China

Rulers make ready for discontent

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The recent centralisation of authority around Xi Jinping, and moves to reinforce conformity within Chinese society, have more to do with preparations to confront a host of emerging economic, social and political issues than the formation of a new cult of personality, writes Adrian Budd.

At the end of February 2018 the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) proposed that the limit of two consecutive terms in office for the state president and vice-president be removed from the country’s constitution. The National People’s Congress, China’s parliament, rubber-stamped the change almost unanimously a few days later. The chief beneficiary of the change is Xi Jinping — state president, CPC leader and head of the armed forces.

Focus on China: Workers and the national question

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Ethnic tensions have flared in China over the past few years, but so has the potential for working class unity against the state.

Writing nearly 150 years ago Karl Marx noted that it was a “precondition for the emancipation of the English working class” that Ireland be freed from British rule as “a nation that enslaves another forges its own chains”. In other words, it was crucial that British workers break from the ideology of their own ruling class and support Irish independence if they were to achieve their own emancipation.

Women and China: what has changed?

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China’s economic success has improved the lives of some workers but also widened the gender and wealth gap. Sally Kincaid looks at what life has been like for women over the past 70 years since the Revolution.

‘No matter how good a woman, she will circle the kitchen stove. No matter how inferior a man, he will travel the world.’ This was a common saying in pre-revolutionary China, as was the answer to someone knocking at the door of a household: “There is no-one home” — there are no men at home.

China: New strains on state capitalism

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Adrian Budd discusses the contradictions in the Chinese economy that might pose a threat to its celebrated — and feared — growth rates.

For three decades discussion of China’s economy has been overwhelmingly positive. Benefitting from what Leon Trotsky called the privileges of backwardness, China’s transformation has been remarkable since the reforms of Maoist state capitalism started under Deng Xiaoping in 1978. Contrary to neoliberal myth, average growth rates of nearly 10 percent a year have been achieved by a combination of state production and state orchestration of private capital.

China: A labour movement in the making

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Chinese workers are on the move, often provoked by unpaid wages, long hours and rotten, dangerous working conditions. Simon Gilbert looks at whether there is potential for the host of seperate disputes to coalesce into a national workers’ movement, with enormous power.

Behind China’s much vaunted economic miracle lies a tale of exploitation and resistance. The wealth of the country’s new billionaires was created by the labour of millions of migrant workers, working exhaustingly long hours for little pay, if they ever got paid at all, in some of the most dangerous conditions in the world. But the bosses, including those of the multinational corporations who often reap the biggest profits, haven’t had it all their own way. In the face of government repression workers have learnt to organise and fight for their rights.

Focus on China: The East is green?

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Martin Empson examines the contradictions behind the green rhetoric of the Chinese government and its continued reliance on fossil fuels.

China’s rapid economic expansion is based on massive state investment, low pay and manufacturing for export to the Western economies at the same time as the promotion of domestic consumerism. Global competition for resources and markets means China must continue this economic model. But this brings with it the risk of war, economic crisis and the threat of workers fighting for an increased share of the enormous wealth being generated. But it is also driving environmental disaster on a local and international scale.

China, the US and imperialism

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In the first in a new series, Adrian Budd examines the changing power balance between China, the US and regional competitors — and how this fits with the Marxist theory of imperialism.

The nuclear stand-off between the US and North Korea focused eyes on Asia in 2017. Despite their differences, including over sanctions, the US and China have cooperated over North Korea’s nuclear programme and have a common interest in attempting the impossible of stabilising global capitalism. But they also have rival interests and China’s rise is the key long-term issue facing US power.

US-North Korea standoff adds to instability

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North Korea’s latest ballistic missile tests prompted US president Donald Trump to respond with threats of “fire and fury”. The heightened state of tension in the Korean peninsula is unlikely to lead to an immediate war. However, it is certain to add to the instability in the region, at the root of which lies growing rivalry and bickering among imperialist powers.

China on Strike

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Anyone who is feeling a little demoralised and frustrated by the lack of strikes in the UK should add this book to their Christmas list, and then make sure they take some time out to read it.

Everyone knows about the booming Chinese economy, and many people know about the horrendous working conditions of those who have migrated from the countryside to the cities. There are two responses to alienating working conditions. One is the individual response which at best is walking out and at worst committing suicide.

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