The Chinese Working Class, the Bureaucracy and Obama’s “American Pivot to Asia”: Part Two
By Alain Frandor
In the first part of this article (1), we tried to demonstrate that, contrary to what is being said on all sides, capitalism has not been re-established in China. On the contrary, currently China is displaying to the highest degree the contradictions analysed by Trotsky in relation to the USSR. As explained in a resolution passed by the International Secretariat of the Fourth International in November 2009:
“With all the clear differences between the USSR in 1936 and China in 2009, the general disposition of forces as described by Trotsky in The Revolution Betrayed remains deeply valid, in particular relating to the respective roles of the bureaucracy and the working class, and the way in which the question will be decided in the arena of the class struggle at the national and international levels.”
The whole process of the “reforms” initiated from 1978 onwards – but whose deep roots are to be found in the domination of the bureaucracy since the introduction of the new government in 1949 – and the way in which the march towards integrating China into the decaying world market has carried out mean that the current world crisis of the capitalist system is affecting China directly.
It is in these conditions that the movement of the Chinese working class is tending to head towards a direct confrontation with the bureaucracy, and in so doing posing the question of its hold on power.We emphasised in the previous article that the symptoms of a major crisis are building up. Since then, events have speeded up. The storm over Bo Xilai (the dismissal of a senior leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) from all of his positions of responsibility, to which we will return in greater detail) undoubtedly heralds other more violent ones. In itself, beyond its “sensational” aspects, it expresses the degree of crisis reached at the highest levels of the bureaucracy.
The international position and function of the Chinese bureaucracy
The bureaucracy, a parasitic layer between the two fundamental classes of society at the international level (proletariat and bourgeoisie), has translated Stalin’s criminal policy of “socialism in one country” into “socialism, Chinese style”. It instinctively desires stability at the world level, and hence is permanently seeking coexistence or a status quo with imperialism. In this sense, it is imperialism’s indispensable ally, as a counter-revolutionary force at the world level, and very directly in the region. The insurmountable contradiction is that in the final analysis, maintaining the capitalist order at the world level can only put into question the very existence of the bureaucracy’s regime, since its power rests on maintaining state ownership of the means of production as the social basis of the current regime in China.
It is a vain hope to try to maintain a status quo with imperialism, because whatever immediate advantages imperialism may gain through political and economic co-operation with the bureaucracy, it can only seek to reintegrate China into its world order, which implies the elimination of the existing property relations and therefore the disintegration of the bureaucracy as a social layer living parasitically on state ownership.
The Fourth International, which at each stage has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with the struggle of the Chinese people against imperialist domination and capitalist exploitation, has given an account – through several documents – of the course of the Chinese Revolution, and especially of the significance of the 1949 Revolution, the practical materialisation of what had been explained in the Fourth International’s founding programme. (2)
We should note one fundamental difference with the Russian Revolution of October 1917, during the course of which the government of the soviets (workers’ councils) was introduced under the leadership of the Bolshevik Party, only to have its power confiscated by the bureaucracy. In China, the workers’ councils never held power. From the very beginning, the CCP’s leading apparatus eliminated anything that might exercise power through democratic organs born out of the workers’ and peasants’ struggle, in order to stabilise its own power; the CCP leadership, the core of the bureaucratic layer which was forming straight away, sought to practise a “policy of peaceful coexistence, Chinese style”, in other words one in keeping with its own interests.
At the same time as the Chinese Revolution was raising enormous hopes among the exploited and oppressed masses all over Asia and beyond, the CCP leadership was assuming its full role in maintaining the existing world order.
Thus it always found itself on the side of defending the regimes in power, despite using a phraseology that was highly virulent. During revolutionary movements in countries like Indonesia in 1965 or Bangladesh in 1971, the Chinese bureaucracy played a direct role in smashing the revolutionary mobilisation of the masses.
When the masses burst onto the scene of political revolution against the agencies of the Stalinist bureaucracy in Berlin in 1953, in Poland and Hungary in 1956, and in Prague in 1968, the Chinese bureaucracy always lined up in defence of the Soviet bureaucracy’s power.
The Chinese bureaucracy played a major role in the attempt to ensure the partition of Vietnam (3) as a barrier to the Vietnamese Revolution.
Thus, the CCP leadership has constantly sought out a status quo, as stable a peaceful coexistence as possible, which would guarantee the protection of the social position and privileges of the bureaucracy in power in China.
Recent relations between the United States and China
What is the situation today, with the world capitalist system being hit by a crisis that is only getting worse, with the start of the proletarian revolution in Tunisia and its consequences underlining the fragility of world stability, with Europe in turn facing the threat of profound revolutionary crises, and with imperialism reacting notably through a policy that leads to an increase in the number of wars and the destabilisation of states and nations?
In 2001, China joined the World Trade Organisation (WTO). It was a question of speeding up what was referred to as “opening up”, by imposing on China conditions that originated in its becoming a WTO member. The Fourth International issued a statement in which it opposed China’s joining, explaining the significance of such a step.
What balance-sheet did the US Trade Secretary draw regarding China’s commitments within the framework of joining the WTO ten years previously, in the report he presented to Congress in December 2011? China has certainly reduced its customs duties and other fiscal barriers, opening up its market to goods and services and strengthening the reforms begun in 1978; US exports to China are 3.8 times more after 10 years.
However, due to the fact of the resistance of the working class and tens of thousands of strikes, the complete opening up provided for in the agreement with the WTO has not been achieved.
Imperialism’s mouthpieces complain that the state has intervened over the last five years to protect state enterprises and national industry, preventing foreign companies from accessing public markets, and at the same time differences between central government and local governments are slowing down the economic reform. According to US demands, therefore, China must decide to no longer limit certain foreign imports or the export of certain raw materials, to no longer favour Chinese state enterprises, no longer subsidise certain industries, and so on.
Nevertheless, foreign direct investment in China surged by 10 percent in 2011: US$116 billion (88 billion euros), of which US$100 billion came fromŠten Asian countries, led by Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Korea, thus confirming the role of a manufacturing and assembly industry that favours low production costs by using a workforce without social protection on low wages.
This super-exploitation of the Chinese proletariat delivered up to the foreign multinationals by the bureaucracy – essentially young people driven off the land by poverty, leaving the countryside to become “migrant” workers – has produced billions of dollars, which have ended up in the coffers of the Chinese Central Bank. They have then been used mainly to buy US Treasury Bills, financing the US administration’s growing debt, and thus becoming a direct part of the crisis and the decaying world market dominated by financial speculation.
CITIC, a state-owned investment bank, announced in late 2008 that it risked losing US$2 billion on currency speculation, and that this was only the tip of the iceberg! As for the Chinese sovereign fund CIC, which originally had US$200 billion “under management” drawn from the “sweat and blood of the Chinese people“, immediately on being set up in 2007 it bought a 10 percent stake in the big US investment fund, Blackstone Group, for US$3 billion (two-thirds of which went up in smoke at the start of the crisis), then participated to the tune of US$5 billion in the bailout of the US bank Morgan Stanley. In 2008, China Newsweek estimated that some US$1.2 billion in Chinese reserves had been placed in the United States, half of it in Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae (the two US companies specialising in mortgage loans, including the famous subprime mortgages, which were the factor that triggered the financial crisis), and half in Treasury bills. (4)
The Chinese bureaucracy, capitalism’s lifeline?
The obvious impasse on a world scale facing the system of private ownership of the means of production is bringing out even more intensely the contradictions that are tearing China apart. The bureaucracy can only dread the consequences that the decay of the world capitalist system holds for it.
Thus in Europe, which was the leading importer of Chinese-made products, is on the verge of collapse. This has led the Chinese government to declare that it “indeed supports the series of stabilisation measures adopted by the European Union, the ECB and the IMF” as well as “the stability of the euro“. But this support by the bureaucracy for the attempt to stabilise the situation is not and cannot be repaid in kind.
In late February 2012, a few days before the start of the annual plenary session of the National People’s Congress, a report was published that was written jointly by the World Bank and the Chinese government’s Development Research Center of the State Council, entitled: “China 2030: Building a Modern, Harmonious, and Creative High-Income Society“. The report highlighted six conditions needed for continuing economic growth in China: “First, implement structural reforms to strengthen the foundations for a market-based economy.” To this end, by “redefining the role of government, reforming and restructuring state enterprises and banks, developing the private sector, promoting competition, and deepening reforms in the land, labor, and financial markets.”
China on the brink of an explosion
The bureaucracy’s leaders thus agreed to co-write a report which lays out the need to push the reforms through to completion, or in other words to the destruction – if implemented – of the major elements for maintaining social ownership: the state enterprises and the land belonging collectively to villagers.
Prime Minister stated in front of the Congress members last March: “We will improve and implement policies and measures for developing the non-public sector; break up [state]monopolies and relax restrictions on market access; encourage non-governmental investment in railways, public utilities, finance, energy, telecommunications, education, and medical care; and create a fair environment in which economic entities under all forms of ownership can compete and develop together.”
This demand by capital has been on the agenda for years, but meeting it would mean moving on from quantity to quality.
On the economic level, the impact of the 400 billion euro stimulus plan of autumn 2008 aiming to block the consequences of the world crisis has now worn off. Henceforth, economic activity is contracting (official growth forecasts for 2012 are 7.5 percent, compared to the average of 10 percent seen over the last 20 years or more) and there is a need to create some 10 million jobs each year. Chinese Minister of Human Resources and Social Security Yin Weimin has stated: “China faces huge employment challenges in 2012 brought by a large number of job seekers (Š). Chinese cities and towns will see 25 million more people join the workforce this year, half of whom will be university and college graduates, while another 9 to 10 million rural residents will seek jobs away from home.” (5)
To this can be added the threat of speculative bubbles – one in real estate speculation, the other financial speculation – bursting, as they continue to be fed by the frenetic greed and corruption of bureaucrats at every level, who are becoming increasingly uncontrollable.
China also is the “irreconcilable enemy“
With the worsening of imperialism’s open crisis in 2008, the question of China and property relations still based on state ownership – even if the leading bureaucracy is fully committed to the process of dismantling it – took on even greater importance. As Trotsky wrote in The Revolution Betrayed: “Until the monopoly of foreign trade is broken and the rights of capital restored, the Soviet Union, in spite of all the services of its ruling stratum, remains in the eyes of the bourgeoisie of the whole world an irreconcilable enemy“. This is the case for China, despite the fact that the dismantling of the monopoly of foreign trade and the restoration of rights of capital are already well underway.
The bureaucracy wants to maintain its control of the state apparatus while at the same time submitting to the world needs of imperialism. In the final analysis, this is impossible. Even though the policy of the bureaucracy in power is opening the way to the restoration of capitalism, imperialism cannot tolerate China surviving as a centralised, sovereign and independent state on the basis of property relations that resulted from the Revolution. In late 2008, a Commission of the US Congress explained in a report submitted to President-elect Obama: “Yet western expectations that China’s path of economic liberalization also will lead it eventually to free market capitalism and even to democracy have been dashed.” That same commission also deplored the fact that China “continues to control tightly the value of its currency“. (6)
What imperialism is putting on the agenda now, in an immediate fashion after calling for it for years, is the complete convertibility of the yuan, the fight against the state monopolies, and the privatisation and general opening up of the financial markets, which would lead openly to the dismantling of the country’s economic organisation, to its collapse and its disintegration. On this point, one can only imagine with dread what such a catastrophe would mean for China within a situation of imperialism’s accelerated decay, a thousand times worse compared to what occurred following the collapse of the former USSR and the countries of Eastern Europe.
This is the perspective being expressed in the current policy of US imperialism
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated unequivocally at the ASEAN (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) Summit in July 2009: “The United States is back in Asia, but I want to underscore we are back to stay!” Early 2010 marked the start of a new offensive, first of all over trade questions relating to WTO rules. What was at stake was knowing if China would agree to open its doors to US trade without any restriction: “Access to foreign markets will be crucial“, the US Trade Secretary said at the time, and Obama pointed out how this would happen: “putting constant pressure on China and other countries to open up their markets in reciprocal ways.” In his attempt to bring the US economy out of the crisis, Obama intends to double its exports in five years. And which market does he have his eye on, if not China, for the most part?
Increasing the “constant pressure on China“
A strategy of encircling China is being put in place, based on an improvement in the United States’ relations with Japan and a new South Korean President who flew to Washington immediately after his election. Obama’s trip to India had the same objective: to include India in the strategy of encircling China. It is also a question of the anticipated stationing of NATO troops in Mongolia, closer ties with certain Central Asian countries, and an agreement to deploy 2,500 US Marines in a military base in northern Australia.
This is the climate which has seen a sharp increase in the number of skirmishes on China’s borders with Vietnam and Japan, and then the tension created around North Korea.
How is this new offensive being expressed at the military level? “In just the last year, the Pentagon has arranged for new or expanded access to facilities in Vietnam, Singapore and northern Australia. Combined with existing bases in Japan and Guam and a treaty granting US troops “invitational” access to The Philippines, the Pentagon has managed to essentially cordon off the Western Pacific. Meanwhile, China has built no bases on foreign soil.” (7)
And the budget cuts will change nothing; Asia-Pacific, and therefore China in fact, is a priority: “The military could cut tens of thousands of troops in coming years due to budget cuts and the planned ends of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. But none of the 300,000 personnel in US Pacific Command will be touched“, US Secretary of Defence Leon Panetta said last October, adding: “The Pacific remains a priority for the US.” (8)
Obama’s message has been summarised by Kenneth Lieberthal, former National Security Advisor on China issues to Bill Clinton: “America is going to play a leadership role in Asia for decades to come.” (9) On 11 March, the official news agency Xinhua published a cautionary article: “Foreign media claim that China’s intention is not clear and is worrisome. How about the US? It is very clear; its intention is to start a war! Isn’t such a clear intention even more worrisome?“, thus indicating the dread that is seizing the bureaucracy.
Of course, there are disagreements within leading circles in Washington over the strategy regarding China, because nobody can predict the chain of uncontrollable consequences that an explosion in China would produce, not only for Asia but for the whole planet. A significant faction is pushing for Washington to continue – at least for the time being – to consider the Chinese bureaucracy as a partner capable of favouring the restoration of capitalism and of playing its full role within world governance. This applies, for example, to former Secretary of State Kissinger, who laid the ground for Nixon’s trip to Beijing in 1972, and who wrote: “Conflict [with China] is a choice, not a necessity” (10), or there again to the US Chamber of Commerce in China, which represents the business world already established in China.
What is the situation in the CCP and the bureaucracy on the eve of the next CCP Congress?
Next October will see the holding of the 18th Congress of the CCP. In any case, it is an important milestone. In effect, it will decide on replacements for the whole of the CCP leadership and the whole leadership of the state apparatus (central government and its 27 administrations and central committees, the National People’s Congress, the leaderships of the provinces and the People’s Liberation Army, the official trade union, etc.), but on an unprecedented scale seen in “peacetime”, due to age limits. The following will therefore leave the official stage: 7 of the 9 members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau, 14 of the 25 members of the Political Bureau, 8 of the 11 members of the Central Military Commission, including the Chairman and the two Vice-Chairmen, and 7 of the 10 members of the government (the State Council).
The dismissal of Bo Xilai
It is at this precise moment that a veritable political earthquake has occurred: the arrest of the notably media-friendly Bo Xilai, followed by his dismissal from the CCP’s Central Committee and Political Bureau. After serving as Governor of Liaoning and then Trade Minister, he was promoted in late 2007 to the post of Mayor of Chongqing, a megapolis of 33 million inhabitants under the direct control of the central authorities, as are Beijing and Shanghai. Already one of the Political Bureau’s 25 members, he aspired to the highest position: becoming one of 9 members of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau.
Using the apparatus’s summary methods, he undertook the task of cleansing the city of the mafia-style corruption that dominated there, especially among the senior ranks of the police and the judiciary. He then initiated a massive programme of very cheap social housing, particularly for students migrating from the countryside, banned lay-offs in the city’s state enterprises during the severe crisis in 2009, and applied himself to reviving the popularity of the red flag and revolutionary choirs.
Bo Xilai made increasingly frequent references to Mao, and at that time he was presented as a “defender of the worker”Š In order to be able to accept this description, one would have to forget the fact that when he was Governor of Liaoning, in other words the province’s Number Two, he carried out a restructuring and closure of state enterprises in 2001 and 2002, throwing out onto the streets hundreds of thousands of workers, despite massive labour demonstrations during almost a whole month, that he threw into prison the two worker delegates Yao Fuxin and Xiao Yunliang, and that joint ventures with imperialist multinationals flourished in Chongqing. As The Economist noted (31 March 2012): “It is not clear to what extent Mr Bo’s original aims in Chongqing were ideologically motivated, or whether he was just an opportunist looking for an issue as a springboard to greater power. But Mr Bo’s “Chongqing model” of governance has laid bare deep divisions.”
The essential aspect is the deep divisions that are tearing apart the bureaucracy, not the personal fate of Bo Xilai. Nevertheless, one must weigh the fact that, whatever Bo’s motivation and intentions, some of his statements could be considered by certain sectors of the bureaucracy as being dangerous for the bureaucracy as a whole. For example, this speech: “As Chairman Mao said as he was building the nation, the goal of our building a socialist society is to make sure that everyone has a job to do and food to eat, that everybody is wealthy together. (Š) If only a few people are rich, then we’ll slide into capitalism. We’ve failed. If a new capitalist class is created, then we’ll really have turned onto a wrong road.” And several articles focused on those Communist Parties that lost their social base and their leading role, and how the collapse of the former USSR and the countries of Eastern Europe occurred from 1989 onwards. One of them, said, for example: “These tragedies, involving the demise of the Party and loss of the country, were not so long ago. We must not repeat the same mistake.” (11)
The big question revolves around state ownership, therefore the state enterprises which still form the backbone of the whole Chinese economy. They often still provide the pensions, hospitals and schools for a whole town or city.
This is one of the conditions of what remains of the 1949 Revolution, 60 years later – the expropriation of capital by the movement of the masses despite the confiscation of political power by the CCP’s leading cadres – while the “reforms” demanded by imperialism should have reduced state ownership to another level, if not eliminating it completely, especially after joining the WTO. The anti-monopoly law demanded by imperialism, which targets those state enterprises which monopolise the essential sectors of the economy, took years to be voted through, and 5 years after that vote, it has still not been implemented. This is an expression of the fact that the Chinese working class is resisting, and that this class is organically linked to state ownership, within which it developed.
Up to the beginning of 2012, one could hear all the supporters of the “reforms” explain that for years “special interest groups” had blocked the reforms. One report by Sun Liping, the former doctoral thesis supervisor to now vice-president and successor apparent Xi Jinping, was censored in January 2012. It said: “In the past, we have placed too much emphasis on the advantages of gradual reform. But looking [at the situation] now, there is much greater risk of a country gradually reforming sinking into the transition trap (Š) and the conditions are more conducive to the emergence of powerful vested interests.” The “vested interests” denounced by this representative of the Chinese bureaucracy are the 300 million Chinese workers in total, whether they work in the state enterprises, for the multinationals, or are migrant workers.
For the time being, at the senior levels of the bureaucracy the wind seems to have turned in favour of those who have decided to weather the storm with Wen Jiabao. But for how long? A lot can happen between now and the Congress. Especially since the senior military hierarchy of the People’s Liberation Army have not yet clearly stated their position on the questions contained in the Congress agenda.
What are governments all over the world scared of?
What governments all over the world are scared of is precisely what is scaring the Chinese bureaucracy itself: the growing movement of the Chinese working class.
“Now reforms in China have come to a critical stage. Without a successful political reform, it’s impossible for China to fully institute economic reform and the gains we have made in these areas may be lost, and new problems that emerged in Chinese society will not be fundamentally resolved, and such historical tragedies as the Cultural Revolution may happen again in China“, said Wen Jiabao. (We have given our view elsewhere on the so-called “gains” of those destructive reforms.)
Much can be said about the Cultural Revolution and the forms it took, but one fact remains: in relation to the conflicts within the bureaucracy itself, one faction of the bureaucracy organised a mobilisation – intended to be “controlled” in nature – of the masses in order to ensure its supremacy. This resulted in a situation where the youth and the mass of workers were mobilised. They went further than expected by the initiators of that movement, threatening the very power of the whole bureaucracy in the years 1966-7.
Finally, it was only through repression, by a direct appeal to armed force, that the bureaucracy then reunited against the workers and youth, crushing the Red Guards and what had become the Shanghai People’s Commune.
Also, when the Chinese Prime Minister refers today to the Cultural Revolution, he does not intend to condemn the forms which that revolutionary upsurge was able to take, but the threat it represented to the power of the bureaucracy as a whole.
For today, the strikes, demonstrations and attempts to organise independently constitute a movement that is tending towards an independent labour representation of power. Is it not the movement itself that poses the question of the revolutionary overthrow of the bureaucratic regime, in other words of “the political revolution”, to quote the formulation used by Trotsky in reference to the USSR?
As indicated in the resolution passed by the International Secretariat of the Fourth International in November 2009, “it is from this point of view that we must assess the whole importance of the recent strikes which blocked or slowed down the processes of privatisation. It would be mistaken to regard them as being the general expression of the situation today. But they are the concentrated expression of the political perspective for the whole Chinese working class. It is not a question of an isolated phenomenon, but on the contrary it is representative of the historic tendency of the development of the political revolution.
Political revolution, for it is a question of driving from power the corrupt bureaucracy which is undermining the foundations of the Chinese economy – founded on state ownership – and which is preparing its collapse, and not a social revolution aimed at substituting new property relations for those that exist.
The political revolution is a genuine revolution in which the working class takes political power into its own hands, since this is the only means of protecting the elements which resulted from the 1949 Revolution at the social and economic level.
All the recent activity of the Chinese working class has reinforced this tendency towards the march to the political revolution, a component part of the world proletarian revolution.
This is demonstrated in the analysis of this movement made in the first part of this article, published in Issue No.73 of La Vérité-The Truth.
Let us add here a few elements of reflection on the whole movement.
First of all, the extremely mature character of the exploited youth. Young people who are leaving the countryside because they have not been able to enrol in university or pursue professional studies for lack of financial means, and who are being subjected to real super-exploitation. Young people who are already experienced thanks to battles they have fought and the lessons they have learned from battles fought by others, young people who are trying to organise, with the constant concern to retain control over their own movement and not leave to “official delegates” the job of deciding on their behalf.
Secondly, the fact that the power of those strikes is such that, from the point of view of the CCP and the state, it appears that it is no longer possible to maintain “social stability” on the same terms as before. Thus, the People’s Daily, the organ of the CCP, was led to write regarding the suicides at Foxconn: “China is experiencing a special period of economic and social transformation, and labour problems should be timely and effectively addressed to ensure social stability.”
A few days before the start of the strike at Honda, Zhang Jianguo, a national leader of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU), had warned that “low pay, long working hours and poor working conditions for millions of workers have resulted in conflicts and mass incidents between labour and management to occur more frequently in recent years, which has already become a major factor affecting current social stability.” The CCP’s daily English-language newspaper China Daily spoke of the “biggest social movement ever seen in China“. And it was certainly referring to the unfolding of that strike.
Moreover, Anita Chan, an academic specialising in labour conflict in China, explained: “Most strikes in China tend to be about not being paid or being mistreated. This was different. The workers were demanding very high salaries. And they want to elect union leaders democratically.” (12) Let us add: they won those legitimate pay-rises through a democratically-led strike, and imposed the right to have delegates present in the negotiations who were elected by them and who reported back to the mass strike meetings.
The French daily newspaper Le Figaro (16 June 2010) also judged the situation worrisome: “The phenomenon becomes more worrying when the workers start to demand to appoint their representatives themselves within the authorised official trade union. They could even set up their own independent trade unions. The issue is therefore spilling over into the political sphere, directly challenging the sacrosanct principle of control by the party of every social aspect. The whole of the Chinese leaders’ problem is down to this.”
As noted by Xia Yeliang, an economics professor at Beijing University, up to now the workers suffered in silence at work and only took action as a final resort, but the Honda strike demonstrated an urgency to set up genuine trade unions to defend the workers’ interests.
The march towards political revolution in China and the policy of the Fourth International
These working class movements are occurring within the framework of a state which is still based on the property relations resulting from the revolutionary action of the working class and peasantry in the 1949 Revolution and its aftermath, in other words the expropriation of imperialist capital and of the national bourgeoisie, the introduction of state ownership of the big means of production and the collectivisation of the land. By implementing the penetration by capital, especially with its policy of “opening up”, the bureaucracy, which expropriated all political power from the toiling masses, has placed the country in a situation that threatens the very existence of those property relations and the country itself. This threat of the country’s collapse is the very benchmark of the catastrophe which the decay of the capitalist system can produce for the whole of humankind, with the general spread of wars and poverty.
The corruption practised by CCP and state cadres at every level is a “normal” mode of functioning for the bureaucracy. But today, it is developing on an exponential scale in relation to the opening up to the markets. Agreements reached with the multinationals in a situation of monopoly of power, the tendency towards the regionalisation of the country, allowing direct regional agreements with those same multinationals – these are just part of the reality that is feeding a massive surge in appalling corruption.
The political trajectory of this bureaucratic caste can only lead the country to the restoration of capitalism, in other words, in fact, to the introduction of a system in which new warlords would reign in a mafia-style economy – the current situation in the countries of Eastern Europe and the former USSR following the implosion gives an idea of this – and in consequence to catastrophe for more than one billion Chinese citizens. It is in this way that the bureaucracy is inherently reactionary.
There are only two options: the march towards political revolution or the explosion of China. Either the bureaucracy will follow through to the end with its restorationist mission, and the country will be dragged into decay, since imperialism does not build anything; or the working class and peasantry will open the way to the political revolution, a component part of the world revolution, and not only will they save the country, they will also open up a new phase in the struggle of the masses and the exploited peoples. These questions are crucial for the country’s future, but also more generally for the world’s working class.
Defending the Chinese Revolution and its gains
There is no solution whatsoever in the path of “economic reforms”, in other words in a so-called “harmonious transition” to a market economy, accompanied by democratic safeguards. The critical situation in China today is precisely determined by the ravages being caused to the masses in the towns and countryside by the point reached in that “transition” and those “reforms” led by the restorationist bureaucracy. This is why the Fourth International declares itself in favour of defending state ownership of industry and the collective ownership of the land, unconditionally and totally independently from the bureaucracy.
Only the Chinese working class is capable of defending its gains. This is why the Fourth International unconditionally defends the right of the workers, peasants and youth of China to organise freely in order to defend their gains.
As far as the Fourth International is concerned, defending social ownership and the struggle for independent activity by the working class are both part of the perspective of the political revolution, which will drive out the restorationist bureaucracy and open up the way to a new stage of struggle for socialism.
The conclusion of this situation will be played out at the world level. Quite clearly, the actions of the 300 million-strong Chinese working class, forged in the conditions created by the 1949 Revolution and its aftermath and organically linked through its physical existence to state ownership, will be an essential world factor in the international class struggle.
(1) Part 1 of this article was published in La Vérité-The Truth, No.73 (March 2012).
(2) “However, one cannot categorically deny in advance the theoretical possibility that, under the influence of completely exceptional circumstances (war, defeat, financial crash, mass revolutionary pressure, etc.), the petty-bourgeois parties, including the Stalinists, may go further than they wish along the road to a break with the bourgeoisie.” (Transitional Programme)
(3) China participated in the Geneva Conference (26 April to 20 July 1954) alongside the Soviet Union, the United States, France and the United Kingdom. The Geneva Agreements, which were issued on 21July 1954, referred to the division of northern and southern Vietnam as a “provisional military demarcation line”.
(4) Le Monde, 10 October 2008.
(5) China’s official press agency Xinhua, 7 March 2012.
(6) Report of the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission 2008.
(7) The Diplomat, 14 November 2011.
(9) Foreign Policy, 21 December 2011.
(10) Foreign Affairs, March-April 2012.
(11) Guangming Daily, 2 October 2011.
(12) New York Times, 13 June 2010.