October 1st this year marks the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Along with hundreds of millions of people around the world, especially in the vast continents of Asia, Africa and Latin America, but also among the advanced and class conscious workers in the imperialist heartlands, Lalkar extends its warmest and most heartfelt congratulations to the Communist Party of China, the government of China and the great Chinese people on this anniversary.
In the modern history of China, 1 October 1949 represents the moment when night became day, when the red sun rose in the east and shed its rays, banishing forever the cruel darkness of starvation, humiliation and subjugation.
Although the Chinese is one of the oldest civilisations in human history, China’s modern history is held to begin in 1840. At that time, the decadence of its feudal rulers left the country at the mercy of every rapacious imperialist pirate and scoundrel. With the first Opium War of 1840-42, British imperialism led the charge to subjugate and partition China. Recalling this period, in his 1 July 2001 speech marking the 80th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China, the party’s then general secretary, Comrade Jiang Zemin, described it as one where, “the feudal rulers surrendered the country’s sovereign rights under humiliating terms, the whole society was thrown into utter chaos caused by wars, the country became impoverished and weak and the people lived in hunger and cold”.
Faced with this grim situation, the Chinese people waged one heroic struggle after another, at the cost of many millions of lives, and enlightened people strove to find a way to rejuvenate the nation and lift the masses of people out of their wretched condition. But all these attempts ended in failure. Hope returned to the Chinese people only with the liberating science of Marxism-Leninism.
Comrade Mao Zedong, the great leader of the Chinese people, summarised this historical learning curve in a characteristically brilliant fashion:
“From the time of China’s defeat in the Opium War of 1840, Chinese progressives went through untold hardships in their quest for truth from the Western countries…
“Imperialist aggression shattered the fond dreams of the Chinese about learning from the West. It was very odd – why were the teachers always committing aggression against their pupil? The Chinese learned a good deal from the West, but they could not make it work and were never able to realise their ideals. Their repeated struggles, including such a country-wide movement as the Revolution of 1911, all ended in failure. Day by day, conditions in the country got worse, and life was made impossible. Doubts arose, increased and deepened. World War I shook the whole globe. The Russians made the October Revolution and created the world’s first socialist state. Under the leadership of Lenin and Stalin, the revolutionary energy of the great proletariat and labouring people of Russia, hitherto latent and unseen by foreigners, suddenly erupted like a volcano, and the Chinese and all mankind began to see the Russians in a new light. Then, and only then, did the Chinese enter an entirely new era in their thinking and their life. They found Marxism-Leninism, the universally applicable truth, and the face of China began to change.
“It was through the Russians that the Chinese found Marxism. Before the October Revolution, the Chinese were not only ignorant of Lenin and Stalin, they did not even know of Marx and Engels. The salvoes of the October Revolution brought us Marxism-Leninism. The October Revolution helped progressives in China, as throughout the world, to adopt the proletarian world outlook as the instrument for studying a nation’s destiny and considering anew their own problems. Follow the path of the Russians – that was their conclusion.” (Mao Zedong, ‘On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship, In commemoration of the twenty-eighth anniversary of the Communist Party of China’, 30 June 1949)
As Stalin put it, the successful overthrow of capitalism in Russia had “created a new line of revolutions against world imperialism, extending from the proletarians of the West, through the Russian revolution, to the oppressed nations of the East.” (JV Stalin, ‘The International Character of the October Revolution’, 1918)
Herein lies the great significance of the Chinese revolution that triumphed in 1949 – it represented the decisive extension of the Great October Socialist Revolution to the Asian continent. With the birth of the People’s Republic of China, a vast, strong and united camp of socialism and people’s democracy was brought into being, stretching uninterruptedly from Berlin to Shanghai and embracing a third of the globe. Moreover, in its very being, the People’s Republic of China represented, and continues to represent, the essential unity of the proletariat’s struggle for its social emancipation and the struggle of the oppressed nations and peoples against imperialism.
Throughout the last six decades, China has consistently stood on the side of oppressed people fighting for their liberation.
When New China was scarcely one year old, it despatched the Chinese People’s Volunteers to support the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in its life-and-death struggle against US imperialism. Several hundred thousand, including Comrade Mao Zedong’s own son, laid down their lives. Later, when the Vietnamese people were waging their righteous war against US aggression, China discreetly sent many thousands of troops to defend, run and rehabilitate the railways in the north of the country and to man the anti-aircraft defences of Hanoi and Haiphong, freeing their Vietnamese comrades-in-arms to head south to the frontline.
When the Algerian people rose in struggle against the French colonialists and proclaimed their Provisional Revolutionary Government, China recognised and supported it from that very day. Likewise, China was among the very first countries to assist and support the ANC in South Africa and the PLO in Palestine from the inception of their armed struggles. It was China that rendered the greatest and most decisive support to the liberation struggles in Mozambique and Zimbabwe. On more than one occasion, Comrade Mao Zedong personally spoke out in support of the African-American struggle against racism and China insisted that a delegation of the Black Panther Party led by Huey P Newton should visit six moths before the visit of Richard Nixon. As Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe told his fellow African leaders at the first China-Africa Summit, held in Ethiopia in December 2003: “China’s policies have always been pro-Africa, pro-Third World, anti-imperial and anti-hegemonic.”
When the Soviet Union and the socialist countries of central and eastern Europe collapsed, it was to China that socialist Cuba turned to help it survive the ‘special period’. Today, with China’s steadily rising economic strength, it is able to provide ever-increasing material support to those countries seeking to stand up against imperialism for their independence, such as Venezuela, Ecuador, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Belarus. Not for nothing did Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez declare, on arriving in China in September 2008: “We are in the land of Mao Zedong and I pay tribute to him. I am a Maoist.”
As far back as the days before the founding of the People’s Republic, Comrade Mao Zedong declared:
“This is a victory for the people of all China, and also a victory for the peoples of the whole world. The whole world, except the imperialists and the reactionaries in various countries, is elated and inspired by this great victory of the Chinese people. The struggle of the Chinese people against their own enemies and the struggles of the peoples of the world against their own enemies have the same meaning.” (Mao Zedong, ‘Address to the Preparatory Meeting of the New Political Consultative Conference’, 15 June 1949)
In the same speech, with remarkable foresight, Comrade Mao warned that:
“The imperialists and their running dogs, the Chinese reactionaries, will not resign themselves to defeat in this land of China. They will continue to gang up against the Chinese people in every possible way. For example, they will smuggle their agents into China to sow dissension and make trouble. That is certain; they will never neglect these activities. To take another example, they will incite the Chinese reactionaries, and even throw in their own forces, to blockade China’s ports. They will do this as long as it is possible. Furthermore, if they still hanker after adventures, they will send some of their troops to invade and harass China’s frontiers; this, too, is not impossible. All this we must take fully into account. Just because we have won victory, we must never relax our vigilance against the frenzied plots for revenge by the imperialists and their running dogs. Whoever relaxes vigilance will disarm himself politically and land himself in a passive position. In view of these circumstances, the people all over the country must unite to smash resolutely, thoroughly, wholly and completely every plot against the Chinese people by the imperialists and their running dogs, the Chinese reactionaries. China must be independent, China must be liberated, China’s affairs must be decided and run by the Chinese people themselves, and no further interference, not even the slightest, will be tolerated from any imperialist country.”
From that day to the present, events have fully borne out Comrade Mao’s analysis. In response to China’s proletarian internationalist support to the Korean people, the United States deployed its Seventh Fleet to the South China Sea, preventing the People’s Liberation Army from liberating China’s island province of Taiwan. The reunification of Taiwan with the mainland remains the last unfinished business of China’s cause of national liberation that began with the struggle against the British invaders and drug traffickers in 1840. The United States maintained an economic blockade and embargo on China from 1950 to 1972. From 1949 until today, imperialism seeks to send “troops to invade and harass China’s frontiers”, from the wars in Korea and Vietnam, to the instigation of terrorists in the border regions of Tibet and Xinjiang, to the attempts to surround China with hostile military bases under the pretext of the ‘war on terror’, and to the constant encroachment of US espionage planes and ships in the South China Sea.
Equally, whilst China does not seek to quarrel with any nation, but rather seeks friendship, cooperation and mutually beneficial trade, the PRC has never tolerated any interference from any imperialist country. China is indeed independent. China is indeed liberated. China’s affairs are indeed decided and run by the Chinese people themselves! As Comrade Mao Zedong declared:
“Ours will no longer be a nation subject to insult and humiliation. We have stood up.” (Mao Zedong, ‘The Chinese people have stood up!’ Opening address at the First Plenary Session of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, 21 September 1949)
In his previously quoted article, On the People’s Democratic Dictatorship, Comrade Mao Zedong sounded this note of caution:
“Twenty-eight years of our Party are a long period, in which we have accomplished only one thing – we have won basic victory in the revolutionary war. This calls for celebration, because it is the people’s victory, because it is a victory in a country as large as China. But we still have much work to do; to use the analogy of a journey, our past work is only the first step in a long march of ten thousand li. Remnants of the enemy have yet to be wiped out. The serious task of economic construction lies before us. We shall soon put aside some of the things we know well and be compelled to do things we don’t know well. This means difficulties. The imperialists reckon that we will not be able to manage our economy, they are standing by and looking on, awaiting our failure.”
Six decades on, imperialist daydreamers are still waiting, but today it is increasingly obvious to all but the most myopic that it is the capitalist system and not the socialist that is experiencing chronic failure.
Whilst imperialism plotted their downfall, the Chinese people got on with the hard job of building their country practically from scratch. At its 2008 congress, in a unanimously adopted resolution on China, the Communist Party of Great Britain (Marxist-Leninist) (CPGB-ML) summed up this herculean course as follows:
“In nearly 60 years since the founding of the People’s Republic, the Chinese people, under the leadership of the Communist Party, and guided by the science of Marxism Leninism, and its concrete application to their specific conditions, Mao Zedong Thought, have weathered and overcome all manner of challenges and difficulties and have scored enormous achievements in rebuilding their country along socialist lines, so that what was, in 1949, one of the poorest, most backward and most wretched societies on earth, is now advancing as a great world power, increasingly in the front ranks of global economy, culture, science and technology.
“In the course of this process, the lives of the Chinese people have been improved immeasurably, with hundreds of millions of people lifted out of poverty.”
Celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic at a function in Havana on 29 September 1999, Comrade Fidel Castro observed:
“Only socialism can feed 1.25 billion Chinese, give them a home, a television for each Chinese family, and many other household articles, and especially the essential resources for life. That is to say, that country feeds approximately 22 percent of the world’s population with seven percent of the world’s agricultural lands…The country went through periods of starvation under the domination of the feudal lords and capitalism, always allied with colonial and dominating powers, when the population was only 400 or 500 million. Today the population has tripled and hunger has been eradicated forever.”
In the last three decades, China has adopted a policy of widely introducing foreign capital, technology and expertise, allowing the re-emergence and development of a domestic private sector, and producing for export. The intention behind this policy has been to use a period of peace to rapidly develop the country and to overcome backwardness. Referring to this experience, the previously quoted congress resolution of the CPGB-ML noted:
“In introducing elements of a market economy, the Chinese comrades have pointed out that their country is today only in the primary stage of socialism. Alongside China’s undeniable achievements, serious problems have arisen, including, but by no means limited to, wealth, income and regional disparity, corruption, grave shortcomings in public education and health care, and environmental degradation.”
Just as we rejoice at all China’s great achievements, we are greatly concerned by these issues, not only as we are staunch friends of the Chinese people and earnestly wish them nothing but the best, but also because such negative phenomena cannot but have an impact on the image and prestige of socialism in the eyes of working and oppressed people throughout the world. This matter becomes particularly acute when faced, as we are today, with a cataclysmic crisis of the capitalist system.
Since he became General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, Comrade Hu Jintao has laid great emphasis on addressing these problems by returning to a scientific path of development. We are realists. These major problems did not emerge overnight and they cannot be corrected overnight either. But as we have always maintained, we wish our Chinese comrades well in assessing these problems, in honestly and fearlessly analysing their causes and consequences, and in finding a way out. It was VI Lenin who declared that the test of a serious proletarian party lay not in its not making mistakes but rather in its attitude to those mistakes and their correction. Repeatedly in its history, the Chinese party has demonstrated that it is possessed of this Leninist quality and we believe that this remains the case and will remain the case in the future, too.
Due to China’s extensive integration into the global economy, one that is still dominated by the capitalist mode of production, as a result of the policies pursued over the last three decades, China cannot remain immune from some negative consequences of the current crisis. In economic terms, this is reflected in a reduced rate of growth. In human terms, it saw some 20 million migrant workers, previously employed in southern coastal areas, where external capitalist investment has been concentrated, losing their jobs in the early part of this year.
Nevertheless, it remains the case that, in the words of the Financial Times, China today “is contributing more to global growth than all developed economies put together”. (ICBC, The Lex Column, 21 August 2009)
What this means concretely was elaborated by the New York Times in an article published on 23 August 2009:
“In past global slowdowns, the United States invariably led the way out, followed by Europe and the rest of the world. But for the first time, the catalyst is coming from China…
“Economists have long predicted that an increasingly powerful China would come to rival and eventually surpass the United States in economic influence. While the American economy is still more than three times the size of China’s, the nascent global recovery suggests that this long-anticipated change could arrive sooner than had been expected.
“Such a shift would have significant ramifications for the United States and the rest of the West, even after the global economic recovery takes hold.
“‘The economic centre of gravity has been shifting for some time, but this recession marks a turning point,’ said Neal Soss, chief economist for Credit Suisse in New York. ‘It’s Asia that’s lifting the world, rather than the US, and that’s never happened before’.”
The article further notes that the United States is being shoved aside as an economic partner, in favour of China, in both Japan and Western Europe, and, belying the oft repeated whinge of precisely such imperialist house organs as the Financial Times and itself, which seek to cast doubt on and ridicule China’s published figures for economic growth, it notes:
“Citigroup recently increased its estimate for annual Chinese economic growth to 8.7 percent in 2009 from 8.2 percent, and to 9.8 percent next year from 8.8 percent.”
Almost exactly the same as China’s own figures!
And to what does the New York Times attribute the comparative resilience of the Chinese economy? Why, to none other than the fact that:
“China’s government-dominated, top-down economy is surging”.
The no-doubt pejoratively intended inferences notwithstanding, it seems that even the New York Times cannot now but grudgingly concede the superiority of socialism over capitalism!
The article concludes with an important observation as to how the shifting economic fortunes of China and the United States are starting to reshape the whole world:
“‘Asia is still relatively small in the world, but it reflects how the world is changing, and economic power does translate, of course, into political power,’ said Simon Johnson, a former chief economist for the International Monetary Fund and now a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. ‘You can use it to win friends and influence people, as the Chinese are already doing in Africa and Latin America.’” (‘Asia’s recovery highlights China’s ascendance’)
For our part, in once again extending our warmest fraternal congratulations to the Chinese communists, working class and people, we prefer to give the final word to that great friend of the Chinese people, that great proletarian revolutionary, VI Lenin:
“In the last analysis, the outcome of the struggle will be determined by the fact that Russia, India, China, etc., account for the overwhelming majority of the population of the globe. And during the past few years it is this majority that has been drawn into the struggle for emancipation with extraordinary rapidity, so that in this respect there cannot be the slightest doubt what the final outcome of the world struggle will be. In this sense, the complete victory of socialism is fully and absolutely assured.” (‘Better Fewer, But Better’, 2 March 1923, Collected Works, Volume 33)
Long live the People’s Republic of China!
Celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Chinese Revolution
Saturday 3 October 6.00 pm
Saklatvala Hall, Dominion Road, Southall UB2 5AA
Rally with speakers from fraternal organisations followed by social. An excellent opportunity to meet with comrades from the People’s Republic of China.
Organised by the CPGB-ML and Hands off China. Further details from 07973 824742 or email@example.com
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