Hong Kong Are Part of China –
Imperialist Hands Off!
Target: China. U.S., Japanese and Australian warships heading for Rim of the Pacific 2022 war games on June 29. Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan on August 2-3. The military exercise ended on August 4. Despite the timing, there was almost no mention in the media of RIMPAC, the world’s largest live-fire naval maneuvers. Yet, “Everything this exercise does has China in its sights,” reported the liberal warmongers at Defense One.
Defend China Against Imperialist Drive
For Revolutionary Reunification of China – Expropriate
Late in the night of August 2, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi and her Congressional entourage flew on U.S. military aircraft into the Chinese territory of Taiwan, explicitly flouting numerous warnings by the Chinese government against this provocative stunt. Despite decades of Washington formally upholding a “one China policy,” affirming that the People’s Republic of China (PRC) is “the sole legal Government of China” and “acknowledging” that “Taiwan is part of China,” the official visit by the third highest official of the U.S. government1 was a blatant provocation. During her stay, Pelosi all but advocated Taiwanese independence, referring to the island as a “country.”
The U.S. government is fully aware that such talk points to war with China, which has insisted for 70 years that reunification with Taiwan is imperative. The fact that the island is a separate entity from the mainland is the result of the dismemberment of China by imperialism going back to the mid-19th century, and the imperialists’ continued use of Taiwan as a spearhead to restore capitalist rule in China. That is the only reason Taiwan isn’t already part of the PRC.
In the face of this outrageous provocation, China’s foreign ministry responded with justified fury, releasing a statement saying that Pelosi’s visit is a “violation of the one-China principle” and “seriously infringes upon China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.” It added that, “these moves, like playing with fire, are extremely dangerous. Those who play with fire will perish by it.” Three days later, to underline the gravity of the matter, on August 5, China’s foreign ministry announced a series of countermeasures, including cancelling all China-U.S. military talks, suspending China-U.S. talks on climate change and suspending cooperation on immigration, counternarcotics and criminal matters. But Beijing did not limit itself to diplomatic measures.
In the following days, China carried out a series of military exercises around Taiwan, demonstrating that the PRC is prepared to defend itself against anything the imperialists can throw at it. The maneuvers included firing 11 missiles into areas bracketing the island, landing to the north, northeast, east, southeast and southwest, including two directly overflying Taiwan. On the west, ten warships and 100 fighter planes of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) held maneuvers in the Taiwan Strait between the island and mainland China, while 22 PLA aircraft flew past the median line in the strait.2 China showed that it could encircle the island, while the combined maneuvers simulated and amounted to a trial run of a blockade.
China, a bureaucratically deformed workers state, is fully justified in responding forcefully to the aggressive war threats by the U.S., including Pelosi’s highly publicized visit, escalating arms sales to Taiwan, official U.S. declarations calling China a “threat,” and bipartisan legislation budgeting over a trillion dollars to gearing up for a military showdown with China. While for two decades (1972-92) U.S. rulers formed an alliance with Beijing against the Soviet Union, later seeking to pursue the restoration of capitalism by including China in the World Trade Organization, the Chinese Revolution has always represented a threat to the U.S.-dominated world order, no matter how much Beijing bureaucrats pursued the illusion of peacefully coexisting with imperialism.
Today, as the U.S. and its NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) allies are escalating their war drive against Russia, instigating the reactionary nationalist Russia-Ukraine war, the imperialists have ostentatiously and explicitly targeted China as well. (This crucial point, deliberately ignored by most of the “left,” has been underlined by the League for the Fourth International and its U.S. section, the Internationalist Group.) The NATO summit in June issued a first-ever “Strategic Concept” which labeled the PRC a “strategic challenge,” “competitor” and “potential adversary” which seeks to “subvert the rules-based international order” – i.e., the unipolar, U.S.-dominated “New World Order” that plays by Washington rules. The conclave also declared “the Indo-Pacific” important to NATO, and for the first time invited the heads of state and government from Australia, Japan, New Zealand and South Korea to the summit.
Demonstrator rips U.S. flag during protest in Taipei, Taiwan, against provocation visit by U.S. House of Representatives speaker Nancy Pelosi.
In the lead-up to Pelosi’s Taiwan adventure, much was made of supposed differences within the Democratic administration of Joe Biden, who remarked that the Pentagon thought the trip was “not a good idea.” This is eyewash, part of the U.S.’ “strategic ambiguity” on Taiwan that the Cold Warriors in Washington are using as a cover for their build-up to war. The recklessness of Biden, Pelosi & Co. has alarmed even prominent mouthpieces of the bourgeoisie. Notorious mass murderer Henry Kissinger noted that “we [the U.S.] are at the edge of war with Russia and China on issues which we partly created, without any concept of how this is going to end or what it’s supposed to lead to.”3 And New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman termed Pelosi’s trip “utterly reckless, dangerous and irresponsible,”4 even as he called to arm Taiwan to the hilt.
Underlining that Pelosi’s trip is part of a “escalation cycle” to provoke China, three more groups of U.S. officials visited the island in August, including a Congressional delegation on August 14 led by Massachusetts Democratic senator Ed Markey, as well as a bevy of Japanese lawmakers of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party. At the end of the month, the U.S. sent two guided missile cruisers to violate China’s territorial waters in what it called “a routine Taiwan Strait transit.” After a similar exercise in “gunboat diplomacy” in April, it was reported that the Navy has been sending ships on such “routine transits” about once a month for the last two years.5 And on September 3, the Biden administration approved a billion-dollar arms sale to Taiwan, including air-to-air and anti-ship missiles like those recently provided to Ukraine.
Defeat U.S./NATO war drive – Defend China against imperialism and counterrevolution! Internationalist contingent in New York City 2022 May Day march.
Ever since the 1949 Chinese Revolution established the PRC, it has been seen as a major obstacle to U.S. domination for having escaped the stranglehold of capitalist rule. Following the counterrevolutionary wave of 1989-92 that destroyed the Soviet Union and the East European deformed workers states, China has been the No. 1 target on the U.S. imperialists’ hit list. In the event of war with the U.S. – over Taiwan, Tibet, Xinjiang, the South China Sea or whatever – the League for the Fourth International stands squarely on the side of China. While most of the left lines up with the imperialist warmongers in China-bashing, we call on all class-conscious workers to defend China against imperialist provocations, exposing the lies and slanders aimed at promoting capitalist counterrevolution in the world’s largest remaining workers state.
Taiwan Used as a Launchpad for Imperialist Anti-China Operations
Taiwan has been part of China since the late 1600s under the Qing dynasty, and today its population is 97% Han Chinese.6 Beginning with the Opium Wars by Britain in 1839-42 and 1856-60, the imperialists sought to carve up China into spheres of influence. In 1884, France invaded Taiwan, but was forced to withdraw, and in 1895 Japan seized Taiwan in the First Sino-Japanese War, turning it into a colony. Ever since, the island has been a platform for imperialist attacks on China. This has included Japan’s 1931 takeover of Manchuria and its murderous invasion of eastern China in the Second Sino-Japanese War beginning in 1937, including the infamous Nanjing massacre in which an estimated 200,000 people were slaughtered.
Crowds in Beijing greet the arrival of the People’s Liberation Army marking the victory of the Chinese Revolution, 1 October 1949.
In 1949, the Communist Party of China led by Mao Zedong, at the head of a peasant army, defeated the Chinese Nationalist Party (GMD, for Guomindang)7 of the U.S.-backed dictator Chiang Kai-shek, signaling the victory of the Chinese Revolution. The remnants of Chiang’s army fled to Taiwan, where its “Republic of China” (ROC) acted as a U.S. neo-colony against the victorious People’s Republic. On the mainland, capitalism would be replaced by a collectivized planned economy, which despite Stalinist bureaucratic mismanagement brought enormous gains for workers, peasants, women and ethnic minorities. On Taiwan reactionary anti-communist forces maintained a brutal and repressive capitalist system falsely hailed as “democratic” by its U.S. sponsors.
Washington has long sought to use Taiwan as a linchpin for imperialist military encirclement of the PRC and a launchpad for U.S. counterrevolutionary designs to “take back” China – that is, to re-enslave the Chinese masses under the boot of imperialism and “free” capitalist exploitation. In the Korean War (1950-53), the U.S. commander, General Douglas MacArthur, referred to Taiwan as his “unsinkable aircraft carrier.” But despite U.S. imperialism’s technological superiority, its systematic firebombing of North Korean cities and its massive use of chemical (napalm) and biological weapons, China’s entry into the war in November 1950 drove the U.S./U.N. forces halfway down the Korean peninsula. This secured the existence of the North Korean deformed workers state and dealt U.S. imperialism a defeat from which it has been smarting ever since.
In 1954, the U.S. signed a mutual defense pact with the “ROC,” establishing a United States Taiwan Defense Command and stationing up to 30,000 U.S. troops in Taiwan until 1979. In 1958 when China sought to take the ROC-occupied islets of Kinmen (Quemoy) and Matsu, located in the harbor of Xiamen, the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff held that “the use of nuclear weapons would ultimately be necessary” to defend them.8 But in 1972, U.S. president Richard Nixon and his national security advisor Kissinger switched gears to exploit the Sino-Soviet split and enlist the Chinese Stalinist bureaucracy in an anti-Soviet alliance. And as a quid pro quo, the U.S. formally declared that “all Chinese on either side of the Taiwan Strait maintain that there is but one China and that Taiwan is part of China,” and the U.S. “does not challenge that position.”9
Mao’s treacherous alliance with U.S. imperialism was very real, and contributed to the counterrevolutionary destruction of the Soviet Union. In 1979, China (backed by the U.S.) invaded Soviet ally Vietnam, and from 1980 on, Beijing colluded with the CIA’s Operation Cyclone against Soviet intervention backing a reform government in Afghanistan. China supplied arms to anti-Soviet mujahedin (holy warriors) and financed (together with Saudi Arabia) their training in camps run by Pakistan. The Soviet withdrawal from Afghanistan in 1989 was a major factor setting the stage for the collapse of the Soviet bloc deformed workers states and the destruction of the USSR that began soon after. Authentic Trotskyists defended Vietnam and hailed Soviet intervention in Afghanistan against the U.S.-sponsored reactionaries, who were backed by China’s Stalinist rulers as part of their treacherous alliance with Washington.
But three decades on, in the decaying post-Soviet, U.S.-dominated “New World Order,” the Beijing Stalinists’ illusions of building “socialism (with Chinese characteristics) in one country” through “peaceful coexistence” with imperialism have reached a dead end. Particularly since the onset of the COVID pandemic in 2020, all wings of the U.S. bourgeoisie have joined in vilifying China. Washington has now switched from backing the GMD/KMT to fomenting Taiwanese separatism through the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). During her visit, Pelosi effusively embraced Taiwan’s DPP president, Tsai Ing-wen, and declared that Taiwan had the “lowest number of deaths from COVID. A real model for the world.” In reality, the island’s COVID death rate is 3748% higher than that in mainland China (39.35 vs. 1.05 per 100,000).10
In the spirit of Democratic Party imperialist feminism,
Pelosi suggested that China was only upset at her visit
because she is a woman. Actually, the House speaker is
famous for her rabid anti-communism and backing of every
CIA-sponsored counterrevolutionary “movement” against China,
from decades of enthusing over “His Holiness,” the
CIA-funded, Nazi-educated Dalai Lama, to shepherding leaders
of the fascist-infested, imperialist flag-waving Hong Kong
“democracy” riots through Washington in 2019, to promoting
the CIA conduit-funded “World Uyghur Congress” (WUC). In
2020, Pelosi appointed an advisor to the separatist WUC to
the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom.
During Pelosi’s visit, Taiwan president Tsai awarded her the
“Order of Propitious Clouds with special Grand Cordon” as a
“devoted friend” of Taiwan.
Pelosi’s virulent hatred of China is by no means at odds with U.S. president Biden, who campaigned as a bigger China-hater than Trump, who had feted Chinese president Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago luxury resort. The House speaker traveled to Taiwan aboard a U.S. military plane, making this a deliberate official U.S. provocation. Left out of U.S. media reports is the fact that immediately leading up to and during Pelosi’s Taiwan adventure, from June 29 to August 4, the U.S. Indo-Pacific command held a giant military exercise, RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific), involving 26 nations, 38 surface ships, four submarines, nine land forces, about 170 aircraft, more than 30 unmanned systems, and 25,000 people. “Everything this exercise does has China in its sights, whether or not military leaders are free to say so,” reported one military site.11
RIMPAC 2022, timed to coincide with Pelosi visit to Taiwan, was all about practicing for war on China. Clockwise from top: sailing in formation to open exercise; Philippine navy frigate testing weapons systems; U.S., Canadian, Australian and Malaysian forces sink decommissioned U.S. warship; South Korean assault forces head towards beach; Mexican naval infantry storm beach during amphibious raid in multinational littoral operations. Click on photo to enlarge.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy’s Seventh Fleet, with aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, guided-missile destroyers, nuclear submarines and other U.S. warships and aircraft was moved into position for Pelosi’s visit. And while Republican China hawks are pushing an “Arm Taiwan Act,” in his year and two-thirds in office Biden has already approved six arms sales to Taiwan, totaling $2.3 billion.12 On three different occasions, Biden has said that the U.S. would “defend” Taiwan by military force in case of an “invasion” by China.13 And the U.S.’ “2022 National Defense Strategy” states that China is the U.S.’ “most consequential strategic competitor” and that the U.S.’ No. 1 priority is “defending the homeland, paced to the growing multi-domain threat posed by the PRC.”
At the same time, as Washington is more and more explicit in preparing for imperialist war against China, there has been an important shift in U.S. strategy for Taiwan. Even as Chinese president Xi continues to emphasize the PRC’s longstanding policy of peaceful reunification with Taiwan, the Trump and Biden administrations have stepped up efforts to block this, and thus make military action the only option. Rather than arming Taiwan with sophisticated (and expensive) hardware like F-16 fighter jets, at $33 million each, which have no chance of withstanding a frontal assault, the Pentagon has been emphasizing a “porcupine defense,” to arm Taiwan with large quantities of high-tech, lower-cost arms (antiaircraft and antitank weapons, drones) to wear down a Chinese “invading” force and make a takeover as costly as possible.
An article in the liberal Foreign Policy (8 November 2021) notes that Biden is continuing the “so-called porcupine strategy” of Trump’s national security advisors, “aimed at making Taiwan a pricklier target.” This goes back to a 2008 article by U.S. Naval War College professor William S. Murray, “Revisiting Taiwan’s Defense Strategy.”14 The “porcupine strategy,” he wrote, “would offer Taiwan a way to resist PRC military coercion for weeks or months without presuming immediate U.S. intervention.” This parallels the “war of attrition” policy of U.S. imperialism in Ukraine today, which has been summed up as “fight to the last Ukrainian.” In view of the tens of thousands of Ukrainian casualties resulting from this dead-end strategy, and with Taiwan’s population (23 million) half the size of Ukraine’s, sober-minded elements in Taipei – facing vastly larger People’s Liberation Army forces – may consider whether the Biden-Trump “fight to the last Taiwanese” strategy is the way they want to go.
Preparations for Economic War Against China
House speaker Nancy Pelosi and U.S. president Joe Biden sign CHIPS and Science Act, for economic war on China. A boondoggle for Intel Corp. and attempt to get Taiwan microprocesser chip manufacturers to cut off China.
In addition to the military threats against China, the U.S. continues its preparations for economic war against China. These days, about the only issue on which it is possible to get a bipartisan Democrat and Republican majority in Washington is in going after China. Last year, Congress passed “the most expansive industrial policy in U.S. history” to build up a U.S. manufacturing and technological edge.15 And in August 2022 Biden signed into law the CHIPS and Science Act, allocating billions of dollars for microprocessor chip manufacture in the United States, including by Taiwan-based firms. This makes Taiwan’s local capitalists more dependent on the U.S., particularly as the act provides subsidies for companies to manufacture chips on condition that they cut economic ties with the Chinese mainland.
As Wang Peng, a research fellow at the Beijing Academy of Social Sciences, explained:
“The U.S. is using the CHIPS Act to force companies in countries and regions of key status on the global chip supply and industrial chains to play by U.S. rules, as well as encircling and suppressing chip industries in emerging markets.”16
This may be a windfall for giant U.S. firms like Intel, but the days are long past when U.S. imperialism could easily bully the world with its economic might, and this and other such measures will ultimately prove futile. The problem for Washington is that the economic power of the Chinese deformed workers state has steadily increased, while that of the U.S. and other imperialist powers is on the decline. Meanwhile, Taiwan is becoming ever more economically connected to the mainland. Currently, 42% of the goods sent off the island go to the PRC, while only 15% of exports go to the U.S.17 Attempts to split Taiwan economically from the mainland would entail severe costs.
To U.S. imperialism, Taiwan is simply a chip to be played, to generate a crisis. It is seeking to run a script similar to what it has followed in Ukraine, where the U.S. and NATO instigated a war partly in order to force Europe to decouple from Russia. But China, with a GDP (gross domestic product) roughly ten times as large as Russia’s, is a very different matter. At the NATO summit in June, the U.S. was able to strong-arm its European allies into denouncing Chinese actions as “malicious” and declaring that the PRC’s “stated ambitions and coercive policies challenge our interests, security and values.” But any practical application of NATO’s “strategic concept” will be hard for European imperialists to swallow. For example, in any given year half or more of Volkswagen’s net earnings come from China, its largest market.
Workers at FAW/Volkswagen factory in Tianjin, China assembling Audi cars in December 2019. In any given year, half or more of Volkswagen’s net earnings come from China, its largest market.
Economic blackmail seeking to force companies and countries to break ties with China, as NATO and European Union (E.U.) sanctions have done with Russia, may not succeed. U.S. imperialism needs a sharper stick – a military one. Last year the U.S., Britain and Australia formed the AUKUS alliance to increase military pressure on China. Now they have lined up NATO to extend its war drive from Russia to China. But a war over Taiwan, which Biden & Co. seem hell-bent on preparing, would be a direct confrontation with China, raising the spectre of thermonuclear war. Meanwhile, China’s dramatic progress in developing its defensive capabilities make a U.S. “victory” in a conventional war increasingly doubtful. Since launching its third aircraft carrier in June, China now has the largest navy in the world.
Meanwhile, as the U.S. carries out its war provocations and economic sanctions, its propaganda machine is in high gear churning out lies about China. Perhaps the most egregious of these, echoed by every Democrat and Republican, as well as by many fake leftists, is that China is carrying out or has carried out “genocide” in Xinjiang. In fact, the 1949 revolution laid the basis for continuing enormous advances for the people of Xinjiang, and while Han chauvinism is inherent in the nationalist Stalinist ideology of the bureaucracy – and has had expressions in Chinese policy in the Xinjiang Autonomous Region in northwestern China – there is not a shred of evidence of mass killings or any attempt to wipe out the Uyghur Muslim people, for the simple reason that there have been none. And among the things that this war-propaganda invention omits is that Chinese official measures were taken in response to a number of murderous attacks – including a wave in 2016 in which 183 people were killed – by Islamist forces associated with the East Turkestan Islamic Movement, which even the E.U., the U.N. and the U.S. have designated a terrorist organization.
The lie of “Uighur genocide” is a battle cry of the imperialist anti-China war drive. It is also a pretext for fomenting separatism in Xinjiang and inflicting economic harm to the region, for example by imposing sanctions on cotton grown there. The United States government, through the CIA conduit National Endowment for Democracy (NED), has funneled millions of dollars to the anti-communist World Uyghur Congress,18 which has also received millions in funding from the Australian version of the NED, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Now the NED is preparing to hold an “11th Global Assembly” of another of its projects, the “World Movement for Democracy” (which works out of NED headquarters in Washington), in late October. And in yet another deliberate provocation, that confab for counterrevolution is to be held on the Chinese territory of Taiwan.
Nancy Pelosi (center) and Carl Gershman (second from right), founder of the CIA conduit National Endowment for Democracy, present “democracy” award to NED-funded World Uyghur Congress, May 2019.
This “World Movement for Democracy” is the brainchild of Carl Gershman, former head of the NED from its founding by Ronald Reagan in 1984 until last year. (Before that he led the hardline Cold Warriors of Social Democrats, USA, followers of the anti-Trotskyist Max Shachtman.) Every year, the “WMD” confers “courage tributes” to Washington’s favorite U.S.-sponsored, pro-imperialist “movements.” In 2021, the list included the San Isidro Movement in Cuba, which sparked the anti-communist protests that July;19 Students for a Free Tibet, which was set up by the NED-funded International Campaign for Tibet and seeks to restore the theocratic rule of the Dalai Lama; and the Campaign for Uyghurs, whose executive director boasts on her bio of her “extensive experience working with U.S. government agencies, including Homeland Security, Department of Defense, Department of State, Department of Justice, and various U.S. intelligence agencies.” Etc.
Pseudo-Socialist “Running Dogs of U.S. Imperialism”
Meanwhile, various left groups that falsely claim to represent Trotskyism repeat the imperialist lies. The International Socialist Alternative (ISA) current, which includes Socialist Alternative (SAlt) in the United States and Socialist Action in Hong Kong, grotesquely smears the Chinese workers state as “imperialist.” These anti-Trotskyists loudly backed the 2019 anti-communist riots in Hong Kong, including the call for “independence” for the capitalist enclave and former British colony. In the current crisis, the ISA/SAlt calls to “actively engage in the struggle” for Taiwan independence “[i]f the Taiwanese people want independence, which is clearly the case today.”20 Actually, the polls it cites show that 82% favor the status quo while only 5% want “independence as soon as possible,”21 and it admits that for Taiwan nationalists, “independence” means to support U.S. imperialism. The counterrevolutionary line of the ISA/SAlt on Hong Kong and Taiwan shows that the “socialist” pretensions of these imposters are only a cover for their real role as deckhands on the Pentagon’s “unsinkable aircraft carrier.”
Another group abusing the name of Trotskyism in the region is the International Marxist Tendency (IMT), which recently published an article on “The Taiwan national question and the tasks of the Taiwanese Marxists” (In Defence of Marxism, 5 August). The very title is a capitulation to imperialism. There is no “Taiwanese nation”: as noted, according to Taiwan government statistics, 97% of the island’s population is ethnic Han Chinese,22 while its separate existence was as a Japanese colony and since 1949 as a U.S. neo-colony. The IMT is less effusive in its embrace of Taiwanese independence, and even criticizes “the reactionary nature of Taiwanese nationalism.” But since the IMT also peddles the myth of “Chinese imperialism,” its call for “no to unification with China on a capitalist basis” in practice means opposing reunification with the PRC, and its fantasy talk of a “democratic socialist Taiwan” would just give a left cover for going along with those pushing for in “independent” capitalist Taiwan.
The bulk of the left slanders China as imperialist while refusing to defend it against the real imperialists. As usual they are parroting the capitalist Democratic Party, in particular the “democratic socialist” Bernie Sanders, whose platform in the 2020 primaries declared: “we must work with the international community to deter foreign support for China’s military buildup.”23
Today and for the last decade – ever since Barack Obama’s 2011 “strategic pivot to Asia” – U.S. imperialism has been increasing the economic pressure on China. To what end? There is zero possibility that Beijing would renounce its historic demand of national reunification, which goes back to the 1919 May 4 Movement against imperialist domination of China.24 Nor would Taiwanese nationalists have any chance of mounting a successful military resistance to a determined Chinese takeover. But by ratcheting up U.S. arming of Taiwan to make the island “like a porcupine,” combined with escalating provocations like Pelosi’s trip and Biden’s “bloopers,” Washington is making it clear that it will go all-out to prevent reunification of China. The seemingly perverse effect is to encourage Beijing to move militarily sooner rather than later.
This imperialist “strategy” – shared by Democrats and Republicans alike – is directly tied to U.S. instigation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. By refusing any security guarantees to Moscow, or to rule out Ukraine membership in NATO, and by constant anti-Russia war “games,” the Cold Warriors in Washington made it clear that sooner or later Russia would have to militarily confront NATO and its proxies. Similarly, by escalating its provocations over Taiwan, the Biden administration is making clear that it will pull out the stops to block reunification with China, accelerating the push toward war whose ultimate aim is bloody counterrevolution in China and reestablishment of its subjugation to Western imperialism. The LFI calls to defeat the U.S./NATO imperialist war drive against Russia and China, and support the reunification of Taiwan with China, including by military means if necessary.
For International Socialist Revolution!
The would-be masters of the world in Washington and Wall Street rightly see China, with its socialized economy (despite huge capitalist inroads), as a threat because it belies the neoliberal mantra that “there is no alternative” (TINA) to “free market” capitalism. More fundamentally, U.S. world domination is threatened by the very existence of the Chinese deformed workers state, particularly with its growing military and economic power. As we have written:
“[D]espite bureaucratic mismanagement, the Chinese planned economy has made remarkable achievements in improving the lives of working people who had previously been hideously oppressed by imperialist plunder. Since the revolution, the population of China has seen an unprecedented increase in life expectancy, from 35 years in 1949 to 77 years in 2018, and now enjoys a higher healthy life expectancy than the U.S. population. Moreover, from 1998 to 2018, workers’ wages increased by ten times (1,000%), tripling over the last decade, and are now higher than the newest members of the European Union. (U.S. workers’ real wages have stagnated for the last 40 years.) And contrary to the expectations of bourgeois economists and fake leftists who claim that China is capitalist, the state sector has grown greatly since the 2007-09 world capitalist crisis.”25
The reality that capitalism kills was vividly brought home by the COVID-19 pandemic, with corpses piling up in trailers to be dumped in mass graves in the U.S., while China with its socialized economy effectively contained the deadly virus. In the last two years, China has had a little over 5,000 deaths compared to over a million in the United States: a cumulative COVID death rate of 314 per 100,000 in the U.S. in contrast to only 1 per 100,000 in China.26 Meanwhile, the imperialist media keep lambasting China’s successful “zero COVID” policies, the latest variant being to complain about lockdowns in Xinjiang and Tibet.27
As capitalism putrefies, the imperialist rulers increasingly turn toward military might to maintain their fraying hegemony. The IG and LFI, defend the deformed workers states of China, Cuba, North Korea and Vietnam while warning that U.S. imperialism’s provocations are bringing the planet ever closer to a (thermonuclear) third world war. See for instance: “U.S. Response to Coronavirus: China-Bashing and War Moves” (The Internationalist No. 59, March-April 2020), “Biden Escalates Anti-China War Plans” (The Internationalist No. 64, July-September 2021); “Behind the U.S./NATO War Drive Against Russia, China” (The Internationalist No. 66, January-April 2022). As the fighting drags on in Ukraine, will the next imperialist-instigated war break out in the Taiwan Strait? Or the South China Sea? Orâ€¦?
The policy of Stalin and Mao, of “building socialism in one country,” was a nationalist betrayal of the internationalist program of the October 1917 Revolution headed by Lenin and Trotsky, and ultimately led to the destruction of the first workers state in history. The call of the latter-day Chinese Stalinist bureaucracy, from Deng to Xi, for “socialism with Chinese characteristics,” on the basis of “one country, two systems,” further endangers the foundations of the 1949 Revolution. Trotskyists say: Defeat the imperialist war drive aimed at fomenting counterrevolution in China! Defend the remaining gains of the Chinese Revolution through proletarian political revolution to oust the bureaucracy, expropriate the capitalists and extend those gains to Hong Kong and Taiwan through revolutionary reunification! ■
Not “One Country, Two Systems”
For Revolutionary Reunification of China!
Reunification of Taiwan with the People’s Republic of China is the culmination of the drive to undo the imperialist dismembering of China. This drive goes back to the May 4 Movement in 1919 (above) which brought together students and workers in anti-imperialist struggle leading to the 1921 founding of the Communist Party of China.
Reunification of Taiwan with the People’s Republic of China is not just a currently hot issue, it is the culmination of the drive to undo the imperialist dismembering of China going back to the mid-1800s. It was this national oppression that gave rise to the May 4 Movement in 1919, particularly against Japanese colonial inroads including Taiwan (and their endorsement by the “democratic” imperialist victors of World War I in the Versailles Treaty), but more generally against imperialist domination of the most populous country on earth. This movement quickly went beyond patriotic nationalism to embrace revolutionary anti-imperialist workers struggle with the founding of the Communist Party of China in 1921.
A century later, the Internationalist Group and League for the Fourth International have repeatedly called to defeat the imperialist drive for war against China whose aim is to foment capitalist counterrevolution, just as Leon Trotsky fought to defend the Soviet Union against imperialism, despite the betrayals of Stalinism. At the same time, we warn that the nationalist Stalinist bureaucracy undermines and is an obstacle to that defense with its policies of conciliating capitalism and imperialism. Regarding Taiwan, the Communist Party of China and its leader, Chinese president Xi Jinping, call to reunite China on the nationalist, explicitly non-socialist basis of “one country, two systems.” Concretely, what this means was made explicit in the White Paper issued by the Taiwan Affairs Office and Information Office of China’s State Council in 2000:
“After reunification, the policy of ‘one country, two systems’ will be practiced, with the main body of China (Chinese mainland) continuing with its socialist system, and Taiwan maintaining its capitalist system for a long period of time to come.”
The White Paper noted that this policy on Taiwan was first put forward by Deng Xiaoping in 1979. This was precisely when the Chinese Stalinist bureaucracy was further deepening its treacherous alliance with U.S. imperialism against the Soviet Union that had been established by Mao Zedong, who died in 1976. It was also when Deng was elaborating his policy of “reform and opening up” the Chinese economy to privately owned enterprises and foreign capitalist investment. While (contrary to what most bourgeois economists and reformist pseudo-socialists claim) the state sector is still dominant in China, these policies have fostered a large capitalist sector that ultimately endangers the very foundations of the workers state.
On Taiwan, Xi elaborated his position in a 1 January 2019 “Speech at the 40th Anniversary Commemoration of the ‘Message to Compatriots in Taiwan’.” There, the Chinese president and CPC general secretary stated that, “Taiwan compatriots have made significant contributions to the reform and opening up of the mainland, and have also shared the development opportunities of the mainland.” He promised to “provide the same treatment to Taiwan compatriots and Taiwanese enterprises” as to mainland companies, and while vowing to give no quarter to Taiwanese separatists, and not renouncing the use of force, Xi declared that “after peaceful reunification, the social system and way of life of the Taiwan compatriots will be fully respected, and the private property, religious beliefs, and legitimate rights and interests of the Taiwan compatriots will be fully guaranteed.”
The wager of the Stalinist bureaucracy, from Deng to Xi, is that by enabling a lot of Taiwan capitalists to make a lot of money off exploiting the labor of Chinese workers, they would create a sector of Taiwan’s bourgeois ruling class favorable to reunification with China. The Beijing bureaucrats have succeeded in fostering such a sector, but whether the owners of the key semiconductor industry, in which Taiwan is the world leader, would stand up to a credible threat of being cut off from the rest of the world capitalist market is open to question. Already, many Taiwan-owned companies are moving operations to Vietnam, India, or Mexico and the U.S. But what about the rest of the Taiwan population, including those induced to vote for the Taiwanese separatist Democratic Progressive Party (which since 2016 has held the presidency and a majority in the island’s legislature)?
“It is foreseeable that in the absence of sufficient political guidance and institutional guarantees, it will be difficult for Taiwan compatriots who have long received the Taiwan authorities’ ‘anti-Communist’ education and have been affected by the ‘de-sinicization’ policy to realize their identity transformation spontaneously after the reunification of state power.”
So then how is that to be accomplished? The Wuhan law professors call for “an institutional system with a coherent and unified narrative structure to realize the transformation of the historical, collective and individual identities of Taiwan compatriots,” that will “promote the transformation of the identities of Taiwan compatriots,” to “guide the Taiwan compatriots to form a correct collective identity” and to “form a correct individual identity.” This is a call for a giant Mao-Stalinist-style bureaucratic reeducation campaign, after reunification.
To win the masses of working people in Taiwan to reunification, it is indeed necessary to combat the poisonous anti-communist Taiwanese nationalist/separatist ideology promoted by the imperialists and their flunkeys in the U.S. neocolonial government of Taiwan. But the bureaucracy’s policy is to force-feed Chinese nationalism. Nowhere in the Wuhan paper, or in Xi’s 2019 speech, is there any mention of socialism or building class consciousness. And the only mention of autonomy for a reunified Taiwan is in terms of maintaining its capitalist social relations and “way of life.” Yet there is a real basis for building internationalist communist consciousness among Taiwanese and mainland Chinese workers in the course of waging class struggle against the capitalists and ousting their defenders whose policies endanger the foundations and gains of the Chinese Revolution. This internationalist orientation is, of course, diametrically opposed to Stalinism’s nationalist outlook and program, going back to the anti-Marxist dogma of “socialism in one country” put forward by Stalin and embraced by Mao and his successors.
Rather than nationalism or patriotism, what needs to be raised is the revolutionary consciousness that workers in Taiwan together with their comrades in mainland China have the power to expropriate capitalism, to take over all the factories and industries on the island and incorporate them into China’s centralized planned economy. In many cases, Taiwanese and mainland Chinese workers face the same capitalist bosses. As of 2019, according to one survey, Taiwanese-owned businesses employed more than 3.2 million workers in mainland China.28 Meanwhile, there are roughly 4 million industrial workers in Taiwan (35% of an overall workforce of 11.5 million).29 Moreover, Taiwan has over 700,000 immigrant workers, mostly from the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam and Thailand, who “account for 8 per cent of the country’s workforce and more than 60 per cent [of whom] work in the industrial sector, including in the microchip industry.”30 These workers are held in virtual bondage by a labor brokerage system. Southeast Asian workers do the jobs locals are unwilling to do, like being forced to handle dangerous chemicals without proper safety measures and to live in on-site factory dorms adjacent to combustible chemicals, which, unsurprisingly, has been known to cause deadly fires.
A genuinely communist leadership would take up the cause of these workers, and link them to the struggles of workers in mainland China against their brutal Taiwanese bosses. In 2018 workers in Taichung, Taiwan protested the deaths of three Vietnamese migrants living in a dormitory dangerously located above a circuit board factory of the Chin Poon Industrial Company where a fire broke out. Chin Poon also has a plant in Jiangsu, China. The 2010 suicides of workers protesting low pay and forced overtime in the giant Foxconn plant in Longhua, Shenzhen, where iPhones and Apple computers are made, drew worldwide attention. China responded by ordering sharply increased wages. Hon Hai Precision Manufacturing, Foxconn’s Taiwanese parent company, also has plants in Taiwan, as well as in Brazil, India, Mexico and a host of other countries. The imperialists seek to divert struggles against Taiwanese-owned and imperialist companies for anti-communist purposes using tools like the NED-funded China Labour Bulletin and China Labor Watch. To unite these workers in class struggle against their capitalist bosses requires a revolutionary internationalist program.
Authentic Trotskyists stand for the revolutionary reunification of China, which would be a significant blow against imperialist world domination. That means fighting for socialist revolution in Taiwan, to expropriate the capitalists on the island and throughout China, and for proletarian political revolution to replace the bureaucracy governing the People’s Republic of China with the soviet democracy of workers councils under authentic communist leadership while extending the revolution internationally. The reintegration of Taiwan could include a degree of autonomy so long as that is not a cover for maintaining capitalism or any suggestion of Taiwan “independence,” which can only mean subordination to imperialism. To defeat once and for all the threats and aggression of the imperialists, to defend the gains of the Chinese Revolution and open the way for socialist development throughout Asia and beyond, what’s needed is international socialist revolution. ■
- 1. According to the official line of succession, upon the death, resignation, removal from office or incapacity of an elected U.S. president, the office of president would pass to the vice president, and next in line is the speaker of the House of Representatives.
- 2. “With Missiles, China Sends Warning on Taiwan,” New York Times, 5 August.
- 3. “Henry Kissinger Is Worried About ‘Disequilibrium’,” Wall Street Journal, 12 July.
- 4. New York Times, 2 August.
- 5. “China protests another ‘routine’ US Navy transit through Taiwan Strait,” Stars and Stripes, 27 April.
- 6. The Han people, native to China, are the world’s largest ethnic group
- 7. The GMD, in the Pinyin phonetic transcription of Chinese, is known as the KMT (for Kuomintang) on Taiwan, which uses the older, Wade-Giles transliteration, under which, for example, the Chinese capital of Beijing was rendered as Peking.
- 8. M.I. Halperin, The 1958 Taiwan Straits Crisis (Rand Corporation Memo, 1966).
- 9. 1972 Joint PRC-U.S. communiqué.
- 10. https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality. For an account of how China mobilized centrally planned resources to effectively protect its population from the deadly plague, in stark contrast to the profit-driven capitalist rulers who have allowed COVID to ravage much of the rest of the world, see our article, “A Tale Of Two Cities: Wuhan – New York,” The Internationalist No. 59, March-April 2020.
- 11. “At Reborn RIMPAC, A Clear Mission: Deter China, Defend Taiwan,” Defense One, 20 July.
- 12. Wikipedia, “List of US arms sales to Taiwan.” Since abrogating the U.S.-Taiwan defense pact in 1979, the U.S. has sent over $90 billion in arms to the island.
- 13. CNBC, 20 August 2021; CNN, 22 October 2021; Washington Post, 23 May.
- 14. Naval War College Review, Vol. 61, No. 3, Summer 2008.
- 15. New York Times, 8 June 2021.
- 16. “US pushes chip bill to encircle China, but ‘unable to lure firms to decouple with mainland’,” Global Times, 27 July.
- 17. “Taiwan’s trade with China is far bigger than its trade with the U.S.,” CNBC, 4 August.
- 18. In 2019, the NED budgeted $1.2 million for Xinjiang and other Uighur-related projects. See our article, “Washington’s Hand Behind Anti-China Riots in Hong Kong,” in The Internationalist No. 58, Winter 2020.
- 19. See our article, “The Truth About Cuba Protests – Defend the Revolution Against U.S. Imperialism and Its Frontmen,” The Internationalist No. 64, July-September 2021.
- 20. International Socialist Alliance, “What’s Behind the Taiwan Strait Crisis?” (1 September).
- 21. Newsweek, 14 July.
- 22. “2004 Annual Meeting of the Taiwan Population Society Seminar – Comparative Analysis of Taiwan’s Current Ethnic Identity Situation [in Chinese] (2004)
- 23. “Bernie Sanders on China,” at feelthebern.org
- 24. See “For Revolutionary Reunification of China” in this issue.
- 25. “Hong Kong “Democracy” Riots: Pro-Imperialist, Anti-Communist, Fascist-Infested,” The Internationalist No. 58, Winter 2020.
- 26. https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/data/mortality
- 27. The latest demand of the Campaign for Uyghurs is that “Chinese Regime Must End Extreme Covid Lockdowns in East Turkistan” (9 September). So these supposed champions of “human rights” are calling for Uighurs to die, for that is what ending the “zero-COVID” measures would mean!
- 28. “The Time is Up: Taiwanese Businessmen in China Facing the Centennial of the Chinese Communist Party,” Taiwan Gazette, 21 January 2022.
- 29. “Share of Taiwanese workforce employed in the industrial sector from 2011 to 2021,” Statista.com.
- 30. Equal Times, 30 July 2021.