US vs China: Workers Must Defend Their Side
26-09-2019 – Anti-China hysteria has been set at fever pitch. The attempt to besmirch Liberal Party Member of Parliament Gladys Liu as an agent of the Communist Party of China (CPC) eventually ran out of steam, as the case collapsed for lack of evidence. Gladys Liu’s conservative and pro-capitalist politics can be confirmed not the least by the fact that she has backed the anti-communist Hong Kong riots publicly, saying she admired the “passion and commitment” of the largely US and UK government funded separatists. Regardless of Ms Liu’s past membership of groups associated with the Chinese government, she also admitted organising an overtly homophobic and transphobic WeChat social media campaign against equal marriage rights for same sex couples, and the “Safe Schools” program during the 2016 election campaign. Yet Ms Liu’s ultra-conservatism, and membership of the Liberal Party, was not enough to shield her from a New Cold War witch-hunt.
Day after day, workers in Australia are beset by a corporate media (especially the government owned ABC) slur against virtually anything to do with the People’s Republic of China (PRC). Lurid tales of the PRC allegedly repressing ethnic minorities, overtly monitoring their people with social credit systems and facial recognition cameras and supposed debt-trap lending to Pacific nations, are retailed ad nauseum. All of these stories distort the truth beyond recognition, yet they still appear. Capitalist states must have an adversary, or create one, lest its own workers turn their justifiable grievances against their own rulers. This becomes even more urgent when capitalism enters economic crisis, and even more urgent again when a large country in its region is literally running laps around it.
Socialism in the PRC, capitalism in Australia
China’s rise as an economic power is noted by all classes, but it is causing serious concern for Australia’s ruling elite. They, like their patrons in the USA, are well aware that they must “do something” before being overtaken by the PRC economically, politically, financially and diplomatically. Australia’s capitalist economy is now stumbling along, effectively in recession. Many of the key economic indicators for Australia are at their worst point ever, and Australia is plummeting down the rankings of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development) countries. Australia now ranks 18th (out of 36, 36 being the lowest) for total numbers of unemployed, 21st in youth unemployment, 18th in economic growth, 20th in terms of lack of wage growth, 19th in terms of gross national savings, and 28th in terms of unequal wealth distribution (the Gini coefficient). In short, Australia is following the USA, Europe and Japan in a long recession, which shows no sign of ending, and is plainly getting worse.
Compare this bleak outlook to the situation of the PRC. In 2018, despite economic growth “slowing” to its lowest point in 28 years, it still had a growth rate of 6.6% – compared to Australia’s average 1.5%, which is now 1.4%. The PRC’s economic output for last year was 1.4 trillion, which surpassed the total output of Australia for 2017, at 1.32 trillion. Yet it is not just sheer economic data which is damning for the capitalist West. In January this year, the PRC became the first country in history to carry out a soft landing on the dark side of the moon, demonstrating its scientific and technological advances. This is also reflected in the top 500 world supercomputer ratings. PRC based companies in 2019 claimed 219 of the fastest and most powerful supercomputers, compared to the USA’s 119. In terms of high speed rail, the PRC has built and installed more than 25 000 kilometres of dedicated lines since 2008, which represents more than the total operating in the rest of the world. Australia, on the other hand, has no high speed rail, and is unlikely to obtain any in the foreseeable future.
More figures demonstrating the contrast would be easy to find. It should be clear though, that in economic terms the PRC is moving forward, and Australia is moving backwards. This is because socialism in the PRC is the dominant mode of production, whereas in Australia we are stuck with capitalism – for now. The PRC has never had a recession, because the strategic means of production are all state owned or majority state owned, and the government runs five year economic plans. The PRC’s state ownership of the banks is a key factor in fireproofing their economy from the shocks of the recessions of the capitalist world. Economically, the PRC runs a socialist system – despite the inroads of free enterprise allowed by the CPC. There is much to criticise politically from a working class point of view – but mainly in terms of the lack of decision making power. Despite political limitations, the state and the economy of the PRC is still delivering gains for its workers, 70 years after its socialist revolution.
One might assume that in an atmosphere of New Cold War red-baiting raised to unprecedented levels, a priority for Australian left parties would be to defend the PRC against what is essentially war propaganda from the liberal intelligentsia right up to the highest political offices of Canberra and Washington. Unfortunately, what prevails amongst most of them has recently been a rash of attempted neutrality, or a position of “we are against both sides”. Yet even accounting for some justifiable left criticisms of the PRC and the CPC, the US vs China is a very real case of capitalism versus socialism. In this battle, working people internationally have a vital stake in the defence of socialism (even in the distorted form of the PRC) against capitalism (largely represented by Anglo-US imperialism). The shortcomings of socialism in the PRC (lack of workers’ decision making power, disallowance of non-CPC yet pro-socialist organisations) can only be addressed while defending the PRC against internal and external overthrow. Paraphrasing Leon Trotsky, those who will not defend past gains will not be able to win new ones. Therefore, workers defence of the PRC is bound up with any further advances for world socialism.
Alas, some Australian left parties not only refuse to defend the PRC, but in practice join with imperialist propaganda against China, albeit with “left” overtones. The newly formed Australian Communist Party (ACP), in a review of the Netflix documentary American Factory, goes overboard with denunciations of alleged “Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics”. The China based Fuyao Glass took over a defunct General Motors plant in Ohio, and began employing American workers. This in itself is indicative of the state of US capitalism versus the prosperity of the Chinese economy. The ACP review goes on to denounce the practices of Fuyao management, who allegedly attempt to prevent workers in America from forming a Union, and mistreat them by threatening them with the sack if they do. The American workers struggle to understand why the Chinese workers generally accept what management expects of them, even if they receive poor treatment.
The ACP infer that the actions of one Chinese owned company operating in the United States is symptomatic of what occurs in the PRC, and that it is as bad, or worse, than what occurs in the US. The nature of work in the PRC compared to the US is a huge discussion – but the ACP dismiss this as their superficial analysis of the PRC is that it is “capitalist”, where most industry is allegedly privately owned. This is a long way from reality. Suffice to say that Unions in a workers state which is attempting to build socialism play a very different role to Unions in a capitalist state which is a mainstay of world imperialism. The role of Unions in a workers’ state is not that of total opposition to their own government or to their own building of socialism. It is to protect workers interests while also assisting and defending the basis of their independence from world imperialism – the socialist state. Unions in a capitalist state, on the other hand, need to oppose both their own government and “their own” capitalist state – which is the basis of their oppression. This is anathema to the ACP, however, who overlook the vast differences between the PRC and the US, and dismiss both as “capitalist”.
In real world politics, it is impossible to be “neutral” or to imagine that one is against both the US and China. As long as imperialism exists, taking a position of “neither the US nor China” means in practice siding with imperialism, despite intentions. The US Empire can skilfully use “defence of workers’ rights” to aid their political, economic and military campaign against Red China. This fools some workers in the capitalist West, and even some self-described “Communist” parties. The ACP is the first cab of the rank on this score. One does not have to look very far to discover that, in fact, American Factory was produced by none other than the former President and First Lady of the United States, the Obamas!! The recent former Commander in Chief of the US Empire did not just endorse American Factory, but helped to produce it. By your friends ye shall know thee, as the saying goes. The ACP finds itself in very unsavoury company indeed.
China as “imperialist” ?
A graphic demonstration of how it is impossible to remain neutral in a Cold War is proffered by Socialist Alternative (SAlt). In an editorial of Red Flag, they declare that the new Cold War is being fought by “two reactionary imperialist states” where there is “no good side” ! The falsity of this position is immediately brought into stark relief, as in the same editorial, they grandstand about “standing with Hong Kong and the Uyghurs”. It should hardly need explaining that right now, Hong Kong and Xinjiang are the key crystallisations of counter-revolutionary CIA backed intrigue against Red China. Imperialist backed rioters in Hong Kong have wreaked havoc for the last three months, terrorising bystanders going about their daily lives, who might disagree with them. The far Western Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XAUR) has also been targeted by the Pentagon, over transparently false claims that the PRC government is preventing Uyghur Muslims from practicing their religion. The outrageous claim that the PRC is detaining one million Uyghurs in detention camps has been exposed as a furphy.
The irony is strong. SAlt claim to oppose both US (real imperialism) and Chinese “imperialism”, but in practice go on to openly and loudly assist key US imperialist political assaults on the PRC. SAlt’s forerunners in the International Socialist Organisation proclaimed “neither Washington nor Moscow” in the 1980s when the Soviet Union was still in place. In practice, this position always meant support for Washington against Moscow, by way of reserving the strongest opposition to “totalitarian” socialism through covert endorsement of “democratic” imperialism. In the same way, today’s effective slogan of “neither Washington nor Beijing” means in practice political support for Washington against Beijing. In reality, this means siding with capitalism against socialism – clearly the wrong position for workers.
Not to be outdone, the Socialist Alliance (SAll) also chime in with the China bashing, under the guise of “a plague on both your houses”. Echoing SAlt, SAll write that “In the conflict between the US and China, we should not support either side.” But this is immediately exposed as false, as SAll shout to the heavens about the need to support “democracy” (!) in Hong Kong, Tibet and Xinjiang. These three regions are targeted for destabilisation, chaos and – the US state department hopes – the spreading of anti-government action throughout China, leading to regime change. The more the PRC necessarily builds up its military defences – vital for defence against an external imperialist assault – the more the US state department depends on the funding of internal pro-capitalist (“democracy”) dissidents within China. The capitalism allowed in Hong Kong has meant a substantial section of right-wing youth are able to be recruited as counter-revolutionary rioters. The separatists still remain wholly in the minority, however.
The imperial left are wrong – workers have a vital stake in the conflict between the real imperialism of the US and the rising socialism of the PRC. Regardless of justifiable left-wing criticism of the CPC, workers internationally must act to defend the PRC workers’ state, whether deformed or not. This means calling for unconditional military defence of the PRC against internal and external political, diplomatic, economic and military moves against Beijing. It is vital that socialism be defended and extended from the workers’ states to the centres of Western imperialism – the US, Europe, Japan and Australia.
PO Box 66 NUNDAH QLD 4012
 https://www.auscp.org.au/militant-monthly/2019/9/17/capitalism-with-chinese-characteristics-key-lessons-from-american-factory?fbclid=IwAR2XbjHqDMiALF2v_A9n4b5MoMmApdvoYdrCTE4jWzo-1spu025rvXXOYps (25-09-2019)
 Ibid, 11.