World Perspectives 2017: X. China: Strengthened as a Great Power but Before a Serious Recession

 

1.                   As we have elaborated above as well as in past documents, Chinese imperialism has been able to substantially increase its global position. However, this doesn’t mean that it is free of internal contradictions. Quite the opposite. After the stock market crashed a year ago, the regime was only able to avoid a recession by resorting to a massive state-capitalist investment program. Furthermore, it has now imposed new restrictions on outbound foreign investments in an effort to curb capital outflows which put downward pressure on its currency, the Renminbi, and drains China’s foreign exchange reserves. [1]

 

2.                   The rapid increase of social inequality and the deplorable working conditions for most workers have resulted in an exponential increase in the number of workers’ strikes. According to data from China Labour Bulletin, a Hong Kong-based rights group, there were 2,774 strikes and labor protests across the country in 2015 – more than the number which took place during the previous four years together. [2] As we have stated in the past, these struggles are focused on economic issues, the most common grievance in these protests has been unpaid wages. Naturally the Stalinist-capitalist regime tries to suppress this unrest as much as possible. One instrument for doing so is the ban of any independent trade union outside of the official All-China Federation of Trade Unions which is completely controlled by regime. Furthermore, there a number of clashes in smaller towns and villages have also taken place. For example, in the second half of 2016, repeated mass protests and street battles between villagers and the police occurred in Wukan, a village of 13,000 people, after a democratically elected local leader, Lin Zulian, was jailed by authorities on charges of corruption. [3]

 

3.                   On the backdrop of a looming global Great Recession, which would have strong repercussions on China’s economy and the growing domestic class struggle, Xi Jinping, who is both the country’s president as well as the “Communist” Party’s general secretary, is increasing his efforts to consolidate his grip on power. Since coming to power in 2012, Xi has launched a massive anti-corruption campaign which led to the purge of numerous officials, military officers and state-sector business executives. He has also replaced a dozen provincial party chiefs with his own allies. [4]

 

4.                   Xi’s efforts to bolster his position as the unquestioned Bonapartist leader met with success when, in the the latest meeting of the Central Committee in October 2016, he was officially endorsed as the “core of the party centre.” This will undoubtedly strengthen his position in the power struggle with Premier Li Keqiang. [5] While Xi is calling for “stronger, better, bigger” state corporations, with a central role for the Communist Party in their management, Li stresses the need to “slim down” state companies and to “follow market rules” in remaking them. [6] It is clear that the Stalinist-capitalist regime in Beijing is preparing for tough times ahead, including a slowing economy, mounting social and class tensions, and the accelerating rivalry with US imperialism.

 

5.                   Revolutionaries in China must fight for working class independence. While work inside the official trade union may be legitimate for tactical reasons, the goal must be to build unions which are independent of the regime. While supporting all struggles for elementary economic demands, as well as fundamental democratic rights, revolutionaries should advocate a program to unite these struggles on the basis of a transitional program. This means integrating slogans against the ongoing privatizations as well as for worker control in workplace struggles and combining the struggle for democratic rights with slogans like the call for a constituent assembly. Likewise, revolutionaries support the struggle for national self-determination for East Turkestan (which the Han chauvinists call Xinjang) and Tibet. The goal must be to prepare the working class for the overthrow of the Stalinist-capitalist regime and the creation of a workers’ government. Such a workers’ government would renationalize the privatized sectors under workers’ control, expropriate the super-rich, and smash the entire state bureaucratic apparatus.

 



[1] See e.g. Financial Times: China to clamp down on outbound M&A in war on capital flight, 2016-11-29, https://www.ft.com/content/2511fa56-b5f8-11e6-ba85-95d1533d9a62

[2] See China Labour Bulletin: Strikes and protests by China’s workers soar to record heights in 2015, 07/01/2016, http://www.clb.org.hk/en/content/strikes-and-protests-china%E2%80%99s-workers-soar-record-heights-2015

[3] See Al-Jazeera: China: Wukan in lockdown as residents clash with police, 2016-09-13, http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2016/09/china-wukan-lockdown-residents-clash-police-160913110034559.html

[4] See e.g. John Griffin, Clark Liu, Tao Shu: Is the Chinese Anti-Corruption Campaign Effective? February 15, 2016

[5] Wang Xiangwei: How Xi Jinping can use his new power as ‘core’ of China’s Communist Party, 28 Oct 2016, http://www.scmp.com/week-asia/politics/article/2040942/how-xi-jinping-can-use-his-new-power-core-chinas-communist-party

[6] Lingling Wei and Jeremy Page: Discord Between China’s Top Two Leaders Spills Into the Open, July 22, 2016, http://www.wsj.com/articles/discord-between-chinas-top-two-leaders-spills-into-the-open-1469134110