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China’s supercomputer shakes the Pentagon

Published Nov 14, 2010 10:04 PM

Sixty-one years after the Chinese Revolution’s triumph, the People’s Republic of China has created the world’s fastest supercomputer.

According to University of Tennessee Professor Jack Dongarra, China’s Tianhe-1A supercomputer is 47 percent faster than the speediest U.S. supercomputer. Tianhe, which means “Milky Way” in Chinese, is faster than 175,000 laptops. (www.metro.co.uk)

Supercomputers can solve complex scientific problems, including medical research and weather forecasting, to help people.

The U.S. military-industrial complex uses them to simulate detonations of nuclear weapons.

The fastest U.S. supercomputer, the XT5 Jaguar, is located at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee. This facility was part of the Manhattan Project, which made atom bombs that killed hundreds of thousands of Japanese, Korean and Chinese people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Western European rulers took hold of Chinese inventions like gunpowder and the compass and used them to conduct the African Holocaust — the trans-Atlantic slave trade — and to exterminate Native peoples in the Americas. Karl Marx showed how the capitalist world market was born in “blood and dirt” through these great crimes.

Britain invaded China in 1841 because the Chinese stopped importing opium from British capitalists. Over a century of misery and humiliation followed, with millions of Chinese people killed. Just as there were signs forbidding Black people from many places in apartheid-era United States and South Africa, a “No dogs or Chinese allowed” sign was erected in a Shanghai park.

A triumph of socialist planning

The Chinese Revolution changed all that. Mao Zedong declared “China has stood up” on Oct. 1, 1949.

In the last 30 years, however, China has enmeshed itself with the capitalist world market. The Taiwanese corporation Foxconn, the world’s largest manufacturer of electronic components, employs 420,000 workers in Shenzhen alone.

But Foxconn and other bosses had nothing to do with the world’s fastest supercomputer. It was the Chinese socialist state that built Tianhe-1A.

Despite capitalist inroads and the restructuring of state-owned industry, billions of dollars were allocated by the socialist state to build this computer. Socialist economic planning was responsible for this technological marvel.

Capitalist India has hundreds of thousands of talented computer scientists. Bangalore, India, is headquarters for Wipro, which has 112,000 workers. Yet Wipro and other capitalist outfits in India haven’t built the fastest supercomputer.

The Soviet Union astonished the world by launching Sputnik, the first satellite, in 1957 on the 40th anniversary of the Russian Revolution. This vivid example of the power of centralized socialist planning also alarmed the war makers in the Pentagon, whose early rockets were exploding on their launch pads.

China still developing, advancing

While it produced more than 500 million tons of steel in 2009 and made more cars than the U.S. did, China is still a developing country. In many areas it still has to catch up with developed capitalist countries — one of the great problems facing socialist revolutions that triumph in countries impoverished by centuries of colonialism and imperialism. The response of China’s leaders to the need for modern technology has been to invite in foreign capital, but many inside China are deeply concerned about the growing inequality.

However, in the last few years China has forged ahead in science and technology, meaning it has to rely less on hostile capitalist forces as it builds up its economy. At the same time, mass protests for better wages and working conditions have intensified.

A series of pro-working-class measures have been passed. Pensions were given to 140 million migrant workers in 2007. The same year a health care act was passed that will extend medical insurance to virtually everybody.

Chinese trade unions forced McDonald’s and Wal-Mart to sign contracts. What an example this is to 1.8 million workers in the U.S. who are exploited by these two corporate monsters. China-bashing won’t bring these workers union benefits.

Building the world’s fastest supercomputer shows that China has the wherewithal to strengthen its development toward a socialist economy. Like Sputnik, the Tianhe-1A supercomputer is a victory against Wall Street and its Pentagon.