration, was not to be.  Instead, the Japan peace settlement was determined at the behest of the US by the 1951 San Francisco Conference from which both the PRC and RoC (Republic of China) and the two sides of the Korean war were excluded, with the USSR refusing to attend.  US power came to prevail over the Pacific through a series of bilateral alliances and an extensive array of US military bases.[2] 

Despite political improvements over time – the PRC regained the UN seat,the US and China established official ‘One China’ ties, the USSR and China reached their own peace deals with Japan – the US-dominated military pattern remained and a number of territorial issues covered by the WW2 agreements affecting the USSR/Russia as well as China were left to fester.

What China wants is to see the promise of the Yalta of the East system realised through reunification with Taiwan and from this the construction of a cooperative security arrangement for the Pacific together with the US.

Militarising the Indo-Pacific

US control over the Pacific was never complete in the face of the armed resistance of the peoples of China, Korean and Indo-China and the non-aligned leanings of South East Asia states.  The US was never satisfied.

Today, claiming the Russian invasion of Ukraine ‘raises the spectre of a Chinese takeover of Taiwan’, the US is creating a new militarised order for the Indo-Pacific.  Increasing its own military capabilities to hem in China’s coastline and reinforce control across the wider oceans, the US is at the same time upgrading the key regional axis of power, its alliance with Japan, now elevated into a major military player.  Taking the Japan alliance and AUKUS as the core, the US is attempting to pull together a group of militarily committed powers covering the whole Pacific to oppose China.

Where previously the US pursuit of a ‘free and open’ Indo-Pacific has focused on the South China Sea, the prospect of a war over Taiwan has become the new focus.

The US is now reinforcing its force structure across the region, increasing manoeuvrability along the first island chain and plugging the gaps in this arc of alliances and bases from Japan in the North stretching down to the Philippines in the South.  The US has now secured agreement with the Philippines for four new bases, three in the Northern island of Luzon, within striking distance of Taiwan. Meanwhile under the terms of the new Japan alliance, the US Okinawa base north of Taiwan is being strengthened whilst the Japanese island of Mage is being rebuilt to serve US forces.  A new base is opening in Guam, the first in decades and a US nuclear submarine base is under construction in Australia.[3]

However it is the rehabilitation of Japan as a military power that is the biggest change in the region’s security pattern just as the US shifts its primary focus to the China challenge.

Japan also now identifies China as the main strategic challenge under a new National Security Strategy, the only US ally to do so. With the endorsement of its new US alliance, the country is undergoing the most radical overhaul in its regional positioning since WW2, vastly increasing its war-fighting capacity as it embarks on its largest military buildup in decades. Military spending is set to double from 1% to 2% of GDP over 5 years – from some $50 bn a year to an accumulated $318 bn – to see Japan leap to the third or fourth largest military power in the world.

Matching Japan in the North, Australia too is reconfiguring itself as a military power in the South Pacific, its military spend set to rise from around $49 bn to $57 bn per year by 2025-6.  Meanwhile Taiwan’s increased budget of $19bn is being backed by the US-pledged $10bn in military aid. 

For the US neocon Right, their long-held aspirations for a remilitarised Japan and an armed Taiwan serving as an ‘unsinkable aircraft carrier’ – passed from MacArthur and the McCarthyites to John Bolton and Paul Wolfowitz and now to Kagan and Blinken – are materialising.

As the US advances plans to catch Taiwan between the pincer of its forces in Okinawa and the Philippines, Biden’s constant vacillations between the One China policy and the defence of Taiwan are highly destabilising.  China is committed to a peaceful reunification, yet states it will never renounce the use of force directed against interference by outside forces.  The military display by the PLA following Pelosi’s August 2022 visit to the island demonstrates it is serious about this.  It has the capacity: in its vast naval fleet capable of imposing a blockade on the island, and with missiles capable of sinking US aircraft carriers and destroying US warships on the far side of the island, as its recent missile overflights demonstrated.

Lying 100 miles to the north of Taiwan and less than 300 miles from the massive US airbase in Okinawa, are the disputed islands known as the Diaoyutai in Chinese and Senkaku in Japanese which may become the locus of battle given their critical importance in the event of a Chinese blockade of Taiwan.

These uninhabited islands are claimed not only by China and Japan but also by Taiwan (the Republic of China); they were taken under control by the Japanese government in 2012 and now are increasingly patrolled not only by Japanese and Chinese but also by US forces.

To defeat any move by China, the US would need a coalition of forces – and this is what the Pentagon is seeking to construct.

Towards a Global NATO

With the transatlantic NATO alliance strengthened against Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, and a new Indo-Pacific regional security architecture  emerging, the US is also working to construct a third axis under its control between the European and Asian theatres to serve as a counter to China’s Eurasian Belt and Road initiative.

AUKUS and the US-Japan alliance both offer access points for linking the security of the Euro-Atlantic to the security of the Indo-Pacific in accordance with NATO’s New Security Concept adopted at its 2022 summit.

NATO allies are getting drawn into the Indo-Pacific security pattern step by step.  Military exercises have multiplied in the last year or two as a way of involving outside powers, not only the UK, but also France, which is boosting its military presence in the region. Germany has also sent in warships.  NATO forces made up at least half of last year’s US-led RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific) exercises.[4]  Australia, South Korea and Japan are again to attend the 2023 NATO summit, and Japan has become a regular participant in NATO Chief of Staff meetings.[5]

So far, NATO is committed to addressing the ‘systemic competition’ from China, but Stoltenburg’s recent visits to South Korea and Japan were looking for a more strategic undertaking.  Japanese PM Kishida, mirrored by Zelensky’s visits around Europe, had embarked earlier in January on a diplomatic tour to rally support, visiting the UK, France, Italy and Canada as well as the US to gain approval for Japan’s new militarist orientation.

Eliciting statements of stronger support from Macron and Trudeau, Kishida was to agree a form of strategic partnership with Meloni of Italy.

But it was Sunak that took things furthest, signing a Reciprocal Access Agreement to allow the two nations to deploy military forces on each other’s soil. This represents Japan’s first military agreement with a European power.

The UK leads the way

The UK and Japan began to deepen military cooperation with the visit of the Queen Elizabeth carrier strike group in 2021.

This was followed in November 2022 with an agreement on new UK-Japan-Italy partnership – the Global Combat Air Programme (GCAP) – a hi-tech programme for unmanned aircraft and cutting-edge weapons heralded as an ‘unprecedented international aerospace coalition’.  BAE Systems, Rolls Royce and MBDA are to work together with Leopard in Italy and Mitsubishi in Japan to deliver next generation combat fighter jets.  The Tempest is to replace the Typhoon aircraft by the mid 2030s; its capacity to carry hypersonic missiles will significantly increase Japan’s capabilities in joining a US war with China.[6]

Also in November 2022, a ‘Vigilant Isles 22’ joint exercise simulated the retaking of an island under enemy control.  The new RAA aims to regularise such exercises in ‘island defence’.[7]  This should set alarm bells ringing.

Similar to ones agreed by the US and Australia with Japan, these arrangements gain significance together as providing the US with the means to break a blockade of Taiwan: the RAA could bring British forces into direct conflict with China given the deepening Sino-Japanese island dispute.[8]

The RAA and GCAP are designed to sit alongside AUKUS and with the US and Australia also having access agreements, few barriers remain for Japan to join the ‘Asian NATO’.

For the UK, the deals cement Global Britain’s Indo-Pacific tilt, breaking new ground in military relations with Japan as an example for other NATO members to follow.  As it opens the door for a wider international recognition of Japan’s rehabilitation as a military power countering any residual reluctance to do so given its past history, the UK is playing a significant role in the shift to a new Indo-Pacific security architecture.

At the same time, as the US’s key ally in the West, its links with Japan the US’ key ally in the East create a new global axis linking the Euro-Atlantic and Indo-Pacific theatres of war.

As it looks to build a future beyond Brexit, Global Britain follows the US in tying future prosperity to military development – arms manufacture and arms exports.  Here it aims to serve as a new model of Western 21st century power ‘creating jobs, saving lives’ as through GCAP it boosts its ‘world beating defence industry’ to promote high-high-skilled employment, drive innovation, and open up markets in both Europe and Asia.

Aiding and abetting the US, the UK similarly indulges the military aspirations of Japan’s right wingers, long held in restraint by its constitutional pacifism.  Now GCAP subverts Article 9 of Japan’s constitution, the ‘peace clause’, by developing Japan’s counterstrike – that is – offensive capabilities.

Shockingly, the UK Prime Minister’s office was to draw parallels between the RAA and the Anglo-Japanese alliance of 1902.[9]  Forged to counter Russia’s expansion to the East at the time, the alliance oversaw a twenty year period of Japan’s rapid military industrialisation which then drove its bloody expansion across Asia.

US progress after WW2 on democratising and demilitarising Japan ground to a halt after the CPC victory in China in 1949. Suspected Class A war criminals, such as the grandfather of former prime minister Shinzo Abe, were released from jail to help form the Liberal Democratic Party which has now held power almost continuously over the last 70 years.  Senior political figures in Kishida’s government continue to visit the Yasukuni shrine to the war dead which still memorialises those convicted of war crimes. 

It did not seem to bother either Biden or Sunak in promoting collaboration between Lockheed Martin and BAE Systems respectively with Mitsubishi to restore its role in arms manufacturer, that the company’s owners are yet to meet South Korean demands for compensation for the use of forced labour in WW2.  South Korea and Japan have recently announced some measures to ease these particular tensions.[10]

Constructing a new coalition

The US perceives the ‘security threats of the future’ – China – to be of such an order as to demand an entirely new response.  Learning the lesson from the Iraq war not to alienate allies, the US seeks to secure military pacts and alliances through a fusing of economic and technological resources into their structure.

US Secretary of State Blinken states: ‘whether techno-democracies or techno-autocracies are the ones who get to define how technology is used … will go a long way toward shaping the next decades.’

AUKUS and the UK-Italy-Japan GCAP have both been designed to set the pace in the military use of new technologies, integrating security- and defence-related science and technology as well as arms production bases and supply chains centred on US core technologies.  France, Italy, Germany as well as the UK are mentioned in Japan’s National Defense Strategy as partners with whom the government will work for training and exercises, defence equipment and technology cooperation.[11]

Meanwhile the Quad, falling short of a fully-fledged military alliance, uses Australia and Japan as a means to draw India closer to the US.

Rather, then, than relying simply on formal alliance structures, the US is making good use of unconventional arrangements and linkages to draw others along in the slipstream of its agenda, knitting an array of supporters together around the militarised core – all singing from the same hymn sheet of ‘freedom and democracy’.

Revolutions in technology and communications are opening new opportunities to broaden the more flexible ‘coalition of the willing’ format to a wider range of partners involved in a hybridised warfare.

Short of actual military engagement, support can come in various ways – through the provision of material, arms, logistics, economic and technological assistance, and through participation in economic warfare with sanctions along the lines of the informal groups now aiding Ukraine.  Arrangements involving data- and technology-sharing, and exclusive supply chains can serve as a dragnet to draw ‘democratic’ states away from economic and diplomatic links with ‘authoritarian regimes’.

In this way the emerging pattern of US military hegemony is being underpinned by the globalisation of what former CIA analyst Ray McGovern has called a new Military-Industrial-Congressional-Intelligence-Media-Academia-Think-Tank (MICIMATT).[12]

Towards a new World War

With the Iraq war underway by March 2003, the US effectively stepped back from a fight on two fronts, agreeing within months to join the six-party talks on Korean denuclearisation. Today, in contrast, it is shifting from the strategy of containment, prolonging the conflict with Russia in Ukraine in order to gear up for war with China.

What is taking place is a historic restructuring of the international security order: strengthening of the NATO transatlantic military axis against Russia whilst elevating the US-Japan trans-pacific military axis at the core of newly created regional NATO-like multilateral security frame.  Meanwhile the UK-Japan military pact together with the increasing presence of NATO in Asia are laying the preliminary groundwork to complete the third axis of its triangle of global power, between the Euro-Atlantic and the Indo-Pacific.

Not since WW2 with the Axis powers of Japan, Italy and Nazi Germany coordinating the worldwide fascist offensive, have these two theatres of war been bridged in this way, and not for want of the US trying.

Through these three axes of a Global NATO, the US aims to contain the growing multipolar trend.  A key here is to block the Eurasian link: the prolongation of the Ukraine war is helping to drive China and Europe apart, as China maintains neutrality whilst Europe demands it take a position on what it sees as its existential priority.

The US is applying immense pressure to achieve this, endeavouring to break the remaining post WW2 pacifist restraints in the Indo-Pacific as it has been doing in Europe so as to achieve these goals. 

Actually it is NATO that is being positioned to cover and play the coordinating role between the two theatres, with the US pushing plans at the next summit to prepare for fighting on the home front and beyond NATO borders simultaneously.  Europe will be under great pressure to increase spending on weapons procurement to free the US to move more of its assets closer to China.[13]

The major world powers are close to a stand-off – the last time this happened it ended indeed in world war.  The UN has become a battleground for the New Cold War as US-influenced motions are designed to divide the ‘democracies’ from the ‘autocracies’. The UN Charter represents the deep learning from the horrors of the two world wars, lessons which are embodied in its institutional design built to maintain world peace.  The UN is now under existential threat. Should war break out directly between the permanent members of the UN Security Council – the US and UK versus Russia and China – this would finally finish off the organisation. What then is left to prevent another word war?

One cannot help but wonder at the key players following the US into this deadly situation: the Anglosphere AUKUS pact intervening in an Asia becoming accustomed to managing its own affairs and a remilitarised Japan with its dark past to lead the region, partnering up in Europe with Italy, its former fascist ally and a Britain deluded by fantasies of past imperial glory.

But countries in the Global South are starting to wake up to the real nature of US intentions – to perpetuate its own and the West’s supremacy – and a non-aligned resistance is taking shape as they refuse to take sides over Ukraine. 

More and more developing countries will be looking to China and others in the BRICS for economic stabilisation with the prolongation of the war further damaging further the prospects of world economic recovery after COVID.

The Iraq war unleashed over a decade of disruption for the Middle East, leaving the region even further divided: the countries of East Asia hardly want to see this happen to them.  US plans to remilitarise and divide East Asia threaten to derail their promising prospects of further economic development, destabilising a region vital to the world’s future prosperity and the battle against climate catastrophe and not least at risk of nuclear proliferation.

Nor is Japan’s rearmament welcome in the region: not only China and the Koreas remain sceptical as to the sincerity of Japan’s apologies for its past, but other Asian nations, whose memories of Japan’s WW2 brutality and military-colonial occupations live on, may also be wary.  Indications are that the Japanese public themselves will not support increased taxes to cover the proposed rise in military spending.

Meanwhile, new US proposals that allies host more intermediate range missiles in the region are being met with reluctance not only Thailand and the Philippines but also Australia, South Korea and Japan.[14]

Ahead of the G7 summit, planned to take place in Hiroshima and built up by Kishida’s January tour of the Western powers, is intended to send a strong signal of their unity both to Russia and China.  A visit by Kishida to Kiev is also on the cards.

With the Ukraine crisis threatening to escalate into a direct clash between major powers, China has stepped forward with guidelines for a political settlement backed by a concept paper for a new global security. It may be that the Global South, still rather disorganised, will find direction under China’s proposals and start to set a limit to the US-led wider war preparations.[15]

The world is changing very fast indeed.

Peace and anti-war activists in the West seek to draw inspiration from the massive protests against the Iraq war, but to resist the insidious influence of imperialism permeating through social democracy requires a deeper historical and international understanding to unite a new worldwide mass movement for peace and common security.


[1]  E.Ayketin “China has no intention of challenging the US: Xi Jinping” Nov 15, 2022 https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/china-has-no-intention-of-challenging-us-xi-jinping/2738050

[2] John W. Dower, The San Francisco System: past, Present and Future in US-Japan-China Relations, Asia Pacific Journal February 23, 2014, Vol. 12, Issue 8, No. 2 https://apjjf.org/2014/12/8/John-W-Dower/4079/artcile.html

[3] For details on the US military build up in the Pacific see Michael Klare, The Pentagon prepares for island combat in the Pacific as US-China tensions rise https://truthout.org/articles/pentagon-prepares-for-island-combat-in-the-pacific-as-us-china-tensions-rise/

[4] A. Wright “Largest ever US-Nato naval war drills in Pacific a Threat to Peace and Marine Life”, June 22, 2002 https://www.codepink.org/us-nato-naval-war-drills

[5] R. Nemoto, “Japan’s top uniformed officer to attend 1st NATO military chiefs meeting” May 17, 2022 https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/Japan-s-top-uniformed-officer-to-attend-1st-NATO-military-chiefs-meeting

[6] K. Inagaki, L. Lewis and S. Pfeifer, “The fighter jet that could create a new alliance between the UK and Japan” Financial Times Nov. 27, 2022 https://www.ft.com/content/a013530d-82f9-4a89-b5cf-5d76032d8c47

[7] A. Chuter, UK, Japan ink agreement to enable bilateral troop deployments, Defence News, Jan 11, 2023 https://www.defensenews.com/global/europe/2023/01/11/uk-japan-ink-agreement-to-enable-bilateral-troop-deployments/

[8] The US is also now pushing the Philippines into a similar arrangement so that not only could Philippines’ forces be deployed in Japan but Japanese forces be deployed say in Luzon.

[9] Downing Street Press release, Jan 11 2023 https://www.gov.uk/government/news/prime-minister-hosts-japanese-pm-and-agrees-historic-defence-agreement

[10] A. Jung-a and K. Inagaki “US hails thaw between Seoul and Tokyo” Financial Times March 7 2023

[11] National Defense Strategy Dec 16, 2022 https://www.mod.go.jp/j/approach/agenda/guideline/strategy/pdf/strategy_en.pdf

[12] R. McGovern US-Russia Talk About Where Not To Place Missiles, Jan 11, 2022
https://original.antiwar.com/mcgovern/2022/01/10/us-russia-talk-about-where-not-to-place-missiles/

[13] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/newsletters/2023-02-14/nato-looks-at-raising-defense-spending-target

[14] Rand Corporation, Ground-Based Intermediate-Range Missiles in the IndoPacific: assessing the positions of US Allies  https://www.rand.org/pubs/research_reports/RRA393-3.html

[15] China’s Foreign Ministry Proposals for a Political Settlement of the Ukraine Crisis  https://www.fmprc.gov.cn/mfa_eng/wjdt_665385/2649_665393/202302/t20230224_11030713.html

Why is China’s battle against corruption grave and complex?

In this original article, Keith Lamb explains that, whilst China has scored enormous achievements in the battle against corruption, it still faces an uphill task in preventing new cases and rooting out existing ones.

Because the CPC is a Marxist party, Keith explains, with the historic mission to usher in socialism, it has to hold itself to higher standards than those political parties which operate within the framework of capitalism. However, when working towards socialism, utopian action will fail. Therefore, China took the pragmatic road by adopting a socialist market economy, which has advanced the forces of production and technology necessary for socialist development. However, this also creates a series of class and material contradictions that need to be navigated.

Achieving China’s goal of becoming a prosperous and modern socialist country by 2049, the author notes, not only requires a constant battle against corruption, but also provides part of the remedy for corruption.

Recently at the second plenary session of the 20th CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (CCDI) it was noted that the corruption situation, in China remains grave and complex. The Communist Party of China (CPC) faces an uphill task in preventing new cases of corruption and rooting out existing ones.

In recent years, there have been enormous achievements in the battle against corruption at all levels of officialdom, which is encapsulated in the slogan “striking tigers and swatting flies.” In 2018, Lai Xiaomin the former state asset manager was executed for taking $277 million in bribes, and Sun Zhengcai, the former Chongqing Party Chief, was given life imprisonment for taking $27 million in bribes.

As of June 2022, a total of 4,516,000 corruption cases were handled by disciplinary authorities, and 4,439,000 people were punished for violating discipline. Just over a month after the closing of the 20th CPC National Congress, more than 10 officials who were suspected of severe violations of discipline and laws had turned themselves in.

Considering such successes, one may ask why the corruption situation still remains grave and complex. First, the massive anti-corruption campaign launched after the 18th National Congress was unprecedented in size, due to corruption becoming so deep-rooted. Consequently, considering the magnitude of the problem, no matter the achievements already accumulated, there is still much to do.

Continue reading Why is China’s battle against corruption grave and complex?

Has China succumbed to the pandemic or not?

We are pleased to publish below the English version of an article by Adnan Akfirat, Chairman of the Turkish Chinese Business Development and Friendship Association (and member of the Friends of Socialist China advisory group), countering Western propaganda about China’s evolving strategy against the Covid-19 pandemic.

Having lived through 63 days of quarantine in Shanghai in 2022, and then contracted Covid for the first time upon travelling to Türkiye, the author has witnessed at close quarters the accomplishments of China’s Dynamic Zero Covid policy, which saved many millions of lives while China bought time to develop and deploy vaccines and treatments, and to bolster its healthcare system. He notes that China’s extraordinary mobilization of resources for the protection of human life against Covid is testament to the superiority of the socialist system.

Adnan further observes that there has been a positive side-effect of the Covid-19 pandemic in China, in that it has accelerated the improvement of the public healthcare system and stimulated a return to the development of comprehensive, state-funded, high-quality healthcare for all.

The article was originally published in Aydınlık and has been translated into English for us by the author. A shorter version has also appeared in Global Times.

The People’s Republic of China’s policies against the Covid-19 pandemic have been a major concern for US governments. The strict controls and quarantines required by China’s Dynamic Zero Covid policy were denounced as human rights violations. Towards the end of 2022, China determined that the virus was no longer so lethal and adopted a strategy of loosening restrictions. This time, the Atlantic camp accused China of “endangering humanity” and began to impose restrictions on Chinese tourists.

In his New Year’s speech at the start of 2023, President Xi Jinping emphasized that “since the COVID 19 pandemic, we have always put people and life first.” Xi said China has entered a new phase in its fight against the epidemic and “we have adapted our COVID 19 response in light of the evolving situation to protect the lives and health of the people to the greatest extent possible.”

For the last two months, US and European leaders and Western media have been accusing China of spreading disease and making the Chinese people miserable. Unfortunately, the Turkish media has also joined this campaign without questioning it. If you look at Turkish newspapers and TV channels, especially on social media, you will see that “China is collapsing from the disease!”

Continue reading Has China succumbed to the pandemic or not?

China under Xi Jinping: putting politics in command

This article by Jenny Clegg – a revised and enlarged version of a three-part series originally published in the Morning Star (part 1 | part 2 | part 3) – provides a broad overview of China’s political trajectory in the present era.

Jenny takes on the media caricature of Xi Jinping as an “authoritarian” leader, analysing his political development over the course of several decades, noting in particular his longstanding commitment to combating climate change, his dedication to poverty alleviation, and his belief that China should shift away from using GDP growth as the central metric of economic success. As CPC General Secretary and China’s President, the most prominent aspects of Xi’s record have been the extremely rigorous (and popular) anti-corruption campaign; the success in eliminating extreme poverty; a major focus on environmental questions; and the centring of a common prosperity agenda that is already operating to reduce inequality and improve the conditions of the poor.

Sympathetic but not uncritical, the article provides valuable insights and a realistic assessment of China’s prospects for developing into a “modern advanced socialist country that is strong and prosperous” by the centenary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (2049).

1. Who is Xi Jinping?

The Communist Party of China’s 20th Congress confirmed Xi Jinping as General Secretary for a third term. According to the mainstream media, China is lurching once again toward ‘one-man rule’ under the ‘thrice crowned’ leader. But what kind of rule will this be? China is the world’s second largest economy and the politics of its leader is of great consequence for the world.

So what are Xi’s politics? What has his leadership over the last 10 years meant for China and what direction does he intend the country to take over the next 5 years and beyond?

Xi’s political development

The son of a revolutionary hero who became a vice premier of China in the 1950s only to later fall victim to political turmoil in the Mao period,[1] Xi himself was a ‘sent down’ youth spending seven years from the age of 15 working in a poor community in China’s West. Serving for a time as a commune leader, he adopted the work style of ‘plain living and hard work’ – the ideal followed by the CPC from its earliest days.

Whilst these formative experiences moulded his core political outlook, it was through his work as Party Secretary of Zhejiang Province from 2002 to 2007 that a more concrete politics took shape.

Zhejiang is a commercialised province, one of those key Eastern seaboard areas which have driven the country’s hi-speed growth.  After China joined the WTO in 2001, local cadres were exhorted to promote business, help new enterprises and court foreign investment, creating new jobs and opportunities.

But rapid industrialisation also brought increasing inequality, environmental degradation as well as corruption as the boundaries between politics and business blurred.  Now in the senior ranks of Party leadership, one of some 3,000, Xi expressed his concerns in a series of articles in which he put great stress on the moral standards of the cadres and the need to prevent Party officials from solidifying into a privileged elite removed from the rest of society.

Power, he argued, was not a personal possession, to be used not for self-aggrandisement but for the public good. Grass roots levels were crucial – this was where the Party worked together with the people to build a better future.  Emphasising the quality not just the quantity of growth – ‘not everything has to be done for GDP’; and the importance of the environment – ‘there is only one world and only one environment’ – Xi was paving a new way forward.[2]

Cleaning up the Party

By 2012, when Xi became Party leader, China had recovered rapidly after taking a serious hit in the 2008/9 world financial crisis, resuming the fast growth that had seen the economy more than double in the previous decade.  It was up to him now to realise the previously set goals of achieving a ‘moderately prosperous society’ by 2020.

Xi’s first step was to refocus the Party on its high values of public service, launching a far-reaching anti-corruption campaign targeted at ‘tigers’ at the top as well as ‘flies’ at the bottom.  His insistence that his immediate family should not undertake any business dealings struck a chord with people, gaining him much popularity.

A graduate in chemical engineering, with a PhD in Marxist legal theory, Xi was also a good communicator, a skill acquired during his years in the countryside, and the fact that he could put over his political message in an accessible manner, avoiding stilted rhetoric, also added to his popularity.

Determined to restore ideology to the heart of the Party, he encouraged Marxist study as well as wider Marxist intellectual debate, these not for the sake of theorising but in order to drive policy and practice forward.

His affirmation in 2013 of the role of the market as playing ‘a decisive role in the allocation of resources in the economy’ saw a widening of market reforms whilst a new emphasis on commercial law which, together with the wider establishment of enterprise-based Party committees, vastly improved business practice.  From 2015, a massive infusion of government support reinforced the role of state-owned enterprises at the centre of economic policy.

Two particular advances of Xi’s first term were, on the domestic front, the 2016 Made In China Initiative which laid the basis of China’s technological upgrading to a higher stage of modernisation; and, of international consequence, the Belt and Road Initiative, setting out a new mode for China’s integration with the world community.

Continue reading China under Xi Jinping: putting politics in command

China is building an ecological civilisation

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

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

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

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

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

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

The cost of development

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

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

Continue reading China is building an ecological civilisation

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

Summary of Xi Jinping’s report to the 20th National Congress of the CPC

The following article by Friends of Socialist China co-editor Keith Bennett provides a brief summary of Xi Jinping’s highly significant and substantial report given at the opening of the CPC’s 20th National Congress on 16 October 2022.

As soon as the official English translation of the report is available, we will republish it on this site.

Entitled Hold High the Great Banner of Socialism with Chinese Characteristics and Strive in Unity to Build a Modern Socialist Country in All Respects, Comrade Xi Jinping’s report to the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China is a political document of great significance, summing up the work of a 96-million strong party over the last period and outlining its course ahead.

Comrade Xi begins by noting that the congress, “takes place at a critical time as the entire Party and the Chinese people of all ethnic groups embark on a new journey to build China into a modern socialist country in all respects and advance toward the Second Centenary Goal”, which is that of building a fully modernized socialist country. In this course, it is imperative that the party “never forget our original aspiration and founding mission”, and “always stay modest, prudent, and hard-working.”

Calling the five years since the last congress, “truly momentous and extraordinary”, he noted that the Party had led the Chinese people in “effectively responding to grave, intricate international developments and a series of immense risks and challenges.” It had promoted high-quality development, whole-process people’s democracy, improved public well-being as a matter of priority, put the people and their lives above all else, and launched an all-out people’s war to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Moreover, it had dealt with “drastic changes in the international landscape, especially external attempts to blackmail, contain, blockade, and exert maximum pressure on China”, by showing a “fighting spirit” and a “firm determination to never yield to coercive power.”

Over the last five years, the party had led the people “in solving a great number of problems that had long gone unsolved, securing many accomplishments that hold major future significance, and achieving impressive advances in the cause of the Party and the country.”

Continue reading Summary of Xi Jinping’s report to the 20th National Congress of the CPC

Manufacturing consent for the containment and encirclement of China

The following detailed article by Carlos Martinez explores the escalating propaganda war being waged by the imperialist powers against China. Carlos notes that “propaganda wars can also be war propaganda”, and that the torrent of anti-China slander has a clear purpose of manufacturing broad public consent for the US-led New Cold War.

Carlos shows how the propaganda model described in Herman and Chomsky’s classic work Manufacturing Consent has been updated and enhanced using modern communication techniques, and how it is being applied today against China, in particular in relation to the allegations of human rights abuses in Xinjiang. Carlos introduces the most frequently-hurled slanders on this topic and debunks them in detail.

The author concludes that this propaganda campaign is serving to “break the bonds of solidarity within the global working class and all those opposed to imperialism”, and that all progressives must resolutely oppose and expose it.

If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. (Malcolm X)

The Western media is waging a systematic and ferocious propaganda war against China. In the court of Western public opinion, China stands accused of an array of terrifying crimes: conducting a genocide against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang; wiping out democracy in Hong Kong; militarising the South China Sea; attempting to impose colonial control over Taiwan; carrying out a land grab in Africa; preventing Tibetans and Inner Mongolians from speaking their languages; spying on the good peoples of the democratic world; and more.

Australian scholar Roland Boer has characterised these accusations as “atrocity propaganda – an old anti-communist and indeed anti-anyone-who-does-not-toe-the-Western-line approach that tries to manufacture a certain image for popular consumption.” Boer observes that this propaganda serves to create an impression of China as a brutal authoritarian dystopia which “can only be a fiction for anyone who actually spends some time in China, let alone lives there.”[1]

It’s not difficult to understand why China would be subjected to this sort of elaborate disinformation campaign. This media offensive is part of the imperialist world’s ongoing attempts to reverse the Chinese Revolution, to subvert Chinese socialism, to weaken China, to diminish its role in international affairs and, as a result, to undermine the global trajectory towards multipolarity and a future free from hegemonism. As journalist Chen Weihua has pointed out, “the reasons for the intensifying US propaganda war are obvious: Washington views a fast-rising China as a challenge to its primacy around the world.” Furthermore, “the success of a country with a different political system is unacceptable to politicians in Washington.”[2]

Continue reading Manufacturing consent for the containment and encirclement of China

NATO and AUKUS: the makings of an Asian NATO

In this recent presentation to the International Manifesto Group webinar, The Case Against NATO, Dr Jenny Clegg traces the makings of an Asian NATO via such mechanisms as AUKUS and the Quad whose fundamental purposes are to contain and confront a rising China. She further draws attention to the extension of NATO influence into the Asia Pacific through its Partnerships for Peace for example with Japan, South Korea and Australia; and also considers the impact of the Ukraine crisis in relation to these developments with the increase of tensions, divisions and militarisation in the region

NATO serves as the nuclear-armed fortress that helps to elevate the West above the ‘Rest’; it anchors Europe to its western orientation, severing it from its Eurasian geography.

But NATO members are also Pacific powers – the US, Canada, but also France and Britain, which maintain possession of a few islands and hence some considerable maritime territory. 

In this Pacific presence can be seen the makings of an Asian NATO as a counter to the growing Eurasian dimension.

Whilst the world’s focus is on Russia in the Ukraine, for the US, China is the ‘pacing challenge’, and from this perspective, the Ukraine crisis can be seen as the first phase in the US’s last-ditch battle to retain its world supremacy, a battle pitting ‘democracies against autocracies’ in which NATO is to serve as the armed vanguard against the so-called Russia-China alliance.

The world before NATO was to be a new world of the UN Charter which, in the coordination of the wartime allies – the US, UK, Soviet Union and China – and in its commitment to national sovereignty, held the promise of a multipolar world.

It was this new world of the equality of nations that the US set out to smash in driving the first Cold War.

From Cold War to thaw back to Cold War in the Asia Pacific

The Cold War in the Pacific divided China and Korea and involved two hot wars – in Korea and Indochina – at the cost of countless lives and countless war crimes.

The US sought to set up an Asian NATO – however Australia lacked trust in Japan after WW2; Japan’s military was constrained under Article 9 of its constitution; and many South East Asian states, having fought to gain independence, chose non-alignment over subordination in a military alliance.

SEATO – Southeast Asia Treaty Organization – was set up in 1955 to block the ‘communist domino effect’ but it lacked unity and folded in 1977. The US instead relied on bilateral alliances and a spread of some 400 military bases to encircle China.

The Cold War never ended in the Pacific – China and Korea remain divided. Nevertheless, a degree of thaw in the 1990s allowed China to improve its relations in the region whilst ASEAN extended membership to the three communist-aligned Indochinese nations along with Myanmar.  Regional economic growth entered a new phase.

But then, sending things into reverse, Obama embarked on his Asian pivot launching the freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea.  Following this, Trump declared China a strategic competitor, initiating the Quad to draw India into a new network with Australia, Japan and the US.

2020 saw the counter-hegemonic trend gather momentum with agreement on RCEP – the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, embracing large parts of East Asia and Oceania; the EU was also about to sign a major investment deal with China – these two  developments recalling the coalition of Germany all the way across to China which Brzezinski foresaw in 1997, claiming this would be hostile to the US.

The US then prepared to strike back, launching the New Cold War, followed in September 2021 by AUKUS – a mini–Asian NATO, an intervention by the outside Anglosphere which started to sow disunity within the region, undermining its resolve for Asians to deal with Asian affairs.

NATO in the Pacific

NATO itself has been expanding into Asia since 2012 with its Partnerships for Peace programme drawing in Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Pakistan, and the Philippines. 

By 2014, an equation was already being drawn between Russia and the Ukraine and China in the South China Sea.

At the 2019 NATO summit, Pompeo raised the issue of the China threat and, in 2021, the NATO 2030 document widened its focus to include the ‘IndoPacific’, making very clear a strategy of: Russia first then China.

Biden has advanced on Trump’s anti-China approach in two key ways, elevating the Quad and bringing the Taiwan issue more into view. But the Quad lacks military muscle – hence the announcement of AUKUS. 

The US and UK are to equip Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, not only violating the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty but also subverting the nuclear weapons free zones of South East Asia and the South Pacific – both important advances of regional independence in the 1980s.  These submarines will extend Australia’s naval reach much further into the South and East China Seas. 

Australia is to be transformed into a forward base for the US military, providing the core of a regional ‘hybrid warfare’ network, with looser links bringing nations into various regional networks under US direction, covering diplomacy, intelligence sharing, media narratives, supply chains and so on. 

The pact also represents a new level of cooperation in military technologies – in quantum computing and digital technologies – as exemplified in the recent announcement on the development of hypersonic weaponry. 

Accompanying the promotion of arms sales and the implementation of sanctions, AUKUS then is designed to secure US dominance over East Asia’s future growth in its support of US competition at the cutting edge of new technologies.

The impact of the Ukraine crisis

Amidst the Ukraine crisis, fears have been raised of a Chinese military takeover of Taiwan – in a completely false parallel between Ukraine, a sovereign state and Taiwan, recognised by the UN as a part of China.

As in Europe, militarisation in East Asia is accelerating: Japan has just increased its military budget by $50bn; Australia has estimated the cost of AUKUS at an eye-watering $250bn. With the newly elected conservative president in South Korea, a North East Asian arc with Japan and the US, comes into view, and with both Japan and South Korea strengthening military links with Australia, there are possible ties here into AUKUS in the South.

AUKUS only received a lukewarm reception amongst regional powers with Indonesia and Malaysia most openly expressing their reservations. Again, as in Europe, pressure is being brought to bear to erode the long held stabilising positions of Japan’s peace clause and ASEAN’s non-aligned inclinations, using the threat of sanctions to splinter and subordinate the organisation so as to clear the obstacles to militarisation.

Rather than Ukraine-Taiwan, Ukraine-the South China Sea may offer a better parallel: whilst Russia insists on Ukraine’s neutrality, China has been seeking the neutrality of the South China Sea in negotiations on a code of conduct which limits permission for outside powers to set up naval bases.

The marker of the Cold War battle line of ‘democracies versus autocracies’ is being drawn by the US around the so-called democratic right of nations to choose their allies. This is also the meaning behind the ‘free and open IndoPacific’ – that is freedom to join in the making of an Asian NATO.

Why is it that the US is blocking peace negotiations on Ukraine’s neutrality? Why can’t it accept the legitimacy of Russia’s security concerns?  Not least, because this would set a precedent for China over Taiwan and the South China Sea.  And it is China that is seen as the real, comprehensive challenger.

Amidst false allegations that China is supplying arms to Russia and propping Russia up, NATO is strengthening its links with the Pacific 4 – Australia, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand.  The upcoming summit this June will set the stage for an attempt to legitimise NATO’s increasing penetration into the IndoPacific region as the necessary opposition to the so-called ‘Russia-China alliance’.

In conclusion

NATO expansion is the root cause of the war in Europe; through its links into the Asia Pacific, it is equally intent to divide and destabilise a region now forecast to overtake Europe as the centre of the world economy by 2030.

Russia first, China next, NATO is bringing on a new world order – it’s called the jungle.

If China has not criticised Russia, at least one reason is because it looks to the long term – to a new security plan not just for Europe but one which restores its Eurasian orientation, a new Eurasian Security Order

China, in taking its stand on the indivisibility of security, on security for all – not of one at the expense of another – is keeping alive the spirit of the UN Charter.

The One-China Principle: sole guarantee for stability and prosperity

We are pleased to publish this original analysis by Dirk Nimmegeers, co-editor of ChinaSquare.be and China Vandaag (Belgium) and Friends of Socialist China advisory group member, on the issue of Taiwan.

Taiwanese and Western politicians and journalists are spotlighting alleged similarities between the war in Ukraine and Mainland China-Taiwan relations. Ignoring or concealing real differences and turning reality upside down undermines the one-China principle.

Chinese top diplomats such as Foreign Minister Wang Yi, director of the Office of the Foreign Affairs Commission of the CPC Central Committee Yang Jiechi, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Hua Chunying react sharply to this, and rightly so.

‘Taiwan is not Ukraine’

On February 23, a reporter from Hong Kong’s Phoenix TV asked Hua Chunying, Deputy Minister and Foreign Affairs spokesperson, what she thought of ‘the Taiwanese leaders’ comparing the Ukraine problem to the Taiwan question, and expressing the hope that the international community will continue to provide Taiwan with weapons so that China’s mainland dare not invade Taiwan by force’.

Hua Chunying replied: ‘Taiwan for sure is not Ukraine. Taiwan has always been an inalienable part of China’s territory. This is an indisputable historical and legal fact’. On March 7, a Bloomberg reporter asked Secretary Wang Yi, ‘What similarities are there between the current situation in Ukraine and the question of Taiwan? How likely would you say conflict in the Taiwan Strait is at the moment?’ Wang Yi’s reply began as follows: ‘Let me first make it clear that the Taiwan question and the Ukraine issue are different in nature and are not comparable at all. Most fundamentally, Taiwan is an inalienable part of China’s territory, and the Taiwan question is entirely China’s internal affair’.

The comparisons that you now see popping up in our media for a specific purpose revolve around the themes of independence, political-economic systems and violence.

Taiwan is not an independent state, Ukraine is.

Russia has reattached a part of independent Ukraine, Crimea (which had been transferred from Russia to Ukraine in 1954), and might plan to annex more regions. China wants to eventually, and peacefully reintegrate Taiwan, which is de facto autonomous, back into the motherland. The resemblance is only there for those who drag it in purposefully. Taiwan is not an independent country and China will never recognize it diplomatically. China has indeed recognized Ukraine and has good relations with that country, of which it is the main trading partner. Moreover, as Benjamin Ho observes: ‘Kyiv joined the Belt and Road Initiative in 2017, Chinese companies have been upgrading the country’s ports and subways. In 2020, Ukraine also signed a memorandum of understanding with China’s Huawei.’

Continue reading The One-China Principle: sole guarantee for stability and prosperity