New book: The East is Still Red – Chinese socialism in the 21st century

We are pleased to announce that the new book by Invent the Future editor Carlos Martinez, The East is Still Red – Chinese socialism in the 21st century, has been published by Praxis Press. It is currently available to buy on the Praxis Press website in paperback and ePub forms, and will be available more widely from early June.

Description

China provides a powerful living example of what can be achieved under a socialist system; by a Marxist-led government firmly grounded among the people. The East is Still Red explains the escalating hostility by the imperialist powers towards China and clears up various popular misconceptions.

All available evidence indicates that not only is the Communist Party of China committed to Marxism, but it is a leading force for the development and enhancement of Marxism in the 21st century.

If the first century of human experience of building socialism teaches us anything, it is that the road from capitalism to socialism is a long and complicated one, and that ‘actually existing socialism’ varies enormously according to time, place and circumstances. China is building a form of socialism that suits its conditions, using the means it has at its disposal, in the extraordinarily challenging circumstances of global imperialist hegemony.

Carlos Martinez provides a concise, deeply researched and well argued account that China’s remarkable rise can only be understood by acknowledging its socialist past, present and future.

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China is building an ecological civilisation

This is an expanded and update version of the 2019 article China leads the way in tackling climate breakdown. A concise summary of the current version was carried by the Morning Star on 19 November 2022.

We must strike a balance between economic growth and environmental protection. We will be more conscientious in promoting green, circular, and low-carbon development. We will never again seek economic growth at the cost of the environment. (Xi Jinping)[1]

The cost of development

Few events in human history have resonated throughout the world as profoundly as the Chinese Revolution. Standing in Tiananmen Square on 1 October 1949, pronouncing the birth of the People’s Republic of China, Mao Zedong said “the Chinese people have stood up”. In standing up, in building a modern socialist society and throwing off the shackles of feudalism, colonialism, backwardness, illiteracy and grinding poverty, China has blazed a trail for the entire Global South. Lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty has been described even by ardent capitalists as “the greatest leap to overcome poverty in history”.[2] The UN Development Programme (UNDP) describes China’s development as having produced “the most rapid decline in absolute poverty ever witnessed”.[3] It is an extraordinary accomplishment that all Chinese people now have secure access to food, housing, clothing, clean water, modern energy, education and healthcare.

In environmental terms, however, this progress has come at a cost. Just as economic development in Europe and the Americas was fuelled by the voracious burning of fossil fuels, China’s development has been built to a significant degree on ‘Old King Coal’, the most polluting and emissions-intensive of the fossil fuels. Two decades ago, coal made up around 80 percent of China’s energy mix. Environmental law expert Barbara Finamore notes that “coal, plentiful and cheap, was the energy source of choice, not just for power plants, but also for direct combustion by heavy industry and for heating and cooking in people’s homes.”[4]

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Video interview with Carlos Martinez: The Soviet Union, Socialist China, and the New Cold War

Carlos Martinez talks to Midwestern Marx about the conflict in Ukraine, NATO’s ongoing war against Russia, cultural development in the Soviet Union, the Soviet collapse, China’s role in combatting climate breakdown, the nature of China’s reform and opening up, the 20th National Congress of the CPC, and possibilities for the future of working class internationalism.

Manufacturing consent for the containment and encirclement of China

If you’re not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. (Malcolm X)

The Western media is waging a systematic and ferocious propaganda war against China. In the court of Western public opinion, China stands accused of an array of terrifying crimes: conducting a genocide against Uyghur Muslims in Xinjiang; wiping out democracy in Hong Kong; militarising the South China Sea; attempting to impose colonial control over Taiwan; carrying out a land grab in Africa; preventing Tibetans and Inner Mongolians from speaking their languages; spying on the good peoples of the democratic world; and more.

Australian scholar Roland Boer has characterised these accusations as “atrocity propaganda – an old anti-communist and indeed anti-anyone-who-does-not-toe-the-Western-line approach that tries to manufacture a certain image for popular consumption.” Boer observes that this propaganda serves to create an impression of China as a brutal authoritarian dystopia which “can only be a fiction for anyone who actually spends some time in China, let alone lives there.”[1]

It’s not difficult to understand why China would be subjected to this sort of elaborate disinformation campaign. This media offensive is part of the imperialist world’s ongoing attempts to reverse the Chinese Revolution, to subvert Chinese socialism, to weaken China, to diminish its role in international affairs and, as a result, to undermine the global trajectory towards multipolarity and a future free from hegemonism. As journalist Chen Weihua has pointed out, “the reasons for the intensifying US propaganda war are obvious: Washington views a fast-rising China as a challenge to its primacy around the world.” Furthermore, “the success of a country with a different political system is unacceptable to politicians in Washington.”[2]

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Interview with Carlos Martinez: The US aims to weaken Russia and further its long-term project of containing China

Carlos Martinez talks to Papagiotis Papadomanolakis of the The Press Project about the conflict in Ukraine, the persistent attempts by the US to divide Russia and China, and the rise of a multipolar world. The interview took place in English and was first published in Greek.

Our discussion is taking place while a special military operation is taking place to denazify and demilitarize the Kiev regime, which came to power with the support of Washington and the neo-Nazis. How is the current conflict in Ukraine linked to the broader strategy of the United States against a multipolar world?

The US has been escalating the conflict in Ukraine in a very cynical way. If it were in the slightest bit interested in ending tensions and establishing a stable peace in Europe, it would have encouraged the Kiev government to implement the Minsk Agreements and to respect the legitimate national rights of the ethnolinguistically Russian section of the Ukrainian population, particularly in Donbas. It would furthermore have stated explicitly that Ukraine would not be invited to join NATO – as opposed to saying, as President Biden did in December 2021, that “the decision on Ukraine’s accession to NATO is the decision of the Ukrainian people.”

Instead, the US has actively fomented tensions in order to consolidate its geopolitical hegemony over Europe. The US and its allies provided significant resources for the Maidan coup in 2014, because they understood that the Maidan leadership was unambiguously pro-West and anti-Russian in orientation, unlike the Yanukovych government, which aimed to have good relations with both Russia and the West.

The US in particular has been vehemently opposed to a federal solution to the crisis in Southeastern Ukraine, as this would potentially give Donetsk and Lugansk veto power over Ukraine joining NATO and becoming fully inserted into the US’s so-called rules-based international order. That’s how the national oppression of the peoples of the Donbas became a question of geostrategic significance; that’s the basis for the tactical alliance that’s been formed between the US, its supposedly liberal friends in Kyiv and Lvov, and the assorted ‘ultranationalist’ (that is, fascist) militia that have been waging a campaign of terror for the last eight years.

Continue reading Interview with Carlos Martinez: The US aims to weaken Russia and further its long-term project of containing China

China’s long war on poverty

In late 2020, the Chinese government announced that its goal of eliminating extreme poverty by 2021 (the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China) had been met. At the start of the targeted poverty alleviation program in 2014, just under 100 million people were identified as living below the poverty line; seven years later, the number was zero.

To eradicate extreme poverty in a developing country of 1.4 billion people – which at the time of the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949 was one of the poorest countries in the world, characterised by widespread malnutrition, illiteracy, foreign domination and technological backwardness – is without doubt “the greatest anti-poverty achievement in history”, in the words of UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres.1

What does it mean to not suffer extreme poverty in China? The most easily measurable aspect is having a daily income higher than the World Bank-defined international poverty line of 1.90 USD per day. But according to the Chinese government’s definition, a person can be considered to have left extreme poverty only if the “two assurances and three guarantees” have been met.2 The two assurances are for adequate food and clothing; the three guarantees are for access to medical services, safe housing with drinking water and electricity, and at least nine years of free education. Meanwhile, the land ownership system in China means that the rural poor have rent-free access to land and housing – putting them in a very different category to the rural poor elsewhere in the world.

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No to a new Monroe Doctrine in the Pacific

This article by Carlos Martinez first appeared on Friends of Socialist China.

The Anglo ruling classes have gone into a state of frenzy over a recently-signed security agreement between the People’s Republic of China and the Solomon Islands. Various people who had barely heard of the Solomon Islands just a few weeks ago are now expressing grave concern that this small sovereign nation could be used as a pawn by an aggressive and expansionist China in its bid for world domination.

The deal itself appears to be entirely ordinary, allowing for China to “make ship visits to, carry out logistical replenishment in, and have stopover and transition in the Solomon Islands,” in addition to providing the Solomon Islands police with training and – on invitation – support. Indeed, the Solomon Islands already has similar security cooperation arrangements with Australia, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand and Fiji; as such, the deal with China simply represents a desire to “seek greater security partnership with other partners and neighbours.”

Responding to criticism of the deal by Australian and US politicians, Solomon Islands Prime Minister Manasseh Sogavare assured that it was signed “with our eyes wide open, guided by our national interests”, and that it has been developed not as a means of power projection but of addressing the island nation’s security needs.

Nonetheless, Western politicians and media have reacted with an anxiety bordering on the hysterical. Indeed the Australian government made repeated attempts to prevent the deal being signed in the first place, and its failure has prompted bitter recrimination. Allan Gyngell from the Australian Institute of International Affairs commented to BBC News that “the objective had to be to stop something like this happening. You can’t read it any other way – this is a failure of Australian diplomacy.” Meanwhile, opposition leader Anthony Albanese described Australia’s failure to prevent the agreement going through as “a massive foreign policy failure” and “a Pacific stuff-up”. The Australian Labor Party is now promising that it will “restore Australia’s place as the partner of choice in the Pacific” if it is successful in the coming federal elections.

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Sanctions in the New Cold War on China

The following article by Carlos Martinez features as a chapter in the forthcoming book Sanctions Kill – The World Stands Up. The article provides a detailed analysis of the sanctions imposed by the US and its allies on the People’s Republic of China and exposes the role they play within the escalating New Cold War.

Sanctions Kill – The World Stands Up will be published by World View Forum in early Spring 2022.

Background

The instinctive attitude of the United States towards the Chinese Revolution was of course one of hostility. In a protracted war between progress and reaction, between the future and the past, the governments of the US and the People’s Republic of China were, and are, are on opposite sides of the barricades. Hence shortly after the formation of the PRC in 1949, the US maintained a strict embargo on China.

With the move towards rapprochement in the early 1970s and a tacit agreement to ‘peacefully coexist’, the embargo was finally removed. Then with China’s strategic shift to integrate into the global economy, the trickle of trade and investment gradually expanded into one of the largest and most important economic relationships in the world, with bilateral trade volume currently standing at just over half a trillion dollars annually. Thousands of US businesses have generated enormous profits from their investments in China and (particularly in recent years) from selling to a vast and growing Chinese market.

Ruling classes in the West were, to a considerable extent, comfortable with incorporating China into globalised capitalism, to the extent that China’s role was limited to providing cheap, competent and well-educated labour. However, it was never the intention of the Chinese leadership to remain permanently at the lowest rung of the global economic ladder. China has pursued a patient strategy of welcoming foreign investment, setting up joint enterprises with Western companies, learning the latest technologies and management techniques, and building up its own advanced industry. Meanwhile it has invested very heavily in education and innovation. China’s R&D spending reached 378 billion USD in 2020 – 2.4 percent of its GDP and nearly three times the figure for the US.

As a result, China is on its way to becoming “a moderately developed socialist country by the middle of the 21st century”, as Deng Xiaoping predicted some 35 years ago.1 China has become a world leader in network technology, in renewable energy, nuclear energy, high-speed rail, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology, quantum computing, and several other important areas. It is increasingly competing with the US in spaces that the US is used to dominating, such as cloud computing and industrial automation.

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China plays a crucial role supporting progress and sovereignty in Latin America

This article by Carlos Martinez, which first appeared in the Morning Star of 4 December 2021, discusses China’s economic engagement with Latin America in recent decades; debunks claims that this engagement is a form of neocolonialism; and concludes that China’s solidarity with Latin America is an important support for sovereign development in the region.


In the last two decades, economic links between Latin America and the People’s Republic of China have been expanding at a dizzying rate. Bilateral trade in 2000 was just 12 billion USD (1 percent of Latin American’s total trade); now it stands at 315 billion USD. In the same time period, China’s foreign direct investment in Latin America has increased by a factor of five.

Since the launch of the Belt and Road Initiative in 2013, 19 of the 33 countries in the Latin American and Caribbean region have signed up to the China-led global infrastructure development strategy. Infrastructure projects have been a particular focus for Chinese firms. Writing in Foreign Policy in 2018, Max Nathanson observed that “Latin American governments have long lamented their countries’ patchy infrastructure.” China has “stepped in with a solution: roughly $150 billion loaned to Latin American countries since 2005.”

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Video explainer: Stop blaming China for the climate crisis

📺 In this brief presentation for the Friends of Socialist China YouTube channel, Carlos Martinez gives a comprehensive explanation of why the US and its allies’ attempts to push responsibility for the climate crisis onto China are hypocritical and ridiculous, and why cooperation on climate change is essential.