Silence! On décolonise

We are very pleased that our article. ‘Quiet Please! We’re decolonising’, written by Dr. Sahidi Bilan and Rob Lemkin, which outlines the long history of internationalist support for the revolution in Niger on the part of the People’s Republic of China, has been translated into French and printed in Le Sahel Dimanche, one of the country’s leading newspapers, which is published by the state-owned press agency, Office National d’Édition et de Press (ONEP).

We reprint the French language version, as published by Le Sahel Dimanche, for the benefit of our French-speaking readers.

Lorsque le gouvernement militaire du Niger a expulsé, l’année dernière, les troupes et les diplomates de l’ancienne puissance colonisatrice française, certains Nigériens y ont vu la reprise d’un processus brutalement interrompu en septembre 1958, Il y a de cela soixante-six ans, à la veille de l’indépendance, le premier gouvernement africain du Niger. Le conseil était dirigé par le parti Sawaba (Sawaba signifie « libération » et « bien-être » dans la langue principale du Niger, le haoussa ) et son Premier ministre était un syndicaliste décolonial charismatique appelé Djibo Bakary.

Le renversement du Sawaba par la France en 1958 fut le premier coup d’État moderne en Afrique. En peu de temps, le parti fut proscrit et contraint à la clandestinité ; il a ensuite créé un mouvement de résistance avec le soutien d’États anti-impérialistes africains comme le Ghana et l’Algérie et a développé un important programme de formation à la guérilla avec l’aide du bloc socialiste, notamment de la République populaire de Chine.

‘’Silence ! On décolonise !’’ est le titre du grand livre de Djibo Bakary à la fois autobiographie et manifeste du programme radical de décolonisation dont il était l’un des principaux concepteurs. Nous utilisons son titre pour explorer une meilleure compréhension du coup d’État militaire du 26 juillet 2023 survenu au Niger suivi d’une rupture unilatérale des accords militaires avec la France, puis avec les États-Unis d’Amérique. Il est essentiel de se demander pourquoi aucun coup d’État militaire dans l’histoire post-indépendance du Niger (et il y en a eu huit, dont cinq ont réussi) n’a bénéficié d’un tel soutien populaire que celui du CNSP (Conseil national pour la sauvegarde de la patrie).

Cet article donne d’abord une brève introduction à l’histoire et à la vision du Sawaba pour le Niger ; nous nous concentrons ensuite sur les liens avec la Chine, en particulier sur son rôle et son influence sur la tentative remarquablement ambitieuse mais désastreuse d’envahir le Niger du Sawaba en 1964; nous décrivons ensuite la répression intense qui a suivi et concluons en ramenant l’histoire au présent.

Les questions d’aujourd’hui sont les suivantes : dans quelle mesure les dirigeants actuels du Niger sont-ils conscients du projet décolonial radical de Bakary et du Sawaba ? Les récentes expulsions des forces militaires occidentales font-elles partie d’une véritable politique anti-impérialiste ou sont-elles simplement une mesure populiste du gouvernement militaire ? Les présences militaires américaines et françaises (italiennes et allemandes également) avaient été justifiées par la nécessité de lutter contre l’insurrection. Mais les attaques terroristes se sont multipliées au cours de la dernière décennie. Le gouvernement se tourne désormais vers la Russie et certains partenaires comme la Turquie pour obtenir une assistance militaire.

« J’estime que notre devoir est de dire aux représentants de la France ce que veut et ce que pense l’immense majorité des populations que nous prétendons représenter. Servir la cause du plus grand nombre et non pas nous en servir comme tremplin pour assouvir des ambitions de jouissance et de puissance. Pour cela, il nous faut connaître nos problèmes par nous-mêmes et pour nous-mêmes et avoir la volonté de les résoudre par nos propres moyens d’abord, avec l’aide des autres ensuite, mais toujours en tenant compte de nos réalités africaines (…).

Pour notre part, nous l’avons dit et répété : nous avons été, nous sommes et demeurerons toujours pour et avec le «talaka» (paysan) nigérien »

Djibo Bakary

Éditorial dans le Démocrate du 4 février 1956

De nos jours, l’histoire du Sawaba est peu connue ou peu évoquée au Niger. En fait, ce n’est qu’en 1991, après la fin de la guerre froide, que la liste complète des prisonniers politiques sawabistes morts en détention dans les années 1960 et 1970 a pu être publiée. Selon Mounkaila Sanda, neveu de Djibo Bakary et futur dirigeant du Sawaba, il y a eu depuis longtemps un effort concerté pour effacer de la conscience nationale le souvenir de la lutte du Sawaba ainsi que la répression systématique de ses membres.

Comme c’était différent dans les années 1950 ! Le Sawaba, alors sous son nom d’origine Union Démocratique Nigérienne (UDN), était le principal véhicule de changement anticolonial au Niger. Son fondateur, Djibo Bakary, avait connu son premier éveil politique alors qu’il était écolier dans les rues de la capitale Niamey. Dans son autobiographie de 1992 Silence ! On décolonise, Bakary se souvient qu’il rentrait de l’école primaire en rentrant chez lui et qu’il avait croisé son père alors âgé de près de 60 ans cassant des pierres dans une équipe de réparateurs de routes enrôlés – une partie du système colonial de travail forcé (la corvée) qui restait en vigueur dans les colonies françaises jusqu’après la Seconde Guerre mondiale. Le jeune Bakary était furieux contre un système qui violait les notions communautaires de respect des aînés et de l’autorité traditionnelle (son père, bien que pauvre, était un chef de village local).

Continue reading Silence! On décolonise

The story of Chinese doctors overseas

On 29 December, 2023, Chinese President Xi Jinping met with people attending an event marking the 60th anniversary of China dispatching its first international medical aid team.

In its second issue for 2024, Qiushi, an important journal of the Communist Party of China, published an article outlining the six decades of historical experience that lay behind the celebration of this anniversary. 

In December 1962, China’s Ministry of Health received a special letter from the government of Algeria through the International Red Cross; the North African country, which had just won its independence through a bloody war against French colonialism, had issued an urgent appeal to the world for medical assistance. The Chinese government was the first to respond, announcing that it would set up a medical aid team of outstanding doctors. On April 6, 1963, China’s first overseas medical aid team left Beijing for Algeria.

The article, full of inspiring and touching examples drawn from various countries, notes that: “For more than six decades, over 30,000 medical aid team members have carried on this mission, providing care to almost 300 million patients across 76 countries and regions… Dispatching medical teams to developing countries was a great initiative pioneered by the older generation of Chinese leaders, represented by Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai. It has since become a golden practice of China’s international diplomacy and cooperation.”

It introduces the story of Xu Changzhen, who first went to Algeria thirty years after the original mission and has since returned three times, spending almost eight years in the country. When she first arrived, Algeria was convulsed by war and one day the hospital where she was working was attacked by terrorists. Refusing to take shelter, she returned to the operating theatre, a local midwife sheltering her from stray gunfire with her own body as they went. Recalling the incident, Xu says: “A doctor is a special calling. Like a soldier going to battle, there are times when you must step up.”

The article adds: “It is no wonder that in Algeria, she is endearingly referred to as ‘Mother Xu.’ For over six decades, wave after wave of ‘Chinese mothers’ like her have collectively delivered more than 2.07 million newborns in Algeria. Of these, over 10,000 were named ‘Sinova,’ meaning ‘Chinese.'”

In 2021, Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of the Caribbean island nation of Dominica, took to his personal Facebook page to announce the establishment of the country’s first cardiovascular department at the Dominica-China Friendship Hospital, made possible with the help of a Chinese medical team. Dr. Wu Dexi, born in the 1980s, played a pivotal role in this achievement. Joining the second medical aid team to Dominica in 2019, Wu extended his stay in the country twice during the height of the Covid-19 crisis. Remaining on the front lines, he managed to save numerous critically ill patients. 

The article explains that: “President Xi Jinping’s proposal to build a global community of health for all stems from the Chinese cultural view of the world as one family, while also exemplifying China’s sense of mission as a responsible major country in the new era.”

It illustrates the point with reference to China’s response to the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa:

“As one often quoted saying puts it, ‘While others fled in the face of Ebola, the Chinese came because of it.’ For Chinese doctors, this is the highest praise they could receive. In 2014, an Ebola outbreak hit West Africa, with the mortality rate exceeding 60%. When many nations were evacuating their personnel and the world was speaking of Ebola in dread, 16 Chinese medical teams consisting of over 1,200 medical personnel marched against the tide to the front lines. They treated upwards of 800 patients, provided public health training to over 13,000 participants, and came to be recognised as true friends by their host nations.”

(A similar internationalist spirit was also displayed by doctors from socialist Cuba.)

It concludes:

“Today, Chinese medical teams are operating in 115 medical facilities across 56 countries and regions around the world. Almost half of them are stationed in remote and challenging areas. Perhaps the local people in those places do not know the faces behind the masks of those who treat them, but they clearly recognise the five-star red flag emblazoned on their medical coats. What’s more, they know that these are Chinese doctors and that they are part of a force known simply as the Chinese medical team.”

We reprint the full text of the article below.

In December 1962, China’s Ministry of Health received a special letter from the government of Algeria through the International Red Cross; the newly independent country had sent an urgent appeal to the world for medical assistance. The Chinese government was the first to respond, announcing that it would set up a medical aid team of outstanding doctors to assist African friends. On April 6, 1963, China’s first overseas medical aid team left Beijing for Algeria. For China, this marked the start of a great international medical assistance endeavor, which has since transcended national borders, ethnicity, and skin color. For more than six decades, over 30,000 medical aid team members have carried on this mission, providing care to almost 300 million patients across 76 countries and regions. Their compassion and medical expertise have brought great benefits to local populations, and their concrete actions have effectively conveyed China’s story to the world. Earning high acclaim from governments and citizens of host countries, they have made an important contribution to the development of a global community of health for all.

I. Courage in adversity: enduring legacy of Chinese doctors

Dispatching medical teams to developing countries was a great initiative pioneered by the older generation of Chinese leaders, represented by Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai. It has since become a golden practice of China’s international diplomacy and cooperation. For more than six decades, Chinese medical aid teams have braved harsh and complex conditions, confronting perilous challenges such as infectious diseases, wars, and natural disasters. With an unyielding spirit, indomitable will, and tremendous sacrifice and courage, they have created one after another inspirational achievements in lands far from home.

On April 16, 1963, after a 10-day journey, China’s first medical aid team eventually arrived in Saida, a small city on the edge of the Algerian desert. The arid city suffered from water scarcity. With summer temperatures of over 40 degrees Celsius and snow depth of up to one meter in winter, diseases were widespread, and the living environment was harsh. In spite of these conditions, the medical team did everything it could to serve the local community. They resourcefully fashioned their own instruments when equipment was lacking and prepared their own reagents when testing kits were unavailable. Qiu Yuehua, a member of the team, made the following note on the back of a photograph featuring a one-month-old baby, “This is one of the newborns I helped to bring into the world. The mother had tuberculosis, so the child was left in our care for feeding. It’s been almost a month now.” That year, Qiu was just 24 years old. Born in Zhenjiang, Jiangsu Province, she had never traveled further than the provincial capital of Nanjing before going to Algeria. Nevertheless, she did not hesitate when she received her mission.

Continue reading The story of Chinese doctors overseas

A month traveling in China

What follows is an original article by Stansfield Smith, a Chicago-based writer and organiser with Chicago ALBA Solidarity, sharing his reflections on a recent trip to China, which took in nine different cities and towns.

Drawing on his experiences, he highlights a series of contrasts between China and the US. For example, China’s rail systems are decades in advance of the US: “A train from Shanghai to Kunming, the distance from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, takes 11 hours 40 minutes and costs the equivalent of $127.” This is a manifestation of China prioritising the wellbeing of its people, unlike in the US where “trillions of dollars spent on endless war have impoverished us”. China’s cities meanwhile are clean and safe, packed with “pleasant, well-designed and well-kept parks”.

Particularly striking is the lack of homelessness in China. “We were in nine different cities and saw just one down-and-out person on the street asking for money. The US, in the midst of wealth, has hundreds of thousands of homeless, including children, pregnant women, and the elderly.”

Stansfield observes:

The Chinese have devoted immense public funding to public services, making you feel the world outside your front door is clean, safe, and well-organized. As a result, you feel welcomed in public places, you feel your well-being is respected… The overall feeling created in litter-free, clean, safe cities, with no homeless, staffed with many workers who keep it in order for the people, is that in contrast to the US, the Chinese government has created a society that cares about you… China is creating a more humane place to live.

Sad to say, the US is responding to China’s progress with a New Cold War – a desperate attempt to contain China’s rise and to preserve American hegemony. Ultimately this strategy will be unsuccessful. As the author points out, “today China presents a progressive and growing alternative force to the world power of the US empire.”

My Chinese-speaking wife and I recently traveled to nine different cities and towns in China over the course of a month, our fourth trip since 2005. We were also to go in 2020, but the covid lockdown canceled it. That year we could have booked a train ticket to Xinjiang and traveled around that province no questions asked, though Western media claimed we’d be in the midst of the bogus Uyghur “genocide.” One example of the endless disinformation about China.

Of our most significant impressions of China, the first is the contrast between the stories the corporate media tell us about China, what they don’t want us to know, and the reality we see. The Wall Street Journal for example asserted “China’s economy limps into 2024”, whereas in contrast the US was marked by a “resilient domestic economy.” In reality, China grew 5.3% in the first quarter of 2024. The US grew at 1.6%, Germany and France grew just 0.2%, Britain at 0.6%, and Japan -0.5%. But economic crisis is racking China!

Two, China’s infrastructure surpasses anything in the US. Jimmy Carter said “How many miles of high-speed railroad do we have in this country [zero]? China has around 18,000 miles (29,000 km) of high-speed rail lines.” That was in 2019. Now it is 28,000 miles and trains can travel 220 miles per hour. A train from Shanghai to Kunming, the distance from Philadelphia to Los Angeles, takes 11 hours 40 minutes and costs the equivalent of $127.

What we live with here in the US appears hugely backward in comparison. Their subway systems are decades ahead of those in the US; the US train system seems a century behind. Videos such as this show what they have achieved. 

Three, after experiencing China’s incredible infrastructure, you realize how the trillions of dollars spent on endless war have impoverished us. The US blows things up instead of building things to improve public well-being. Carter said the US “has wasted, I think, $3 trillion” on military spending ($5.9 trillion between 2001-2018). “Since 1979, do you know how many times China has been at war with anybody? None, and we have stayed at war. China has not wasted a single penny on war, and that’s why they’re ahead of us. In almost every way… We’d have high-speed railroad. We’d have bridges that aren’t collapsing, we’d have roads that are maintained properly. Our education system would be as good as that of say South Korea or Hong Kong.”

Four, clean and safe cities. We don’t see the omnipresent litter we do here. Every day a veritable army of public workers cleans the streets, sidewalks, subways, parks, and other public places. These are not simply litter-free, but clean. Workers making sure of it. In the US we would expect this in private buildings, universities, hospitals, fancy hotels, but not in public spaces.

Continue reading A month traveling in China

Videos: China proves that a new world is possible! Delegates report back from China

On 16 June 2024, we held a webinar reporting back on the first exclusive Friends of Socialist China delegation to the People’s Republic of China, which took place from 14 to 24 April 2024. At the webinar we heard back from the delegates about their experiences and observations of Chinese socialism. The speakers were:

  • Danny Haiphong (Broadcaster; Author, ‘American Exceptionalism and American Innocence’)
  • Fiona Sim (Black Liberation Alliance)
  • Roger McKenzie (International editor, Morning Star)
  • Margaret Kimberley (Editor-in-chief, Black Agenda Report)
  • Russel Harland (trade unionist and Friends of Socialist China Britain Committee member)
  • Sage Stanescu (researcher and Friends of Socialist China Britain Committee member)

Embedded below is the full livestream (unfortunately including, in the first few minutes, various interruptions by racist trolls attempting to sabotage the event) and the individual panel contributions (thankfully without interruptions!).

China and Cuba: good friends, good comrades and good brothers

Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla visited China in the first week of June as the Special Envoy of President Miguel Díaz-Canel.

Meeting his Cuban counterpart on June 6, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said that China and Cuba are good friends who trust each other, good comrades who share the same vision, and good brothers who share weal and woe, adding that the two sides reached an important consensus on jointly building a China-Cuba community with a shared future. China speaks highly of Cuba’s adherence to truth and defiance of power, and appreciates that Cuba always stands up for China’s legitimate stance on international multilateral occasions. China firmly supports Cuba in defending its national sovereignty and opposing foreign interference and will continue to resolutely oppose the US’s unreasonable blockade against Cuba.

Wang added that China is willing to work with Cuba to implement the consensus reached by the two heads of state, develop the special friendly relations between the two parties and two countries, and contribute to promoting the cause of world socialism and safeguarding world peace.

Rodriguez said that Cuba sincerely thanks China for its strong support in resisting the unreasonable blockade and interference of the United States and overcoming temporary difficulties in economic operation and will continue to firmly abide by the one-China principle.

Cuba is willing to work with China to build a Cuba-China community with a shared future, give top priority to the joint construction of the Belt and Road, and safeguard the sovereignty and independence of developing countries as well as the cause of socialism.

The following day, Rodriguez had separate meetings with Li Xi, a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, who is also Secretary of the CPC Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, and with Liu Jianchao, Minister of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee (IDCPC).

Noting that China and Cuba are good friends, good comrades, and good brothers who stick together through thick and thin, Li said China will continue to support Cuba in pursuing a socialist path that suits its national conditions and defending its national sovereignty and dignity.

Rodriguez expressed gratitude for China’s strong support for the just cause of Cuba, saying Cuba will firmly abide by the one-China principle, steadfastly deepen friendship with China and resolutely defend the socialist cause.

Liu Jianchao said that under the strong leadership of the Communist Party of Cuba, the Cuban people have firm convictions, are not afraid of power, are indomitable, and resolutely safeguard the interests of the country and the nation. The Communist Party of China is ready to work with the Communist Party of Cuba to implement the important consensus reached by the top leaders of the two parties and two countries, strengthen exchanges at all levels, along with mutual learning of experience in governance, promote cooperation in areas such as people’s livelihood, give full play to the political leading role of inter-party relations, advance their respective socialist construction, and promote greater development of China-Cuba relations.

Rodriguez said that Cuba and China share common ideals and beliefs, and both adhere to the socialist road. The Cuban party and government have placed the development of relations with China and the Communist Party of China in the first place in their foreign relations, thanked the Chinese side for its valuable assistance and strong support for Cuba’s economic and social development, and hoped to strengthen cooperation with China in agriculture, renewable energy, investment, finance, and other fields. We firmly believe, he added, that with the support of China and international friendly forces, Cuba will be able to continue to advance on the road of socialist construction. Cuba is ready to work with China to promote the building of a just and equitable international order.

On June 12, Li Xi also met with a delegation of the Communist Party of Cuba (PCC) led by Gladys Martinez Verdecia, member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the PCC and First Secretary of its Artemisa Provincial Party Committee. He said that China and Cuba are both socialist countries led by communist parties and share common ideals and convictions.

Martinez expressed willingness to work with the CPC to implement the consensus reached by the top leaders of the two parties and countries, deepen the exchange of experience on party and state governance, promote practical cooperation in agriculture and other fields, and push for greater development of China-Cuba relations. The following articles were originally published by the Xinhua News Agency and on the website of the IDCPC. The article from the IDCPC was published in Chinese and has been machine translated and subedited by us.

Chinese FM holds talks with Cuban president’s special envoy

BEIJING, June 6 (Xinhua) — Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with Special Envoy of Cuban President and Minister of Foreign Affairs Bruno Rodriguez Parrilla, on Thursday in Beijing.

Wang, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said that China and Cuba are good friends who trust each other, good comrades who share the same vision, and good brothers who share weal and woe, adding that the two sides reached an important consensus on jointly building a China-Cuba community with a shared future.

Continue reading China and Cuba: good friends, good comrades and good brothers

Quiet please! We’re decolonising

Events in the Sahel region of Africa seldom get the international attention they deserve. However, developments in recent years have started to draw greater attention from anti-imperialists. In Mali in 2021, Burkina Faso in 2022, and Niger in 2023, progressive figures from the military have taken power, dealing a blow to the former colonial power France, which has long continued to maintain its effective domination of the region, and arousing renewed hope among the masses of people for independent development and social progress.

On 16 September 2023, these three countries formed the Alliance of Sahel States (AES) as a mutual defence pact when military aggression was threatened against the new government of Niger. The AES joins a growing number of regional and international bodies formed by the countries of the Global South to strengthen their independence against imperialism on the basis of collective self-reliance.

As part of this process, all three countries are strengthening their ties, in the economic, military and other fields, with China, Russia and other anti-imperialist states.

These developments do not occur in a vacuum. Rather, they have deep roots. Many people in the anti-imperialist movement know something of Thomas Sankara, the inspirational Marxist leader of Burkina Faso. Some know of Modibo Keïta, the first, socialist President of Mali. But probably very few know of the Sawaba Party, its leader Djibo Bakary, and the courageous armed struggle they waged in the 1960s for Niger’s true liberation.  

In this special article, written exclusively for Friends of Socialist China, Dr. Sahidi Bilan, Senior Adviser of  London-based Collectif de la Nigérienne Diaspora (Collective of the Nigérien Diaspora – CND), and Rob Lemkin, award-winning filmmaker, whose BBC2/BFI African Apocalypse documents the 1899 French invasion of Niger, bring the hidden history of the Sawaba Party to life, focusing especially on the strong internationalist support and assistance rendered by the People’s Republic of China to the Nigerien revolution – a relationship of solidarity that dates from 1954.

Bringing the story up to date, the authors conclude:

“It may be that the emancipatory force of history that Sawaba fought so hard to release is now beginning to be realised by the people of Niger. Let us hope that long-yearned-for freedom and justice can at last prevail without negative external interference…

“Today Niger and China have strong economic and political relations.  Sawaba’s little-known history and connection with the PRC is an important foundation in the origins of today’s friendship.”

The struggle of the Sawaba Party was suppressed with extreme cruelty. But, facing execution at the hands of Spanish colonialists in 1781, Bolivian national hero, Tupac Katari declared: “I will return and I will be millions.” 

Today, as their countries embark on the difficult road of building a new society, Thomas Sankara, Modibo Keïta and Djibo Bakary have returned. And they are millions.

When Niger’s military government last year expelled the troops and diplomats of the former colonising power France, some Nigeriens saw it as the resumption of a process rudely interrupted in September 1958. Sixty-six years ago, on the eve of independence, Niger’s first African government council was led by the Sawaba party (Sawaba means ‘liberation’ and ‘well-being’ in Niger’s main language Hausa) and its Prime Minister was a charismatic decolonial trade unionist called Djibo Bakary.

Sawaba’s overthrow in 1958 by France was Africa’s first modern coup d’etat. In no time the party was proscribed and driven underground; it went on to create a resistance movement with the support of African anti-imperialist states like Ghana and Algeria and developed a significant guerrilla training programme with help from the socialist bloc notably the People’s Republic of China.

‘Silence! On decolonise!’ is the title of Djibo Bakary’s great book, at once autobiography and manifesto for the radical decolonisation programme of which he was a principal. We use its title to explore a better understanding of the 26 July 2023 military coup and its unilateral  severing of military accords with France and later the United States of America. It is vital to interrogate why no military coup in Niger’s post-independence history (and there have been eight of which five were successful) has had such popular support as that of the CNSP (Conseil national pour la sauvegarde de la patrie, National Council for the Safeguard of the Homeland).

This article gives first a brief introduction to Sawaba’s history and vision for Niger; we then focus on China’s connections, in particular its role in and influence on Sawaba’s remarkably ambitious, but disastrously unsuccessful attempt to invade Niger in 1964; we then outline the intense repression that followed and conclude bringing the story up to the present.

The questions for today include: how aware are Niger’s current rulers of Bakary and Sawaba’s radical decolonial project? Are the recent expulsions of Western military forces part of genuine politics of anti-imperialism or are they merely a populist move by the military government? American and French military presences (Italian and German too) had been justified by the need to combat insurgency. But terror attacks have increased over the last decade. The government is now turning to Russia for military assistance.


 “I believe it is our duty is to inform the representatives of France of the will and thought of the overwhelming majority of the people we claim to work for; to serve the interests of the greatest number and not to use it as a springboard to satisfy desires for luxury and power. For this, we need to grapple with our problems by ourselves and for ourselves and have the will to solve them first on our own, later with the help of others, but always taking account of our African realities (…)

For our part, we have said it again and again: we have been, we are and will remain always for and with the Nigérien “talaka” (peasant)”

Djibo Bakary, Editorial in The Democrat 4 February 1956

Nowadays the history of Sawaba is little known or spoken of in Niger. In fact, it was not until 1991 after the end of the Cold War that the full list could be published of Sawabist political prisoners who had died in detention through the 1960s and 70s. According to Mounkaila Sanda, Djibo Bakary’s nephew and a later leader of Sawaba, there has long been a concerted effort to expunge the memory of Sawaba’s struggle from national consciousness along with the systematic repression of its members.

Continue reading Quiet please! We’re decolonising

Webinar: China proves that a new world is possible! Delegates report back from China

Date Sunday 16 June
Time4pm Britain / 11am US Eastern / 8am US Pacific

The first exclusive Friends of Socialist China delegation to the People’s Republic of China took place from 14 to 24 April 2024. Fourteen comrades (11 from Britain, two from the US and one from Ireland) visited Beijing, Hangzhou and Jiaxing (Zhejiang province), and Changchun and Siping (Jilin province). The packed program featured visits to public service and community facilities, historic revolutionary sites and museums, political, scientific, cultural, industrial, and agricultural organisations, exhibition centres and cooperatives; as well as meetings with academics, publishers and officials.

At this webinar, we’ll hear back from the delegates about their experiences and observations of Chinese socialism.

Speakers

  • Margaret Kimberley (Editor-in-chief, Black Agenda Report)
  • Danny Haiphong (Youtuber; Author, ‘American Exceptionalism and American Innocence’)
  • Roger McKenzie (International editor, Morning Star)
  • Fiona Sim (Black Liberation Alliance)
  • Sage Stanescu (researcher and Friends of Socialist China Britain Committee member)
  • Russel Harland (trade unionist and Friends of Socialist China Britain Committee member)

Organisers

This webinar is jointly organised by Friends of Socialist China and the International Manifesto Group.

Why so many young Asian-Americans stand with Palestine

In the following article, which we reprint from Yes! Media, Cathi Choi reports how during this year’s Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, which is celebrated in the United States each May, students across the country are shutting down college campuses as part of a growing mass movement in support of a free Palestine.

She notes that, according to a November 2023 GenForward survey, younger Asian Americans are the demographic group most likely to sympathise with Palestinians and to believe that the United States is too supportive of Israel. The legacy of US wars waged throughout Asia has historically shaped generations of solidarity-building between Asian Americans and all peoples facing the brunt of US militarism. And as the US continues to fund Israel, militarise the Pacific, and exacerbate tensions with China, young Asian Americans have a particular role to play in challenging the ever-growing US war machine. 

In a recent interview, Ji Hye Choi, a young organiser with Marianas for Palestine, shared that as a Korean woman born and raised on the US territory of Guam, her ancestral legacy and upbringing have shown her how communities across time and space have organised to resist colonisation, capitalist-driven militarism and US forever wars. 

She said sceptics dismiss her because of her young age, but she is nevertheless determined to stand in solidarity with Palestinians based on a shared understanding of “the global fight for resistance and liberation.”

Cathi describes Ji Hye as “continuing a tradition that I have been proud to be a part of through my own work mobilising hundreds of intergenerational activists across the country to end the Korean War.

“While the term ‘Asian American’ has been rightfully critiqued, the origins of Asian America are rooted in an internationalist, anti-war ethos. As Karen Ishizuka describes in ‘Serve the People: Making Asian America in the Long Sixties’, [published by Verso], it was ‘no accident’ that Asian America was born during the peak of organising against the Vietnam War, when Asian Americans highlighted the connection between racism and militarism in Vietnam – a perspective they felt the mainstream anti-war movement ignored.

“Past Asian American organisers also applied a class lens to their organising, demanding divestment from militarism and reinvestment in working-class communities at home. This class-based analysis is even more critical today as Asian Americans have the largest income gap of any racial group.”

She also cites the pioneering work of the Combahee River Collective, a “radical black feminist, socialist, anti-imperialist collective of women.” 

According to Cathi, “With zero accountability, the US military continues its costly ramp-up for a war against China as it prepares for the Rim of Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC)… carried out in the Pacific biennially in coordination with 25 other countries (including Israel, South Korea, and the Philippines).

“In April, Biden also approved a controversial bill after it was passed by Congress, reauthorising the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA).  A coalition of leading Asian American organiations opposed this renewal because FISA has been used to ‘justify mass spying, racial profiling, and discrimination of innocent people,’ with harsh consequences for both Asian Americans and pro-Palestinian protestors.”

Cathi Choi is the director of policy and organising for Women Cross DMZ, and co-coordinator of Korea Peace Now! Grassroots Network. 

Yes! Media describes itself as a nonprofit, independent publisher of solutions journalism.

As we mark Asian American Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month, students across the country are shutting down college campuses and spurring mass movement for a free Palestine. 

Younger generations are significantly more pro-Palestine than their elders, and according to a November 2023 GenForward survey, younger Asian Americans are the demographic group most likely to sympathize with Palestinians and to believe that the United States is too supportive of Israel. The legacy of U.S. wars waged throughout Asia has historically shaped generations of solidarity-building between Asian Americans and all peoples facing the brunt of U.S. militarism. And as the U.S. continues to fund Israelmilitarize the Pacific, and exacerbate tensions with China, young Asian Americans have a particular role to play in challenging the ever-growing U.S. war machine. 

In a recent interview, Ji Hye Choi, a young organizer with Mariånas for Palestine, shared that as a Korean woman born and raised on the U.S. territory of Guam, her ancestral legacy and upbringing have shown her how communities across time and space have organized to resist colonizationcapitalist-driven militarism, and U.S. forever wars.

Ji Hye said skeptics dismiss her because of her young age, but she is nevertheless determined to stand in solidarity with Palestinians based on a shared understanding of “the global fight for resistance and liberation.” As I listened, I was deeply struck by her clarity and deep sense of purpose, both tied to her ancestral inheritance. 

Through her work to build solidarity with Palestinians, Ji Hye is one of many young Asian Americans working to resist U.S. militarism and war. She is continuing a tradition that I have been proud to be a part of through my own work mobilizing hundreds of intergenerational activists across the country to end the Korean War.

While the term “Asian American” has been rightfully critiqued, the origins of Asian America are rooted in an internationalist, anti-war ethos. As Karen Ishizuka describes in Serve the People: Making Asian America in the Long Sixties, it was “no accident” that Asian America was born during the peak of organizing against the Vietnam War, when Asian Americans highlighted the connection between racism and militarism in Vietnam—a perspective they felt the mainstream anti-war movement ignored. U.S. militarism and imperialism continue to fuel anti-Asian violence today.

Past Asian American organizers also applied a class lens to their organizing, demanding divestment from militarism and reinvestment in working-class communities at home. This class-based analysis is even more critical today as Asian Americans have the largest income gap of any racial group. Much of this economic disparity can be tied to the legacies of U.S. wars and militarism in Asian Americans’ countries of origin.

We stand on our predecessors’ tall shoulders and those of preeminent feminists like Margo Okazawa-Rey, a founding member of International Network of Women Against Militarism and the historic Combahee River Collective, a “radical black feminist, socialist, anti-imperialist collective of women.” As a “transnational feminist, U.S.-based African-American and Japanese woman,” Okazawa-Rey has long led movements in challenging militarism and radically rethinking possibilities for intersectional activism in the Asia Pacific and beyond.

Like Okazawa-Rey, our predecessors applied intersectional lenses to their activism. We must learn from them as we advocate for long-term change in all arenas of policymaking by building out a “robust ecosystem” of movements and community power, as urged by veteran movement leaders Ahmad Abuznaid of U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, Deepa Iyer of Building Movement Project, and Darakshan Raja of Muslims for Just Futures.

In particular, we must wrest power out of the hands of war profiteers and weapons manufacturers and reclaim the halls of legislative power from corporate interests. U.S. military spending has reached new heights; in April, Biden signed into law a $95 billion military spending package after it was approved by Congress, with $26 billion allotted to Israel and $8 billion to the Asia Pacific. As the U.S. continues to fund Israel, it also expands its military presence in the Asia Pacific in preparation for a potential war with China. 

More than half of U.S. national discretionary spending already goes toward the Pentagon, which has failed every single audit ever mandated by Congress, leaving billions unaccounted for. With zero accountability, the U.S. military continues its costly ramp-up for a war against China as it prepares for the Rim of Pacific Exercise (RIMPAC)—highly destructive war drills carried out in the Pacific biennially in coordination with 25 other countries (including Israel, South Korea, and the Philippines). While RIMPAC rages on, U.S. communities lack affordable health carehousing, and education, and are underprepared to deal with the devastating effects of the climate crisis.  

In April, Biden also approved a controversial bill after it was passed by Congress, reauthorizing the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). A coalition of leading Asian American organizations opposed this renewal because FISA has been used to “justify mass spying, racial profiling, and discrimination of innocent people,” with harsh consequences for both Asian Americans and pro-Palestinian protestors

We must continue learning from our collective pasts as we organize during this increasingly precarious time. Our elders have taught us that an identity grouping is only as meaningful as its capacity to be transformative for all peoples. Okazawa-Rey has explained that the Combahee River Collective’s “identity politics” were not exclusionary, but about galvanizing collective power to organize against all systems of oppression. 

If we are to continue making meaning out of “Asian America” this AAPI Heritage Month, we must root ourselves in intersectional principles, draw threads across global and local struggles, and forge new paths toward a world free from U.S. militarism and forever wars.

Roosevelt Skerrit: China-Dominica relations have become a model of south-south cooperation

Roosevelt Skerrit, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Dominica, visited China from March 23-29. During his visit he gave an interview to Wang Guan for the CGTN series Leaders Talk. 

Skerrit, who has visited China 12 times in the 20 years since the two countries established diplomatic relations shortly after he became Prime Minister, describes the country as a true and reliable friend in difficult times.

His meeting with President Xi Jinping had been the highlight of his current visit. They had reached a consensus on bilateral and multilateral issues, especially the need to take stronger measures to tackle the threats posed by climate change and to build stronger resilience in this regard. 

Skerrit acclaims the Chinese leader’s work for global peace and prosperity, in a way that will allow every country to prosper. China’s example in this regard should be emulated by the developed countries.

The Dominican Prime Minister agreed with President Xi’s observation that China-Dominica relations have become a model of south-south cooperation. He noted that although Dominica is a very small country, Xi always treats him as an equal. 

Dominica fully supports the one China principle, which it regards as a tenet of international law, and will support and play its part in the peaceful reunification of China. 

Expanding on China’s friendship in difficult times, Skerrit said that whenever Dominica faces difficulties, China comes to its aid without even having to be asked. As a small Caribbean island country, Dominica is highly susceptible to natural disasters, such as Hurricane Erika in 2015 and Hurricane Maria in 2017, which destroyed or damaged some 90% of buildings on the island, and climate change is truly an existential threat for small island states in particular, whether in the Caribbean or the South Pacific. Dominica is seeking to harness its own resources, such as geothermal and hydro, with the aim to achieve 100% renewable energy usage by 2030.

China had played a major role in reconstruction following the hurricanes, for example, completing the reconstruction of the West Coast Road, which links the capital Roseau with the second city of Portsmouth, in 2020, despite the challenges posed by COVID. Other key aid projects of China are the Dominica-China Friendship Hospital along with the building of six schools. The Friendship Hospital is described by Skerrit as the most modern one to be found in the Caribbean and he singles out its cardiology unit as a key example of a facility that ensures that Dominicans can now receive specialist treatment without needing to travel abroad.

In agricultural technology, China is helping Dominica to contribute to regional food security through the development of seedlings that are more resilient to pests and to the vagaries of the climate.

As for his impressions of the changes in China that he has been able to witness in 12 visits over two decades, Skerrit simply describes them as magical, citing in particular achievements in technology, infrastructure, education and the promotion of common prosperity.

Skerrit also commends China’s promotion of dialogue in dealing with international issues as well as its rejection of unilateral sanctions, especially the United States’ unfair and unjust sanctions on Cuba. He rejects the misconceptions harboured by the United States and some European powers regarding China’s engagement with the countries of the Caribbean and Latin America. This engagement is focused on economic development and social advancement and China’s support and cooperation come with no conditions. Loans extended to the Caribbean and Latin America by China have the lowest interest rates, sometimes being fixed at zero.

The full interview with Prime Minister Skerrit is embedded below.

Minister Liu Jianchao meets with SWAPO delegation

The historic ties between the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the SWAPO (South West African People’s Organisation) Party of Namibia were reaffirmed with a recent visit by a SWAPO delegation led by  Sophia Shaningwa, Secretary General of the party.

Meeting Liu Jianchao on May 14, the Minister of the CPC International Department (IDCPC) said that China and Namibia fought side by side during Namibia’s struggle for national independence and forged a profound friendship. (China consistently supported the armed struggle led by SWAPO against apartheid colonialism and imperialism from the early days, with Sam Nujoma, the father of the Namibian nation, forging a revolutionary friendship with successive generations of Chinese leaders from Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai onwards.)

Liu added that the CPC and SWAPO are both political parties that work tirelessly for the interests of the people. The close ties between the two parties are an important cornerstone for the inheritance and development of relations.

Shaningwa said that Namibia-China friendship was jointly created by leaders from the older generations of the two countries and has grown stronger over time. SWAPO regards the CPC as a close comrade and a true friend. It hopes to learn experience in party building and state governance from the CPC, enhance high-level exchanges between the two parties, strengthen cooperation in cadre training and other fields, and promote the relations between the two parties and the two countries.  

The following article was originally published on the website of the IDCPC.

Beijing, May 14th—Liu Jianchao, Minister of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee (IDCPC), met here today with a delegation led by Sophia Shaningwa, Secretary General of the SWAPO Party of Namibia.  

Liu said, China and Namibia fought side by side during Namibia’s struggle for national independence and forged a profound friendship. Since the establishment of diplomatic relations, the two countries have continuously strengthened political mutual trust and achieved fruitful results in cooperation in various fields. The Chinese side is willing to work with the Namibian side, under the leadership of the two heads of state, to inherit China-Namibia friendship, deepen political mutual trust, strengthen practical cooperation in various fields, and better benefit the two countries and the two peoples.  

Liu said, the CPC and the SWAPO Party are both political parties that work tirelessly for the interests of the people. The close ties between the two Parties are an important cornerstone for the inheritance and development of relations. The CPC is willing to strengthen high-level exchanges with the SWAPO Party, deepen mutual learning of experience in state governance and administration, support each other in safeguarding the sovereignty, security, and development interests of the two countries, promote exchanges and cooperation between youth and women’s organizations affiliated to the two Parties, and push China-Namibia comprehensive strategic cooperative partnership for constant development.  

Shaningwa said, Namibia-China friendship was jointly created by leaders from the older generations of the two countries and has grown stronger over time. The Namibian side thanks the Chinese side for its selfless assistance in agriculture, infrastructure construction and other aspects, and hopes to comprehensively strengthen cooperation with the Chinese side in all areas. The SWAPO Party regards the CPC as a close comrade and a true friend. It hopes to learn experience in party building and state governance from the CPC, enhance high-level exchanges between the two Parties, strengthen cooperation in cadre training and other fields, and promote the relations between the two parties and the two countries for greater development.  

Li Mingxiang, Vice-minister of the IDCPC, was present. 

China continues to strengthen its relations with socialist Cuba in practical ways

China is continuing to strengthen its relations with socialist Cuba in practical ways. 

On April 8, Radio Havana reported that: “The advance of a rice donation and the completion, with Chinese help, of the deepest oil well ever drilled in Cuba, illustrated in recent weeks the scope and relevance of cooperation between the two countries.”

The Cuban oil industry, it added, had reported the completion of the 8,477-meter well with the assistance of the Chinese company Gran Muralla.

The Chinese donation of rice, to help alleviate current food shortages on the island, was complemented by steps to increase cooperation in the fields of agri-food, biotechnology, transportation, and communications industries.

Meanwhile, Air China is to resume direct flights to Cuba from May 17. The flights were suspended during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Following Air China’s move, on May 4, the Cuban government announced that Chinese citizens would no longer require a visa to visit Cuba. The Chinese travel platform Ctrip reported that online searches for travel to Cuba surged by 40 percent within half an hour of the announcement.

It has also been announced that China will be the guest country of honour at the 2025 Cuban Tourism Festival.

Song Wei, a professor with the School of International Relations and Diplomacy at Beijing Foreign Studies University, told the Global Times that the resumption of direct flights will facilitate stronger connections between Cuba and the rest of the world, enhance its trade relations, and contribute to consolidating its development basis. It also helps mitigate the impact of the decades-long US embargo and enhances Cuba’s external economic ties in opposition to hegemony and unilateral sanctions.

She added that how to free themselves from the economic hegemony of the US and to seek more development partnerships are particularly important questions for Latin American countries, which is also the reason why Latin America attaches great importance to developing relations with China.

The following articles were first published by Radio Havana and Global Times.

China’s helping hand

The advance of a rice donation and the completion, with Chinese help, of the deepest oil well ever drilled in Cuba, illustrated in recent weeks the scope and relevance of cooperation between the two countries.

The Cuban oil industry reported with satisfaction the completion of the 8,477-meter well with the assistance of the Chinese company Gran Muralla.

More recent was the visit to Havana of Luo Zhaohui, president of China’s International Cooperation Agency for Development, when a donation of rice was made and memorandums of understanding were signed in the agri-food, biotechnology, transportation and communications industries.

The stay of the illustrious visitor was described by the host government as significant and a reflection of the consensus reached by the presidents of both countries, Xi Jinping and Miguel Díaz-Canel, who have met several times.

The most recent agreements and other previous ones are part of the course of relations that stand out for their special nuance.

China understands and cooperates with Cuba in pressing circumstances for the latter, due to the tightening of the U.S. blockade and the inclusion of the Caribbean country in a list that Washington unilaterally points out as sponsors of terrorism.

Now, if Beijing’s gestures and actions towards Havana are relevant and comprehensive, so are the prospects for exchanges.

Continue reading China continues to strengthen its relations with socialist Cuba in practical ways

China and Cuba working to strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation and promote socialist development

Liu Jianchao, Minister of the International Department of the Communist Party of China (IDCPC), met with Ludmila Alamo, Deputy Chief of the Ideological Department of the Communist Party of Cuba, on April 23, during her visit to China.

Alamo said the Cuban side sincerely thanks China for its strong support and selfless help to overcome economic and social challenges and promote the cause of socialism in Cuba over the years. The Communist Party of Cuba cherishes its friendly relations with the CPC and is willing to increase high-level exchanges between the two Parties, strengthen exchanges and cooperation in ideological and other fields, and create a favourable environment of public opinion for promoting the socialist causes of both countries.

The following report was originally published on the IDCPC website.

Liu Jianchao, Minister of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee, met here today with Ludmila Alamo, Deputy Chief of the Ideological Department of the Communist Party of Cuba.

Liu said, in recent years, General Secretary Xi Jinping and First Secretary Miguel Mario Díaz-Canel Bermúdez have maintained close communication, injecting strong impetus into the development of China-Cuba relations in the new era. The Chinese side is ready to work with the Cuban side to implement the important consensus reached by the top leaders of the two Parties and countries, strengthen mutually beneficial cooperation in various fields and promote the development of respective socialist causes. The CPC is willing to deepen institutionalized exchanges and cooperation with the Communist Party of Cuba, strengthen mutual learning on party building and state governance, and contribute to jointly building a China-Cuba community with a shared future in the new era.  

Alamo said, the Cuban side sincerely thanks China for its strong support and selfless help to overcome economic and social challenges and promote the cause of socialism in Cuba over the years. The Cuban side firmly upholds the one-China principle, supports China’s great cause of national reunification and opposes external interference in China’s internal affairs. The Communist Party of Cuba cherishes its friendly relations with the CPC and is willing to increase high-level exchanges between the two Parties, strengthen exchanges and cooperation in ideological and other fields, and create a favorable environment of public opinion for promoting the socialist causes of both countries. 

Li Mingxiang meets with delegation of the South African Communist Party

A delegation of the South African Communist Party (SACP), led by Solly Afrika Mapaila, Secretary-General of the party, recently visited China. Li Mingxiang, Vice Minister of the International Department of the Communist Party of China (IDCPC), meeting the delegation, spoke highly of the special “comradely and brotherly” relations between China and South Africa and between the CPC and the SACP. Mapaila said the SACP admires the great achievements of socialism with Chinese characteristics and is willing to learn from the CPC’s successful concepts and experiences so as to promote socialism in South Africa.

The following brief report was originally published on the IDCPC website.

Li Mingxiang, Vice-minister of the International Department of the CPC Central Committee, met here today with a delegation of the South African Communist Party (SACP) led by Solly Afrika Mapaila, Secretary-General of the SACP.  

Li spoke highly of the special “comradely and brotherly” relations between China and South Africa and the relations between the CPC and the SACP. He said, the CPC is willing to strengthen strategic communication and cooperation with the SACP and exchange of experience in state governance and administration, push forward the sustained and in-depth development of the comprehensive strategic partnership between China and South Africa in the “golden era” and join hands to build a high-level China-Africa community with a shared future.   

Mapaila said, the SACP admires the great achievements of socialism with Chinese characteristics, and is willing to learn from the CPC’s successful concepts and experiences in an in-depth way, promote the practice of socialism in South Africa, work together to increase the representation of developing countries in international affairs and make the international order more just and equitable. 

Delegates from Britain, Ireland and the US learn about the past, present and future of Socialist China

The first exclusive Friends of Socialist China delegation to the People’s Republic of China took place from 14 to 24 April 2024.

Invited by the China NGO Network for International Exchanges (CNIE), which works under the direction of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (IDCPC), 14 comrades (11 from Britain, two from the United States and one from Ireland) visited Beijing, Hangzhou and Jiaxing (Zhejiang province), and Changchun and Siping (Jilin province). The packed program featured visits to public service and community facilities, historic revolutionary sites and museums, political, scientific, cultural, industrial, and agricultural organisations, exhibition centres and cooperatives, and famous scenic spots among others.

Serving the people

Our first site visit, on 15 April, was to the Beijing headquarters of the ‘12345’ government service hotline, where 1,500 employees (mostly CPC members) work in shifts to provide a single point of access for any and all problems and queries – for example, rubbish being left on the street, heating not working, or older people not receiving food deliveries. The service aims to provide “a bridge connecting people, party and government”, and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, free of charge. We were told that the Beijing HQ typically receives 60,000 calls a day, and 90 percent of these are resolved to the user’s satisfaction. The service in some form has been operating for 30 years, with substantial improvements over that period, including most recently support for more languages allowing visiting tourists and international residents to utilise the hotline.

Thanking our hosts at the 12345 hotline HQ, head of delegation Keith Bennett observed that the service embodies three important characteristics of the Chinese Revolution. Firstly, it represents a modern implementation of the slogan ‘serve the people’. Secondly, it is consistent with the mass line: “take the ideas of the masses (scattered and unsystematic ideas) and concentrate them (through study turn them into concentrated and systematic ideas), then go to the masses and propagate and explain these ideas until the masses embrace them as their own, hold fast to them and translate them into action, and test the correctness of these ideas in such action”. Lastly, the 12345 service is an example of using modern technology in order to carry out social investigation, “investigating the conditions of each social class in real life”. The use of big data allows the local government to notice trends in residents’ enquiries and proactively solve problems and improve services.

At the Beijing headquarters of the ‘12345’ government service hotline

The spirit of serving the people was also evident at the Party-masses Service Centre of Jiaxing, Zhejiang, which we visited on 19 April. Opened in 2021, it’s a hub for training, exhibitions, volunteer services, social organisation incubation, and provision of mental health services. Delegates were amazed to learn that people can register for counselling and get an appointment booked for the next day – free of charge. Also impressive were the meeting spaces and lecture halls that could be hired free of charge for use by the local community. The therapy is framed within a context of public health, and is based on the principle that “only with peace of mind can the people and the country be safe.”

Continue reading Delegates from Britain, Ireland and the US learn about the past, present and future of Socialist China

Dien Bien Phu victory through the memory of Chinese Senior Lieutenant General

Vietnam has been staging major commemorations of the 70th anniversary of the country’s victory at the Battle of Dien Bien Phu. This epic confrontation, which has been compared to the Battle of Stalingrad, and which raged for more than 50 days, from 13 March-May 7 1954, saw the Vietnamese liberation forces, led by Ho Chi Minh and Vo Nguyen Giap, comprehensively outwit, outmaneuver and finally crushingly defeat the far more powerful forces of French colonialism.

The victory of the Vietnamese revolutionaries destroyed French colonial rule in the three countries then collectively known as Indochina, namely Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia, which was then codified in the Geneva Accords of July 21, 1954. And, coming less than a year after the Korean people’s victory in the Fatherland Liberation War, the Vietnamese victory at Dien Bien Phu powerfully inspired oppressed peoples and nations throughout the world in their struggles against colonialism and imperialism. Not least, the Algerian people commenced their war of liberation against French colonial rule less than six months later.

The Vietnamese Communist Party’s newspaper Nhân Dân recently summarised the significance of the Dien Bien Phu victory as follows:

The Dien Bien Phu Victory became the sound of thunder that shook the world, tearing through the dark clouds of colonialism and imperialism, bringing a great source of encouragement to oppressed peoples to stand up to regain independence. The three words ‘Vietnam’, ‘Ho Chi Minh’, and ‘Dien Bien Phu’ resounded everywhere, becoming the pride and hope for freedom of progressive forces, a symbol of great bravery, and a shining star of the national liberation movement, signalling the collapse of colonialism.

“The Dien Bien Phu Victory is even greater because it is a victory of a fledgling army of a weak nation which defeated a colonialist giant with outnumbering troops and weapons. During the 56 days and nights of the battle, our army eliminated more than 16,000 enemy troops and demolished a group of strongholds regarded by the West as an invincible fortress. It was also the first time in history that a major expeditionary army of a western imperialist country was exterminated in a colonial country.”

Vietnam’s victory was immeasurably aided by the internationalist support and assistance of the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union, particularly the Military Advisory Delegation of China, which was embedded with the Vietnamese command.

It was commanded by Senior Lieutenant General Wei Guoqing (September 2, 1913-June 14, 1989). An outstanding Chinese revolutionary, Wei also served as Vice Chairman of the 4th and 5th National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committees; Vice Chairman of the 4th and 5th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conferences (CPPCC); Alternate Member and Member of the 8th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC); Member of the 9th Central Committee of the CPC; and member of the 10th, 11th and 12th Political Bureaux of the CPC Central Committee.

Marking the 70th anniversary, Nhân Dân recently interviewed Wei Guoqing’s son, Wei Xiaoyi, and his widow, Xu Qiqian.

Wei Xiaoyi said: “Before leaving for Vietnam, Chairman Mao Zedong met with the delegation’s leaders in Zhongnanhai [the compound where the top Chinese leadership live and work]. He asked the delegation’s members to support the Vietnamese revolution impartially and purely, just like serving the Chinese revolution. My father remembered Chairman Mao Zedong’s notes. After coming to Vietnam, he contributed his opinions to the construction and operations of the Vietnamese army”.

Regarding the significance of the Dien Bien Phu Victory for Vietnam, China and the world, Wei Xiaoyi said that the victory of the Dien Bien Phu Campaign forced the French army to withdraw from Indochina, leading to the success of the cause of national liberation. The growth and maturity of the Vietnamese forces, from a guerrilla army gradually becoming a regular army, created the foundation for the struggle against US imperialists’ invasion and later the national liberation and reunification.

For China, in the 1950s, the maintenance of stability in the situation of Korea bordering north China and Vietnam bordering south China created favourable conditions for the building of socialism. In addition, the Dien Bien Phu Victory also had an impact on the national liberation movement around the world. Vietnam’s struggle to defeat the French colonialists and later, the American imperialists to reunify the country, was a great encouragement for the national liberation movement in the world.

The following article was originally published by Nhân Dân. Additionally, its timeline of the battle can be seen here.

On the occasion of the 70th anniversary of the Dien Bien Phu Victory, Nhan Dan (People) Newspaper’s reporters in China interviewed Wei Xiaoyi, a son of Senior Lieutenant General Wei Guoqing, former Head of the Military Advisory Delegation of China during the Dien Bien Phu Campaign.

Wei Xiaoyi and his mother, Xu Qiqian (over 90), were very moved when they recalled their memories of the Chinese Senior Lieutenant General, who was attached to and devoted much love to Vietnam.

Recalling Senior Lieutenant General Wei Guoqing’s account of the Dien Bien Phu Campaign, Wei Xiaoyi said following the failures in campaigns, such as the Border Campaign and Upper Laos Campaign, France appointed General Henri Navarre as Commander-in-Chief of the French army in Indochina. Navarre developed a military plan named after himself to turn the tide of the Indochina war, with the assumption that by capturing this land, they would be able to control the entire northwest region of Vietnam and cut off communication between the Vietnamese army and people with Laos and China, while making it difficult for the Vietnamese to supply logistics.

In late 1953, the French army began sending garrisons to Dien Bien Phu, including mercenaries and later paratroopers. Faced with that situation, at Vietnam’s request, China sent a military advisory delegation to help the Vietnamese army. Senior Lieutenant General Wei Guoqing was the Head of the Chinese military advisory delegation to the Dien Bien Phu Campaign.

Wei Xiaoyi said: “Before leaving for Vietnam, President Mao Zedong met with the delegation’s leaders in Zhongnanhai. He asked the delegation’s members to support the Vietnamese revolution impartially and purely, just like serving the Chinese revolution. My father remembered President Mao Zedong’s notes. After coming to Vietnam, he contributed his opinions to the construction and operations of the Vietnamese army”.

On the 60th anniversary of the Dien Bien Phu Victory, Wei Xiaoyi visited the ancient Dien Bien Phu battlefield. He said he felt all he heard about Dien Bien Phu through the relic sites such as Dien Bien Phu Campaign Headquarters, where General Vo Nguyen Giap and others of the Dien Bien Phu Campaign Command often worked and rested, or the workplace of the Chinese Military Advisory Delegation.

Just like his father, Wei Xiaoyi greatly admired the spirit of heroic fighting and overcoming difficulties and hardships of the Vietnamese army and people, especially the transportation of weapons, ammunition, and food during the Dien Bien Phu Campaign, relied entirely on human strength amid the scarcity and a large difference in force with the enemy.

Regarding the significance of the Dien Bien Phu Victory for Vietnam, China and the world, Wei Xiaoyi said that the victory of the Dien Bien Phu Campaign forced the French army to withdraw from Indochina, leading to the success of the cause of national liberation. The growth and maturity of the Vietnamese, from a guerrilla army gradually becoming a regular army, created the foundation for the struggle against US imperialists’ invasion and later the national liberation and reunification.

For China, in the 1950s, the maintenance of stability in the situation of Korea in North China and Vietnam in South China created favourable conditions for the building of socialism in China. In addition, the Dien Bien Phu Victory also had an impact on the national liberation movement around the world. Vietnam’s struggle to defeat the French colonialists and later, the American imperialists to reunify the country was a great encouragement for the national liberation movement in the world.

Senior Lieutenant General Wei Guoqing (September 2, 1913 – June 14, 1989) was Head of the Chinese Military Advisory Delegation in Vietnam; Vice Chairman of the National People’s Congress Standing Committee for fourth and fifth tenures; Vice Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference for fourth and fifth tenures; Alternate Member and Member of the 8th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC); Member of the 9th Central Committee of the CPC; and member of the 10th, 11th and 12th Politburo of the CPC.

Wei Xiaoyi is the second child of Senior Lieutenant General Wei Guoqing. He joined the army and retired. He is now a researcher on Chinese military and revolutionary history.

Xi Jinping extends May Day greetings to China’s working people

As China celebrated the May Day holiday, marking International Workers’ Day, Chinese leader Xi Jinping extended his greetings and best wishes to the country’s working people.

In his message, Xi called on working people to actively participate in advancing Chinese modernisation with high-quality development and work tirelessly to promote the building of a strong country and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts. He also asked party committees and government bodies at all levels to earnestly realise, safeguard and develop the legitimate rights and interests of workers.

Also, in a significant development, President Xi replied to a letter from Serbian workers at the HBIS Smederevo Steel Plant. Xi said that during his previous state visit to Serbia in 2016, he met with the workers there face-to-face and deeply felt their support for the mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Serbia, and their high expectations for a bright future of the steel plant.

He continued:

“It is a great pleasure to learn that the steel plant has turned losses into gains quickly after the investment of a Chinese-funded enterprise, with the jobs of more than 5,000 employees guaranteed and thousands of families enjoying a peaceful and happy life.

“The development of the plant cannot be achieved without the dedication and hard work of the workers, who have been working diligently for the quick growth of the steel plant and have written a new chapter for the iron-clad friendship between China and Serbia. I give you ‘the thumbs up.’”

Thirty representatives of the HBIS Smederevo Steel Plant workers wrote a letter to Xi, expounding on the latest development of the plant and its important contribution to improving local people’s wellbeing. They also thanked him for showing care for and facilitating the project. In a recent interview with the CGTN Leaders Talk series, Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić also recalled Xi’s 2016 visit to the steel plant and his care for the project.

Xi’s reply was dated April 29 but released on May Day. The Chinese President is scheduled to make another state visit to Serbia next week, as the second leg of a European visit that will also take him to France and Hungary. His visit to Serbia will coincide with the 25th anniversary of US-led NATO’s bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade, which claimed the lives of three Chinese citizens and wounded others.

Also on May 1st, an article by Xi Jinping on mobilising China’s hundreds of millions of workers to vigorously take part in the great cause of building a strong country and national rejuvenation was published in this year’s ninth issue of Qiushi, the main theoretical journal of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

According to the article, since the 18th CPC National Congress, the working class has been playing a backbone role in the development of the cause of the Party and the country under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee. The Chinese workers’ movement has made historic achievements, and the work of trade unions has made comprehensive progress.

The article says Chinese workers have taken on significant challenges and shouldered responsibilities in such major work as economic development, scientific and technological innovation, poverty alleviation, rural revitalisation, epidemic prevention and control, and disaster relief.

Trade unions should earnestly safeguard the rights of workers and strive to solve practical problems concerning their vital interests, in particular for workers in new forms of employment.

Besides, Party committees at all levels should strengthen leadership over trade unions and their work, and government bodies at all levels should help trade unions solve workers’ difficulties and problems.

The following articles were originally published by the Xinhua News Agency and on the www.cpcnews.cn website. The latter, which is the full text of the Qiushi article, comprising the main part of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s speech on October 23, 2023, when he spoke with the members of the new leadership team of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), was published in Chinese and has been machine translated.


Xi extends greetings to working people nationwide ahead of Int’l Workers’ Day

BEIJING, April 30 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday extended festive greetings and best wishes to the country’s working people ahead of International Workers’ Day, which falls on May 1.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and chairman of the Central Military Commission, sent the greetings on behalf of the CPC Central Committee.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China and a crucial year to fulfill the goals and tasks set in the 14th Five-Year Plan, Xi said, praising the important contributions made by the working people to the cause of the Party and the country.

Xi called on working people to actively participate in advancing Chinese modernization with high-quality development, and work tirelessly to promote the building of a strong country and the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation on all fronts.

Xi asked Party committees and governments at all levels to earnestly realize, safeguard and develop the legitimate rights and interests of workers, and encourage working people to realize dreams through their work. 


Xi replies to letter from Serbian steelworkers

BEIJING, May 1 (Xinhua) — Chinese President Xi Jinping has replied to a letter from Serbian workers in HBIS Smederevo Steel Plant.

In a letter dated Monday, Xi encouraged them to make new contributions to the China-Serbia friendship.

Xi said that during his state visit to Serbia in 2016, he met with the workers face-to-face at the Smederevo Steel Plant and deeply felt their support for the mutually beneficial cooperation between China and Serbia, and their high expectations for a bright future of the steel plant.

From their letter, Xi said he learned that with the joint efforts of the management teams of both sides and the workers themselves, the steel plant has taken on a new look, providing strong support for the development of Smederevo City.

It is a great pleasure to learn that the steel plant has turned losses into gains quickly after the investment of a Chinese-funded enterprise, with the jobs of more than 5,000 employees guaranteed, and thousands of families enjoying a peaceful and happy life, said the Chinese president.

The development of the plant, he said, cannot be achieved without the dedication and hard work of the workers, who have been working diligently for the quick growth of the steel plant and have written a new chapter for the iron-clad friendship between China and Serbia.

I give you “the thumbs up,” Xi said.

The sound development of the plant is a striking epitome of high-quality Belt and Road cooperation between China and Serbia as well as a paradigm of their mutually beneficial cooperation, he said, adding that the steelworkers are participants, witnesses, contributors to and beneficiaries of China-Serbia friendly cooperation.

“I hope you will continue to do your own jobs wholeheartedly and dedicate yourself enthusiastically to the operation and development of the plant, so as to make new and greater contributions to the socio-economic development of Serbia and the consolidation of the China-Serbia friendship,” Xi said.

Thirty representatives of Serbian workers in HBIS Smederevo Steel Plant wrote a letter to Xi, expounding on the latest development of the plant and its important contribution to improving local people’s wellbeing. They also thanked Xi for showing care for and facilitating the project.


Xi’s article on mobilizing workers to participate in building a strong country, national rejuvenation to be published

BEIJING, April 30 (Xinhua) — An article by Xi Jinping, general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee, on mobilizing the country’s hundreds of millions of workers to vigorously take part in the great cause of building a strong country and national rejuvenation will be published on Wednesday.

The article by Xi, also Chinese president and chairman of the Central Military Commission, will be published in this year’s ninth issue of the Qiushi Journal, a flagship magazine of the CPC Central Committee.

Since the 18th CPC National Congress, the working class has been playing a backbone role in the development of the cause of the Party and the country under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee. The Chinese workers’ movement has made historic achievements, and the work of trade unions has made comprehensive progress, according to the article.

The article says Chinese workers have taken on significant challenges and shouldered responsibilities in major work such as economic development, scientific and technological innovation, poverty alleviation, rural revitalization, epidemic prevention and control, and disaster relief.

On the work of trade unions, the article stresses the importance of adhering to the overall leadership of the Party over trade unions, and not wavering or deviating from it at any time or under any circumstances.

Efforts must be made to encourage workers to actively take part in the great cause of building China into a strong country and national rejuvenation on all fronts, the article says, noting that it is necessary to promote the spirit of model workers, the working spirit and craftsmanship.

Trade unions should earnestly safeguard the rights of workers and strive to solve practical problems concerning their vital interests, in particular for workers in new forms of employment, according to the article.

Besides, Party committees at all levels should strengthen leadership over trade unions and their work, and governments at all levels should help trade unions solve workers’ difficulties and problems, the article says.


Organize and mobilize hundreds of millions of workers to actively participate in the great cause of building a strong country and national rejuvenation

Xi Jinping

Since the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee, China’s working class has played a major role in the development of the cause of the Party and the country. In the past five years, the broad masses of workers have worked with the party and struggled with the party, and have shown the style of the times in major work such as economic construction, scientific and technological innovation, poverty alleviation, rural revitalization, epidemic prevention and control, emergency rescue and disaster relief.

The All-China Federation of Trade Unions and trade unions at all levels have strengthened the ideological and political guidance of employees, promoted the construction and reform of the ranks of industrial workers, protected the rights and interests of workers, maintained political security in the labor field, deepened the reform of the trade union system, and continuously enhanced the political, advanced and mass nature. The CPC Central Committee has fully affirmed the major contributions made by the working class and the new achievements made in the work of the trade unions.

With regard to the work of trade unions in the coming period, the congress made arrangements. Here, I would like to emphasize a few more points.

First, uphold the party’s overall leadership over trade unions. China’s labor movement has developed under the leadership of the party, and trade unions are mass organizations of the working class under the leadership of the party. We must uphold the party’s overall leadership over trade unions, and we must not waver or deviate from them at any time and under any circumstances. Upholding the party’s leadership is not abstract and vague, and cannot be reduced to a mere formality, but must be comprehensively and effectively implemented in the entire process and in all aspects of trade union work. In particular, in establishing trade unions in new economic organizations, new social organizations, and new employment groups, it is necessary to take a clear-cut stand and uphold the party’s leadership from the very beginning. It is necessary to resolutely safeguard the authority of the Party Central Committee and its centralized and unified leadership, always maintain a high degree of unity with the Party Central Committee in ideology, politics, and action, and ensure the correct direction of trade union work. It is necessary to unremittingly use the ideology of socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era to forge the soul, continue to promote the theoretical arming to go deeper and more practical, and constantly enhance the ideological consciousness and action consciousness of learning and practicing the party’s innovative theories. It is necessary to keep in mind the “great power of the country”, find out the combination point, entry point and focus point of the trade union work and the central task of the party, promote the implementation of the decisions and arrangements of the party Central Committee in the trade union system, and better play the role of trade unions. It is necessary to strengthen ideological and political guidance, do a good job in the ideological and political work of the workers, educate and guide the broad masses of workers to unswervingly listen to the party and follow the party, and ensure that the working class is always the most solid and reliable class foundation of our party.

Second, organize and mobilize hundreds of millions of workers to forge ahead on a new journey and make contributions to a new era. There are thousands of points in the work of trade unions, and the most fundamental one is to unite the broad masses of workers and workers closely around the party and unite and struggle for the realization of the party’s central tasks. It is necessary to adhere to the fundamental principle of wholeheartedly relying on the working class, fully mobilize the enthusiasm, initiative, and creativity of the broad masses of workers and workers, and actively plunge into the great cause of comprehensively promoting the building of a strong country and the rejuvenation of the nation. It is necessary to focus on implementing the new development concept, building a new development pattern, and promoting high-quality development, carry out various forms of labor and skill competitions extensively and in-depth, stimulate the labor enthusiasm and creative potential of the majority of employees, and give full play to the role of the main force in all walks of life and fields. It is necessary to vigorously carry forward the spirit of model workers, the spirit of labor and the spirit of craftsmen, give full play to the exemplary and leading role of model workers and craftsmen, and encourage the majority of employees to achieve their dreams in hard work, honest work and creative labor. It is necessary to focus on the in-depth implementation of the strategy of rejuvenating the country through science and education, the strategy of strengthening the country with talents, and the strategy of innovation-driven development, deepen the reform of the construction of the contingent of industrial workers, accelerate the construction of an army of knowledge-based, skilled, and innovative industrial workers, and train and bring up more craftsmen and high-skilled personnel of major countries.

Third, do a good job of rights protection services with heart and affection. Chinese modernization is the modernization of common prosperity for all people. The working class and the broad masses of laborers are the main creators of social wealth, and the more obvious and substantive progress in promoting the common prosperity of all the people should first be embodied in the hundreds of millions of laborers. As representatives and defenders of the interests of workers, trade unions should conscientiously perform their basic duties of rights protection services, strive to solve practical problems related to the vital interests of the masses of workers, and pay special attention to safeguarding the legitimate rights and interests of workers in new forms of employment. It is necessary to strengthen the democratic management of enterprises and institutions, smooth the channels for the expression of employees’ demands, guide employees to express their interests in a rational and orderly manner in accordance with the law, protect their own rights and interests, and promote the construction of harmonious labor relations.

Trade unions are the homes of workers, and trade union cadres are the “mother’s family” of workers. It is necessary to continue to deepen the reform and construction of trade unions, firmly establish a clear orientation of grasping the grassroots in a big way, consolidate the foundation of the grassroots level, stimulate the vitality of the grassroots level, and continuously enhance the leadership, organization, and service capacity of the grassroots trade unions. It is necessary to improve the existing organizational foundation, continue to promote the establishment and membership of new economic organizations, new social organizations, and new employment groups, and expand the coverage of trade union organizations. It is necessary to innovate the way of working and strive to provide accurate and intimate services for the masses of workers. Trade union cadres should practice the party’s mass line, conduct in-depth investigation and research, keep abreast of what employees are thinking, thinking and expecting, constantly enhance their ability to serve employees, and sincerely speak and do things for employees. As the leading organ of trade unions at all levels, the All-China Federation of Trade Unions should take the lead in strengthening self-building, be a benchmark and set an example, and become a model political organ that reassures the party and satisfies the people.

Party committees (leading party groups) at all levels should strengthen their leadership over trade unions and trade union work, properly select and strengthen trade union leadership groups, show warm concern for and set strict demands on trade union cadres, and attach importance to the training and use of trade union cadres. It is necessary to pay attention to giving play to the role of trade union organizations, promptly study the important problems encountered by the masses of workers and trade unions, and support trade unions in carrying out their work in a creative manner. Governments at all levels should give full play to the role of the joint conference between the government and the trade unions, and actively help the trade unions resolve the practical difficulties and problems of the masses of workers.

This is the main part of General Secretary Xi Jinping’s speech on October 23, 2023, when he spoke with the members of the new leadership team of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions.

Friends of Socialist China delegation returns from China

The first exclusive Friends of Socialist China (FoSC) delegation has just returned from a 10-day visit to the People’s Republic of China.

Invited by the China NGO Network for International Exchanges (CNIE), which works under the direction of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (IDCPC), 14 comrades (11 from Britain, two from the United States and one from Ireland) visited Beijing, Hangzhou and Jiaxing (Zhejiang province), and Changchun and Siping (Jilin province) from April 14-24. Our packed program featured visits to public service and community facilities, historic revolutionary sites and museums, political, scientific, cultural, industrial, and agricultural organisations, exhibition centres and cooperatives, and famous scenic spots among others.

Bilateral meetings, lectures and roundtable discussions with our hosts, as well as at three party schools and two university departments of Marxism, along with other organisations, enabled us to explore a wide range of issues, including the contribution of Xi Jinping Thought to contemporary Marxism, the development of socialism with Chinese characteristics and whole process people’s democracy, latest developments in theoretical study and publishing  on issues of socialism and capitalism in China and the west, the early development and spread of Marxism in China, China’s distinctive modernisation, the building of an ecological civilisation, the opportunities and challenges posed by AI (Artificial Intelligence), and other topics.

All members of the delegation learned a great deal and came away with a deeper understanding of China’s revolutionary past, present and future, along with a renewed commitment both to building friendship with socialist China as well as to applying what we have learned to all of our political work in the struggle against imperialism, for the rights of working people and for the development of the socialist movement in our countries.

We take this opportunity to once again warmly thank our comrades at CNIE and all the organisations and institutions, and Chinese people from many walks of life, for their meticulous arrangements and kind hospitality every step of the way. It was an unforgettable experience.

We will be publishing further articles on the visit in the coming weeks.

Webinar: Black Liberation and People’s China – Rediscovering a history of transcontinental solidarity

Date Saturday 11 May
Time4pm Britain / 11am US Eastern / 8am US Pacific

This year marks the 65th anniversary of the historic visit to China by Dr. W.E.B. Du Bois, where, together with his wife Shirley Graham Du Bois, the great scholar and revolutionary celebrated his 91st birthday on February 23rd, 1959.

This anniversary provides a fitting opportunity to reflect on a remarkable and enduring link between two peoples fighting for their liberation on opposite sides of the Pacific and under very different circumstances. This transcontinental solidarity between the Chinese revolution and the African-American freedom struggle neither begins nor ends with Dr. Du Bois. It embraces Langston Hughes and Paul Robeson; Robert F. and Mabel Williams; the Black Panther Party; Amiri Baraka; and many others, joined by Mao Zedong, Zhou Enlai and Chinese American progressives and returned overseas Chinese like Tang Mingzhao.

Speakers

  • Professor Gerald Horne, John J. and Rebecca Moores Chair of History and African American Studies, University of Houston; Author of numerous books, including W.E.B Du Bois: A Biography and Black and Red: W.E.B Du Bois and the Afro-American Response to the Cold War
  • Dr. Charisse Burden-Stelly, Associate Professor of African American Studies, Wayne State University; Author, including of Black Scare/Red Scare: Theorizing Capitalist Racism in the United States and W.E.B Du Bois: A Life in American History (co-authored with Gerald Horne)
  • Dr. Gao Yunxiang, Professor of History, Toronto Metropolitan University and author of Arise Africa! Roar China!: Black and Chinese Citizens of the World in the Twentieth Century
  • Dr. Zifeng Liu, Post Doctoral Scholar, Africana Research Center, Pennsylvania State University, Author of Redrawing the Balance of Power: Black Left Feminists, China, and the Making of an Afro-Asian Political Imaginary, 1949-1976 (Ph.D thesis; book forthcoming)
  • Margaret Kimberley, Executive Editor and Senior Columnist, Black Agenda Report; Author of Prejudential: Black America and the Presidents
  • Qiao Collective, a diaspora Chinese media collective challenging US aggression against China.

To explore these historic connections and their contemporary significance for the global anti-imperialist struggle and the fight against the new cold war, this webinar is being organised by Friends of Socialist China and the International Manifesto Group.

China’s assistance to Cuba a part of global opposition to hegemony

The following article from Global Times reports on the arrival of the first batch of emergency food aid from the Chinese government to Cuba, which assistance “demonstrates China’s unwavering support for Cuba”.

The report notes that the main causes of Cuba’s food shortages are the US’s criminal blockade, along with the sharp rise in global food prices resulting from NATO’s ongoing proxy war in Ukraine.

The author reiterates China’s firm stance against the blockade, which “severely harms the Cuban ordinary people’s right to survival and development,” and which is imposed because the “Cuban Government and people have never succumbed to the unilateralism and hegemony of the US, and despite the enormous pressure and losses caused by the embargo, Cuba has remained actively committed to promoting global solidarity and international cooperation.”

China’s aid, meanwhile, “is not merely a diplomatic gesture but a substantial contribution to Cuba’s healthcare and food security amid its economic struggles”, and more generally, China’s support for Cuba is “an essential part of the global opposition to hegemony and the effort to establish a fairer, more rational and more inclusive international order.”

On April 3, local time, the first batch of emergency food aid from the Chinese government arrived at José Martí International Airport in Havana. Luo Zhaohui, the director of the China International Development Cooperation Agency, stated at the airport, “The Chinese government is proud of and empathetic toward every progress and every challenge our Cuban friends face. Today’s assistance is a symbol of the friendliness of the Chinese people.”

China’s timely assistance once again clearly demonstrates its unwavering support for Cuba in overcoming food shortages and maintaining social stability.

Due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict and climate change, global food prices have sharply risen over the past two years, leading to severe food shortages in some countries and regions. In last year’s report, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres wrote, “Over 2.5 billion people are now facing severe hunger, with some on the brink of starvation. This is unacceptable.”

Cuba, reliant on food imports, has been doubly hit. Another blow comes from the long-standing sanctions imposed by the US, severely restricting Cuba’s foreign trade and regular access to external food supplies and corresponding agricultural equipment.

The embargo on Cuba is a remnant of the Cold War period and has garnered significant opposition. It has been widely criticized by the global community, as shown by yearly resolutions at the United Nations General Assembly urging its termination since 1992.

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) cites staggering losses for Cuba, amounting to billions of dollars annually due to the embargo, which significantly hampers its agricultural productivity and poses a severe threat to food security. The US blockade severely harms the Cuban ordinary people’s right to survival and development.

China’s assistance to Cuba, including the delivery of significant amounts of medical equipment and food such as rice, highlights Beijing’s practical steps to support the Cuban people.

This aid is not merely a diplomatic gesture but a substantial contribution to Cuba’s healthcare and food security amid its economic struggles exacerbated by the embargo and support for the Cuban people’s fight against hegemony. In this context, China’s long-standing support for Cuba represents global public opinion against hegemonism.

The Cuban Government and people have never succumbed to the unilateralism and hegemony of the US, and despite the enormous pressure and losses caused by the embargo, Cuba has remained actively committed to promoting global solidarity and international cooperation. The latest news shows that the Cuban government has secured supply of key subsidized food rations by urgently coordinating resources from all sides, including foreign aid, etc. The Cuban government is also seeking to repair food shortages through efforts to revive the tourism industry, earn more foreign exchange and upgrade agricultural development.

The bilateral relations between China and Cuba strengthened under the “Belt and Road” initiative, have facilitated deepened economic and trade exchanges. This cooperation spans various sectors, bringing tangible benefits to the people of both nations and earning the appreciation of many Latin American countries, highlighting the potential of international solidarity in the face of unilateral sanctions.

As the political landscape in Latin America and the Caribbean undergoes a new round of profound adjustments, the narrative that views Latin America as the US “backyard” is outdated and undermines the sovereignty and autonomy of the countries within the region.

In recent years, Latin American countries like Brazil have been more actively supporting Cuba’s economic development and openly opposing the unilateral sanctions imposed by the US. This reflects the countries’ growing awareness of autonomous development within the region and promotes the growing consensus on achieving more equitable global governance and joint development.

The strengthening of Latin American countries’ awareness of autonomous development also makes Washington’s attempts to create rifts between China and Latin American countries and force these countries to choose sides increasingly difficult to advance.

China firmly supports the Cuban people’s just struggle to defend national sovereignty and oppose foreign interference and blockade. The wrongful practices of a few countries that arbitrarily impose unilateral sanctions cut off development aid, and freeze the legitimate assets of other countries must be corrected. China supports the termination of the economic, commercial and financial blockade against Cuba.

China’s support and assistance to Cuba are an essential part of the global opposition to hegemony and the effort to establish a fairer, more rational and more inclusive international order.

Britain, China, and the struggle for peace

What follows is the text of a speech given by Kevan Nelson, International Secretary of the Communist Party of Britain (CPB), at a public meeting in Leeds on 13 March 2024 on the theme of The Struggle for Peace: Understanding China’s Position in 21st Century Geopolitics. The meeting was organised by the Morning Star Readers and Supporters Group in Yorkshire, and was also addressed by Friends of Socialist China co-editor Carlos Martinez.

Kevan starts with an overview of the British media’s portrayal of China – overwhelmingly negative and fearmongering – and goes on to explain the CPB’s position on China, which is based on a Marxist-Leninist analysis of the country’s history, politics and economy. He observes that “our Party has always been committed to the defence of countries building socialism”, and affirms the party’s firm opposition to the propaganda war and the escalating US-led New Cold War. Kevan explains that the CPB’s position is based on the pursuit of peace and cooperation, and that it wholeheartedly supports the efforts of campaigns and platforms such as Friends of Socialist China, the Stop the War Coalition, the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, and No Cold War.

While “income inequality remains a major concern” in China (one that is being actively addressed), Kevan argues that “the processes of capital accumulation are politically subordinated to state power aligned to socialist goals” and that “a mass communist party and the potential for popular mobilisation remains the basis of this state power”.

Kevan notes the importance of Chinese trade and investment to the British economy, and the potential for mutually beneficial cooperation between the two countries. However, “the New Cold War threatens to undermine all these mutual benefits – particularly tens of thousands of jobs in the affected sectors – something trade unionists should consider when facing externally orchestrated calls for a boycott of China.”

The speech concludes with a call for developing deeper people-to-people relations between Britain and China, and building friendship and solidarity around shared interests of peace, progress and socialism.

Thanks for the invitation to speak at this important meeting which is an antidote to the relentless barrage of anti-China propaganda we are being subjected to in this period of the New Cold War against China.

Anyone reading the British press – the magnificent Morning Star excepted – is left in little doubt: China is our enemy.

The FT reported that ‘Biden vows to fight if China invades Taiwan’ – the same paper three days later ran a headline ‘China poses greatest threat, warns Blinken’.

The Guardian informs us that ‘China offers cash and spiritual rewards to citizens for national security tip offs’ (the spiritual reward being a mere certificate, not a weekend in heaven!).

The Economist (by far the worst offender) warns that ‘Chinese money is pouring into Britain’s universities. Critics say it comes at the cost of free speech’.

The Daily Mail claimed that the ‘NHS is dangerously reliant on China with 1 in 6 medical items coming from Beijing’, and a final example from the Daily Mirror: ‘I survived a labour detention camp where prisoners had organs harvested’ – this from a Falun Gong sect member who defected to Britain 15 years ago and did not witness anything of the sort.

At a Friends of Socialist China webinar last year – co-sponsored by the Morning Star – about the propaganda warfare being waged against China by the US and its allies, Danny Haiphong dismissed this relentless propaganda as ‘an imperialist and racist set of fabrications wielded in the interests of US unipolar hegemony’. The examples of this are endless and explain why many in the West increasingly perceive China as a hostile power.

The Communist Party of Britain’s attitude to China

In terms of the Communist Party’s attitude to China, our Party has always been committed to the defence of countries building socialism.

That is no less the case with China today than with the Russian Revolution in its early years, the Chinese Revolution in 1949 and the Cuban Revolution in 1959.

Looking back at Party statements, it is remarkable at how little has changed since the early days of China leaving the orbit of capitalism and imperialism.

In his report to the 21st National Congress of the Communist Party, November 1949 (75 years ago), Harry Pollitt said:

‘In the Far East, American imperialism is building up Japan… as well as maintaining puppet governments in South Korea and the Philippines, and Chiang Kai-shek in Formosa (today known as Taiwan). It has threatened New China with disruption and is fomenting counter-revolution wherever it can find agents in China. Under cover of warning the People’s Armies that any advance beyond the frontiers of China will be met by force, American imperialism is encouraging war preparations in Tibet, which is an old province of China. At the same time, the British Government has heavily reinforced Hong Kong, and may at any moment launch provocative action’.

Today the Uyghurs of Xinjiang may have replaced the Dalai Lama and Tibet as the main focus of destabilisation and propaganda, but the playbook of imperialism remains the same.

Continue reading Britain, China, and the struggle for peace