On November 24, 2020, only a week after he won the presidential election, Joe Biden announced that he would maintain the nearly $1 trillion in punitive tariffs imposed by the Trump administration on Chinese goods. Top Biden advisors interviewed by the International Law Advisory (Steptoe website) explained that, “economic sanctions will play a prominent, if not central, role in Biden policy toward China.”
Once in office, the Biden administration’s pressure on China intensified.
On March 9, 2021, the admiral leading the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Adm. Philip Davidson, told a Senate Armed Services Committee meeting that, “China is accelerating its ambitions to supplant the United States and our leadership role in the rules-based international order, which they’ve long said they want to do by 2050. … I think the threat is manifest during this decade, in fact in the next six years.” Davidson concluded, “We absolutely must be prepared to fight and win should [this economic] competition turn to conflict.”
On March 18, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met in Alaska with top China diplomat Yang Jiechi and State Councilor Wang Yi.
Blinken went on the attack: “We will discuss our deep concerns about China’s actions regarding Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyber-attacks on the United States, and economic coercion of our allies. ” Blinken continued: “Each of these actions threatens the rules-based order that maintains global stability.”
“China,” Blinken concluded, “is the only country with the economic, diplomatic, military and technological power to seriously challenge the stable and open international system, all the rules, values and relationships that make the world work the way we want it to.”
The “international system” Blinken is referring to is the world imperialist system dominated by the United States.
We are publishing below excerpts from the Alarm Manifesto adopted November 9, 2020, by the Alarm Conference of the Organizing Committee for the Reconstitution of the Fourth International / OCRFI. This statement expresses our views on China. — The Editors, The Organizer Weekly newsletter
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OCRFI Alarm Manifesto on China
Relations between China and the United States have been marked by an increasing escalation in the period preceding the emergence of the pandemic. The roots of this escalation have to do with the very nature of the Chinese State. The People’s Republic of China was born out of a revolutionary process that in 1949 saw the revolutionary overthrow of the power of the bourgeoisie. Its peculiarity is that from the moment the bourgeoisie was overthrown, political power was confiscated by a social stratum removed from the control of working people: the bureaucracy that emerged from the apparatus of Stalinism.
It is indisputable that this bureaucracy, especially in recent decades, has worked systematically to open up the Chinese economy, which has been founded since 1949 on the monopoly of State property, to imperialist penetration, especially by the U.S. multinationals.
The specific character of State property has been expressed in the very way the Chinese leadership has dealt with the pandemic. Forced to mobilize the immense resources of State property, the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party has, as a matter of fact, got people out of hospitals in a matter of days (which has not been the case in any of the capitalist powers of Europe and North America). But after mobilizing these gigantic means (which was made possible by the fact that the bureaucracy centralizes State power and the State itself still centralizes ownership of large sectors of the productive forces), the Chinese bureaucracy hastened to make the working class pay for the consequences.
The workers, according to the ruling Chinese bureaucracy, should above all not be allowed to see this as an encouragement to act independently on their own terrain. In no way should the Chinese working class be allowed to seize the opportunity to intervene in its own name. Hence the particularly brutal measures taken by the bureaucracy against the workers and youth in Hong Kong, aimed at terrorizing not only this component of the Chinese population, but through it, all sectors of the proletariat.
This is especially the case because, contrary to all the self-serving propaganda rhetoric that for years presented China as a new El Dorado of capitalism, the brutality of the crisis has caused the destruction of 200 million jobs in China. Hence the entirely contradictory aspect of this situation:
The Chinese bureaucracy, which has provided cheap labor with no rights to multinational corporations around the world, has created the conditions for a rapid and massive concentration of productive forces (at the cost of destroying productive forces in other countries). As a result, it has increased its dependence on the world market and, more precisely, on U.S. finance capital. When the crisis arrived, the mass destruction of productive forces was projected directly onto China, whose goods (unlike during the previous phase) were no longer welcome in the entire world and whose labor was no longer needed. China was impacted directly by the dislocation of the global economy.
This settles the question raised periodically by the capitalist press: Can U.S. leadership in the world economy be jeopardized by “Chinese competition”? The answer is No, not in any way. Since capitalism reached its highest stage, imperialist powers have no longer tolerated the development of autonomous industrialization in “emerging” countries whose economies should henceforth be only a part of the world division of labor controlled by international imperialism.
The violence of Trump and his administration against China for years testifies to the fact that it is not acceptable to U.S. imperialism that any economic development should be able to take place in any country, especially in a country whose economy, resulting from the 1949 revolution, rests on the social basis of the expropriation of capital.
The fact is that today China, with its 350 million to 400 million proletarians, is directly affected by the world crisis. In the previous phase China played an essential stabilizing role for imperialism by providing it with an over-exploitable labor force controlled by the bureaucratic apparatus and its arsenal of repression. Nevertheless, this complex interdependence between China and the U.S. has not at this stage destroyed the social base concentrated in State ownership.
China’s crisis stimulus packages are confronted with the fact that the increase in production would require a call-up from the world market. The Chinese economy is too dependent on the world market for a stimulus plan to be based primarily or even mainly on boosting domestic consumption. The export sector is an indispensable and major driving force for the functioning of the economy as a whole.
In this context, imperialism has been and is led to multiply threats, including military threats, against China, aimed at destroying obstacles to the free movement of goods and capital, which, for the moment, keep preventing the definitive collapse of State ownership. It is not tolerable for U.S. imperialism that this economy of considerable dimensions should be controlled by anything other than the quest for profit and therefore the needs of U.S. imperialism itself.
For the Fourth International, it is clear that the offensive of U.S. imperialism is aimed at the complete dismantling of State property in China, as it did in the past with regard to the Soviet Union. If it succeeds, it will be a major blow not only to the Chinese proletariat, but also to the world proletariat. That is why the Fourth International stands for the unconditional defense of China against U.S. imperialism. Unconditional means without any “conditions” addressed to the bureaucracy. In this support there is no illusion that the bureaucracy will be somehow bestowed with a historically progressive mission.
The resistance of the Chinese working class puts the demand for democracy at its center. This is why the Fourth International, which is unconditionally in favor of the defense of State property in China, does not entrust any historical mission to the bureaucracy and considers that the surest way to preserve the conquests of the 1949 revolution is the struggle by which the Chinese working class in all its components seeks to impose its right to self-organization, to build its independent organizations. It is on the terrain of its independence (including from the bureaucratic State apparatus) that the Chinese working class will preserve its conquests.
For the Fourth International, the fate of the Chinese people cannot be dissociated from the international class struggle.