This edited talk was presented during an Aug. 13 webinar, “Book Launch: The East is Still Red: Chinese Socialism in the 21st Century.” For a report on full webinar see socialistchina.org, Aug. 16 posts.
It is such an honor to participate in this discussion. Thank you, Carlos Martinez, for a real contribution to the political level of discussion among Marxists. Thank you also for over 1,000 footnotes to back up every point you make.
There have been great reviews — it is such a valuable resource.
In a Workers World review of “The East Is Still Red,” Carlos Martinez’s book is defined as “a necessary read.” The book is a contribution to the discussion regarding the class character of the People’s Republic of China. (workers.org/2023/07/72231/)
In whose interests does the People’s Republic of China operate? In the interests of the people of China, of course.
But China’s impact on the global working class is enormous. So it is in our class interests everywhere to defend China from the aggressive ideological attacks and the economic attacks, sanctions and now military encirclement, all led by U.S. imperialism.
Carlos reminds us of President Barack Obama’s famous quote in describing the Pivot to Asia: “To preserve U.S. hegemony. we have to make sure that America writes the rules of the global economy or China will.”
What do the U.S. and British imperialism and the G7 imperialist countries fear? China’s state-owned enterprises and publicly-owned banks, the largest source of profit, and China’s regulations on private businesses.
The Chinese state, via the Chinese Communist Party, directs the economy. Capitalists from around the world can invest. But they can’t just pull their equipment out. China owns it and Chinese staff must be trained to operate it. The imperialist corporations consider this restriction on foreign investments to be property theft.
China’s state-owned industries do not need the extraction of profits that privately-owned banks and industries do need. For imperialism this is the most essential requirement, their life blood.
China is a defining point for left forces globally, but especially in the United States today. Why? Because the U.S. war machine is directly targeting China.
The entire U.S. productive capacity is focused on how to disrupt China’s supply chain, even if it dislocates U.S. production and wreaks havoc on a world scale.
This is a New Cold War and there is a real danger of it going much further. U.S. aircraft carriers and nuclear subs through the Taiwan Strait, and the constant overflights in the South China Sea are now daily provocations.
All of this is justified with the most unrelenting media campaign not seen in decades — a propaganda campaign so insidious, so pervasive in every form of media, culture and sports and openly funded by the National Endowment for Democracy.
Disclaiming imperialist lies
I’ve had two incredible opportunities to visit the People’s Republic of China. In particular, the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region — the center of U.S. atrocity myths like claims of slave labor. But as we found, agriculture is entirely mechanized — tractors, planters, drones. Not one Islamic or Arab country has backed up false U.S. or G7 claims.
It is essential for left and progressive forces to be clear on what we defend in China and why, and what does Wall Street want to destroy in China.
Workers World Party is in the midst of organizing discussions in a number of U.S. cities on this topic
This is why “The East Is Still Red” is a “necessary” read. We have to arm ourselves with political arguments. We need to be aware that this is not an abstract topic. It is a living challenge in the class struggle today.
We don’t get to choose our battles. The U.S. imperialist ruling class has pushed this topic of China to the top of our agenda.
It is without dispute that China has pulled hundreds of millions of people out of poverty into a stable and secure life, the greatest anti-poverty achievement in world history! Something no capitalist country has successfully achieved.
The big question for those who consider themselves to be on the side of socialist revolution is: What is the class character of People’s China?
We need to answer the vicious twists, ugly distortions of crude U.S. propaganda and the polite academics and intellectuals who want to convince working-class organizers that there is nothing worth defending in China, that it is no different than the U.S.
We can’t just limit our attention to immediate bread-and-butter struggles. In the class struggle you have to take sides on all the major issues.
As the title implies, Carlos makes a powerful case that China is still a socialist country and that anti-imperialists worldwide should step forward and defend People’s China against U.S. and world imperialism.
Consider if imperialism prevailed and was able to halt China’s development. That would be a historic defeat, not only for the workers and peasants of China. It would have a global impact.
The collapse of the Soviet Union was a terrible setback for the working-class struggle globally. The capitalist class gained a huge advantage and set out to recolonize whole parts of the world that had made huge gains. Eastern Europe reverted to its former semi-colonial status compared to Western Europe. In Africa and throughout the Arab world, U.S. imperialism set out to unravel the gains of nationalist regimes.
Which side are you on?
Our task is to win over the working class in Britain and the U.S. No imperialist war is in our class interests. Imperialist wars are for the immediate profit of a small handful of corporate giants. We pay. They benefit.
But in order to defend China against the unrelenting corporate propaganda, the left needs to consciously organize to stop imperialist wars and needs material to answer the attacks and propaganda.
Every page of Carlos’s book contains concrete facts to answer the corporate media.
How about the charge that China is creating a debt trap for African countries? The corporate media claims repeatedly that China is a new imperialist power stealing Africa’s resources. Carlos quotes the 2022 Debt Justice Report:
- African governments owe three times more debt to Western banks than to China.
- Only 12% of Africa’s external debt is owed to Chinese lenders.
- China’s interest rates are one-half of those of Western loans.
- China has built more infrastructure in Africa in two decades than the West has in centuries. This means railroads, ports, water filtration plants and power stations.
- China offers more scholarships to African students than the West’s combined scholarships.
Carlos always gives footnotes for each assertion.
China has much to teach the world movement. It is a progressive world formation and we defend it against the imperialist oppressor.
Among those who are for socialism, how we understand China and really step forward to defend China is the immediate challenge. All the most powerful imperialist forces are aggressively mobilizing for war. It seems impossible, unbelievable.
Increasingly, the imperialist state apparatus and their corporate media are determined to silence those explaining and defending China. People who write and explain China and its incredible accomplishments are being openly attacked. There is an increasing effort to silence them. The New York Times article of Aug. 5 is the latest example.
Carlos’s book is a real primer in basic arguments.
There are now 600 million workers in China. This is larger than the entire working class in the G7 imperialist countries combined.
There are nearly 100 million Chinese Communist Party members who are committed to defending socialist property rights. And even though a capitalist class has grown and there are great inequalities in wealth, the sheer size of a politically conscious, highly organized communist leadership is a powerful bulwark.
That China’s economy weathered the 2008 capitalist crisis that brought capitalist finances to the brink of collapse is proof that the billionaires are not driving decisions. The capitalists of the West or the Chinese capitalists were not those who were bailed out in China.
State resources went into the biggest infrastructure building program in China’s history. Millions of Chinese workers who were suddenly laid off overnight when capitalist firms globally collapsed were immediately hired into Chinese programs.
This is “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” Martinez convinces the reader to resolutely oppose the U.S.-led New Cold War on China. This is a service to the worldwide movement for socialism.
Let’s remember this essential distinction: U.S. bombs, China builds!
Our task is to defend People’s China!