China: Wang Chaohua - The Party and its Success Story. A Response to “Two Revolutions”

New Left Review No. 91 (January/February 2015)

Reviewed by Laurence Humphries, Revolutionary Communist International Tendency (RCIT), March 2015,


Wang Chaohua is a University Researcher at the University of California. She was an active participant and combatant during the Tiananmen demonstrations in Beijing in 1989. She was a leading student leader for the Beijing autonomous association of College Students.

After the Chinese Stalinists massacred a number of Students and workers she was forced to flee, to go into Hiding and eventually left China to work as a researcher at University of California.

Wang Chaohua is a member of the New Left Review Editorial Board. She has written a useful account in reply to Perry Anderson’s “Two Revolutions”. Unlike most NLR essays this is a very truthful and objective account of the History of the CCP and the state of the regime since 1976.

She shows how Stalinism in both the USSR and China aided and gave support to other National Liberation Movements especially in Vietnam and Cuba. “In the cold war years the two communist states provided moral and material support to comradely movements in other countries. The Soviet Union helped sustain and equip the Vietnamese revolution. It enabled Cuba to survive an American Blockade”. [1]

Wang Chaohua traces the development of Chinese Stalinism through the Mao years up to the Cultural Revolution and shows how the Red Guards were used and manipulated by Mao Tse Tung to give a false impression of the Cultural Revolution when in fact it was an inner-party struggle to enforce the reactionary philosophy of Stalinism. “Had the CCP leadership been truly rooted in a revolutionary tradition it would have recognised the need for open debate on the lessons to be drawn from the Cultural Revolution and on the essential purpose of a socialist revolution. It would have been eager to find ways to guarantee the masses access to institutional political participation. It would not have exploited memories of Red Guard chaos to censor every kind of social movement from below”. [2]

From 1978 Deng Xiaoping and Hua Guofeng were locked in a power struggle after Mao Tse Tung’s death. Hua Guofeng advocated more democracy in the party “Socialist Democracy or peoples Democracy means that all the people enjoying various forms of ownership”. [3]

This of course was not to happen. Hua Guo Feng was defeated in the power struggle. Deng Xiaoping’s reforms were to consolidate the bureaucratic caste in the leadership of the CCP; there was no attempt at Glasnost or perestroika as practised by the Soviet Leadership under Mikael Gorbachov. As history has shown, both ways – the Gorbachov road as well as the Deng road – finally led to capitalist restoration.

This development, however, was the signal for an official backlash. Raising the alarm, the same party watchdogs who had successfully urged economic opening to Western investment, against the opposition of Hua Guofeng, rallied Deng to their side, publishing violent attacks on the intellectuals in top party journals. In 1983 a counter-‘liberal’ campaign extended into a wider police crackdown on ‘spiritual pollution’, deliberately foul­ing liberal conceptions of intellectual debate as social vices.” [4]

This was the start of the counter revolution which would lead to the demonstration at Tiananmen Square and the massacre that ensued. Wang Chaohua traces the development of this counter revolution with the removal of Hua Guo Feng and others from positions of Leadership.

Once they had power securely in their hands, however, the Elders became less interested in procedurally conditioned collective leadership. From Deng’s point of view, Hu Yaobang had been unnecessarily sym­pathetic—irksomely so—to advocates of humanism and students demanding democratic rights.” [5]

The preparations for the consolidation of power by Deng and the party Elders were drafted by a small section of bureaucratic caste. “The proposal made no mention of the rights of the masses to participate in p0olitics”. [6]

This move by Deng and others led to student demonstrations. “It was this alteration that triggered the student demonstrations of late 1986 which led to the ouster of Hu Yaobang for being too soft on them. Still Students from Peking University managed to get their preferred elected to Beijing’s Haidan district in late 1987”. [7]

Deng, Wang asserts, was concerned to wipe out all talk of (of course very limited) democratic reforms and pursue his economic reforms to introduce capitalism into the Chinese economy and break up and destroy the foundations of the degenerate workers state. “Deng’s own outlook remained essentially influential: so long as he could pursue his economic course he preferred neither to share power with the masses nor to argue much with the self-assigned guardians of orthodoxy”. [8]

When Hua Yaobeng died in mid-April 1989 students in Beijing started marching into Tiananmen Square, scuffles with police and overnight sit in followed. Millions were shocked by (People’s Daily denouncing Students action as turmoil) its threatening tone and language.

Once the working class entered the battle it was the signal by Deng and the bureaucracy to unleash the Military and forever turn China onto the road of Capitalist renewal. “The military suppression of the popular uprising brought to an end a period shaped by the Cultural Revolution, democratic election of the Peoples representatives disappeared from the political agenda”. [9]

This conclusion by Wang Chaohua is echoed by the political position of the RCIT which has written and shown how China and Russia are now imperialist states and represent a new definition of ”inter imperialist rivalry”. “In China the Stalinist Bureaucracy managed to brutally smash the working class and youth with the massacre at Tiananmen Square on 4th June 1989, where they killed thousands of activists after succeeding in this they could subjugate the working class, force on it the worst possible labour discipline and hence squeeze out it for many years without any interruption massive values of Capitalist Value”. [10]

The aftermath of Tiananmen Square was that the economic and social rights of workers under the degenerate worker’s state were removed. “Iron Rice-Bowl secure employment and a steady wage of workers in State owned Enterprises were wiped out by mass dismissals and limited term contracts with no compensating pensions in one sector after another-manufacturing ,energy and construction, layoffs amounted to more than 20 Million in the 1990’s”. [11]

Wang describes how state owned enterprises are now capitalist enterprises. “Nowadays they are known simply as firms owned by the state. Any link to the people however nominal has been removed.”. [12]

Today SOE’s are no longer burdened by the duty to provide lifelong employment to workers or any other benefits. They hire workers on short term contracts like any other private company and pay them no better”. [13]

Wang shows how in the rural areas many villages and communes have been reduced to poverty with the forceful removal of people from the countryside to the town. “[A]ccompanying the pauperization of villages, and stemming from it, millions upon millions of rural residents moved from the countryside to coastal or interior towns as ‘migrant workers’ to feed the labour force needed for the export sector, whose growth rocketed after China’s entry into the wto in 2002.”. [14]

[I]n 2008 there were some 225 million workers with rural registration employed in urban areas, where they enjoy no rights to housing, education, or any kind of social protection, due to the infamous hukou system separating the population of the countryside from that of the cities. Five years later the number had grown to upwards of 270 million, of whom well over half were long-distance migrants, even as the media were filled with complaints of ‘labour shortages’ in export firms. Such migrants are not officially recognized as members of the working class, and are at the mercy of their employers, who can withhold wages for months at a time. Capital and the state have joined forces to exploit a huge mass of humanity, transforming hundreds of millions of peasants into a sub-proletariat at a speed and on a scale unprecedented in world history.” [15]

Wang Chaohua in this essay confirms much of what the RCIT has written about the changes brought about by a centralised Stalinist Bureaucracy who have managed to enrich themselves both materially and financially. The Stalinist Bureaucracy has transformed China into a wealthy imperialist state.

It is by studying Lenin’s theory of Imperialism and using the dialectical method that we can pinpoint these changes. Wang Chaohua, although no Marxist had produced a very useful study on the transformation of China into a Major Imperialist Power.



1)       The Party , Its Success Story, NLR 91, pg. 10

2)       Ditto, pg. 19

3)       Ditto, pg. 20

4)       Ditto, pg. 21

5)       Ditto, pg.22

6)       Ditto, pg. 26

7)       Ditto, pg. 27

8)       Ditto, pg.27

9)       Ditto, pg. 29

10)   Michael Pröbsting: China's transformation into an imperialist power. A study of the economic, political and military aspects of China as a Great Power, in: Revolutionary Communism No. 4, August 2012, pg.26,

11)   The Party Its Success Story NLR 91, pg. 31

12)   Ditto, pg. 32

13)   Ditto, pg. 33

14)   Ditto, pg. 35

15)   Ditto, pg. 35-36