Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Nepalese photo used to slander China

Here's the good old capitalist press at it again! This is the Toronto Star of July 29, 2008.

The caption on the photo reads: "Tibetan demonstrators argue with police in Lhasa March 14, 2008. China has ordered the protesters to surrender."

Nice one! The police are Nepalese. The photo is from Kathmandu in Nepal, not from Lhasa in Tibet, China!

Xugong Stays in Chinese Hands

In a face-saving joint announcement, Chinese state-owned enterprise Xuzhou Construction Machinery Corporation (Xugong) and US private equity company the Carlyle Group declared on July 22 that Carlyle would no longer pursue equity in the Chinese giant.

The reason given was the expiry of agreements between the two companies which date back to October 2005. At that time, Carlyle intended spending $375 million to buy an 85% stake in Xugong. The deal was immediately denounced by Chinese Marxist-Leninists on sites like the now banned . (I reported on Marxist-Leninist opposition to the Xugong buyout in December 2006 here).

Senior Chinese government figures also saw the need to protect major state enterprises. Li Deshui, former director of the National Bureau of Statistics was applauded widely for saying in early 2006 that China must introduce laws to protect domestic industries from foreign monopolistic domination. His views were endorsed on the China Resurgent Forum website in March where one commentator observed that “the former imperialists are invading China’s economy again.”

Zhang Guobao, vice-Chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission warned on August 28, 2006: “If we casually let multinational companies swallow critical (equipment-making) companies built up over many years, we will lose our equipment-making industry. We could even lose control over the development of our whole industrial and defense system, and over our technological progress.”

Zhang was not being anti-privatisation or anti-restorationist in his views. Contradictions amongst restorationists include those between an emerging national bourgeoisie and an emerging comprador bourgeoisie. The growth of the latter is facilitated by the setting of targets for leaders at all levels in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI). The higher the amount of FDI attracted, the greater is the chance of promotion within the system, a point noted by Yu Yongding, Director and Senior Fellow of the Institute of World Economics and Politics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, in a paper prepared for an international conference on Global Imbalances, Organized by IIE in Washington on 8 February 2007. Hence Zhang’s complaint that “Reform of State-owned enterprises isn’t about just selling them to foreign companies or private companies. Some local governments treat selling company stakes to foreign companies as the main route of reform…Some even go to the extent to sell such stakes only to foreign companies” (Source Shenzhen Daily, 24/10/2006).

So strong was Chinese opposition to the proposed buyout of Xugong that in August 2006, the government announced that overseas investors would need Ministry of Commerce clearance to buy controlling stakes in key industries. Carlyle then revised its bid, opting for a 50% grab which won approval from the Congress of Employees and the local Xuzhou government. However, approval from the higher authorities was still not forthcoming, and a third bid in March 2007 for a 45% stake was made and also subjected to delays in approval.

No doubt the regulatory approval delays were a political response not just to opposition from Chinese Marxist-Leninists and the masses, but also to developments in the US where, on the one hand, there was aggressive support for acquisition of Chinese assets and on the other, a rising tide of anti-Chinese protectionism. On the one hand, for example, Frank Lavin, the US under secretary of commerce, commented on the drawn-out negotiations between Xugong and Carylye that “The controversy shouldn’t be Carlyle-Xugong. I think China needs 100 Carlyle Groups to come in and buy 100 Xugongs.” Fine, but on the other hand the US was busy blocking the Chinese state-owned oil industry corporation CNOOC from acquiring US oil company Unocal. Then on March 30 2007, the US Commerce Department decided to levy new duties on imports from China, “reversing more than two decades of practices”. Nothing like a lesson in hypocrisy from the master imperialists!

Nor was Xugong embroiled only with Carlyle. Back in 1994 it had entered a joint venture with the US Caterpillar Company. Xugong was the minor partner with a 40% stake and was prevented, under the terms of the joint venture agreement, from manufacturing excavators in competition with the joint venture. Caterpillar was required to share advanced technology with Xugong as a reciprocal measure.

Over time, Xugong’s stake in the joint venture had dwindled to 15.87%. Shut out of a growing domestic market for excavators and not receiving much in the way of dividends or access to Caterpillar’s technology, Xugong decided last June to pull out of the joint venture and immediately begin production of its own excavators.

Xugong’s withdrawal from the Caterpillar joint venture and the July decision to terminate discussions with Carlyle on their buyout of Xugong are significant enough indicators for observers to talk of “Growing Resistance to Foreign Ownership in China” as one headline, in the website put it. The same website noted: “When it comes to foreign takeovers – particularly in countries working toward a capitalistic system where the implementation of macro-economic programs and structural reforms are specifically designed to attract capital inflows – the fact is, the system is often confronted with economic patriotism where the government must find a balance between national interests and commercial interests.”

Left out of this rather neat equation between “national (bourgeois) interests” and “commercial (comprador) interests” are the interests of the working class and the peasant masses.

Chinese Marxist-Leninists have the task of articulating those interests and creating a resurgent communist movement to advance the cause of the proletariat and its system: socialism.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

National Australia Bank takes a kick in the CDOs

The sub-prime mortgage crisis which developed in the USA in August 2007 continues to develop.

As noted bourgeois commentator Henry C.K. Liu observed on July 21, 2008: “In a period of less than a year, what has been described by US authorities as a temporary financial problem related to the bursting of the housing bubble has been turned into a fully fledged crisis in the very core of free market capitalism.”

Today, the speculative and parasitic side of finance capital has taken on so many forms that it is virtually impossible for most people to make any sense of the banking and finance sectors. Most people sense that the First World of the filthy rich and the Third and Fourth (indigenous peoples’) Worlds with their poverty, starvation and despair are linked, but the links are not easy to follow.

The commodification of finance capital has enabled speculation at so many levels and in so many ways that a huge house of cards exists on a foundation that grows increasingly smaller in relation to the over-inflated value of the “cards” used to construct the house.

Australia’s National Australia Bank is the latest financial institution to have to resort to some belated financial underpinning.

After having denied for most of the past year that it had any exposure to the US sub-prime mortgage crisis, the NAB has written off nearly $1 billion in mortgage-related assets.

Most of these are tied up in collateralized debt obligations or CDOs. CDOs often attract AAA security ratings from the likes of Moody’s, and Standard and Poors. Financial mythology asserts that AAA-rated securities are so strong that only 1 in 10,000 should ever default. These are houses of cards that quickly become sky-scrapers of cards once things start to go wrong. (My earlier post on CDOs, here, explains why).

In the era of imperialism, CDOs are also an effective means for transferring crisis from the heartland of capitalism, the United States, to outlying dependencies such as Australia. This is so obvious to those in the know that one commentator in a chatroom specializing in stocks and shares said, “It's a sick joke when battling Aussies end up footing the bill for the excesses of the Greedy Yanks.” No doubt this person’s definition of a “battling Aussie” might not be the same as my definition of an Aussie battler, but it’s all relative.

To see how this operates, look at this nifty little power point display (
). Just remember, when you get to slide no. 21 to mentally insert “NAB” as one of the answers and to substitute “NAB” for “Norwegian Village Investment Fund” at slide 31. It’s quite instructive!

Nor is it just the NAB that has been caught holding the burning sheets of CDO investments. On the same day that the NAB wrote off 13.5% of its share value, the ANZ lost 8.75% and the CBA lost 6.8%.

No doubt some big finance companies and superannuation funds will likewise be burnt at the finger tips or further down the arm.

A local radio announcer finishes his program just before 6pm each night with a “blues before the news”. If you found the powerpoint entertaining, you might like to finish off with this bluesy attempt at explaining the sub-prime mortgage crisis:

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

The Weng’an Incident: Harbinger of a Mass Movement?

“You cannot impose the dictatorship of the people onto the people themselves.” (Guizhou Provincial Party Secretary Shi Zongyuan)

“To regain their trust, it is necessary to make them feel that the Government is there to serve the people.” (Rose Luqiu, a 2007 Nieman Fellow, is executive news editor of Phoenix Satellite Television 4/7/08)

On June 28, 2008 an incident occurred in Weng’an township of Weng’an County, Guizhou Province. Weng’an is two to three hours by car north-east of the Provincial capital, Guiyang. Like most of the Province, it is a hilly region and not very prosperous.

The incident probably directly involved only a few hundred people, but 10,000, 30,000 or even 100,000 people – depending on which source you choose - were there to witness it and to support it.

During the incident, the Public Security Bureau (PSB) headquarters were torched and several dozen vehicles, mainly police cars, were overturned and burned.

One version of the event was taken from the online Tianya chatroom and quickly posted on the Cultural Revolution Research website under the heading “The Weng’an County Incident in Guizhou Province is a mass resistance to despotic rule and the harbinger of a political movement”.

Another version, that of official reaction in Guiyang, condemned “the criminal elements whose smashing, vandalizing, looting and arson have seriously damaged the images of Weng’an County and Guizhou Province, the excellent social and economic development of Weng’an County and disrupted the unity and harmony of the County and the Province” (Xinhua Newsagency).

In the several weeks since the incident occurred, four leading officials in Weng’an have been dismissed from their posts, and the Guizhou Provincial Party Secretary Shi Zongyuan has identified various unaddressed social grievances as being behind the violence.

However, the immediate cause was the death of 16 year old female student Li Shufen (left).

Accounts differ on how she died, on who may or may not have been involved, and on the aftermath including the reported beating to death by police of her uncle.

The body of Li Shufen was retrieved from the Simen River in the early hours of June 22. How she came to be there has been the subject of much conjecture.

According to some sources, she “…was murdered because she did not let another female student copy her work during an exam. This female student was the niece of the County Party secretary Wang Qin. She colluded with two gangsters who raped and killed her.” (Tianya chatroom comment reposted on CR Research website).

Other sources claim that it was the other female student who was the murderer: “…the victim was murdered by another female student named Wang Jiao” (cited in Yet Another Version of the Weng’an Mass Incident, 30/6/08, DWnews)

Chinese whispers resulted in a variation on this theme: “She died…(because) during the exams, she refused to let three male students copy her answers. In revenge the three male students raped her and then pushed her into the Simen River where she drowned” (same source as above).

No-one contests the fact that Li Shufen was at the Dayan Bridge over the Simen River. No-one contests the fact that she was with Wang Jiao and two boys, Liu Yanchao and Li’s boyfriend Chen Guangquan.

(From left, Liu Yanchao, Chen Guangquan and Wang Jiao)

The contest is over whether she was raped and drowned, or committed suicide by jumping off the bridge; whether the friends with her were not charged because there was no crime, or because they had “connections”; and whether the body was properly autopsied or not.

According to the three friends, the evening started with the two boys deciding to have a meal at a friend’s room. Liu went off on a motor bike to pick up Wang Jiao and Li Shufen. According to Liu, they drank rice wine during the meal, Li Shufen drank one cup, Wang Jiao half a cup while the boys had two cups each. At about 10pm, they all decided to go home. Wang Jiao says that it was Li Shufen’s suggestion that they walk, and that they walk along the river. When they reached the bridge, Li Shufen suggested that they stay there and “play around”.

Li Shufen sat on the railing of the bridge, facing the water. Her boyfriend Chen Guangquan was tired and lay down on the ground by the riverside. Wang Jiao was about twenty metres away and starting to worry about getting home late. Liu approached Li Shufen, standing about two metres to her left.

Liu says that he and Li Shufen chatted, and that they discussed things that were upsetting her. She told him that her parents favoured males over females; her elder brother (with whom she shared a flat) bullied her frequently; and that she was always in trouble with her parents, so she was better off dead than alive. She told him that she wanted to jump into the river, hearing which Liu Yanchao grabbed her and said “You want to jump in the river? Have you gone mad?” He said she calmed down after that.

Liu then spoke with Li’s boyfriend, Chen Guangquan, who said he was tired and going home. Chen walked off. A couple of minutes later, at about ten minutes past midnight and while he was doing push-ups, Liu said that he heard Li call out “I’m going”, followed by a splash as her body hit the water. Liu immediately jumped in to rescue her.

(In another bizarre twist, “push-ups” or “fuwocheng” has become one of the hottest words on the Chinese internet. Bloggers whose comments on Weng’an were censored took to taking pictures of themselves doing naked push-ups in all sorts of places. Apparently some saw the push-up as a lie by Liu to explain why his body was going up and down just before Li went over the bridge. “Rape gesture is similar as push-up exercise, up and down. Frankly speaking, I do not think it is a coincidence…” said one comment on the English-language China Daily website. Tackily, and typical of the crass mentality of money-makers everywhere, a real estate company placed a large billboard on Central Road, Nanjing, saying “House prices are not diving, they’re just doing push-ups”!)

Wang Jiao, at the foot of the bridge, called back Chen Guangquan and they helped Liu, who was starting to get into difficulties in the two metre deep water, out of the river. They could not find Li Shufen.

Wang Jiao called 110, the police number, and then called Li Shufen’s elder brother Li Shuyong. The police called the fire brigade. Li Shuyong called on his uncle, Li Xiuzhong, and others to hurry to the bridge.

Accounts differ as to who retrieved the body of Li Shufen, and when. According to one Weng’an resident, on, the fire brigade retrieved the body half an hour later. Another report, carried by Reuters newsagency, said that “Repeated calls to the Weng’an County Public Security Bureau were not answered or did not connect, and calls to the county government were not answered after midnight on Saturday,” implying that no-one in an official capacity took part in the search and retrieval. The official Guizhou version supplied by the PSB was that “Weng’an county public security bureau received a call at 00:27 on June 22, 2008 that someone had jumped into the river. The command centre ordered the Yongyang town police station to send militia police officers to the scene and also notified the fire department. The militia police arrived at the scene and began to search for the body. Since it was dark, it was around 3am that they finally fetched the body of the dead girl.” The DWnews source quoted above says, “That night, people tried to locate her body but they were unsuccessful, the next day, the police retrieved the body and arrested the three murderers…When the body was brought out of the river, there were many spectators.” Yet another account quotes local residents as saying “The body was retrieved by the uncle of Li Shufen in the middle of the night, and the fire department showed up after daybreak on the next morning. But the broadcasts are saying that the fire department recovered the body.” And the uncle? He says he went to the scene to “help recover the body” after which he was called on to go to the office of the PSB for an interview.

Unless they were lying, the accounts by the three friends rule out the possibility of the girl having been raped. Three subsequent autopsies, the last one carried out in the presence of the girl’s father, aunt and two others have confirmed that she was a virgin at her death, that her hymen was intact and that there were no traces of semen on her body.

However, confusion reigned amongst the masses following the retrieval of the girl’s body from the river. Stories quickly spread that there were marks on her neck indicating that she had been strangled, that internal organs had been removed during the forensic examination so that the story of her having been drowned could be fabricated, that she had been drugged, that there was no sign of mud in her body as there should have been had she drowned and, of course, that she had been raped.

Although the three friends were taken to the PSB for interrogation, they were released within 24 hours, triggering rumours that they were related to Party and government officials. Reuters picked up on the rumours, quoting accounts that “a youth alleged to have attacked the girl may have been the son of a senior county official or police officer.” Another report circulating on various sites (Ming Pao, Qbar) said “The son of a Weng’an county deputy mayor and another youth raped and killed a 15-year old female middle school student named Li Sufen and then tossed her body into the Simen River afterwards. The police detained the suspects for five hours and released them without charge.” On DWnews, a Weng’an resident reported that “The parents of the murderer called a certain department head at the Guizhou provincial level, and this person then issued an order. The next day, the Weng’an county police released the three murderers.” And on the Boxun website, the following appeared: “Based on information provided by local citizens, the Li family found out the two young men were related to the leaders of the county public security bureau, county party committee and provincial party leaders. That was why they were released after being detained only eight hours.”

According to official sources in Guizhou, none of the three had connections with high officials.
Liu and Chen are both from poor farming families of the Yanmen brigade, Naxiang village, Caotang town of Weng’an County and were working together at a county paper factory. Their parents are villagers and have been subsequently interviewed by reporters from Guiyang. Wang Jiao’s parents are villagers of the Jiajiabo brigade, Jiajiabo village, Tianwen town of Weng’an county.

Adding to the rumours that were fuelling mass indignation at supposed official protection afforded a gang of rapists and murderers was a story that police had beaten Li Shufen’s uncle to death. One of the first internet reports, that reposted on the Cultural Revolution Research website, proclaimed that Li’s uncle had been beaten in the PSB office, and then again out on the street, and that “after sustaining serious injuries, he died today (June 28) at 4pm.” Another report stated “The relatives of the girl went to complain to the police. Instead of getting justice, the relatives were assaulted. An uncle of the girl was beaten unconscious and eventually died.” The Boxun report states: “Li Shufen’s uncle…was assaulted by six plainclothes security guards and subsequently died from the injuries.” Falungong’s Epoch Times plagiarises this report (whilst claiming to have reporters on the scene interviewing people!!!), changing “security guards” to “policemen”, under the heading “Girl’s Murder Triggers Riot in Guizhou Province” (Epoch Times, July 10-16, 2008 Australian edition).

The uncle was later interviewed by reporters from Guiyang and Hong Kong in a hospital where he was recovering from a beating (left). He denied that he was dead! He did admit to an altercation with a police officer during an interview at the police station, but said that both he and the police officer were impatient and rude to each other, and that the fracas started when the officer tried to push him out of the office. Later, he was accompanied by education department officials (he is a teacher at the school attended by his niece) to sort the matter out, and on leaving the police station and walking a short way down the street, was attacked by six unidentified persons. They beat him up, as a result of which he was hospitalised. The identity of the attackers has still not been established although counter rumours say they were friends of Liu and Chen.

In a bizarre twist to the turn that events were taking, and one that ensured that speculation would be channelled into sympathy for the alleged rape and murder victim, the family of Li Shufen, on recovering her body from the police after the first examination of her body, hired a refrigerated coffin and placed the corpse in a tent by the bridge (below).

Next to the tent they placed big character posters appealing for justice from the authorities. A Weng’an resident on reported that those who wished to view her body were charged 5RMB apiece to do so, and that with donations from sympathisers, almost 20,000RMB was collected. The family demanded a second examination of the body and a DNA analysis. This was done on June 25 by a medical examiner from the southern Guizhou PSB. The result confirmed death by drowning, and that there had been no sexual violation. Official Guizhou sources state that although the family accepted the outcome at first, they refused to bury their daughter until Wang Jiao, Liu Yanchao and Chen Guangquan agreed to pay 500,000RMB in restitution. The same sources claim that the family took part in mediation the following day and promised to sign an agreement settling the case on June 28.

However, on June 28 the family helped organise a march on the offices of the PSB out of which developed the attack on the buildings and the burning of the cars. For the moment, the details of this can be left to one side. An article from Southern Weekend which gives a good background to how social grievances blamed by Party Secretary Shi Zongyuan for the incident led to a small group of aggrieved persons becoming a crowd of many thousands is appended to the end of this post.

The mass disturbance in Guizhou had reverberations in Beijing. Again, accounts differ. One report on Ming Pao has it that “Chinese President Hu Jintao has questioned why the disturbance took place. According to informed sources, Hu Jintao personally asked about the incident and wanted to know, “Why did such a small criminal case trigger such a large-scale mass incident?” In his directive, Hu Jintao demanded that the local government should calm down the demonstrators and protect social stability; at the same time, the directive asked that the local Guizhou media should actively report the affair and lead public opinion, without blocking information from going outside.”

However, on Boxun, Hu Jintao not only did not respond with concern for the situation – he actually created it, and it was a massacre! “The news is that there were many deaths…According to known internal information and published reports, this massacre was personally ordered by Hu Jintao and supervised by Zhou Yongkong (Political Bureau Standing Committee member) and others. The murders were carried out by Guizhou officials and the locally based soldiers.”

Following the incident, on July 1, the family finally agreed to a burial after a third autopsy, the results of which have been reported above.

So can the Weng’an incident be seen as the harbinger of a mass political movement?

In his book The Battle for China’s Past, Prof Gao Mobo finds it unlikely that incidents of this type will lead to any type of concerted, organised resistance movement by farmers and workers.

I wasn’t there, and I’ve read too much Chinese and “Chinese” crime fiction (Peter May, Elliot Pattison, David Rotenberg, Qiu Xiaolong etc) to want to try and make a judgment from a distance on an event that could well serve as the basis for a crime fiction novel (with political overtones).

However, it is clear from the decision to sack four officials (Wang Qin, Party secretary of Weng’an county; Wang Haiping, head of the county government; Luo Laiping, commissar of the county’s PSB; and Shen Guirong, chief of the county PSB) that the more senior leadership accepts the validity of justifiable and widespread mass discontent relating to arbitrary decision-making, reliance on force or threat of force to resolve contradictions among the people, failure to resolve resettlement issues, disputes over mining and disregard for the activities of youth gangs and other crime.

This is the social context in one county of a Province described by one contributor, a self-described “native of Guizhou”, as “China’s Third World”, a province of 35 million people of whom “several million roam begging for food and clothing”, where up to “19 million suffer from fluorosis and 100,000 from arsenic poisoning”. The author challenges readers “Can we really turn a blind eye to the suffering…and remain indifferent to the plight of our compatriots…Without civic awareness, awareness of rights and a sense of responsibility, the Guizhou Plateau will remain a hell on earth for the poor and a paradise for the rich and the officials.”

The tragic death of Li Shufen may not be the harbinger of a new political movement by the masses, but the neglect of the basic interests of the poor, of the people whose misery brought a people’s revolution to success in 1949, will certainly lead to more and more incidents of mass frustration and protest, and these will become more frequent and larger in scale as long as the neglect is allowed to fester.


(Southern Weekend)

July 10, 2008.
[in translation]

It took only a short six days from the day of the abnormal death of a junior high school female student to the disturbance that rocked Weng'an county city and gained the attenton of the entire nation.

On the day when Guizhou province Weng'an County Number Three Middle School Form 2 student Li Shufen died (June 22), the medical examiner made a preliminary determination and informed the family she "had drowned by suicide" and the three principals present at the scene were released.

On the next day, her father Li Xiuhua raised doubts and asked for a full autopsy. He submitted an application for a crime investigation.

On the fourth day after the death of Li Shufen, rumors began to float around the city. Her uncle Li Xiuzhong clashed with the police at the county public security bureau and was then assaulted by unidentified persons outside. The case is still unsolved at this time. Her father filed an emergency appeal to ask the government to "solve the case and punish the evil doers in order to calm public discontent."

Seven days after the death of Li Shufen, several dozen people marched with banners and then engaged in vandalism, looting and arson at the Weng'an county government and party buildings as well as the public security bureau building. More than 10,000 people were at the scene.
The family of Li Shufen is reluctant to discuss her death now. The young Li Shufen could not imagine that her death would lead Guizhou Provincial Party Secretary Shi Zongyuan to say directly: "Weng'an is unsafe; the masses feel unsafe; the people won't tell the truth."

In six days, how did the escalating clashes and associated rumors around the death of a female student cause the city to explode? What kind of unsafe city was Weng'an during those six days?
There was no prior hint for the incident. On the day when Li Shufen died, her family did not have many questions. On the morning of the same day, the three principals present at the scene were questioned by the police and released because there was no suspicion of wrongdoing.
When the family of Li went to the police station to talk to the three principals, the latter were no longer there. At the same time, the three began to appear in the rumors: "The principal murderer is the niece of the county party secretary, and the other two men are relatives of the police station chief. The deceased had been raped and killed."

"The relatives were submerged in sorrow and they did not considered the key issues about what had occurred before her drowning death. They did not demand an autopsy or an examination of her lower body part," Li Xiuhua described the initial situation.

In order to preserve her body, Li Shufen's godfather Xie Qingfa rented a refrigerated coffin at a daily rate of 120 RMB. The refrigerated coffin was placed at the end of the Dayan bridge where the accident took place. This concrete bridge is less than 1.5 meters wide. The balustrades on both sides are about 1 meter high. The Simen river which is several dozen meters wide flows underneath the bridge. There are weeds floating in the river, which is as deep as two meters. There is no open space by the riverbank. The refrigerated coffin was placed inside a temporarily erected tent.

Some spectators swore that they heard screeching cries for help in the middle of the night. Someone said that they saw condoms and blood stains on the river bank. A grassy patch by the river was said to be the spot where the crime was committed.

The death of the girl Li Shufen became interwined with government officials, merciliess policemen and injustice across this small county city.

The family of Li Shufen thought that there was an injustice at first. On June 23, they asked for another medical examination. At the time, the maternal grandmother Cheng Shujen witnessed the process and swore that "there was no water in the stomach and there were pills in her throat."

The increasingly distorted rumors began to spread through the streets of Weng'an. "16-year-old Li Shufen was murdered because she refused to let a female classmate copy her answers during an exam; her throat had many wound marks -- she was obviously strangled to death!; the son of the Weng'an county deputy mayor with another young man raped a Weng'an County Number Three Middle School female student, killed her and tossed her body into the Simen river ..."
This small space by the river became a stage. From morning to evening, people came continuously. People brought their own discontent to gawk at this girl who died of unknown causes.

They opened their wallets generously because they wanted to see justice rendered for her. Many citizens told the reporters that they heard that someone gave as much as 3,000 RMB. "That person told her relatives to take the money to file a lawsuit. We will support you to the end. If you don't want to go to court, you return the money to me." This is as if they had personally seen this occurred.

The donors included common folks. "There were peasants who don't earn much from the vegetables that they sell. But they donated their ten RMB of the day." According to an eyewitness, the donations totalled several tens of thousands of yuan.

On June 25, a new incident occurred. Li Shufen's uncle Li Xiuzhong clashed with militia policeman Zhang Ming. Afterwards, the official statement was that "the two had clashed but Li was not injured." But Li Xiuhua wrote in this petition letter that his brother Li Xiuzhong "had been beaten with truncheons and kicked before being interrogated by the militia policeman."
Li Xiuzhong was then summoned by the county education department to go down to the police station for questioning. Afterwards, he left and when he got to the Weng'an insurance company, he was assaulted violently by a group of unidentified men in plain clothes.

In his "emergency appeal," Li Xiuhua (interviewed by media, left) wrote: "Li Xiuzhong was assaulted ... he was bleeding, unconscious and in critical condition." He also claimed that "my beloved daughter Li Shufen was murdered but the public security bureau refused to establish a case for investigation ..."

The aforementioned episode showed up in the street rumors as: "The family of the deceased went down to the public security bureau but the police beat the uncle severely. Then they ordered gangsters to beat him further. His uncle died at 4pm after medical treatment failed."

The rumors about the injustices rolled bigger and bigger, but these were clearly ignored by the government. The Simen river flowed on silently and nobody noticed what was happening. But these small dark changes were brewing silently and gathering strength.

On the morning of June 28, the Weng'an County Public Security Buerau delivered the <Notice to urge a speedy disposition of the body> to the family of Li Shufen. The notice stated that Li Shufen "had jumped into river on her own accord and drowned." "The cause of death has been established, so there is no need to preserve her body." The Li family was enjoined to send the body of Li Shufen back home for burial before 14:00, June 28 2008." "If not, the public security bureau will handle this in accordance with the law."

This aroused the ire of the spectators. At around 3pm on that day, two middle school students raising a banner saying "Justice for the people" in front and several dozen followers marched on behalf of Li Shufen.

None of these marchers were family relatives of Li Shufen.

The group started from the Dayan bridge and chanted slogans. Then they got on the Old Ring City Road.

At the Seven Stars village alongside the Old Ring City Road, there resided almost 1,000 people who had been displaced by the hydroelectricity project. After the 6.28 (June 28) incident occurred, Guizhou provincial party secretary Shi Zongyuan said that his incident appeared to have been triggered by the controvesial death of a middle school female student, but the deep structural reason is that there had been frequent infringements of citizen rights over the relocation of migrants, demolition of buildings and mining rights disputes.

The "relocated migrants" that Shi Zongyuan was referring to included the 1,000 or so people at Seven Stars village. These people were displaced by the construction of the largest hydroelectricity project in Guizhou province. More than 4,000 were displaced for the dam, including more than 3,000 who had previously been farmers. As early as 2004, the villagers in Laiyuan district had clashed with government workers over the compensation and relocation plans.

The villagers recalled that the relocation began in late 2002. The entire village was to be relocated. At the time, the compensation was 19,000 RMB per person, but the villagers thought that the amount was too low and they suspected the relocation department was keeping some of the money for themselves.

In terms of land compensation, the villagers also thought that the amount paid for fruit trees was also too low. According to the national standard, each mu of garden land should be given more than 16,000 RMB. But these villagers were only offered 100 RMB per tree, which worked out to be only 7,000 RMB per mu. Meanwhile, a neighboring village received 1,000 RMB per tree.
In December 2004, then county mayor Wang Qin visited the village along with members of the provincial-, prefecture- and county-level relocation bureaus. "We asked them why the compensation was so low," said a villager. "We were not communicating. They could not explain so we were not going to let them go."

The angry villagers took away the cars and blocked the roads. Other people in the neighboring areas also came over when they heard the news. Together with the more than 1,000 outsiders, there were 2,000 to 3,000 migrants in the village.

The government officials including the county mayor were forced to stay in the village for three days and three nights. The two sides could not reach an understanding. On December 16, the villagers found that a large number of armed policemen had arrived.

Once the clash began, many villagers were injured, including women and children.

"We called 120 but they did not care. We brought our injured people to the town clinic but they were ordered not to receive injured people. In the end, we had buy our own medicine to treat our injured," said this villager.

Finally, the government officials managed to leave with the escort of the armed policemen.
After more than half a year later, the government agreed to provide a total of 5,000 RMB in medical compensation to 34 injured persons. But the issue of relocation compensation remained unresolved.

More than two years later in late March 2007, the villagers received notices from the town government to complete their relocation by March 31. "If you fail to relocate before then, you will bear all the consequences."

On April 6, 2007, the Weng'an county government leaders led a team of more than 100 government workers and demolished the buildings in the village, including setting some on fire.
Not only this, but these officials saw all the fruit trees under the waterline, destroyed all the grown crop and sprayed poison on the seedlings. At the time, the pears were ripe but they were gone before being picked. "It rained heavily that night. So people could only hovel under some tent clothes." That was how the villagers spent a sorrowful night. Today, that village is a pile of weed-filled deserted rubble.

As of today, 54 of the more than 200 migrant families have stayed in the village. They have not received any compensation from the government. They managed to build shacks above the water level. They have no water or electricity. They survive on the farmland and fruit trees that are above the water line. When they try to get construction work at the town government, they are told that they are not needed. "We only want a transparent policy in which we receive our compensation. We want to live peacefully above the water line." They are waiting without much hope for the problems to be resolved.

The more than 1,000 villagers who have relocated to the Seven Stars village have received their compensation which they think is too low. So they are still pursuing the matter.

On June 28, when the demonstrators went by the Seven Stars village, some of the migrants who were still pursuing the compensation issue joined in.

After going down Old Ring City Road, the marchers led by middle school students turned into Northeast Road. The Weng'an Number Three Middle School is located on Northeast Road. The deceased girl Li Shufen had attended this school.

"The school is unsafe. Many fellow students have joined gangs and they show off their membership," said a male student who did not want to disclose his name.

He said that there were almost daily fights in front of the Number 3 Middle School each day after classes. There were group melees or individual face-offs involving machetes, daggers, poles and so on. The brawlers included students as well as local "hooligans" from various gangs in the city. According to two teachers at Number Three Middle School, "Students assaulting teachers is nothing new."

Another student said that it is not just male students who join gangs. In Weng'an, if you want to concentrate on studying and not be bullied, you must join a gang and get 'protection' and this applies to girls as well as boys.

The gangs are not just active among students, for that was just the lowest ring in the organizations. According to someone who had invested in mining, at the tip of the pyramid are the gangsters in the mining industry, who sometimes collude with government officials.
"It is tough to operate a mine if you refuse to accept the terms of the gangs." According to the informant, the terms include payment of protection money; distrubution/sales rights of mined products; ownership of shares in the mines. Some gangs operate mines themselves.
Between the mines and the gangs, the villagers live awkwardly.

In Yuhua town where Li Shufen came from, there are many phosphorous mines. The reporter saw that the river water was greyish-white murky. The villagers said that since 2002, the mines have contaminated the water source which meant that people and animals could not drink from it and the crops withered. When the villagers complained to the government and the mines, they were ignored.

In addition, the mines created soil erosion but the villagers received little or nothing in compensation for losing their land.

At the Tianba brigade of Yanganhe village, Yuhua town, the villagers found that the water level was sinking due to the mining. In 2007, a well dried up completely so that there was no water for man and animals.

According to a villager who declined to disclose his name, the Tianba villagers went to the mine to complain. The mine representative said that the falling water level was a natural phenomenon. The villagers also went to the complain to the county and town governments to no avail. Reluctantly, the villagers tried to cut off the electricity as well as blockade the mine shaft. Clashes occurred between the two sdies.

This villager said that the Weng'an government organized a work group to come down on March 15. The villagers said "as long as the water problem is unresolved, we won't let you go." The work group was detained in the village for three days and three nights before being released.

On April 29 last year, the county government asked the village representatives to attend a meeting "to resolve the problems." A group of 14 villagers including the village mayor and the village party secretary went to the county government office building to meet in the conference room. According to a villager who attended the meeting, the county police showed up in the middle of the meeting and took away 11 of the representatives.

"When the villagers heard that their representatives had been arrested, the whole brigade went to the county city. At the police station, a police line was set up to prevent the villagers from seeing their representatives. Amidst the chaos, a physical melee occurred. 22 people from the brigade, including the representatives, were arrested." The eyewitness said that some of the villagers were accused of assaulting the government office. Ultimately, seven of the village representatives were found guilty of "assembling and disturbing public order," with prison sentences between two to six years in length.

The godfather of the deceased school girl Li Shufen, Xie Qingfa, is a member of the Tianba brigade in Yuhua town and he participated in the aforementioned incident.

So when the demonstrators went by on June 28, the mining district residents who had suffered at the hands of the government workers and the gangs were quickly ignited and many joined the marchers. According to an eyewitness, many shop owners by the road shuttered their shops and joined the demonstration.

On July 3, Guizhou party secretary Shi Zongyuan said that in the process of handling conflicts and mass incidents, certain cadres were violent and simplistic, frequently invoking the police force ... some cadres were lazy and derelict and they pushed the police onto the front line whenever an incident occurred. This ired the people greatly. The result was that there was not only tension between the government and the people, but also between the police and the people.

Guizhou provincial deputy party secretary Wang Fuyu said that some cadres are corrupt and collude with the gangs by acting as their "sentries" and "protection umbrellas."

After the 6.28 incident, the Guizhou police quickly established a crime squad and arrested 249 persons belonging to six different gangs. The largest gang was "the Yushan gang which was established in 1998 and has more than 50 lieutenants." In one day, the gangs that had existed safely in Weng'an were wiped out.

On July 3, Weng'an county public security bureau director was recommended for dismissal; on July 4, the Weng'an county party secretary Wang Qin and county mayor Wang Haiping were dismissed from their posts.

When the demonstrators left North East Road to turn into Wenfeng Middle Road, the crowd had swelled from the several dozens in the beginning to one thousand.

The lesson to be drawn after the incident was expressed on the afternoon of July 2 at a mobilization meeting for the anti-gang campaign in southern Guizhou province. The prefecture party secretary Wu Ting described the situation to the party and government leaders from the twelve counties. The incident occurred on June 22 and the Weng'an government paid attention to it by establishing a work group. They were still discussing the issues on the morning of July 3. "So why did everything change at 3pm?"

Wu Ting said that he could not see how two or three hundred people holding a banner could swell up to four to five thousand by the time that they reached the county government buildings. During the process, how come nobody in the government knew or mediated?

On Wenfeng road, the shops are mostly "sales agents" and "recreational massage parlors." According to an informed source, the "sales agents" are pawn shops and loan sharks with gangster backgrounds and hidden government backers.

The official presentation of Weng'an county is that this was a historical revolutionary county, a top 100 green county in the nation for its forestry, a model county for protecting the old and the young and a red flag county for public safety in the province.

But a taxi driver said that Weng'an is an unsafe city. "I am definitely home by 11 o'clock at night. That is when the gangs come out." A parent named Feng Zhongming cried to the reporter that his 9-year-old son died from poisoning last year and the case is unsolved.

At past 10pm on June 26, the Changsha Water Pump Shop on Wenfeng Road was robbed by two masked men. According to the owner, "Two men armed with guns just walked into the shop." They pointed the guns at the owner's head and ordered him to bring out his money. The robbers rolled down the steel gate, tied up the family of three, took two mobile phones and 1,000 RMB in cash and they left. "I called 110, and they showed up more than 40 minutes later." The owner thought that police were too slow in responding.

On one evening on the year before last, a middle school student was killed as soon as he stepped out of the school gate. Last month, a middle school girl suddenly went "missing." Later on, her body was found in a corn field. She had been strangled. That case is still unsolved.

"I go and pick up my child after school each day or else I feel very insecure," said a parent named Shi. Although the child is already in high school, the parent is uneasy because of the general lack of safety. There is a local doggerel: "The good people are in disarray, the bad people have formed gangs; if security is no good, there cannot be any prosperity."

According to published information, the police noted that there were four explosions on September 12, 19, 22 and 26, 2007 at the Weng'an county Audit Department dormitory, Jinlong Garden, the North Gate Well and the Pedestrian Mall. Those cases are unsolved at this time.
Guizhou provincial deputy party secretary Wang Fuyu believes that an underlying reason for the 6.28 incident was the bad public safety situation in Weng'an. Although the police have gone after the gangs, the latter have not been eradicated. Robberies and fights continued to occur. There were 600 to 800 crimes committed last year, of which about 50% were solved. When crimes go unsolved and pile up, people feel unsafe.

When the cars were being torched outside the government building, the police could not stop the masses. But the owner of a small shop told the masses: "This car is mine. I need it. Please don't burn it." The vandals did not torch that car.

Southern Guizhou party secretary Wu Ting sighed: "Why do the vandals refuse to listen to us but they would listen to a citizen? Why is our relationship with the masses so tense?"
After the 6.28 incident, the broadcasts continued to urge the participants to surrender themselves. On the streets, the armed police and the regular police patrolled. In front of the county party and government offices, there were armed police guards 24 hours a day. A taxi driver said: "These are the safest times in Weng'an."

The most interesting conversation took place between provincial party secretary Shi Zongyuan and the workers at a blind-person massage place. Shi asked whether the shop owner felt safe because they were next to the public security bureau building. When the owner hestitated to answer, Shi apologized: "Our party and government have failed in our work. Weng'an is unsafe, the people feel unsafe and there are more and more bad people."

When a worker at the shop refused to state his name, Shi Zongyuan once against admonished himself: "Weng'an is unsafe. The people dare not tell the truth. That is our responsibility ... the government is unable to stop the bad people and the masses are suffering. Weng'an is unsafe. The good people cannot defeat the bad people." He apologized repeatedly to the people of Weng'an.

"The incident began with students demonstrators. Then thousands of people gathered to watch. But the party, government and public security bureau had no information beforehand. They lack information, they were not mentally prepared and they had no contingency plan. When the incident took place, they had no response." On the meeting of July 3, Wang Fuyu said, "In condlusion, there were too many unresolved matters, there was too much bitterness and things were irreversible."

"The 6.28 incident appeared to be an accident, but it was inevitable. Sooner or later, this was going to happen!" said Shi Zongyuan.

At 3:30pm on June 28, citizen Hu saw the demonstrators coming down on Wenfeng Road. The people were chanting slogans and heading towards the county party and government buildings. Hu joined the group.

When the demonstrators reached the county and government offices, more than 10,000 people had shown up. There were students, migrants, shop owners, farmers, service workers, massage girls and even public servants, relatives of police officers ... they were men, women, young, old -- all the groups of Weng'an county city were represented here.

Hu said that the students went into the county party and government buildings and went from the first floor to the fifth floor without finding any relevant government officials. It was a Saturday.

"If someone in charge had come out and communicated with the people -- even if it was just someone saying a few words with a loudspeaker -- what happened later on could not have occurred," said Hu.

Since the Li Shufen affair was handled by the public security bureau, the demonstrators proceeded to the county public security bureau building.

Hu saw that the police had set up a police line in front of the building. They were going to let two students to enter the building "They seized the banner and the students seized it back. There was a clash and the students jostled with the police," said Hu. "When people saw the students being beaten, more people charged past the police line to help."

At that moment, the fully armed anti-riot police appeared and pointed their truncheons at the crowd.

Guizhou provincial party secretary Shi Zongyuan said afterwards: "You cannot just push the police onto the front line on any flimsy reason. You cannot impose the dictatorship of the people onto the people themselves. Otherwise, wouldn't it be weird!" Shi Zongyuan requested the cadre leaders to determine the cadres who were derelict in their duties during the incident.
The crowd was in an uproar. When they saw the students being assaulted, they tossed the water bottles in their hands, the flower pots in front of the building and everything else at the public security bureau building.

"It was over," said Hu. At that moment, he realized that the crowd has lost its head and the situation has spun out of control.

By that time, the triggering fuse was no longer important. The important thing was that the pented-up volcano had suddenly just found what had been a very small crack and Weng'an exploded.

Monday, July 14, 2008

The Establishment of the Foshan Communism Group

(The following announcement was posted on a Chinese language website on July 12. I don't know how widespread this sort of thing is, but it indicates that there is a need felt by some people in China for a Marxist-Leninist form of organisation to fight against the restorationist trend and for the path chartered by Mao Zedong. I have translated this for the information of comrades with an interest in China.)

June 15, 2008

The meeting began at 3pm and ended at 5pm. Eight young comrades were present and one was absent. The meeting took place at the home of a comrade in the Foshan City Central District.

Hung around the walls were two one-metre high portraits of Marx and Engels and right opposite them at the rear was a portrait of Chairman Mao, while on a table were heaps of revolutionary literature for study and discussion. When the meeting opened everyone took photos.

The meeting unanimously agreed to take Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought as the group’s guiding ideology, to uphold Chairman Mao’s “three do’s and three don’ts” (practise Marxism and not revisionism; unite and don’t split; and be open and aboveboard and don’t intrigue and conspire), persist in class struggle against the gang, firmly oppose peaceful evolution, and resolutely safeguard the socialist system.

The meeting held that communists should participate more in social practice, and become familiar with, and maintain contact with, comrades in other places. We should go deeply into the grassroots levels, and work in the interests of the broad masses of the people, especially the workers, peasants and others among the vulnerable sectors.

The meeting also analysed the current domestic situation after the reforms towards capitalism and the opening of the past 30 years, and believed that it was necessary to seize the opportunity to counter revisionism and the bourgeois liberalisation trend of thought.

The comrades at the meeting first of all discussed what they had gone through and experienced, and stated their respective views. They then put forward a vision for the future, and endorsed the time at university as one for propagating communism and developing new comrades. Finally, we exchanged ways of having contact.

The comrades at the meeting also discussed the recent controversy of the Third Reform as well as problems related to the Property Law that has been rushed through. The participating comrades also gave close attention to the Carrefour Incident as an example of the situation of the rise of nationalist ideas, at the same time endorsing the combination of nationalism with the Leftists.

(On the "Third Reform" Zhao Yuezhi comments: "A protracted debate on the future of China's reform, known as the "third debate on the reform", engulfed the Chinese media and cyberspace between late 2004 and late 2007. Old revolutionaries,, left-leaning intellectuals, and grassroots, online critics of market-oriented reforms mounted successive waves of criticism against the further privatization of China's state-owned sector, increasing foreign investment, the entrenchment of private property rights in the Chinese legal system, and the dominance of Western-style market economics in China" - Trans.)

The comrades at the meeting also came to an understanding of North Korea’s achievements in socialist construction and sincerely expressed the wish that the heroic Korean people would be able, under the leadership of the Party and government headed by the great leader General Kim Jong Il, to see in the grand ceremony for the 60th anniversary of the founding of their nation.

Henceforth, the group will take the model of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party as a reference, and popularise the organisational model for the formation of communist groups by comrades throughout the nation. The group agreed with broadening the mass base, with comrades scattered through the following cities establishing communist groups: North China (Beijing, Tianjin, Kaifeng), the Northeast (Changchun, Shenyang), the Northwest (Xi’an), the Southwest (Chengdu, Chongqing), Central China (Wuhan, Changsha), East China (Shanghai, Nanjing) and South China (Guangzhou).

Posted July 12, 2008

(The following comment was made on the announcement above:

Conceal yourselves well, fear no sacrifice, wage continuous struggle, remain faithful and unyielding, and don’t mutiny.

May 4th spirit)

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Democratic Socialism is Capitalism Pt. 12

(This is the final section of Wu Bin's rebuttal of the social democratic advocacy carried out by Xie Tao and others. Links to the earlier sections are at the bottom of this post.)

12. Be sure not to forget the mistakes of the Soviet Union and the Eastern European countries

It has already been more than 10 years since the defeat of the Party and State in the Soviet Union and in the Eastern European countries. The “August 19” events of those years came to a premature end… Yeltsin launched a coup sitting atop a tank (right)…Gorbachev announced the dissolution of the Communist Party…the Red Flag over the Kremlin was lowered…the Secretary-general of the Romanian Communist Party, and his wife, were gunned down (below)…political power in more than 10 socialist countries fell one after the other, just like dominoes…these miserable scenes are still clearly before us!

After this shameless traitor Gorbachev had usurped the highest leadership of the Soviet Party and State, he proposed following the path of reforming the socialism belonging to the people and to humanity, the same thing, in fact, that Mr Xie Tao proposes. Later, following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, Gorbachev voluntarily confessed, saying “My life’s goal has been precisely the eradication of Communism”, “I had to get rid of the entire leadership of the Soviet Party and State, I had to get rid of the entire leadership of all of the socialist countries”, “my ideal was to take the path of the social democratic party”. This was, however, only a way by which to deceive people.

With the drastic changes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and the goal of Gorbachev’s mutiny achieved, the revisionists, imperialists and reactionaries were overjoyed, and the bourgeois rightists and running dogs of imperialism in our own country were also dancing with joy, gloating over the misfortunes of others. Mr Xie Tao was one of these people. He said: “A revolution that eliminates the system of private ownership, a social system characterized by a rejection of the advanced forces of production, in no matter how grand a name, has no future”, “Thus it can be seen that the disintegration of the Soviet Union and the wholesale changes in Eastern Europe, and China embarking on the road of reform and opening up, that all of these are defeats for ‘Leftist’ revisionism.”

We have already discussed whose failure it is in the end and it won’t be gone into again here. But one thing is clear, and that is that more than 10 years ago the Soviet Union and the Eastern European countries took the path of democratic socialism so highly esteemed by Mr Xie Tao, and the Eastern European Communist Parties fundamentally changed into social democratic parties, and looking back, there are no bright spots in the current circumstances of these countries; rather, there has been an increasing deterioration.

Everyone clearly recalls that after the 1980s, in those countries that had launched themselves into this new wave of “reform”, that it was done by revisionist bureaucrats and neo-liberal economists who copied and promoted the capitalist model of the West. Their so-called “movement for the transition to a market economic system” was a movement for the “transition” from public ownership to private ownership. The people of the Soviet Union and the Eastern European countries have paid a heavy price for this “transition”. This wave of “privatization” has not only dismembered and destroyed these fairly sound economic systems, causing a huge loss of state assets, and resulting in a serious deterioration of social and economic benefits, but has also brought about skyrocketing commodity prices, a decline in production, massive unemployment, a rapid decline in peoples’ living standards and a series of serious social problems.

Information on the first five years of privatization in Russia shows: “From 1992 to 1996, the Russian GDP fell by 50 percent and the national economy was set back twenty years”. In less than ten years national income and the scale of production of handicraft industry had more than halved compared to 1990, and the absolute degree of losses suffered by the country in the privatization reforms was ten times greater than that suffered during the war to defend the nation from the German fascist invaders. Now the greater part of Russian national wealth and national income is concentrated in the hands of the wealthy less than one percent of the population while the living standard of more than 80 percent of the people has dropped substantially compared to the period prior to the reforms, while 70 percent of the population can only just make ends meet. Forty million people live below the poverty line (out of a total population of 148 million). The life expectancy of the total population has declined by 7 years. The lives of the people are miserable beyond description.

The dozen or so countries that separated from the Soviet Union are in much the same situation as Russia and some are even worse off than Russia. An example is the several countries whose colour revolutions were brought to boiling point by the world media. After the privatzsation of the Ukraine, the number of unemployed people rose to over one million, and more than half of the total workforce has had to go abroad to make a living, labourers’ income is universally low, 66.7 per cent of the workers earn less than $US100 per month, agricultural workers earn less than $US70 per month and holding workers’ wages in arrears has become a common phenomenon.

Georgia’s situation is even worse than that of the Ukraine, with the families of Shevardnadze and other bureaucrats having the power to manipulate things, controlling Georgia’s economic lifeline and the majority of the wealth, while Georgia’s telecommunications and mobile phone services as well as several other relatively profitable industries are controlled by Shevardnadze’s daughter, son-in-law and other relatives. Results from a statistical survey have shown that more 1.5 per cent of the Georgian people are in control of more than 60 per cent of the national wealth. By contrast, ordinary Georgians depend on only wages of $US7 per month and can barely support themselves. In Georgia, 60 percent of the population are below the poverty line and the national unemployment rate has reached 15 per cent. Because of the deterioration of their living conditions, one fifth of the Georgian population have been forced to leave their homes and go abroad to make a living.

Kyrgyzstan’s situation is even worse than that of Georgia and the Ukraine. Kyrgyzstan’s per capita wages are only $US53 per month, while in the poverty-stricken regions of the south, the per capita wage is only $US20 per month and some primary school teachers’ salaries are less than $US15 per month, and many people simply cannot support their families, many cannot afford to eat meat, and many of the poor have problems finding food and clothing. Yet, while the ordinary labouring people are in dire straits, groaning in misery, those corrupt officials in power, those pot-bellied full-bowled “nouveau riche” and upstarts of all descriptions who have been greedily looting property and exploiting the people, have been leading lives of debauchery, wallowing in luxury and pleasure.

Under such irrational and unequal social systems, with contradictions constantly accumulating, with such dry tinder everywhere, and where the point of ignition has already been reached, with all this, social agitation and the regime-changing so-called “colour revolution” were inevitable. Not one of the socialist countries of Eastern Europe was spared this wave of privatization which universally carried the colour of colonialism. History has already recorded this important point: owing to the “shock therapy” of Sachs (a Harvard-trained neo-liberal economist – Trans.), the Eastern European countries were driven in one fell swoop into the abyss of “subsidiary capitalism”.

In recorded data, up until the year 2000, the proportion of foreign ownership in the industrial and banking sectors of the eastern European countries respectively was: Poland 35-40% (industry), 75% (banking); Croatia (no statistics available for industry), 85% ; Czech Republic 35%, 65% (purchase of residents’ private negotiable securities by foreign banks); Estonia, 60%, 80%; Hungary, 75%, 70%; and Slovakia, 25%, 40%. Take Poland as an example: up until 2003, “it would not take much effort for the proportion of industrial assets held by foreigners to surpass 60-70%”. According to Polish law, banks are not allowed to be sold to foreigners, but by the end of 2000, foreigners held 75% of Poland’s banking assets. For the Eastern European countries to realise rapid privatisation (e.g. Hungary took only five years), they went so far as to sell off State-owned enterprises to foreigners at extremely low prices. According to estimates, the sales price of factories and bank assets in Hungary and Poland was only about 10 to 20 percent of their actual market value. Therefore, in making great strides along the road to capitalism, the countries of Eastern Europe have sustained losses of around 90% of the capital accumulated over many years, and this outflow of 90% of their wealth has been the source of the profits for buyers from Western Europe. This sale of state-owned enterprises mainly to “foreign strategic investors” has had extremely serious consequences. The Eastern European countries have not only lost their existing wealth and created serious polarisation, but they have also lost their national independence in respect of future development. Under the circumstances of the Eastern European countries, the local people resemble immigrants in their own land hiring themselves out to foreigners to make a living, “foreign powers have not only taken the control of their economic assets out of the hands of the countries of Eastern Europe, they have also taken their political control, leaving them empty-handed, with neither assets nor votes, in another edition of the road to slavery” (Chrystia Freeland, Sale of the Century, October 2004, CITIC Publishing House).

In all of the above, the question that arises is that in confronting the revival of the spreading dregs of opportunism and revisionism, what should all the Marxist and revolutionary comrades do? Should we stand up and fight, and resolutely defend socialism? Ignore it, and be uncaring and indifferent? When researching materials for this article, I was much inspired by a sentence by Engels. In 1888, when W. Leibnicht and Bebel confronted at the critical moment the attempt by the “Possibilists”, led by Malon, Brousse and other opportunists, to seize the leadership of the international labour movement and make it leave the revolutionary orbit of Marxism, they did not undertake a resolute struggle with the “Possibilists” but adopted an attitude of compromise. (The Possibilists were a trend within the French working class movement that opposes revolution, saying that the movement should only try to do what was “possible”, i.e. take a reformist position – Trans.) In relation to this, Engels angrily criticised them, saying: “The Possibilists are busy, but our people are asleep” (quoted in Lenin, Collected Works Vol 12, “Preface to the Russian Translation of Letters by Johannes Becker, Joseph Dietzgen, Frederick Engels, Karl Marx, and Others to Friedrich Sorge and Others”). Are not the current type of opportunists and Xie Tao “busy”? Are not we Communist Party members “asleep”?

Chairman Mao pointed out: “The old Social Democratic Parties over the past several decades and modern revisionism in the past ten years and more …have simply denied that the several thousand years of human history is class struggle, have simply denied the class struggle between the proletariat and the bourgeoisie, and have simply denied the proletarian revolution against the bourgeois and against the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie. On the contrary, they are bourgeois, they are loyal running dogs of imperialism, they are one with the bourgeoisie and the imperialists, they persevere with the ideological system of bourgeois oppression of the proletariat and with the social system of capitalism, and they oppose the ideological system of Marxism-Leninism and the socialist social system. They are a group of anti-communist, anti-people counter-revolutionaries, and their struggle against us is one of life and death….Therefore, our struggle against them can also only be one of life and death” (People’s Daily May 17, 1967). This passage from Chairman Mao profoundly reveals the counter-revolutionary nature of democratic socialism and revisionism.

In this life and death struggle, we should conscientiously remember:

Only socialism can save China!

Only Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought can save China!

Democratic socialism and capitalism can only harm China!

(Completed on March 15, 2007)
Pt 1:
Pt 2:
Pt 3:
Pt 4:
Pt 5:
Pt 6:
Pt 7:
Pt 8:
Pt 9:
Pt. 10:
Pt. 11:

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Democratic Socialism is Capitalism Pt. 11

The penultimate section!!! Thankfully, it was a relatively short piece to translate. Links to earlier sections of Wu Bin's refutation of the pro-capitalist line of Xie Tao are at the bottom.

11. Confusing black and white and reversing the verdict on new and old revisionism

In his “Preface”, Mr Xie Tao goes so far as to make no secret of reversing the verdict on revisionism, wantonly confusing right and wrong. He says things like “‘opposing and guarding against revisionism’ is an ultra-left theory”. He says things like “In the past we confined ourselves to the narrow experience of violent revolution, and accused others of ‘revisionism’, and it seems like we should now restore the reputation of revisionism. Because its not that the social democrats didn’t struggle against the bourgeoisie, they didn’t make unilateral concessions, and they not only ‘revised’ socialism but also ‘revised’ capitalism”. “Thus it can be seen that it’s not that Bernstein ‘revised’ the Marxist theory of violent revolution and put forward the theory of peaceful transition, but that Bernstein only repeated the words of Engels, that he inherited and developed the change in thinking and the revision that Engels directed at the revolutionary theory he and Marx established.”

According to these absurd arguments of Mr Xie Tao, the October Revolution led by Lenin is “revisionism” and the Chinese revolution led by Mao Zedong is also “revisionism” because in Mr Xie Tao’s view, those who stand up to the bourgeoisie at the same time oppose revolution, destroy the revolution, so who is a Marxist? According to the point of view of Mr Xie Tao, are all the victories of the socialist revolution in more than ten countries during the 20th Century anti-Marxist? Did Lenin, Stalin and Mao Zedong all became “revisionists” and were they, moreover, the “biggest revisionists”? And did those traitors in the international communist movement who surrendered to imperialism, such as Bernstein and others, become genuine “Marxists”? This is really peculiar! Really strange! In order to coordinate such propaganda and influence for Mr Xie Tao, the editorial department of “Yanhuang Chunqiu” specially laid out Bernstein’s portrait on the magazine’s front page. Isn’t this nonsense? Isn’t this being blinded by one’s desires? Isn’t this the ravings of a madman? Isn’t this shameless? Aren’t they demons and monsters? Cow demons and snake spirits? I don’t know with what words to express indignation towards and to flog Mr Xie Tao for this type of despicable behaviour!

Engels warned us: “And to-day, the very people who, from the “impartiality” of their superior standpoint, preach to the workers a Socialism soaring high above their class interests and class struggles, and tending to reconcile in a higher humanity the interests of both the contending classes — these people are either neophytes, who have still to learn a great deal, or they are the worst enemies of the workers — wolves in sheep’s clothing (Preface to the English edition, The Condition of the Working Class in England, 1892). Are these people not wolves in sheep’s clothing?!

Lenin also warned us: “The bourgeoisie needs hirelings who enjoy the trust of a section of the working class, whitewash and prettify the bourgeoisie with talk about the reformist path being possible, throw dust in the eyes of the people by such talk, and divert the people from revolution…” (Collected Works, Vol 29, The Tasks of the Third International). Are these people not just such hirelings in the pay of the bourgeoisie?

Lenin also taught us: “the opportunists’ formal membership in workers’ parties by no means disproves their objectively being a political detachment of the bourgeoisie, conductors of its influence, and its agents in the labour movement…It is generally agreed that opportunism is no chance occurrence, sin, slip, or treachery on the part of individuals, but a social product of an entire period of history’ (Collected Works Vol 21 The Collapse of the Second International). Indeed, the appearance of these types of phenomena such as opportunism and revisionism is a product of the struggle of social classes. Seeing the problem from this grand field of vision, then, we can not be surprised at the spread of the influence of the bourgeoisie in the “Preface” and at Mr Xie Tao acting as a spokesman for the bourgeoisie.

A unique phenomenon exists inside China today, namely, that whenever the right opportunist wind starts to blow, the anti-Left clamour lingers on. The majority of the anti-Leftists are not clean around the buttocks, they’re not the Rightists of old, but are new-born running dogs of imperialism.; they are not revisionists, they are unrepentant capitalist-roaders; they are not new rich upstarts, they are the worthy progeny of the landlords, rich people, reactionaries and evil gentry overthrown by the people. So they oppose the Left, oppose Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought, oppose taking the socialist road, oppose public ownership and the dictatorship of the proletariat. Information taken from the Internet shows that during the anti-Rightist struggle Mr Xie Tao was a Rightist and was once arrested because of the “Hu Feng Incident”; from this we can see that his all-out “anti-Leftism” has an historical basis. In his “Preface” he uses very long passages to oppose the Left, and apart from attacking the leftism of Lenin, Stalin and Mao Zedong, he also attacks those contemporary comrades of the Left who support Marxism. Mr Xie Tao uses very long passages to attack an article by Comrade Zhang Qinde [head of the poicy and research department of the Central Committee - Trans.] (hereinafter referred to as “the Zhang essay”) and carry out large-scale suppression. There are three main points. (1) He says: “The ‘Zhang essay’ criticises by name several ‘mainstream scholars’ who offered advice and suggestions on, and made contributions to, the reform and opening up, and said their position on promoting a market economy was ‘bourgeois liberalisation’; it divides cadres at all levels in charge of leading the reform and opening into being bourgeois liberalisation reformists and ‘socialist reformists’, and advocated launching a big struggle inside and outside of the Party to seize power from and overthrow the ‘bourgeois liberalisation reformists’. They express themselves towards the domestic political situation thus: ‘In the coming decisive battle, the essence is whether to take the capitalist road or the socialist road, whether it will be the bourgeois liberalisation reformists or the socialist reformists that hold power, whether it will be a future as a dependency of US imperialism or a future in which national independence and state sovereignty are safeguarded, a struggle of life and death between these two destinies’.”

We want to ask Mr Xie Tao, including yourself within the ranks of those “mainstream scholars” who advocate privatisation and capitalist constitutional democracy, are you not “bourgeois liberalisation reformists”? Is this not bourgeois liberalisation reformism? Which class are you “offering advice and suggestions” and “making contributions to”? If the “advice and suggestions” of these people continues, it is hard to believe that it is not going to be “a future as a dependency of US imperialism”, and if not, what is it? Looking at your “Preface”, at what you advocate, Mr Xie Tao, isn’t it hard to believe that it’s not “bourgeois liberalisation reformism”? Isn’t it a question of the struggle between taking the capitalist road or the socialist road?

(2) In relation to the proposal on foreign affairs advanced by the “Zhang essay” to take the socialist countries and the Third World countries “as the core”, to form to some extent “the broadest anti-hegemonic united front”, “to carry out the inevitable struggle against hegemonism”, you feel “shocked”! This is strange, for as a China with a Communist Party and as a socialist country, how can it be “shocking” to take the socialist countries as the core, uniting widely with the Third World to develop a united front to oppose hegemonism? If our foreign affairs were not like this, but rather to the contrary, would we still be the Communist Party and a socialist country? Now that would be “shocking”!

(3) You said: “They think that the present reform and opening is a change in the direction of socialism, that it’s peaceful transition. ‘It’s being influenced by old revisionism’s ‘capitalism can peacefully evolve into socialism’ and present-day revisionism’s fallacy of the category of ‘new thinking’.” These colloquialisms should not utter forth from your gentleman’s mouth, because it is precisely you and your accomplices who are trying to “change the direction of socialism” and “peacefully transform” China! Isn’t this a fact? Your “Preface” and Xin Ziling’s “Mao Zedong: A Century of Merits and Faults” are the hard evidence!

As an ancient saying goes, “there is no point in people taking counsel together who follow different ways”. Marxism and revisionism are “different ways”! Socialism and capitalism are “different ways”! The “Zhang essay” and the “Preface” are obviously also “different ways”! The “way” of the “Zhang essay” is Marxism, socialism and patriotism, while the “way” of the “Preface” is revisionism, capitalism and selling out the country. With such diametrically opposed and completely incompatible “ways”, it is unlikely that you will be able to “take counsel together” and impossible that you will share a common language, common standpoint or common ideals. So, Mr Xie Tao and Comrade Zhang Qinde, or leftists like the present writer, can only speak their own language!


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Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Comrade Charlie McCaffrey

My political mentor was a comrade named Charlie McCaffrey.

Charlie’s been dead for over two decades but his influence is still very much alive.

The following is the text of an obituary I wrote about Charlie. It was published in Vanguard, paper of the CPA(M-L) on February 25, 1987.

Having recently had some contacts from overseas relatives of Charlie who wanted information on him, I’ve decided to put that obituary up on my blog:


Comrade Charlie McCaffrey has passed away.

His death came quietly in the early hours of the morning on Wednesday February 11 after a brief illness.

He would have been the last to have wanted any sort of recognition or eulogy, yet his position as a leading comrade of our Party demands it.

Comrade McCaffrey was born in 1904 in Glasgow, Scotland. As a young man he travelled to Australia. He was a member for a short time of the Australian Workers Union in Mildura before joining the Newcastle branch of the Federated Ironworkers Association in 1926.

Possessed of a fiery temperament, Charlie burned with the indignities and injustices suffered by working people under capitalism. A brilliant organiser and leader of his peers, he worked tirelessly within the labour movement, and recognised in the Communist Party and in Communism the only answer to the social contradictions of class society.

In 1938 he was deputed by the FIA to conduct industrial appeals during the Lysaght dispute in Queensland and Tasmania. He was elected and organiser and State Councillor of the FIA in 1939.

The out break of the war saw an attempt to introduce the so-called National Register, a forerunner of today’s semi-fascist ID card. Comrade McCaffrey campaigned strenuously against the National Register, a fact noted in his favour when he stood as a candidate for State Labor in the 1941 NSW elections. (State Labor was an attempt by left Labor and Communist activists to oust the right-wing Curtin-McKell Labour Party.)

As Vice-President of the Newcastle Trades and Labour Council during the Second World War, Charlie successfully integrated the defence of workers’ living standards and working conditions with all-out support for the allied war effort against fascism. He negotiated skilfully for the resolution of disputes involving Greek crews on ships calling at Newcastle. The conditions of work for Greek seamen were atrocious and they were involved in frequent stoppages of work when they reached the Australian coast. Upholding principle and dealing with the various ships’ officers, Charlie was able to secure returns to work, earning him the praise in February 1943 of Rear Admiral J Muirhead Gould and in January 1944 of the Department of Supply.

(Charlie, left, with Soviet navy personnel and Newcastle officials)

A matter of great satisfaction to Charlie at this time was the visit to Newcastle of ships of the Soviet Navy. He personally hosted the Soviet naval officers during their stay in Newcastle, and organised a massive public meeting and Mayoral reception for the Soviet sailors in the Newcastle Town Hall.

At the end of the war, Comrade McCaffrey was called on by his union to transfer to Adelaide where he took up the State Secretaryship of the FIA. The Ironworkers had been eclipsed by the right wing Australasian Society of Engineers under Alby Thompson. One of Charlie’s first duties was to organise a visit to the Pope factory where he was shown the plant under the watchful eye of owner Mr Barton Pope. After conducting his union work, Charlie was approached by Pope and told that anything that he had seen in the factory (mainly whitegoods products) that he wanted for his own use could easily be delivered to his home. Charlie’s reply was short and contemptuous. A shocked Barton Pope responded: “Hell, you’re not like Alby at all - his place is full of our stuff!”

Charlie’s outstanding communist qualities quickly earned him a place on the SA State Committee of the Communist Party of Australia. For many years he was widely acknowledged as the “No. 1 Communist” in South Australia, a description he himself would have disliked, but one which was earnt through a fearless devotion to the Party during difficult times, and an unwavering commitment to furthering the interests of his class.

In 1959 Comrade McCaffrey took part in a visit by an Australian Communist delegation to the People’s Republic of China. Also on that delegation was the late Ernie O’Sullivan with whom Charlie was to form a lasting friendship. Inspired by the efforts of the Chinese people to build socialism, Charlie returned to South Australia determined to establish a local branch of the Australia-China Society.

His efforts bore fruit in the early sixties when an SA Branch was established. Its first office-bearers were Joe Drummond (President.), David Caust (Secretary), Lil McCaffrey (Treasurer) with a Committee comprising Roy Baynes, Bill Warton, Marj Johnston and Alice Thornton. Later made a Life Member of the Society, Charlie always maintained a close and supportive interest in its activities.

The early Sixties were also, however, a period of division and fragmentation in the Communist movement. Although the 1963 State Conference of the CPA had resolved to “express to Comrade McCaffrey its sincere appreciation for his work on the State Committee of the Party over a period of many years”, he grew increasingly dissatisfied with the path taken by the CPA national leadership. With David Caust, Roy Baynes and others, he analysed the contradictions that led to the formation of the CPA(M-L), under the leadership of Comrade Hill in Victoria. His decision to join the new party considerably strengthened the CPA(M-L) outside of its home base in Victoria.

Following the defeat of the Communist leadership of the Ironworkers in 1951, Conrade McCaffrey had returned to the factory floor - to the SA Rubber Mills plant at Edwardstown. He resisted numerous offers of “advancement” including from within the Labor Party. It was suggested that he should withdraw from the CPA, that a position in Parliament was only a matter of time. For 17 years Charlie worked at the Rubber Mills both as a Communist and as a union delegate for the workers in the factory. He left only in 1969 to undertake the responsibility with his wife Lil of opening and running the East Bookshop.

As a leading member of the Communist Party of Australia (Marxist-Leninist), Comrade McCaffrey became a focal point for the revolutionary young people during the late Sixties and early Seventies. The rapid expansion of the Party in South Australia at that time was in large part due to Charlie’s faith in newer and younger comrades, and to the care he took in guiding and encouraging their ideological development. He travelled to both Albania and China with Comrade E. F. Hill and encouraged our study of Hill’s writings. He made extensive contributions to the national leadership of the Party and was one of a select group of “elder statesmen and -women” whose views were solicited by a newer and younger leadership. In the early Eighties he joined Comrade Hill in representing the Party in discussions with the CPA, contributing to a better atmosphere within the Australian Communist movement.

(Ted Hill, 2nd left, and Charlie, 2nd right, with Enver Hoxha and Albanian comrades)

(Charlie, 3rd left and Ted Hill, 3rd right with Kang Sheng, centre, and Mme Deng Yingchao, 2nd left)

Comrade McCaffrey was a statesman of his class. He was a fierce warrior of, and for, the proletariat. He was fierce in his commitment to Marxism-Leninism and withering in his contempt for those whom he considered had used their working class positions or contacts for personal gain or advancement. He had a depth of analysis that was born of practical experience of class struggle and refined by study of the Marxist classics. He was a man of enormous personal dignity and bearing.

His memory will always be honoured.