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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

China: 100 fighting years

by Andy Brooks

Speech given by NCP leader Andy Brooks at the online Symposium on the Centenary of the Founding of the Communist Party of China and China’s Future Development on 22nd June 2021, organised by the Chinese embassy in London.

ONE HUNDRED years have passed since the foundation of the Communist Party of China on 23rd July 1921. China has risen from being a weak semi-feudal, semi-colonial country to become a force for peace in the global arena with the second largest economy in the world.

It is a mixed economy – but any hopes that the imperialists held that China was going down the capitalist road were dealt a severe blow at the recent Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) where Xi Jinping reminded delegates that “what we are building is Socialism with Chinese characteristics, not some other -ism”.

China has now regained its rightful place in the world. In the 13th Century China was ahead of Europe in per capita income terms. China was still the workshop of the world in 1820 when it accounted for one-third of the world’s GDP. It was a global economic power during 18 of the last 20 centuries, and it is now regaining the ground it lost because of imperialist intervention in the 19th Century.

Of course, in the past China’s wealth was the preserve of a ruthless feudal ruling class. These days China’s wealth is being used to finally eradicate the last vestiges of poverty, to raise the standard of living of everyone in the people’s republic, and to help the development of the Third World through genuine fair trade and economic assistance.

This is the glorious achievement of the CPC that led the resistance that defeated the Japanese imperialists and the reactionary Chinese warlords and politicians in the pay of American imperialism, to establish the people’s government on 1st October 1949.

This year communists are commemorating a century of struggle. But the focus for Chinese communists and, indeed, for communists all over the world is fixed firmly on the future of Marxism, the future development of People’s China and its role within the global communist movement.

Chinese communists always stress that socialism with Chinese characteristics cannot be exported and that their revolution is not a model for others to emulate slavishly. But we very rarely, at least in Western Europe, ask ourselves why?

The answer in part is based on the struggle of the Chinese communists to overcome dogmatism and sectarianism to eventually build a people’s democracy in their own way, to serve the needs of the working people of China.

Commenting on the rise of the bourgeoisie in France, Marx famously said that history repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce. Communists too can make mistakes, but unlike the bourgeoisie we consciously try to learn from past mistakes in order to avoid future ones.

In Europe, the mistake was clearly to elevate slavishly what was believed to be the ‘Soviet model’ even though few Western communists even really understood what the Soviet Union actually was. The Soviet Union wasn’t a ‘people’s democracy’ in the sense we understand it now. It was a unique state based on Soviet power, and whilst its economic structures could be imitated – as they were after a fashion in eastern Europe – the Soviet political system could not.

Following the Soviet victory in the Second World War, the revolutionary upsurge that followed led to the establishment of people’s democracies throughout Eastern Europe on the same basis as the people’s democratic dictatorship was established in China in 1949. The question was how long would this transition take?

In the beginning people’s democracy was seen as a lengthy process. Initially it was believed that the length of the road to socialism would depend on the development of social and economic factors in each individual country. But Cold War tensions led to the rapid incorporation of most of the European people’s democracies into a Soviet economic and military bloc, which later proved incapable of withstanding the counter-revolutionary pressures of the 1980s.

The Chinese communists clearly believe that the transitional period, at least as far as their immense country is concerned, will be a lengthy process.

In China, the people’s government initially followed the Soviet-led example of Eastern Europe but that failed to take into account the concrete conditions in the country – the poorest in the world in 1949. Subsequent attempts to use exhortation to boost production during the Great Leap Forward and the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution also failed in the long-term, so the decision of the CPC to adopt a policy of reform and opening up was perhaps the only alternative left in the late 1970s. Forty years later we can assess what has been achieved.

The reform process has accelerated industrial growth, technical innovation and scientific knowledge whilst improving the social and cultural conditions of the people.

China has made poverty eradication a key task in achieving its first centenary goal. Millions upon millions of people have been lifted out of poverty, whilst the opening up has given China access to the high technology needed to develop their electronics and computer industries as well as the broader manufacturing base that has enabled China to provide concrete assistance to the peoples of Africa, Asia and Latin America. In this spirit, China sent help to COVID-19-affected countries throughout the world, including Britain and other parts of Western Europe.

The CPC has becoming a rallying point for the world communist movement. We welcome it. Although calls for the re‑establishment of a formal Communist International are premature, a co-ordinated international communist response is needed to rally working people against the imperialists and oppressors.

We must work to restore the momentum for revolutionary change; strengthen co-operation and united action with communist and workers parties around the world; build solidarity with the global anti-war movement and forces for liberation in the Third World to unite the class and march towards a new tomorrow – the world Marx and Engels predicted and a world that will surely come. We see it in China today. We will all surely see it tomorrow.