China: Stock Markets, Unions and War

By Adam Baker

In late July, the Western corporate press was, for a brief moment, consumed with urgent warnings about an impending stock market crash in China. The ABC news website warned that the Chinese stock market had plunged, with “fears of worse to come”.[1] The Sydney Morning Herald carried an article complaining that China’s stock market was the “world’s biggest casino”.[2] The BBC posted a piece which claimed that “panic” had set in in China’s stock market, and the government was to blame.[3] All at once, the warnings that the Chinese economy was set to crash just as the capitalist world economies had in 2008, seemed to be coming to fruition. We had to buckle our seatbelts, apparently, and wait for it. But then it vanished. The stories of a crash with huge ramification dried up as quickly as they had appeared. What of the warnings from the Western economic and journalistic experts – why had they suddenly gone quiet?

When it comes to China’s economy, the propaganda tasks for the capitalist West’s vassal scribes are multifaceted. On the one hand, they must work assiduously to convince “their own” working classes that socialism is an economic failure, which cannot provide any hope of a future for those where it is being attempted. The scribes are permitted to admit to some of capitalism’s shortcomings, but in general the message is that if you want prosperity and economic growth and dynamism, capitalism is the only game in town – so “we” had better stick with it. On the other hand, the stunning economic growth which China’s economy has delivered – over 10% growth each year for 30 years – directly refutes the plaintive warnings about the economic “failure” of socialism. This is especially the case when contrasted to the current capitalist financial crisis which has afflicted the world’s capitalist economies since the latter half of 2008. This crisis, which has thrown millions out of work, has sharply increased inequality, and has greatly increased the suffering of workers, is the elephant in the room. The debacle of Greece highlights this problem even further. With Greek workers being crushed by almost unbelievable austerity, now being imposed by a SYRIZA “left” government, it becomes a tad difficult to convince workers in the West that capitalism can deliver.

When China’s economy faced only a few minor hiccups when the Western economies were being buffeted by the “global” financial crisis, the Wests’ vassal scribes kept trying to predict that China will come undone, its bubble will burst, and thus show that the crisis really is “global”. But this simply did not happen. For seven long years after the financial crisis broke in the West, China kept powering on. Surely China’s economy could not possibly keep going – a crisis must be about to break out, mustn’t it? Then in recent months, a stock market “crash” appears in China. Ha ha exclaimed the Western experts, we told you so. China is coming down now, it’s a good old fashioned stock market crash. China is just as vulnerable as everyone else, or so it was implied. But the “crash” came and went. There was no significant flow on to the rest of the stock market, the banks remained rock solid, and overall economic growth was largely unaffected. Another potential stump for the West to bring down the Chinese behemoth evaporated.

Why and how does it come undone, repeatedly, for these paid pen-pushers? It should be noted that, for one thing, the sheer scale of the Chinese stock market is hard to comprehend. The stock write down up to the end of July 2015 came to around 3.2 trillion dollars. When talking about China, home to 1.3 billion people, the numbers and figures about anything are necessarily huge. Yet the paid Western journalist also has to grapple with what appears to be an unreality – China seems to make its “capitalism” function, and appears to use government intervention to do so. So it’s doubly confounding. One the one hand, China’s “capitalism” functions, while the West is in dire economic straits. On the other hand, the “capitalist” economic success is largely brought about by government intervention – which is just not supposed to happen, according to Western economic theory. So for Western paid functionaries, the dilemma arises of how to report on China, while still trying to convey the notion that government intervention in the economy, and much less socialism, “doesn’t work”.

We should shed no tears for the difficulties of the tasks of bourgeois scribes. But what workers and their allies should understand in relation to China’s economy is that in its majority, it is not capitalist. Capitalism does exist in China, and is used by the government to develop its economy. Yet overall, it is not capitalism which dominates in China, but socialism. The gains of the momentous struggle in China, which triumphed in 1949, are those which we would expect from a victorious socialist revolution – a workers’ state administered and politically led by those inspired by Marxism. Economically, the gigantic Chinese state owned enterprises (SOE’s), as well as the immense state owned banks, are also precious gains of 1949. And it is the operation of the SOE’s plus the state owned banks, which has basically enabled the Chinese economy to continue relatively unhindered despite the aforementioned 3.2 trillion dollar loss on its stock markets. An economy which uses state owned banks and SOEs, which remain in the hands of a workers’ government, to develop and deliver economic growth while staving off a depression afflicting many of its trading partners – cannot be capitalist. This is not what capitalist economies do. The workers of Greece, with their immeasurable suffering, can give us graphic detail about what a capitalist economy does, especially during a crisis – no thanks to the SYRIZA fraudsters.

A regulated stock market? 

One of the main functions of a stock market in a capitalist economy is to raise capital funds for investment in one private venture or another. Trading of stocks increases the value of private investor portfolios, largely through speculation. One of the end goals is to stimulate economic activity, but in the sphere of the private ownership, and use, of capital. In China, on the other hand, one of the most essential functions of their stock markets is to increase the value and stocks of the state owned enterprises. The more the SOE’s are strengthened, the better able is the Chinese government to control the economy, and use the SOE’s to deliver benefits for workers, such as employment. The Chinese government uses a plethora of methods of controlling stock market trading to ensure this occurs. Some shares are simply prevented by regulation from being traded. Some shares can only be sold at certain times, and there are different categories of shares. At all levels, China’s stock market is regulated by the government, which is the opposite of what a stock market in the West is supposed to be about. Government regulation, which in most respects benefits working people, is associated with socialism, not capitalism.

Not only is there government regulation in the Chinese stock market, there is also significant and ongoing government intervention, and often this intervention is carried out with the intention of keeping the values of shares high. In fact, as even the Wall Street Journal noted, one of the reasons for the latest dip in the Chinese stock market are fears that the Chinese government is reducing the scope of its measures to prop up the market.[4] In China, there is an expectation that the government will both regulate and intervene in the stock market to ensure it functions. Those who claim that China is “capitalist” should attempt to explain why these expectations exist, and why the government responds as it does. We should remember that the People’s Republic of China was formed out of a decades long revolutionary struggle, led by the Communist Party of China (CPC), in which hundreds of millions of Chinese fought and overcame feudal and foreign capitalist domination. As a consequence, there is the constant expectation that the People’s Republic of China lives up to, and enacts, Chairman Mao’s famous dictum of “serve the people”. No such expectation on governments exists among workers in the capitalist West, which, suffice to say, have not yet embarked on a revolutionary path.

Another reason why the stock market “crash” in China does not threaten to bring the whole system to its knees, is that the size of China’s stock market is small relative to the size of the overall economy. The Market.com website reported that the numbers of shares available for trading in China historically represent between 25-30 % of Gross Domestic Product (GDP), which is minor compared to the United States at 150% of GDP, and most other developed economies, which range from 85-100% of GDP.[5] So even if a full scale stock market crash did occur – which is unlikely, given the amount and extent of government intervention – the whole economy would not “tank”. Which, ironically, is the very fear which stalks every stock market crash in the capitalist West.

How is the stock market regulated in China? It starts with the ruling Communist Party, which is odd for a “capitalist” state, but quite normal for a socialist state. The CPC’s Central Financial Work Committee is one body which overseas both the financial markets and the banking system. Its work appears to be twofold; on the one hand, it lays out policy objectives for banking, insurance and securities supervision. On the other hand, its task is the recruitment and surveillance of the leading personnel of the country’s regulatory financial bodies and key financial firms.[6] Under the CPC’s Central Financial Work Committee lies the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC). The role of the CSRC was considerably expanded following the 1998 “Asian” financial crisis, and was handed supervisory control of China’s two stock exchanges in Shanghai and Shenzhen. The CSRC has often demonstrated its power in cases of market misconduct, by occasionally removing the managers of brokerages and investment Xfunds, as well as imposing monetary penalties on a number of financial firms.[7] Through these bodies the central Chinese government recently ordered the suspension of trading of around 25% of shares, in an effort to prevent a further plunge.[8] Needless to say, stock markets which are regulated by the ruling Communist Party, and several bodies established by the central government, are not run-of-the-mill stock markets. The whole principle of a stock market, at least in the West, is free trade. When this conflicts with the interests of the Chinese economy, the central government puts a stop to it. Can this be “capitalism”?

If the stock markets are heavily regulated by the government, perhaps the banking system is where the free market is let rip? As it happens, no. The banks are also highly regulated and controlled, and, moreover, most of them are state owned. The Chinese “big four” banks – the Bank of China, China Construction Bank, the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the Agricultural Bank of China – are all state owned. The central bank, the People’s Bank of China, is also state owned. It had a supervisory role until 2003, when its powers were transferred to the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC). Amongst the CBRC’s functions are the monitoring of the activities of each of China’s banks to ensure all operations remain within Chinese law, and to examine the qualifications of senior banking managers.[9] What this means is that in the event of terms of stock market fluctuations or “crashes”, the banks are almost entirely unaffected. There is little to no chance of a stock market crash in China affecting the banking system. In fact, China’s largest state owned banks are not really banks as we know them in the West. They are not primarily commercial enterprises which operate on the basis of the accumulation of private profit. They are primarily administrative bodies which ensure funding and credit for China’s state owned enterprises, particularly with regard to funding and credit for infrastructure development – a key driver of China’s stunning economic growth over the past 30 years.

The Anti-Red China Left

Unfortunately, some left parties here remain hostile to Red China – the China that emerged out of the workers’ revolution which triumphed in 1949. Whether they are aware of it or not, their invective against the People’s Republic lends weight to the political campaigns of “our own” ruling class against Red China, in concert with US imperialism. Prime amongst these parties is Socialist Alternative (SAlt). SAlt contends, along with other parties based on Tony Cliff’s theory of state capitalism, that China has always been capitalist, and that the real Chinese revolution occurred in 1927. Such claims lead to mutually contradictory claims when reporting about China today. One of SAlt’s responses to the stock market dip in China was an anti-China screed authored by SAlt leader Tom Bramble, titled “The Crisis in China’s Economy”.[10] In one section, Bramble claims that “Real wages rose in the coastal provinces in recent years as labour shortages began to emerge under the impact of the one child policy and the gradual exhaustion of surplus labour in the rural areas.”[11] Soon after, he states “Rising wages in China, combined with a currency that has become stronger against the US dollar since 2005, are already encouraging some investors, both local and overseas, to relocate their operations to countries that are now cheaper, such as Bangladesh and Cambodia.[12] So wages have risen in China due to the one child policy and the lack of workers streaming in from rural areas, apparently. Yet these rising wages have been so marked, that some investors are packing up and moving to neighbouring countries where wages are lower.

Mr Bramble doesn’t appear to notice the contradiction – if wages have been rising so far as to cause investors to move to neighbouring countries, exactly what type of “capitalism” is it? Real capitalism does not take too kindly to workers winning ongoing wage increases, and certainly couldn’t sustain the years of high wage rises as has occurred in China. Wages for workers in China has been rising for the last ten years, in part due to labour shortages as Mr Bramble points out. Yet labour shortages can’t occur without a rapid expansion of an economy. Moreover, the economy is overseen by Chinese government five year plans. And the most recent five year plan states that workers’ wages must rise by 13% per year, but many local authorities push firms to raise yearly increases even higher.[13] Imagine Australian capitalists being ordered to pay their workers wage increases of 13% every year! An expanding economy, one overseen by a five year plan, along with a government ordering wage increases for workers, is quite peculiar for “capitalism”.

Not to be outdone amongst the Anti-Red China Left is the Socialist Alliance (SA). Unlike the Socialist Alternative, the Socialist Alliance recognise that a socialist revolution occurred in China in 1949. However, they go on to claim that capitalism was restored in China in 1992, marked by former leader Deng Xiaoping’s famous “Southern Tour”. They are able to recognise certain facts regarding China, but the “restored capitalism” mindset also leads to generally unacknowledged contradictions. In their newspaper Green Left Weekly, John Rainford, covering the stock market dip in China, wrote that: “The country responded to the GFC (Global Financial Crisis –ed) by ramping up infrastructure spending….in 2009, it began the largest infrastructure stimulus spending in history….new credit available across the economy increased by more than $20 trillion….”.[14] Like Mr Bramble and SAlt, Mr Rainford and SA don’t appear to notice the contradiction in their positions. If China responded to the GFC by dramatically increasing infrastructure spending along with vastly expanding the amount of credit available, to the tune of more than $20 trillion, how exactly was it able to do this? Or more to the point, how could a “capitalist” economy come up with the exact measures needed to avoid a catastrophic decline? To answer this, we have to venture into territory which the Anti-Red China Left consider unthinkable. There are many imperfections on either side, but overall, the Chinese economy and the Chinese state are in fact predominantly not capitalist, but socialist. A five year economic plan, administered by a Communist Party, a largely state owned economy, and state owned banks, are not usual indicators of “capitalism”. The workers’ revolution which established a socialist state in 1949 is still intact, despite zig-zags and despite problems in a number of areas. Overall, however, these problems have a basis from which solutions can begin to be addressed – as the accumulation of private profit through private production does not rule in China. Certain capitalists exist in China, but they do not have political or state power.

Is government or state led infrastructure going to happen in Australia, at any time? The organisation Beyond Zero Emissions (BZE), which the Socialist Alliance hails for its claims that Australia can be run by 100% renewable energy, has also made the call for high speed rail to be built between Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra. They claim this high speed rail system could be built for a cost of 84 billion dollars.[15] All BZE can do though is call for, or plead with, the government and the private sector to build it. Though most people with an ounce of awareness know that neither the Australian government nor the private sector (capitalist corporations) will spend this type of money without seeing a capital return. Railways generally do not receive a return, unless they charge thousands of dollars for a ticket, which is impractical. So with Australian capitalism in power, it doesn’t happen. On the other hand, leading the world in high speed rail is China. It is not just that China’s rail companies are gigantic. More to the point, they are largely state owned. The Chinese government can thus direct China’s rail companies to build high speed rail infrastructure, whatever the cost. The Chinese government, albeit in a bureaucratic manner, can plan to build infrastructure which benefits the working people and their country as a whole. They do not have make money out of building infrastructure. In fact, building infrastructure such as high speed rail can be used to serve social purposes such as providing employment, assisting the economy to function, connecting the vast areas of the country, and thus raising the standard of living. In Australia, the average worker knows there is not a chance of this happening, whether there is a Liberal or an ALP/Greens government. The more politically aware amongst the left should be able to identify the distinction between the rule of capital and the rule of labour.

The Anti-Red China Union Leaders

One of the main reasons for the extremely low level of class struggle in Australia for the last thirty years has been the misleadership of the officials of most Unions, which have tied their fortunes either to that of the ALP or to capitalism itself, or both. The workers are crying out for some kind of fightback to arrest their plummeting wages and conditions. The lack of a strong fightback led by the Union movement has had its unfortunate spin-offs, not the least of which are some workers turning to crackpot conspiracy theories, or even turning towards the fascism of groups like “Reclaim Australia”. Many workers simply have barely ever seen the Unions mobilise on a political issue. Yet recently some Union leaderships organised demonstrations and rallies around the country around a very political issue. The target was ostensibly the Australia-China Free Trade Agreement.[16] In practice, however, these were national demonstrations against Red China and backhandedly supporting the very business class the Union movement should be exposing and mobilising against. Furthermore, whipping up angst against reds at the same time as “your own” ruling class is hosting a US military base in Darwin aimed at China, inevitably draws workers behind imperialism in what could potentially be a world war.

Conservative Union leaders who have not sought to mobilise workers against the depredations of Australian capitalism and its nefarious assault on workers have all of a sudden become activists – against China. It is all too easy to blame a foreign country for the economic woes of capitalism on home shores. It is even easier when the target of the blame can be painted as “communist”. This avoids the difficult task of convincing workers that it is the class based system of capitalist exploitation which is the main enemy, and that “Australian” capitalists are a component part of this global capitalist class. Much easier to point the finger of blame elsewhere. Yet the Australian Council of Trade Unions (ACTU) who are railing against the Australia-China Free Trade Agreement (ChAFTA) now, were as silent as a church doormouse about both the signing of the Australia-Japan FTA, as well as the Australia-South Korea FTA in recent times. All three Free Trade Agreements contain similar measures. The fact that the ACTU have only mounted a public campaign against a FTA with China, but not a FTA with South Korea or Japan, speaks volumes.

The ACTU are ostensibly concerned with the ability of China to bring some Chinese nationals into Australia to work on projects worth more than $150 million or more, without “testing the local labour market” first, i.e., advertise for jobs locally. ACTU President Ged Kearney claimed that “…Free trade agreements must support local jobs and industry and all indications are that the deal with China does not….there must be strong rules around labour market testing and labour mobility clauses in the China free trade deal to ensure local jobs are protected….Unemployment has been at or above 6 per cent for one year yet it appears the government is intent on selling out even more jobs.”[17] Ms Kearney mentions the main reason why there is such concern about Chinese nationals working on Chinese invested projects in Australia. If there were plentiful jobs, if unemployment was low and if work was easy to find for all those currently residing in Australia, there would scarcely be an issue. The fact that the Australian capitalist economy is in dire straits economically and is unable to provide anywhere near the amount of adequate jobs required for workers xnow, is an indictment of the Australian “captains of industry”. The ACTU should have been mobilising workers to demand the Australian ruling class provide jobs for all those residing here.

One effective way to do this would be to mobilise workers around a demand for a shorter working week with no loss in pay. The demand for a 35 hour week with no loss in pay, if achieved, would share around the available work, and lower unemployment. It would mean a rise in the hourly (or yearly in the case of salaried workers) rate of pay, but the Union movement could be clear that this rise must come out of the profits of the employers – the capitalists raking it in on the back of the workers who produce the wealth. This could be combined with a demand for automatic wage indexation, that is, wage rises linked to the cost of living, or consumer price index (CPI). These demands, effectively a sliding scale in wages and hours, can be highly effective in leading workers to the conclusion that any system that cannot guarantee decent jobs with decent conditions for all workers, needs to be replaced with another. In this context, the ground for socialists to argue for socialism over capitalism becomes more amenable.

The ACTU, on the other hand, has done nothing like this. With a few exceptions, the ACTU leadership has allowed Australian capitalism to run roughshod over workers here for at least the last 30 years. Then all of a sudden, they point accusing fingers towards China. The Union officials, with few exceptions, are only prepared to campaign on issues that are acceptable to the capitalist class, and moreover, the Australian capitalists. Seeking a partnership with “Australian” capital for “Australian” labour inevitably means workers lose out. Hard class struggle is the only perspective that can offer immediate and longer term solutions for the labour movement. Yet this very class struggle could quickly move out of the control of the Union officials, and could even bypass them, placing their well-paid positions in jeopardy. So instead, they choose to ally with the Australian ruling class which just happens to also be joining the US in provocative war moves against the People’s Republic of China. Obama’s “pivot to Asia” is code for war against China, as crazy as a war against 1.3 billion people may appear. Incidentally, this is the main reason for the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a free trade agreement which locks out China and is aimed against China. Workers in Australia and internationally have no interest in a trade or military war of the US led West against China. Rather, workers here and internationally have an interest in allying with Red China against US imperialism. This is despite the often nationalist and self-serving interest of the Chinese political leadership. The overall aim should be to fortify the Union movement through strengthening the forces for socialism. Rallying workers behind US imperialism strengthens the hand of capitalism over socialism.

Rallying against Red China also places you in extremely undesirable political company. At the July 31 Union organised rally ostensibly against the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement, were not only thousands of Union members urged on by their officials. There was also the fascist Party for Freedom, along with the left wing parties the Socialist Alliance and the Communist Party of Australia! “Left” and right united to condemn Red China. Such a motley assemblage can only help the Australian ruling class whip up anti-China chauvinism, which are part and parcel of a preparation for war. As far as the Socialist Alliance is concerned, their placards railed against the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the China-Australia Free Trade Agreement itself.[18] The Socialist Alliance might claim that was their concern, but the overall tenor and thrust of the politics is anti-China, i.e. socialism, in the context of US led preparations for military action against China. They would also claim that they are against the fascist Party for Freedom. However, the fact is representatives of both parties were at the same rally demanding the same thing. The Socialist Alliance’s position of calling for the overthrow of the Chinese state appears to have led them into a de facto pairing with the far right.

The Socialist Alliance does not extend any political support to the People’s Republic of China, so its position is to some extent expected. However, the Communist Party of Australia certainly does have a position of support for China and for the Chinese government generally. So how does it explain its presence at the anti-China demonstration, alongside the Socialist Alliance and the far-right Party for Freedom? The CPA Secretariat statement of July 22 made a number of correct points regarding the double standards of those opposing the FTA, and also opposing China.[19] The statement acknowledged the falsity of Australian Union leaders complaining about Chinese government subsidisation for Chinese companies, while simultaneously calling for Australian government subsidies to Australian companies. It noted the contradiction of accusing China of lax environmental and labour laws, when the Australian government is one of the world’s worst offenders. And, most importantly, it highlighted the ignoring of Australia’s involvement with the US military’s pivot to Asia, especially the hosting of US marines in Darwin, with a base clearly aimed at China. Despite all of this, the CPA urged workers to attend the rally, which was clearly against China! Unfortunately, the CPA sometimes allows its Australian nationalism to override its advocacy of socialism.

We might also expect trade union misleaders who have effectively contained class struggle for 30 years, to have conservative politics, and therefore, jump at the chance to condemn Red China. However, the new Queensland State Secretary of the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA), Bob Carnegie, is supposed to be cut from a different cloth. On many fronts, Mr Carnegie has bravely led a series of important labour struggles in this country. However, Mr Carnegie has also led the charge against China, ostensibly under the guise of attempting to protect Chinese nationals who may be brought into Australia to work on projects operated by Chinese companies. In response to a suggestion that the Union protests against ChAFTA were driven by racism, Mr Carnegie was quoted “This government thinks we’re racist because we do not want Chinese workers coming to this country and being paid a pittance….that’s not racism, that’s good unionism. We are not about workers anywhere being exploited. Unions are about picking people up, not putting them down.”[20]

 

The intention is not racism, this much we can agree. However, it’s certainly a form of anti-socialism, wittingly or unwittingly. And when the US war machine, with Canberra’s backing, installs US troops in Darwin, clearly aimed at China, it is extremely difficult to avoid being swept up in anti-China hysteria, if at the same time you are demonstrating in the streets against China. And when imperialism goes to war, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria or China, a fair dose of racism is required to cow Australian workers not to resist yet another war. It’s even better for the capitalist class to have workers and Unions mobilising behind their war drive. Unfortunately, some Unions have already offered themselves as cannon fodder for the war against China – which is directly in conflict with the interests of workers here and overseas.

In an interview for Red Flag, the newspaper of Socialist Alternative, Mr Carnegie was asked what gives him hope. One of his responses was “The growth of the unofficial trade unions in China.”[21] Mr Carnegie is making a mistake. “Unofficial” trade unions in China are a key plank of the unceasing efforts principally led by US imperialism, for the undermining and overthrow of the Chinese government. It is no exaggeration to say that “labour rights” along with “human rights” agitation against Red China are open calls for capitalist counterrevolution. This occurs outside of China in the Western countries, but also inside China with many labour rights “NGOs” claiming to stand for the rights of Chinese workers. In practice, they foster and foment unrest which threatens, if spread widely enough, to bring down the socialist state. And this is their unstated aim, which happens to also be the unstated aim of US imperialism.

Union leaders and leftists in Australia should be aware of the different operating circumstances of trade unions operating in a socialist state, such as China, and unions operating in a capitalist state, such as Australia. Unions in Australia have the task of organising and mobilising against the capitalist state. Unions in China, on the other hand, have the task of working with the socialist state in order to facilitate the best conditions for providing work for all, as well as developing the economy such that it can provide for all workers. This task is made still more difficult due to the fact that China, despite all its advances, is still not at the level of the advanced industrialised countries. Having said this, we can recognise that the All-China Federation of Trade Unions has shortcomings, and sometimes does not organise or defend workers. This is jumped on by pro-capitalist “activists” who then advocate “unofficial” trade unions, ostensibly to fight for worker’s rights. Yet the game is given away due to the fact that these China “labour rights” activists never call for “independent” or “free” trade unions in the West. In the West, arguably the problem of Unions refusing to organise and defend workers is far greater than in China. So in reality in China, these unofficial trade unions become vehicles for anti-government, and therefore anti-socialist, agitation.

The Chinese government is well aware of the potential danger posed by often US backed NGOs operating in China, particularly “labour rights” NGOs. The Chinese government is in the process of passing a new NGO law which will increase police scrutiny. An article in the Financial Times noted that Li Yufu, Vice-Chairman of the ACFTU, recently highlighted the role of foreign “rights” organisations. Mr Li was quoted as saying, “Hostile foreign forces are intensifying their infiltration…. They are attempting to wreck the solidarity of the working class and trade union unity with the help of some illegal ‘rights’ organisations and activists.”[22] We can only imagine the outcry from liberals and other right wingers in Australia if Chinese NGOs were operating here, agitating for the overthrow of the government, under the guise of “labour rights”. Would workers here think something was amiss? Yet Western funded “labour rights” organisations operate in China, and they are lauded by some Australian Union leaders, and, unfortunately, some leftist parties. In agitating for “labour rights” in China, such organisations are effectively operating for the US empire they claim to oppose.

Unions must defend China

The Australian Union movement has no interest in mobilising against China, especially in a heightened period of anti-China military activity in Australia, and the Asia Pacific. The Australian ruling class is well aware that labour and war are intertwined, and are seeking to use this connection to their advantage – i.e to further the aims of US imperialism. In the midst of a dire economic crisis for the capitalist economies, of which China is exempt, war becomes more and more an option for Western capitalists who have literally run out of options in attempting to re-start their faltering industries. It is up to organised labour, principally the Union movement and also left parties, to turn against the Washington-Canberra organised war drive against China, in the interests of avoiding catastrophic war and the concomitant disasters for working such a conflict would engender. It is extremely dangerous for Unions to rally against a Free Trade Agreement with China, as it offers them up as cannon fodder for US plans for war against China. Rather, the Unions and the left here need to ensure that they ally themselves with Red China, and against the capitalist class itself, here and internationally, in a mighty struggle for socialism. Socialism should be the goal, and the strongest ally we have, despite all diversions, is the world’s most powerful socialist state. The fate of Australian workers, and the workers of the world, could depend on it.

[1] http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-07-27/chinese-share-market-plunges-with-fears-of-worse-to-come/6652000

[2] http://www.smh.com.au/business/comment-and-analysis/the-chinese-stock-market-is-the-worlds-biggest-casino-20150708-gi7q1f.html

[3] http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-china-33405199

[4] http://www.wsj.com/articles/asian-stocks-fall-pressured-by-weak-earnings-overseas-1437961185

[5] http://www.marketwatch.com/story/china-has-only-itself-to-blame-for-its-stock-market-collapse-2015-07-24

[6] http://chinapolitik.org/studien/china_analysis/no_15.pdf

[7] Ibid, p.6

[8] http://www.afr.com/markets/equity-markets/a-quarter-of-chinalisted-shares-suspended-as-beijing-intervenes-20150707-gi6p2s

[9] http://www.china.org.cn/english/features/state_structure/66265.htm

[10] http://enpassant.com.au/2015/08/06/the-crisis-in-chinas-economy/

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.

[13] http://beta.tutor2u.net/business/blog/rising-wages-in-china-causes-and-consequences

[14] https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/59456

[15] http://www.news.com.au/travel/travel-updates/highspeed-rail-australia-could-build-network-for-30nbspbillion-less-according-to-beyond-zero-emissions/story-e6frfq80-1227029051027

[16] http://www.australianunions.org.au/china_fta_rallies

[17] http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2015/06/17/what-does-chafta-mean-australia

[18] https://www.greenleft.org.au/node/59650

[19] http://www.cpa.org.au/guardian/2015/1694/05-ftas-not-in-workers-interest—cpa.html

[20] http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/media-barred-in-brisbane-as-unions-rally-against-chinese-free-trade-agreement-20150727-gileix.html

[21] https://redflag.org.au/article/new-direction-mua-queensland

[22] http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/b5c16e4e-c0ac-11e4-876d-00144feab7de.html#axzz3jWsIGsn5

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