The lie that China is socialist must finally come to an end. There are too many lies claiming that the Party’s Capitalist Republic of China is a socialist power. This is simply not true, China is a capitalist power which is now reaching out with imperialist tentacles. Those wedded to the idea that China is socialist do so at the cost of third world independence and development. They do not want to see the truth, because the truth would be too painful to see: the global socialist situation is weaker than it has ever been. Almost all “socialist” countries today are social-democratic. This is what socialists are doing, we’re so desperate to have something to champion that we’ve abandoned supporting socialist movements in favour of supporting non-socialist ones. This is a problem that must be addressed and corrected.
This video will address three primary issues, which by no means is all legitimate ones.
State Owned Enterprises
Solidarity with the DPRK
As we can clearly see private property exists in China. Many of the Pro-China crowd like to pretend that this is not the case. Regardless of their denial, the Chinese Constitution not only acknowledges it, but the ownership of it is a right. The Thirteenth Article of the Constitution makes this very clear:
“The legitimate private property of citizens shall not be infringed. The state protects citizens’ private property rights and inheritance rights in accordance with the law. In order to meet the needs of the public interest, the state may levy or expropriate the private property of citizens in accordance with the law and provide compensation.” [i] [ii]
No doubt the first thing that the pro-China crowd would point out is the part that talks about the ability to “levy or expropriate the private property”. With this provision, they’ll no doubt claim that it somehow invalidates the existence of private property. Such an idea is false. It is very clearly stated that it’s a right protected by law. For comparison, we can also look at the US Constitution which has a similar provision which allows for the confiscation of property.
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” [iii]
The Fourth Amendment clearly lays out the right of the state to confiscate private property with due process of the law. This seems to be no different with regards to China. If we were to take the pro-China crowd superficially, we could reasonably make the assumption that the United States is also a socialist country.
It is wholly obvious that the existence of private property is offensive to the socialist mind. Marx outlined very well the problem with it. A capitalist subordinates the worker via wage labour to toil for him. The worker submits to this because he does not have any means of production of his own. This wage labour is the mechanism by which the capitalist controls him economically. This means that the labour of the worker is applied in the production of commodities for the capitalist to sell as property – not as a direct satisfaction of a human need. This disconnection between the application of labour and direct satisfaction of a need is called the alienation of labour.
The labour of the Chinese workers is alienated without a doubt. The enshrined right of private property certifies that this takes place. Under no circumstances are we to be under the illusion that somehow this is invalidated by legalisms that place all land under ownership under the state (exceptions are made for farming collectives).
China openly acknowledges that the country is dominated by privately owned industry. In the South China Morning post it is openly stated that: “Private firms contribute 60 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product and account for 80 per cent of all jobs in urban areas.” [iv] This very clear functioning of private property remains unhindered and well within the definition of private property.
State Owned Enterprises
When it comes to the Chinese economy we have to remind people of one important point: socialism is not when the government does things. This is a point we have to repeatedly pound into the head of both rightists and the pro-China crowd. Always, the argument is made that China is “socialist” because there are state-owned enterprises (SOE). This does not equal socialism. This is the kind of argument that confused rightists as anarcho-capitalists and libertarians make. This is simply false. We should never make this argument for socialism.
What the pro-China crowd does is use circular reasoning when it comes to Chinese state ownership. It’s socialist because the state owns it. And we know that the state is socialist because it owns the enterprise. There is a slew of questions not asked here by the pro-China crowd. Does it operate in a capitalist or socialist economy? This is the paramount question. Simple state ownership is common in capitalism as well. Rather than actually demonstrate that China is socialist, its defenders instead pre-suppose China to be socialist – therefore the ownership of a state enterprise is also socialist. This is a logical fallacy.
We can point to several aspects of the state-owned enterprises that clearly demonstrate their capitalist nature. The Chinese government allows them to function according to the market, the antithesis of socialism; which rejects the market as a mechanism of irrational allocation of resources, producer of inequality, and the source of alienation. Marx specifically points to the laws of supply and demand which are influenced by the purchase and sale of private property.
China openly says that they allow market forces and do not even provide preferential treatment to SOEs. Long Guoqiang, vice-president of the Development Research Centre of the State Council said: “It’s all about fair competition, developing [the market] together.”[v] The statement was made in the South China Morning Post. He also said, “…supporting SOEs did not mean the government would attach less value to private firms or foreign businesses.”[vi] Here he is specifically saying that the state enterprises operate on a market basis and are equal to private companies (which should also not exist).
It is not just Long who says this. Chinese Premier Li Keqiang also acknowledges the capitalist nature of the SOE’s: “But since China began its reforms, we’ve emphasised that state companies are market driven, they don’t represent the government.”[vii] There is no ambiguity in his words, the SOE’s operate on a market basis, the opposite of what socialism calls for. One cannot claim that this is simply “western propaganda”. This comes directly from a party owned news outlet.
In this same news report, it was announced that the government intended making business easier for private companies. It says: “During his tour on Thursday and Friday, Li pledged to reduce taxes and cut the cost of corporate financing, especially for small private enterprises…”[viii] Additionally it says: ‘“An advisory committee to the People’s Bank of China said last week that the central bank would improve financing and credit structures, and “strive to provide financial support to private firms that matches their contribution to economic and social development”.’[ix]
Another important question here is to ask why foreign companies are being allowed to compete with SOEs? Why would you even have a foreign company appropriating capital from a socialist society? This is not comparable to a Special Economic Zone, this is direct foreign control over an enterprise. Socialist economics is opposed to competition, let alone allowing foreign capital to accumulate – even siphon it out of the country. If this is how capitalist the SOEs are, imagine how capitalist the private businesses are!
We can plainly see here that the SOEs are not being run in a “socialist way”. They function as capitalist enterprises and (allegedly) receive no special treatment form the state. The government even goes so far as to claim they’re somehow not even affiliated with the state. This can possibly be described as “state capitalism”.
One of Marx’s arguments against capitalism was that production was for the market instead of direct human need. Market forces, not people control things. This disconnection between people is what creates alienation. China openly acknowledges that the market is the mechanism here, not socialist cooperation or planning. The idea that China’s SOEs bear any resemblance to socialism is completely false.
If China is supposed to be socialist their foreign policy leaves much to be desired. I think the foremost question to ask in this area is: why does China give such imperialist loans to third world countries? Here is a prime example: money was loaned to Kenya to build a port. However, the Kenyan government risks losing the lucrative Mombasa port to China should the country fail to repay the huge loans advanced by Chinese lenders. [x] If China is involved in “socialist cooperation” then why do they leave themselves the option of confiscating the port after loading up the debtor country? Reports also note that Kenya, along with others, faced the risk of being offered liquidity relief at higher resource concessions that could only diminish the value of future export earnings.
Pro-China people will no doubt claim that this would never happen. Two problems with this claim: firstly, if it wouldn’t happen, then why is it a condition of the loan? Secondly, it has already happened with another country. In December 2017 Sri Lanka lost its Hambantota port to China for a lease period of 99 years after they failed to pay billions in loans.[xi] Now China has control of an important commercial and military waterway. This also can potentially happen to the Zambian national power company.[xii]
This kind of predatory behaviour is part in parcel of how the International Monetary Fund (IMF) carries out imperialist interests. They load a country up with debt and in the process steal their resources as “compensation” for the default. What proceeds to happen afterward is the wholesale privatization of state assets to foreign countries, usually the imperialist ones. China is blatantly engaging in the same behaviour with similar results. This fact is wholly denied by the pro-China crowd at the expense of the third world, its sovereignty, and right to self-determination.
Interestingly these same pro-China people also quote significant African revolutionary Thomas Sankara who said: “Those who come with wheat, millet, corn or milk, they are not helping us. Those who really want to help us can give us ploughs, tractors, fertilizer, insecticide, watering cans, drills, dams. That is how we would define food aid.” [xiii] They completely contradict themselves here. They see no problem with exploitative loans and IMF-style theft of land and resources (when they acknowledge that it happens) when China does it.
Here’s another interesting question: why does China oppose revolutions taking place? If the CPC is supposedly a revolutionary organization, then why do they ignore the Naxal movement in India? While there is much to be criticized of the Naxals, there is much more to be criticized of China for ignoring them. Why is China not helping struggling revolutions across the world? All of them need help now more than ever. At best they provide loans to Venezuela but ignore actual revolutions engaged in fighting. If they’re a revolutionary party, why are they so afraid to give tangible support to actual revolutions? Because China is playing a political game of self-benefit, not spreading revolution.
While the Naxals are left to use colonial-era weapons to fight off the increasingly fascist Indian government, China invests in building drones for Saudi Arabia. As US politicians are finally acknowledging the Saudi genocide of Yemen, they’re beginning to put some controls on what military hardware makes its way to the Kingdom. [xiv] Meanwhile, China has decided to enter the global military drone market and begin shipping the Chinese-made Wing Loong II. This is promoted by the South China Morning Post, so no claiming the information is false by pointing to Western media. [xv] China claims that they only sell the drones for “counter-terrorism purposes”. Since when was Saudi Arabia a counter-terrorist state? They’re the second largest promoter of terrorism next to the United States.
What China is doing here is wholly opportunistic. They’re in the drone game to make money and possibly corner the global market on them if they can. This is not in any way shape or form simply sales to “counter terrorism”. No one can possibly claim that the Saudis are opposed to terrorism. China is out to make a buck off of the Saudi imperialist actions in Yemen. The Pro-china crowd are dead silent on this issue.
Solidarity with the DPRK
Another stark element of Chinese foreign policy is their position towards the DPRK. They claim that they’re standing in socialist solidarity yet their relationship is quite different. China has the DPRK over a barrel, they have to trade with them or the DPRK has essentially no one. It is practice in Chinese foreign policy that they follow UN sanctions against the country, ones often placed without just cause. Sure, there are several Chinese companies which routinely violate the sanctions, but the Chinese government does enforce it. To make matters worse, China has even voted in favour of sanctions being placed. [xvi]
The question is why? If they acknowledge that the DPRK is under imperialist pressure, why wouldn’t they support them against it? Why does China openly oppose the DPRK’s nuclear program? The DPRK has every right to possess a means to defend themselves from imperialist aggression. A right which China has even acknowledged. Yet they oppose the nuclear weapons program. Why? Because China just wants to do business with everyone, make everyone happy, they don’t want to take a principled socialist position on the matter.
We’re well aware of the excuse that the pro-China crowd makes. They point to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty and China’s obligation to follow it as a signatory. If the treaty is a hindrance to the survival and rights of a socialist country, then why does China abide by it? What’s more important: adhering to a treaty keeps the right of a socialist country not to have nuclear arms, or solidarity with a socialist state? China has made its intentions known, they side with imperialist countries.
Why do people think China is socialist despite all evidence?
The pressing question upon us now is: Why do they want to believe China is socialist despite all the proof to the contrary? Why do they simply redefine socialism in order to make it fit what they want? There’s probably a good number of reasons why they do it, which probably alter from person to person. However, I think there is one primary reason among the community.
Firstly, there is a denial of how bad the revolutionary situation is in the world right now. Most Marxists and so-called Marxists essentially live in an echo chamber in which they project their own revolutionary desires upon each other. This ends up creating an environment where reality is distorted by opinion and desire. The reality is starkly opposite. The revolutionary potential is dying all across the world. The European first world is largely falling to a fascist path. The Western first world is falling to a battle between social democracy and absolute insanity.
The third worldist theory is that first world people will choose social democracy over revolution. This has been proven by historical examples which show us that the more backward societies were the ones to advance revolution. Lenin even recognized the reactionary social-democratic trend. It was essentially him that saved the communist movement from the second international. People like Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Andrew Yang, and Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) are wholly dedicated to putting a human face on capitalism, not revolution.
Let’s face it, even if these Marxists want a revolution, the people of America don’t. The average American won’t fight for anything. They’re not willing to fight and die in a revolutionary war. They’re far more likely to fight a race war sometime in the future. The majority of Americans still believe in bourgeois democracy, those that don’t have gone completely apathetic. Even when they recognize the system is a fraud they try to isolate themselves from it. They do because they can.
The situation in the third world isn’t much better. The Naxal movement and the New People’s Army (NPA) in the Philippines are slowly dying off. The Naxals have been devastated by the economic development in India of the past decade. The NPA simply refuse to update their political line. The Communist party of the Philippines (CPP) still insists that the majority of the country is made up of peasants. This isn’t true, just about half the population is made up of urban slum dwellers. [xvii] Their numbers are shrinking by the year.
What most Marxists need is a desire to be on the winning team. This not what we’ve been for some time. Since the loss of the Soviet Union and the loss of China as bastions of socialism, the situation has been terrible. It’s awful to be on the losing team, it’s an awful feeling when you acknowledge the objective situation facing the potential for revolution across the world. People need to believe things are not as bad as they are. They’re willing to break theory in order to make it say what they want it to say. They want to force theory to fit what they want, not use theory as a guide.
We can see this in some reactionary trends redefining socialism as, “when the government does what’s right for the people.” There are two main problems with this line. Firstly, it deliberately removes class struggle from socialism. The basis of socialism is class struggle. It is nothing short of revisionism to remove this element from the definition. This relegates socialism to simply being “whatever the government does.” This new trend among the left coincides with the same reactionary view the right has.
Second, how do you define “what’s right for the people”? Is it when the government provides a higher minimum wage? When it provides universal health care and education? When it builds roads and other infrastructure? When it reduces poverty? By this logic social democracy is socialism. With this kind of unscientific nonsense, you could define anything as socialism. Unfortunately, it does. Nazbols and Baathism are socialism according to this definition. By this definition, Sanders and AOC are socialists; which they most certainly are not.
The advocates of this reactionary nonsense also promote FDR and Abraham Lincoln as socialists! Imagine that, the man who defeated slavery ushering in modern capitalism is a socialist because he defeated the last of the slaveholding society. (Let us not forget that one time he acknowledge labour as a source of value!) FDR was supposedly socialist because he offered a good deal of concessions to the working class to prevent socialists from gaining too much influence. This is what happened in Western Europe to combat socialism! Socialism has been redefined as the very thing which is used to fight socialism! I suppose concentration camps of Japanese citizens is socialist now. Utter insanity.
Mao already warned of such thinking. He didn’t specifically speak about this kind of fake socialism, but he did warn of such unscientific ways of thinking. He called it “cutting the feet to fit the shoes.” The phony socialism (and the definition thereof) we face is a perversion of theory to fit a reactionary reality.
These so-called socialists see what they want to see. It hurts their sense of hope for a revolution to acknowledge how bad things really are, so they create all kinds of mental gymnastics to make China out to be socialist to protect themselves. Such anti-scientific anti-revolutionary thinking should not be allowed to spread.
A Further massive amount of proof of China’s revisionism can be found in the work of Leftist Critic of /r/Revisionism with Chinese Characteristics
[i] Constitution of People’s Republic of China, Adopted at the Fifth Session of the Fifth National People’s Congress on December 4, 1982
[ii] This translation was provided by Google. While it may not be a perfect translation, the meaning is correct and certainly there.
[iii] Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, The Constitution Center
[iv] China welcomes fair competition, does not favour state companies over private sector, foreign firms, government adviser says, South China Morning Post.
[x] Kenya at high risk of Losing strategic assets over huge Chinese debt, African Stand
[xi] Just Like Zambia, Sri Lanka also handed over its port to China to pay off debt, African Stand
[xiii] ECOPOLITICS OF CONSUMPTION: The food trade. (2015). S.l.: LEXINGTON BOOKS. pg. 174
[xiv] House passes resolution calling for end to US military support for the Saudi-led war in Yemen, CNN
[xv] China fills gap left by US in Middle East military drone market, British think tank says, South China Morning Post
[xvi] United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874, Wikipedia
[xvii] Philippines: Urbanization from 2007 to 2017