Workers Vanguard No. 987
30 September 2011
Fake Trotskyists in Camp of Counterrevolution
Hue and Cry over Chinas Role in Africa
In August 2009, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visited Angola to witness a major agreement between the government of the Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) and the American oil giant Chevron. Clinton took the occasion to pledge further U.S. investment, which came on top of an earlier promise by Washington to help build two hydroelectric plants. For Angola’s bourgeois-nationalist MPLA, these deals marked something of a turn by the U.S. imperialists. For nearly 30 years after winning independence from Portugal in 1975, Angola was wracked by a devastating civil war. For much of that period, the U.S. gave military and financial support to guerrilla forces allied with apartheid South Africa fighting a reactionary war to unseat the MPLA, which was backed by the Soviet Union and Cuba. Furthermore, U.S. capitalists had shown little interest in investing in Angola following the official end of the civil war in 2002.
There was a clear purpose to the friendly face Clinton offered the MPLA government. The year before her visit, Angola had become Africa’s largest trade partner with China, the most powerful of those countries today where capitalist rule has been overthrown. Providing nearly 15 percent of China’s petroleum, Angola has surpassed Saudi Arabia as the largest oil exporter to China. In return, Beijing has provided low-interest loans that have been used to build hospitals, schools, irrigation systems and roads. Similar deals have been struck from Sudan and Algeria to Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, providing oil and metallic minerals for mainland China’s booming industries.
For the U.S. and other imperialist powers, which suffered a historic defeat with the 1949 Chinese Revolution, these are not welcome developments. Carried out by a peasant-guerrilla army led by Mao Zedong’s Chinese Communist Party (CCP), the 1949 Revolution established a workers state, although one that was bureaucratically deformed from its inception. The creation in subsequent years of a centrally planned, collectivized economy laid the basis for enormous social progress for workers, peasants, women and national minorities. Ever since 1949, the imperialists have sought the counterrevolutionary overturn of CCP rule and the return of China to untrammeled capitalist exploitation. To this end they have pursued military pressure and threats, supported internal anti-Communist movements and “dissidents” and, over the last 30-plus years, penetrated the Chinese mainland economy courtesy of the CCP regime’s “market reforms.”
As Chinese trade and aid agreements with African countries began to proliferate five years ago, imperialist spokesmen sounded the alarm. World Bank head Paul Wolfowitz lashed out at the very favorable loans offered by China’s state-owned banks, which, he declaimed, did not meet “social and environmental standards.” This from a man who a few years earlier had been a leading architect of the Bush administration’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq! Chiming in with a throwback to the anti-Soviet Cold War, a headline in Britain’s Daily Mail (18 July 2008) screamed: “How China’s Taking Over Africa, and Why the West Should Be VERY Worried.”
The blowback touched off a debate among academics and government officials in China on its role in Africa, within the bounds, to be sure, of overall policy set by the Beijing Stalinist bureaucracy. An article titled “The Practice of China’s Diplomatic Concept of ‘Harmonious World’—An Analysis of Sino-African Relations in Recent Years” by Ge Zhiguo rightly condemned “the West’s longstanding policies toward Africa,” which have not only “not given Africa prosperity and stability” but have also “caused many African countries to sink into long-term chaos and ethnic violence” (Gaoxiao Sheke Dongtai [Social Sciences Perspectives in Higher Education], third issue in 2007; this and other translations are by WV).
From King Leopold’s killing fields of the Belgian Congo to Britain’s concentration camps in Kenya and U.S. support to apartheid South Africa, the record of the Western imperialists in Africa is one of mass murder, slave-like labor and brutal repression of independence movements and workers struggles. Indeed, the precursor to such barbarism was the enslavement of Africans in capitalism’s early mercantile stage. Imperialist subjugation, far from modernizing such societies, has reinforced their backwardness and immiseration. Noting that China’s investments in Africa are motivated by very different purposes, Ge Zhiguo called on Beijing to reform some of its own policies to counter resentment among Africans over the treatment of workers in China’s enterprises and the undercutting of local businesses by Chinese entrepreneurs.
As Trotskyists, the International Communist League stands for the unconditional military defense of China against imperialism and internal counterrevolution. We support China’s right to trade in order to procure what it needs to further its development. We recognize, however, that China’s investment and aid programs are determined not by proletarian internationalism but by the CCP bureaucracy’s narrow nationalist interests, which are rooted in the Stalinist dogma of “building socialism in one country” and its corollary, “peaceful coexistence” with imperialism (now called the “harmonious world” policy). Opposed to the perspective of international proletarian revolution, the CCP regime has accommodated imperialism—including, as will be discussed below, by joining with the U.S. and South Africa in backing the anti-Soviet forces in Angola
—while militarily and politically supporting “friendly” bourgeois rulers in Africa and elsewhere who brutally repress workers and the rural and urban poor.
China’s role in Africa is contradictory, reflecting the contradictions besetting China itself as a bureaucratically ruled workers state in an imperialist-dominated world. To defend and extend the gains of the Chinese Revolution requires a proletarian political revolution to oust the CCP bureaucracy and replace it with a regime of workers democracy committed to the fight for world socialism.
China Is Not Capitalist
Forming the left flank of the imperialists’ anti-China campaign are such “socialists” as the Committee for a Workers’ International (CWI), led by Peter Taaffe, and the United Secretariat (USec) of the late Ernest Mandel. A 30 March 2008 article titled “China in Africa” by the CWI’s German section, Socialist Alternative (SAV), denounced China as “just another player” in the “game” of exploiting African countries. The SAV declared that “China, like other imperialist countries, only seeks to exploit their resources and markets as effectively as possible.” In the USec’s International Viewpoint online (January 2007), Jean Nanga, described as a “Congolese revolutionary Marxist,” similarly condemned China’s supposed “global ambition” as “motivated by capitalist interest.”
That the CWI and USec have shamelessly enrolled in the anti-Communist crusade against China is no surprise. Prostituting themselves to bourgeois “democracy,” the USec and the CWI’s predecessor hailed all manner of imperialist-backed counterrevolutionaries that were arrayed against the former Soviet and East European deformed workers states, e.g., Polish Solidarność and the reactionary rabble on Boris Yeltsin’s Moscow barricades in August 1991.
Directing its Stalinophobia against China, the USec has championed such pro-imperialist “dissidents” as Nobel “Peace” Prize recipient Liu Xiaobo, a fan of the U.S. wars in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan (see “Hong Kong: Fake Trotskyists Hail Imperialist Running Dog Liu Xiaobo,” WV No. 981, 27 May). Meanwhile, the CWI, as our comrades of the Spartacist League/Britain noted, has cheered anti-Communist riots in Tibet and openly defended “democratic” capitalist Taiwan, which has long been supported by U.S. and Japanese imperialism as a dagger aimed at the People’s Republic of China (see “China Is Not Capitalist,” Workers Hammer No. 202, Spring 2008). Peter Taaffe likes to pontificate that the “transition” toward full-blown capitalism “has not yet been fully completed” (“Halfway House,” Socialism Today, July/August 2011). This is just a bit of cosmetic cover for the CWI’s concrete and consistent support to the forces of capitalist counterrevolution.
The furor over China’s role in Africa began to seriously mount in 2006 in response to the Darfur conflict in western Sudan, which resulted in mass slaughter and the driving of some two million people from their homes. The proximate cause of that conflict was the unleashing of janjaweed militias, based on nomadic Muslims, by the Khartoum government against guerrilla forces based on a farming population that was also Muslim. In the U.S., a campaign by Christian rightists, Zionists and a number of prominent liberals demanding imperialist intervention to “save Darfur” demonized China, which has invested heavily in Sudanese oil production and developed close ties with the al-Bashir regime, providing it with military hardware. Joining in with this cabal, the SAV’s 2008 article wailed, “The Chinese regime, which imports 8 percent of its oil from Sudan, has shown during the recent conflict that it cares a lot about its profits and far less about the fate of the local population.”
It should be noted that one of the factors prompting China to increasingly turn to Africa for petroleum was a rabidly anti-Communist campaign, led largely by the American labor bureaucracy, that succeeded in quashing the China National Offshore Oil Company’s planned acquisition of U.S.-based Unocal in 2005. Earlier that year, the CWI’s U.S. affiliate, also called Socialist Alternative, enlisted in the anti-China effort by cosigning a leaflet demanding that Harvard University divest from PetroChina, another Chinese state-owned enterprise, and Unocal.
Anti-China tirades by liberals and ostensible socialists might play well in London, Paris and other imperialist centers, where the bulk of the left pushes the lie that China is capitalist or is irreversibly on that road. But that message is not so eagerly embraced in Africa, where Chinese aid in building hospitals, schools and other infrastructure contrasts sharply with the legacy left by the real imperialists: extreme poverty, social backwardness, tribal and ethnic warfare. The carving up of Africa by the European powers at the 1884-85 Berlin Conference was a signal of the emergence of modern imperialism. As V.I. Lenin explained in Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism (1916), the advanced industrial countries were increasingly compelled to export capital to the more backward countries in the search for raw materials and cheap labor. The resulting interimperialist competition led to two world wars and countless colonial adventures, at the cost of untold death and destruction.
The fundamentally different purpose of China’s investments in Africa can be seen in the value of the commodities they generate. All commodities—from mined products to factory-produced goods—embody both use value (as desirable objects of consumption) and exchange value (broadly reflected in market prices). Under capitalism, the owners of industrial plants and other means of production amass profit by hiring labor to produce commodities, with the purpose of increasing exchange value. China’s overseas investments, which are financed by several of the mainland’s state banks, are driven not by the profit motive but by the need for raw materials for its collectivized industries at home—i.e., to extract use value.
U.S. State Department official Princeton Lyman, who is decidedly not a Marxist, acknowledged as much in a 2005 presentation to the Congressional U.S.-China Commission, stating:
“China utilizes a variety of instruments to advance its interest in ways that western nations can only envy. Most of China’s investments are through state-owned companies, whose individual investments do not have to be profitable if they serve overall Chinese objectives. Thus the representative of China’s state-owned construction company in Ethiopia could reveal that he was instructed by Beijing to bid low on various tenders, without regard for profit. China’s long term objective in Ethiopia is in access to future natural resource investments, not in construction business profits.”
The mere fact that China engages in world trade does not make it capitalist or imperialist. It is because Chinese investment is not driven by the capitalist profit motive that its effects are so radically different from those produced by imperialist exploitation of Third World countries. Martyn Davies, director of the China Africa Network at South Africa’s University of Pretoria, lauds the Chinese as “the biggest builders of infrastructure” in Africa (“The Next Empire?” Atlantic, May 2010), a sentiment echoed by American academic Deborah Brautigam in her overwhelmingly favorable 2009 book on China’s role in Africa, The Dragon’s Gift (Oxford University Press).
Pressures of the World Market
China’s need to import raw materials became acute around a decade ago when, due to its soaring economic growth, the mainland could no longer provide the bulk of oil and metallic minerals to meet industrial needs. By virtue of its “going global” policy, China by 2009 was importing 52 percent of its oil and 69 percent of its iron ore.
China’s situation contrasts with that of the Soviet workers state, which issued out of the 1917 October Revolution led by the Bolshevik Party. After the failure of proletarian revolutions in more advanced European countries, especially Germany, a conservative bureaucratic caste led by J.V. Stalin usurped political power beginning in 1923-24. Severely marked by the backwardness inherited from tsarism and the devastating effects of imperialist war and civil war, the Soviet Union possessed abundant iron ore, oil, timber and other raw materials. Stalin & Co. used that fact as an argument for the reactionary-utopian notion that socialism could be achieved in Soviet Russia alone. This threw overboard the basic Marxist understanding that achieving socialism—a society of material abundance—requires workers rule internationally, particularly in the industrially developed countries.
Based on its planned economy, the Soviet Union underwent phenomenal growth in the 1930s while the rest of the world was mired in the Great Depression. But through its own resources and efforts, the USSR could not reach, much less surpass, the technological level and labor productivity of the advanced capitalist countries. Decades of imperialist military and economic pressure, combined with bureaucratic mismanagement and Stalinist sellouts of revolutionary opportunities internationally, fatally weakened the Soviet workers state, which was destroyed by capitalist counterrevolution in 1991-92.
Following this catastrophe, the CCP leadership conducted an internal study aimed at figuring out how to avoid a similar fate while hewing to its nationalist Stalinist program of “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” One of the regime’s conclusions was that the Soviet Union had spent too much of its resources trying to compete with the imperialists militarily and in other ways. China, it was determined, would instead expand and deepen its ties to the world capitalist market. Beijing is now such a “responsible” partner in the world market that the Chief Economist at the World Bank, one of the main institutions enforcing imperialist dictates, is Justin Yifu Lin, one of China’s leading economists!
In “going global,” Beijing has increasingly backed military intervention in the Third World by the United Nations, a den of imperialist thieves and their victims. This represents a turn from the policy the CCP regime adopted when China was admitted to the UN 40 years ago. As Stefan Stähle noted in “China’s Shifting Attitude Towards United Nations Peacekeeping Operations” in the academic journal China Quarterly (September 2008):
“At first, China completely rejected the idea of UN peacekeeping. Beijing regarded all UN interventions as being manipulated by the superpowers, not least because China had been the target of the first US-led enforcement action authorized by the United Nations in 1951 [sic, should be 1950] during the Korean War…. Since 1981, however, when China began to open up to the world, Chinese diplomats have voted in favour of all those missions which carried out traditional peacekeeping tasks or managed transitions.”
In plain English, “peacekeeping tasks” translate to bloody repression and the imposition of imperialist diktat. China has criminally lent its own military and police forces to such “peacekeeping,” from Haiti to Sudan. As Chris Alden noted in China in Africa (Zed Books, 2007), “The majority of Chinese peacekeepers, in fact, are based in Africa, making China the largest contributor of all the permanent member states of the UN Security Council to peacekeeping operations.” As proletarian internationalists, we demand that China end its participation in UN military missions.
As China’s economy continues to grow while the imperialist countries are mired in a seemingly endless depression—the latest demonstration of the crisis-ridden nature of the system of production for profit—it might seem that Beijing has indeed found a way around the pressures that ultimately led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. But such an idea is based on fallacious belief in the stability of the world capitalist order and the benevolence of China’s imperialist trading partners, which dominate the world market.
In China itself, the country’s stunning economic growth serves to exacerbate class and social tensions. Particularly due to “market reforms,” an enormous divide has been created between corrupt government officials, capitalist entrepreneurs and privileged petty-bourgeois on one side and the hundreds of millions of proletarians—in both state-owned and private enterprises—and poor peasants on the other. A wave of strikes last year in auto plants and other private enterprises was but one component in the explosion of what the CCP regime calls “mass incidents”—work stoppages, assemblies of petitioners, protests against corruption, etc. The number of such incidents reached 180,000 in 2010, doubling since 2006.
Sooner or later, the Stalinist regime will bring China to the brink, posing the threat of capitalist counterrevolution. At the same time, the antagonism between the bureaucracy and China’s toiling masses is preparing the ground for a proletarian political revolution to oust the parasitic Stalinist regime. The Chinese proletariat needs the leadership of a Leninist-Trotskyist party that combats the apostles of “democratic” counterrevolution, not least those who parade this program in “socialist” and even “Trotskyist” garb, and breaks the working class from Stalinist nationalism. Guided by such a leadership, a China of workers and peasants councils would promote proletarian revolution internationally. Under workers rule, the industrial and technological capacity in Japan, the U.S. and West Europe would be harnessed for the all-around development of China as part of a world socialist order.
Support to Bourgeois Rule
In responding to the charge of Chinese “neocolonialism” in Africa, many academics and government spokesmen in China point to Beijing’s policy of “non-interference” in other countries’ internal affairs. Writing in an academic journal, Liu Naiya enthused over China’s aid to former colonial countries in Africa as “a ‘gift’ to African nationalism from a socialist country. In other words, it is a rational political investment—a great demonstration of the brotherly friendship of international communism” (“Mutual Benefit: The Essence of Sino-African Relations—A Response to the Charge of ‘China’s Neocolonialism in Africa’,” Xiya Feizhou [West Asia and Africa], August 2006).
CCP spokesmen like to point to the aid and diplomatic support that China early on gave to some of the movements in Africa that fought for independence from colonial rule. And there is no doubt that Chinese aid and investment have spurred development in many African countries. But this is a far cry from socialist internationalism. China’s business agreements come with the “political condition” that Beijing do nothing to upset its bourgeois trading partners. Thus the Chinese Stalinists help prop up the capitalist order that keeps the masses of African workers and peasants in abject poverty. The CCP’s willingness to shore up reactionary bourgeois regimes was demonstrated as early as the 1954 Asian-African Solidarity Conference in Bandung, Indonesia, where Zhou Enlai propounded the “Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence,” including a pledge to refrain from pressuring other countries to change their economic systems. The “anti-imperialist” rationale for this class-collaborationist program was exposed as threadbare by the Mao regime’s simultaneous policy of peaceful coexistence with Japan, the imperialist powerhouse of Asia.
A common reference in arguments supporting Beijing’s policies is the building of the Tanzania-Zambia railway by Mao’s China in the early-mid 1970s. This was a significant development that entailed an enormous outlay of self-sacrificing labor by Chinese workers. But the CCP simultaneously gave political support to Tanzania’s Nyerere regime, which repressed basic trade-union struggles by impoverished workers.
In this, the Chinese Stalinists showed their political kinship with the Kremlin bureaucracy. Soviet aid was critical in the construction of the Aswan Dam in Egypt, which was completed in 1970. Along with this aid came Soviet military advisers, and more. In fact, Moscow gave Egypt’s bourgeois bonapartist Nasser regime more advanced military hardware than it gave to North Vietnam in its heroic fight against U.S. imperialism! Meanwhile, the Soviet-aligned Sudanese Communist Party subordinated itself to the bourgeois-nationalist strongman Nimeiry, betraying a revolutionary opportunity that ended in a massacre of Communists in the early 1970s. Following the same class-collaborationist program, the South African Communist Party (SACP) has for over 80 years submerged itself in an alliance with the African National Congress (ANC), today helping to enforce the dictates of neo-apartheid capitalism as part of the ANC-led bourgeois government.
Revolutionary Marxists recognize that a workers state might be compelled to strike trade deals and diplomatic agreements with capitalist states. But this must not be confused with the task of the communist party to lead the struggle for proletarian revolution. In Lenin’s time, the Soviet workers state signed the 1922 Rapallo treaty with capitalist Germany, an agreement that included military cooperation. Simultaneously, the Bolsheviks were the leading force in the Communist International, seeking to forge Communist parties that could successfully lead the workers, not least in Germany, to the proletarian seizure of power.
A revolutionary regime would also seek to use overseas assets as a weapon of proletarian-internationalist strategy. Leon Trotsky addressed this in regard to the Chinese Eastern Railroad, which had been built by tsarist Russia to further the plunder of China but remained under Soviet ownership following the October Revolution. In 1929, two years after slaughtering tens of thousands of Chinese Communists and other militants, Chiang Kai-shek’s regime provoked a military conflict with the Soviet Union, then under the Stalinist bureaucracy, over control of the railroad. In “Defense of the Soviet Republic and the Opposition” (September 1929), Trotsky fought against those who treated Soviet policy in this regard as “imperialist.” He pointed out: “We regard the Chinese Eastern Railroad as one of the weapons of the world revolution, more specifically, of the Russian and Chinese revolutions…. So long as we have the possibility and the power, we shall protect it from imperialism, in preparation for handing it over to the victorious Chinese revolution.”
Trotsky continued that “the character of this type of socialist enterprise” and its administration and working conditions “would have to be such as to raise the economy and culture of the backward countries with the aid of the capital, technology, and experience of the richer proletarian states to the mutual benefit of both sides.” Projecting how a proletarian dictatorship in Britain would handle the former imperialist rulers’ concessions in India, he wrote:
“The workers’ state will be bound to transform them not only into vehicles of India’s economic upbuilding but also of her future socialist reconstruction. Naturally, this policy, equally indispensable for consolidating socialist England, could be carried through only shoulder to shoulder with the vanguard of the Indian proletariat and it would have to offer obvious advantages to the Indian peasants.”
CCP’s Anti-Soviet Treachery
The perspective outlined by Trotsky is diametrically opposed to the nationalist, anti-revolutionary program of the Chinese Stalinists. This was glaringly seen in the criminal alliance Mao’s regime forged with U.S. imperialism against the Soviet Union, castigated and slandered by Maoists as “social-imperialist” and the “main enemy” of the world’s peoples.
One of the fruits of this betrayal was the devastation of Angola from decades of war. After winning independence from Portugal in 1975, the country was thrown into a civil war between three nationalist guerrilla forces: the MPLA, the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) and the National Front for the Liberation of Angola (FNLA). Initially, as Marxists we gave no support to any of the contending sides, all of which were petty-bourgeois nationalist movements aspiring to congeal a bourgeois regime. However, that situation soon changed.
Aided by the Soviet Union, the MPLA gained control of most key areas, including the capital Luanda, and declared Angola a “people’s republic.” In response, the U.S. forced the unification of UNITA and the FNLA and supplied them with arms, while South Africa and Portugal added hundreds of their own troops to the effort to overthrow the MPLA. The civil war was thus transformed into a proxy war between U.S. imperialism and the Soviet degenerated workers state. Marxists had a clear side in this conflict: for the military victory of the MPLA. Mao’s China, however, actively supported the CIA-funded FNLA/UNITA, even sending military instructors to train the anti-Communist cutthroats. Testifying to China’s role, U.S. officials noted that Washington was able to cut back “aid to the anti-communist movements, because we were satisfied to let the Chinese do the work in the field” (quoted in Le Monde, 5 December 1975). So much for “non-interference”!
As South African troops led a blitzkrieg toward Luanda, China’s official Peking Review (21 November 1975) issued a high-level policy statement condemning the “expansion and crude interference of the Soviet Union,” refusing to even mention the invasion by the apartheid armed forces! Soviet aid, combined with later intervention by heroic Cuban troops, eventually turned the tide and drove back the imperialist proxies and their South African advance guard. But the civil war dragged on. Bridges were destroyed by bombs, rural roads and fields were planted with land mines, and urban infrastructure all but collapsed, enormously compounding the country’s pre-existing deep backwardness.
The Angolan masses paid in blood for the treachery of the Chinese Stalinists, who have been able subsequently to take advantage of the destitution of Angola and other countries in sub-Saharan Africa to which they themselves contributed. More fundamentally, with its material aid to reactionary, imperialist-backed anti-Soviet forces from Southern Africa to Afghanistan in the 1970s-80s, the CCP contributed to the destruction of the USSR itself, a catastrophic defeat for workers and the oppressed the world over, including in China.
For Proletarian Internationalism!
Directed by the Beijing bureaucracy’s narrow national interests, overseas state investment often pits Chinese firms and managers against the workers they employ. Along with the Chinese-financed mines, oil facilities and construction projects that have sprung up throughout Africa has come evidence of workers abused through discriminatory hiring practices, low wages and outright union-busting. One study cited by Deborah Brautigam in The Dragon’s Gift found that Chinese construction firms in Namibia violated minimum wage laws and “affirmative action” training requirements while also failing to pay social security and other benefits. Chinese workers in Africa have waged their own battles against mistreatment. According to Brautigam, when some 200 Chinese construction workers in Equatorial Guinea went on strike in March 2008, a clash with local security forces resulted in two workers being killed.
A fact virtually ignored by both the bourgeois and the “left” press is that many of the worst attacks on African workers are carried out by private Chinese entrepreneurs who, with Beijing’s approval, have attached themselves like leeches to China’s investment program. In 2010, two Chinese supervisors at the Collum Coal Mine in Zambia shot 13 miners during a wage protest. The following year, Zambian authorities decided not to press charges, touching off widespread anger among Zambians. The mine, which the press described as “Chinese-owned,” was not a state-owned entity but the property of a private investor, operated by his four younger brothers.
Marxists support workers fighting for union rights and decent wages and benefits, including their struggles against Chinese management. At the same time, it is necessary to combat nationalist demagogues and trade-union misleaders who seize on the abuses of workers to jump onto the imperialists’ anti-China bandwagon. For example, the COSATU union federation in South Africa, part of the Tripartite Alliance with the ANC and SACP, has long vituperated against Chinese clothing imports driving out local manufacturers.
Such protectionism promotes the lie that the (overwhelmingly black) South African proletariat has a common “national interest” with the (overwhelmingly white) South African capitalist class, revealing the bankruptcy of the COSATU bureaucrats’ claims to stand for international working-class solidarity. It also feeds the drive for counterrevolution in China, strengthening the hand of the imperialists whose military and economic might pose formidable obstacles to proletarian revolution in South Africa and elsewhere. Defense of China and the other deformed workers states—Cuba, North Korea, Vietnam and Laos—is of vital importance in the fight for a socialist future in Africa, for which the combative and strategically concentrated South African working class holds the key. You can’t win new gains if you can’t defend old ones!
Marxists must also combat the chauvinism that permeates the Chinese state bureaucracy and its representatives overseas. With budgets and deadlines determined by Beijing, Chinese companies often employ workers from China rather than hire locally. Defending such practices, the general manager of the state-owned China National Overseas Engineering Corporation declared: “Chinese people can stand very hard work. This is a cultural difference. Chinese people work until they finish and then rest.” Zambian workers, he complained, were “like the British”: “They have tea breaks and a lot of days off. For our construction company that means it costs a lot more” (quoted in Chris Alden, China in Africa). Such comments speak volumes about the contempt that Chinese bureaucrats hold toward both African and Chinese workers.
Inheriting the overseas operations of Chinese state enterprises, a government of workers and peasants councils in China would make special efforts to hire and train local workers, with union rights and with pay and benefits above local scale. Such a regime would also make short shrift of the bourgeois elements who have arisen in China as a result of “market reforms” and have found a place in Africa as well. Above all, it would follow the lead of the early Soviet workers state in promoting the victory of workers rule throughout the planet. It is to carry out the task of forging the Leninist vanguard parties necessary to lead that struggle that the ICL fights to reforge the Fourth International, world party of socialist revolution.
In “Fake Trotskyists in Camp of Counterrevolution—Hue and Cry over China’s Role in Africa” (WV No. 987, 30 September), we wrongly cited 1954 as the date of the Asian-African Solidarity Conference in Bandung, Indonesia, where Chinese premier Zhou Enlai propounded the “Five Principles of Peaceful Coexistence.” The conference actually convened in April 1955. (From WV No. 992, 9 December 2011.)