05-10-2021: The war on Covid is fast transforming into a war on China. The Anglospheric formation of AUKUS (Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States of America) is just the latest confirmation of already occurring facts on the ground. No one is buying the line that AUKUS “does not target a particular country”. No one is buying the line that AUKUS is just an alternative deal for Australia to build eight nuclear powered submarines, junking the 90 billion dollar conventional submarine building deal with French company Naval Group. In reality, AUKUS is an alliance for multi-pronged war against the People’s Republic of China (PRC), the worlds most populous nation. The PRC’s largely collectivised and planned economy has already surpassed the USA in terms of Purchasing Power Parity (PPP – the amount of goods that can be obtained for a certain amount of currency), and is well on track to overtake the USA in economic performance overall. The PRC’s rapid expansion contrasts sharply with the decades long economic decline of the Anglo imperialist nations now comprising AUKUS.
Unable to compete economically, the AUKUS powers are bent on doing everything they can to destroy, or at least degrade, the PRC’s economic rise. Some have wondered openly why the governments of the West don’t just co-operate with China, engage in trade and mutually beneficial cultural, scientific and educational exchange? This might be possible if imperialism – the expansionist policy of privately owned finance capital – did not exist. Others wonder especially why Australia would even risk its ties with the PRC, which is overwhelmingly its largest trading partner. Even with the hostile provocations from the Australian government towards the PRC in recent times, approximately 39% of Australia’s exports are sent to China, while around 27% of all Australian imports were taken in from China. In the case of a US led war with China, all of this could cease, sending Australia’s economy into an even deeper tailspin than that caused by unjustifiable “Covid” lockdowns.
While it is true that a deep economic depression for Australia could be just one result of an AUKUS led war on China, the Australian ruling class calculates that its billionaires would ultimately rake in billions more IF they are able to somehow overthrow the Chinese state and return China to the colonial “100 years of humiliation” it endured prior to its liberation through socialist revolution in 1949. Ever since then, the Western powers have not stopped for a minute with efforts to encircle, contain or break up the Chinese “civilisation state”. The Korean War and the Vietnam War in their time were aimed squarely at the PRC, in the same way that US/UK funded destabilisation in Tibet, Hong Kong and Xinjiang is today. Washington and London hardly blink in sidelining Paris if it means constructing another front against Beijing via ultra-provocative “Freedom of Navigation Operations” in the South China Sea. 90 billion dollars for a French company is chump change compared to what Western imperialism would reap if the PRC – the world’s most powerful deformed workers’ state – is no more.
China eclipsing the West
Just a glance at the economic, scientific and technological achievements of the PRC in recent decades reveals the growing gap between themselves and the West. In fact, advances in the PRC virtually proceed in an inverse proportion to the decline of their counterparts. Already the world leader in the construction and operation of high-speed rail, the PRC is currently in the process of laying Vacuum tubes for their Maglev (magnetic levitation) trains. Once operational, these trains could reach speeds of 1000 klm/hr, and reduce the 2200 kilometre journey from Wuhan to Guangzhou to a mere two hours. While there is some high-speed rail in the UK, both Australia and the USA are yet to construct even one kilometre of high-speed rail.
In the crucial STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) education sector, the PRC’s vast investment in its higher education system is reaping tangible benefits – while there are multiple crises in the University sectors in the AUKUS nations. China overtook the US in the number of STEM PhD graduates produced in 2007, and by 2019 was producing 47% more. By 2025 it is estimated that the PRC will be producing 77 000 STEM PhD graduates per year, compared with an estimated 40 000 per year in the USA. Both Australia and the UK are facing an ongoing STEM skills crisis, with ongoing critical shortfalls in STEM related positions. In both countries some in these fields point to gender related stereotypes as justification, but this is far from the main reason. It is much more to do with the critical underfunding of Universities by Western governments. The capitalist state must guarantee the right of capital to make a profit, so if the private sector demands access to “the education sector”, i.e., privatisation, their respective governments oblige. By contrast, in the PRC profit is not the predominant goal of production, so its government can prioritise state investment in education, which then redounds on the development of its own scientific and technological industries.
Washington is most concerned with falling behind China in the field of quantum computing. The central government in Beijing has already pumped 10 Billion dollars (US) into the PRC’s National Laboratory for Quantum Information Sciences. One result is the announcement by the University of Science and Technology in China (USTC) that its quantum computer had performed a calculation 100 trillion times faster than the worlds most advanced supercomputer, which they claimed surpassed Google’s Sycamore by a factor of 10 billion. Quantum computing is the key to improving the processing speed and power of computers, and China’s state backed Universities are taking on and eclipsing Google, Microsoft and IBM in the West. This is one reason why the AUKUS alliance names artificial intelligence, cyber capabilities and quantum computing as essential areas of co-operation, while the sharing of nuclear-powered submarine technology has garnered most of the headlines.
Though Washington, London and Canberra would never let on, the basic reason why the PRC is outperforming the West is because the socialist mode of production is a higher socio-economic formation vis-à-vis capitalism. No one is claiming that the PRC is a classless society, but neither is it one which operates on the sole basis of production for private profit. The PRC is a transitional society half-way between capitalism and socialism, and as long as the state which emerged out of 1949 remains intact, the AUKUS powers will never control it. At the same time, the PRC remains a bureaucratically deformed workers’ state, which is distorted by the multi-class forces which gave it its birth AND the pseudo-Marxist vulgarisations of Stalinism – the theoretical basis of the Communist Party of China (CPC). Notwithstanding the reverence which Maoism historically commands within China, the conservative caste ruling the PRC strictly abides by the twin policies of “socialism in one country” and “peaceful coexistence”. These class collaborationist nostrums result in the CPC doing literally anything to preserve “socialism” within its borders, which means capitalism everywhere else.
Covid co-operation between the PRC and the very imperialist powers that have now formed AUKUS is just one example of the working-class betrayal the CPC commits on a daily basis. Some leftists who view themselves as anti-imperialist fall for the false narrative that “China effectively contained Covid”. In reality, the CPC carried out display lockdowns, invasive testing and some vaccinations in order to help prop up and assist Western imperialism. To preserve “socialism” in their own state, a Stalinist bureaucracy will not hesitate to enact repression against its own workers so as to help capitalism in the West through a period of crisis. Sometimes the bureaucracy of a deformed workers’ state such as the PRC will lean on its own workers to aid imperialism, while at other times the bureaucracy of the PRC will lean on imperialism to aid its own workers. Nonsensical fake pandemic co-operation with the West is a prime example of the former, while military and political self-defence against AUKUS is a notable example of the latter.
If this sounds like a contradiction, its because it certainly is. The conservative leadership of the PRC perform a delicate balancing act between the needs and interests of its own working class, and the never-ending demands of Western imperialism to “open up”, i.e., do away with the very element which guarantees its independence – its workers’ state. All bureaucracies have little or no loyalty to political principles, they are primarily about self-preservation. The CPC bureaucracy is no different. However, to the extent that the CPC leadership protects the socialistic character of its state, workers of the world have an obligation to defend it. This stands especially in the case of an attack by the AUKUS powers. At the same time, the need for a proletarian political revolution in China – the restoration of the rule of elected workers’ councils comprised of all those committed to defending the gains of 1949 – remains critical. To a large extent, this is bound up with a political breakthrough such as a victorious proletarian revolution amongst one or more capitalist bastions in the East and West.
Regional provocations and sabotage
The AUKUS imperialists cannot, of course, land troops on the shores of the Chinese mainland and invade with the hope of overthrowing the state. The PRC is nuclear armed, although its stockpile of nuclear warheads is estimated at only 300, compared to the US with around 6000. So AUKUS is simply another web being weaved by imperialism to ramp up isolation type pressure on the PRC in addition to alliances such as the Quad (Australia, India, Japan, US). While an all out war between AUKUS and China may not eventuate, it may not be the goal of the Pentagon. The 2016 report by the Rand Corporation “War with China: Thinking through the Unthinkable” states explicitly that economic ruination of the PRC may be a preferable outcome. As a war on China led by the US would take place in China and not on US soil, Rand estimated that GDP losses in a “limited” war would be in the ballpark of 30-35% for the PRC, and only 5-10% for the US. As the ultimate goal of the total overthrow of the PRC remains out of reach, Washington may settle for sabotage.
Moreover, a “limited” shooting war with China would only augment other forms of hybrid war Wall Street is behind. It is an open secret that the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), funded by the US Congress, in turn funds the Uyghur Human Rights Project (UHRP) and the World Uyghur Congress (WUC). Separatist terrorism in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) in the North West of China is fostered by the West with the clear intention of derailing important hubs for the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) as well as (they hope) breaking whole chunks away from the PRC. In 2019, imperialism attempted to break Hong Kong away from the PRC, through the direct funding of over 37 000 NGOs from the US and Europe. Despite this backing, the ultra-violent anti-China “pro-democracy” Blackshirt protests never gained anything like majority support amongst the people of Hong Kong.
To complement the US state backed efforts to destabilise or break away internal parts of China, Washington is simultaneously fomenting political chaos in South East Asian nations bordering the PRC. Throughout 2020 and into 2021, the US government has been behind increasingly violent “pro-democracy” demonstrations in Thailand. The aim is to disrupt or prevent the growing economic, military and political ties the Thai government is, not surprisingly, developing with the PRC. In neighbouring Myanmar, the so-called “pro-democracy” opposition has formed a “National Unity Government” (NUG), with its spokespeople openly calling for money and support from US President Joe Biden! At least the government of Cambodia was alert to a similar process taking place within its borders. In October 2017, the Cambodian Supreme Court simply dissolved the “opposition” Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) for treason to the state. The CNRP was being funded by the US government in an attempt to overthrow Cambodia and break its economic ties with China.
Any war on China would be catastrophic and could escalate into a nuclear confrontation. If that eventuates, it may well be the last war, a war which ends humanity. Needless to say, the imperialists who are threatening such devastation need to be removed as far away from the levers of power as is possible. In other words, the imperialist powers – including AUKUS – must be disarmed through a combination of social revolutions in the West, and proletarian political revolutions in China and other deformed workers’ states. The forging of genuine Leninist vanguard parties, linked internationally, is key to preparing the masses for this huge task. A world without war is possible if the labouring majority of humanity can find the path to upend a global capitalism which is careering out of control.