In guise of exposing corruption, New York Times aims blow at China

Crisis in China, Part 13

The New York Times has committed an act of journalistic aggression against China. On Oct. 25, it splashed across the top of the front page a three-column article, complete with color photos, claiming that relatives of Wen Jiabao have gotten extremely rich because of their relationship to the outgoing Chinese premier.

This blast of exposure comes just days before the opening of the Communist Party Congress, which is to preside over a once-in-a-decade change in the top party leadership.

The Times claims that the article, which supposedly documents the collective amassing of $2.7 billion by Wen’s relatives, has been worked on for a year and that now the story is “ready to go.”

There has been much speculation as to the motives of the Times, particularly whether the article was politically motivated on behalf of one faction or another in the Chinese leadership. Only subsequent information can reveal anything about such speculation.

It is ironic that the Times is trying to undermine Wen, who has been the most prominent of those in China’s top leadership promoting “reform and opening up.” Wen is also the harshest enemy of Bo Xilai, because Bo was trying to slow down the march along the capitalist road, promote the welfare of the workers and the peasants, and revive the socialist spirit and the culture of Mao Zedong. Wen denounced Bo and warned of a possible return to the Cultural Revolution.

The fact that the Times opened up an attack on Wen could also signify that it is trying to ally with forces further to the right than he — those who want to use the campaign against corruption to push further toward introducing capitalist political parties in China.

At this point speculation must be put aside and the world must await further clarification concerning this attack. But one thing stands out about the timing of the article and the prominence given to it, regardless of its accuracy: It is a flagrant act of imperialist intervention in the political process in China at a critical moment.

What also stands out is that it is the height of hypocrisy for the Times — a mouthpiece of U.S. capitalism and imperialism, which is the font of corruption at home and abroad on a monumental scale — to expose corruption in China. Washington, the State Department, the military-industrial complex, the CIA, the giant monopolies and banks — all bribe and corrupt officials at home and abroad in the quest for contracts, policy changes, special laws favoring corporations, arms sales, etc.

This is a case of a thief crying thief. And the last thing the workers and peasants of China need is for the corporate predators behind the New York Times to stand as a watchdog over the virtue of their country.

Capitalism breeds corruption in China

It is widely known both inside and outside China that ever since Deng Xiaoping opened up the door to capitalism and imperialist corporate penetration, under the slogan “socialism with Chinese characteristics” or so-called “market socialism,” the acquisitive bourgeois spirit has spread throughout China among sections of officialdom and the Communist Party.

The practice of using party or government positions for personal gain is prevalent, from the local to the highest levels. This has bred cynicism and alienation and gone a long way to erode the socialist spirit that prevailed in China until the death of Mao.

Demonstrations against various forms of corruption or the results of corruption have spread throughout China — especially demonstrations against government officials making land deals with developers at the expense of the peasants.

Under Deng and his successors, capitalist market relations were elevated to become the principal means of stimulating economic development. Socialist social relations were sacrificed to market-driven development of the productive forces in the name of “modernization.” Even the great state-owned enterprises and state economic planning exist within the framework of capitalist market mechanisms.

Legitimatizing capitalism, exploitation and profit-seeking leads inevitably to corruption.

Want to root out corruption? Return to socialist road

The road to rooting out corruption in China lies along the path of restoring the early socialist traditions of the Chinese Revolution. This is hardly a prescription the New York Times would advocate.

During the early period of the Chinese Revolution, and especially during the Cultural Revolution, whatever its excesses may have been, the quest for personal wealth was frowned upon, and the collectivist, egalitarian, anti-bureaucratic spirit animated the Maoist sections of the party and had a great following among the masses.

During the Cultural Revolution, the Paris Commune model was revived with the direct leadership of the masses in politics and administration. Government officials were subject to recall. Salaries were limited. Party members and officials were to participate in the life of the masses. The workers were empowered politically, while the peasants had been organized into communes early in the revolution.

With regard to corruption, Russian revolutionary leader V.I. Lenin in 1917 followed the Paris Commune model. No party member, no matter his or her status, could receive a salary higher than that of the highest-paid worker. It was called the law of the maximum. It was later removed by Stalin. Under Lenin limited privileges were granted to experts on a provisional basis, until such time as the workers could develop sufficient expertise on their own. This was also later reversed.

For years moderate and right-wing elements within the CPC have used the argument that “modernization” requires having capitalists and capitalism, with all its “efficiencies” and expertise. But they were held in check by Mao and the forces around him on the left.

This argument is a rationalization for allowing the rise of privileged elements. The workers and peasants can achieve miracles of modernization and socialist construction if they are given the opportunity. That would put China in a much stronger position vis-a-vis capitalist restoration, counterrevolution and imperialism. This subject requires much more extended analysis at a future time.

But for now, suffice it to say that the New York Times is the greatest champion of further capitalist reform and further imperialist penetration in China. The last thing it would want to see is a mass campaign to restore the socialist spirit in China, with the empowerment of the workers and peasants, which is the true way to root out corruption at all levels.

This gratuitous blast against corruption involving Wen Jiabao, even if every word is true, is carried out in the service of undermining China’s socialist heritage and promoting the further development of capitalism.

Goldstein is the author of “Low-Wage Capitalism” and “Capitalism at a Dead End.” More information is available at The author can be reached at [email protected].

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