The New Worker

The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Week commencing 6th April 2001

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Editorial - US to blame.
Lead Story - China demands apology.
Feature - Resisting privatisation.
International - Israel blasts Gaza.
British News - Britain accused of racism.

Editorial

US to blame

IT is not hard to imagine the furious outcry there would have been if a Chinese military spy-plane had flown into United States airspace, collided with a US jet causing the pilot to bail out over the sea and then landed on a US airfield without so much as a by-your-leave.

 But when this situation happens in reverse and the spy plane is from the US, the missing pilot is Chinese and the airfield is in People's China, the response of the US leadership is not to issue an apology but to berate the Chinese authorities and make hostile and arrogant noises from the White House.

 The US has not expressed an ounce of concern for the missing Chinese pilot. But it has made a huge fuss about the crew of its spy-plane even though US diplomats in China have had access to the crew and have seen that all the US personnel are safe and well. This fact has not stopped the hype-machine from going into top gear with all that yellow ribbons round the trees stuff.

 The Chinese govemment is carrying out an investigation into the incident and wants the US to co-operate with it. It wants to know, for instance, what a US military aircraft was doing in the area. Indeed, it wants to know why spying flights close to China are frequently made by US planes. It wants to know why the US warplane made an abrupt turn that caused the collision -- damage patterns on the US plane certainly show that it was the spy-plane's fault.

 Bush is unlikely to answer. He and his reactionary backers really do believe that the agencies of US imperialism should be allowed to go anywhere and do anything. The big-power arrogance they show tells us that they don't accept the right of other nations to defend their own airspace, territorial waters or sovereignty -- at least not against the incursions of the US. They are actually angry that China should even want to know what they were up to.

 Even so this situation has not arisen just because of US arrogance. The US ruling class has never abandoned its cold-war hostility to the remaining socialist countries and countries that take an anti-imperialist position.

 It is especially hostile to countries with a nuclear capability outside of the Nato alliance and this of course includes China and Russia.

 With the exception of socialist Cuba, the remaining socialist countries are in Asia. This is also a part of the world where the capitalist states are most vulnerable to the harsh effects of recurring economic crises. The combination of these two facts alarms the imperialist powers who fear that countries like China and Democratic Korea will become beacons of light for increasingly impoverished and oppressed people in the rest of Asia.

 US imperialism is not only worried about the spread of socialism -- it wants to eradicate socialism every whhere and open up the whole world to its own economic penetration and political control. This is why the spyplane incident is not an isolated case.

 There has been a build-up of the US military machine in south Korea accompanied by cold war rhetoric against Democratic Korea and western arms are being sent to Taiwan as a calculated threat to China.

 On top of all that there is the clear desire of the US leadership to create enemy images in order to justify its plans for a National Missile Defence system (NMD). This "son of star wars" project has met with widespread opposition around the world because it is a direct threat to the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty of 1972, it would allow the US to ratchet-up its own nuclear arsenal and it would open the way for the US to militarise space.

 There is opposition to these plans in the US itself and throughout the world. But it is vital that these issues are not seen in isolation and that campaigns against NMD should not become undermined by cold war propaganda.

 It is in all our interests to stand in solidarity with China, Democratic Korea, all the remaining socialist countries and the anti-imperialist forces throughout the world. Opposition to US imperialism is growing -- join the struggle!

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Lead Story

China demands apology

PEOPLE'S CHINA is demanding an apology from the United States for the incursion into their air-space by an American spy-plane now held on China's Hainan island.

 The US Navy spy-plane, which hit a Chinese air-force jet, made a forced-landing on Hainan last Sunday. Its 24-strong crew are being questioned. They have been allowed to meet US diplomats.

 The US Navy EP-3E Aries II electronic surveillance aircraft was damaged when it rammed the Chinese jet which was monitoring its spy mission forcing it to crash.

 The pilot, Wang Wei, bailed out and an intensive Chinese search and rescue mission is continuing. But he is missing presumed dead. Three US warships in the South China sea have been ordered out of the area by the White Mouse. Their cynical offer to help in the search for the missing pilot was ignored in Beijing.

 In Washington the US administration, from George W Bush downwards, showed little or no concern about the fate of the Chinese pilot.

 White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer told the press that "the United States doesn't understand the reasons for an apology. Our airplanes were operating in international air space and the United States did nothing wrong". And the most Secretary of State Colin Powell could bring himself to say was that the incident was "a tragic accident".

 But they all had plenty to say about the fate of the spy plane and its crew. First of all, the Americans hypocritically complained about the inspection of the craft fearing the Chinese would get their hands on the sophisticated intelligence-gathering equipment and codes inside.

 Now the Pentagon claims the crew managed to destroy the most sensitive data before the plane landed in Hainan. What they don't say is that the United States allows no country to conduct spy flights off the American coast.

 Nor, when they bleat on that the Chinese had no right to inspect the plane. do they mention that when a Cuban defector flew an advanced Mig fighter to Florida not engaged in spying, US specialists pounced on the plane to dissect its secrets.

US bears full responsibility

 Chinese President Jiang Jemin has called on the Americans to stop all reconnaissance flights in the airspace off China's coastal areas to prevent further incidents.

 The United States should bear full responsibility for the recent collision between Chinese and US military planes in the airspace off China's Hainan island, Jiang said. "We have sufficient evidence".

 "It is the US plane that violated flight rules" he added. "What is most precious is human life. I am deeply concerned about the safety of the pilot and I have time and again given instructions to search for and rescue the pilot at all costs"

 "We cannot understand why the United States often sends its planes to make surveillance flights in areas so close to China," Jiang said. "And this time, the US plane bumped into our plane, invaded Chinese territorial airspace and landed at our airport in violation of international laws and practices" he declared.

 In the United States the peace campaign is rallying to condemn Bush's provocations. The International Action Center (IAC), a leading organisation in the US anti-war movement, is calling on that movement to be on the alert for further dangerous US moves against China and be prepared to raise its voice in protest against them.

 The IAC has denounced the US spy-plane flights in and near Chinese airspace and US threats since the plane landed in China as acts of aggression and blatant attacks on Chinese sovereignty.

 The IAC is calling on the anti-war movement in the US to mobilise to demand that the Pentagon end its spy flights in the Pacific, that Washington apologise for the death of the Chinese pilot and that it drops plans to send new weapons to the regime which runs the Chinese island of Taiwan under US protection.

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Feature

Resisting privatisation

by Renee Sams

THE GOVERNMENT is pushing ahead with Private Finance Initiative (PFI) schemes all over the country and protest against them is growing.

 One of the biggest protests so far was the strike on the London Underground on 29 March which practically brought London to a standstill and was 96 per cent solid according to Bob Crow, the assistant general secretary of the transport union, RMT.

 "We must look deeper in to why they are rushing to transfer control to the private sector," he told a one-day conference in London last Saturday."

 They are pushing PFI projects in schools, housing, transport, the fire service and the latest bonanza For the private sector is the sale of air traffic control.

 The conference that Bob Crow was addressing was in the London Borough of Camden and organised by the public sector union Unison from the Dudley Group of Hospitals where workers are maintaining their strike action against privatisation.

 The conference was supported by the RMT national executive, the London regional councils of the train drivers' union Aslef, the Fire Brigades Union, general union MSF, RMT, Unison and the Unison health Group.

 There were 120 trade union delegates from a wide spread of unions at the conference, together with 41 strikers from the Dudley Hospitals.

 Their struggle is becoming a focal point for the anti-privatisation campaign.

 Also present at the conference were the Defend Council Housing Campaign which now has support groups all over the country, and many individuals.

 PFI and Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) are just the same thing, Bob Crow told the conference and he spoke of the privatisation of British rail, which is now being run by over 20,000 companies, with contractors, sub contractors and agency staff.

 "If there is an accident," he said, "the managing directors do not want to take the tap for it. They each blame the other. "It is now costing us more money than before it was privatised because the companies require a subsidy to carry out the repairs and maintenance costs, otherwise they would not be able to make enough money to keep their shareholders happy.

 "We believe that it is not just about breaking up the nationalised London Underground. It is about weakening the industrial strength of the unions."

 He added: "Tory governments have passed altogether nine anti-trade union laws. When in opposition the Labour Party had no hesitation in voting against these Acts. Now they must repeal every single one of those Acts!".

 Dave Whatton spoke on behalf of the FBU executive council for the West Midlands.

"It has been privatisation by degrees," he said. "They have gone around the country closing two old fire stations but only replacing them withone new one. Firefighters have lost their jobs."

 He also revealed that fire engines "bought with taxpayers' money" are now owned by Transco. And protective clothing which firefighters need is also supplied privately.

 He said resolutions will be put to conference and: "We intend to fight it as a union, together with other unions."

 Several speakers from the floor expressed fears that the Government is ignoring the dangers of privatisation.

 A health worker drew attention to the crisis in the health service and a teacher pointed out the failing schools with crumbling buildings.

 One speaker told ofa home for the elderly which is being closed and the residents are worried out of their lives, not knowing where they will be sent to, or if they will have a roof over their heads.

 Veteran Labour MP Tony Benn had a warning for the delegates, telling them: "This is a really big issue that affects the whole fabric of society and we must understand what is at stake."

 He recalled that Harold Wilson had said that public services, with their huge budgets, are "the engine of economic growth".

 "It is no wonder," he added, "that big business wants to get in and make a profit."

 "Now," he informed the conference, "the World Trade Organisation is mooting the idea of buying and selling whole countries, especially in Africa.

 "They want to do away with democracy altogether because private ownership keeps people ignorant."

 "The Dudley strike is not just about PFI," Tony Benn said. "It is about the way society is run.

 "We must get across to people the idea that what we are talking about is a new kind of society, a society that we want to run ourselves.

 "We don't want a corporation that wants to run it for us. Most people want it to be publicly accountable.

 "To get that we must appeal to a much wider audience. If we don't, we are in deep trouble."

 There is a great need for unity and the trade union speakers made calls for unity and solidarity throughout the movement.

 Bob Crow told the strikers that his union was making a donation of £5,000 to help them and promised continuing RMT support.

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International

Israel blasts Gaza

by Our Middle East Affairs correspondent

THE ZIONIST occupation army unleashed its fury throughout the Gaza Strip on Tuesday night in an onslaught which wounded at least 70 Palestinians, most of them civilians.

 Israeli tanks, jets and warships took part in the raids, the heaviest for several months. Many missiles and shells fell near President Arafat's headquarters in Gaza City. In other parts of occupied Palestine fierce battles raged.

 On Monday an Israeli gunship carried out the assassination of a leading member of Islamic Jehad, firing three missiles into his car in Rafah in the Strip. Mohammed Abdu Aeal, 26, died and two of his comrades were badly wounded. "Vengeance is coming" Islamic Jehad has warned. "The door of conflict with the enemy will not be closed because the Palestinian people are determined to continue the struggle until they have restored completely their legitimate rights"

 Israeli army chief of staff Shaul Mofaz admitted this week that the resistance is growing. According to an Israeli army report the Palestinians have carried out 4,140 attacks since the uprising began on 28 September last year. General Mofaz said that the Israeli government would suppress the intifada by all means.

 Several Israeli soldiers were wounded in gun battles in Bethlehem, Belt Jada and Aida. One Israeli soldier was killed near Salem and four others died when their tank plunged into a ravine east of Hebron.

 Palestinian security chief Mohammed Dahlan urged the Arabs to take up arms to defend the Palestinians against Israeli aggression. He told the press Tuesday that "if Israel wants peace, there is no way left for it except handing over the occupied territories including Jerusalem".

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British News

Britain accused of racism

by Daphne Liddle

A SURVEY by the Council of Europe published last week has criticised Britain's attitude to asylum seekers, saying that racism here is "particularly acute".

 It blames this on the media's "xenophobic and intolerant coverage" and some politicians. The report also blames the Government for adopting "increasingly restrictive asylum and immigration laws".

 The council of Europe, based in Strasbourg, is a non-government body, independent of the European Union and is funded by the governments of 43 European states. It's remit is to defend human rights throughout the continent.

 It also had criticisms for continuing problems of racism in Austria, Albania, Macedonia and Denmark.

 The report praised efforts to tackle institutional racism after the Mcpheson enquiry into the police handling of the murder of Stephen Lawrence. But it said that racial prejudice in the police "continued to constitute an element of concern".

 The report also said: "Many politicians have contributed to, or at least not adequately prevented, public debate taking on an increasingly intolerant line with at times racist and xenophobic overtones.

 "Public statements have tended to depict asylum seekers and 'economic migrants' explicitly or by inference, as a threat to security, economic stability and social peace.

 "Politicians should not only avoid promoting the general assumption that most asylum claimants are not genuine, but also the vilification of those who are considered by the authorities not to have any valid asylum claims and who are sometimes defined as 'economic migrants', 'economic refugees' or 'bogus asylum seekers'.

 "It is unacceptable for politicians to direct the general public's feelings on insecurity on one specific group of persons, irrespective of whether these persons have a valid claim to remain in the country or not."

 The recent antics of the Tory party are glaring evidence of this practice. Leader William Hague has spoken of being flooded with "bogus" asylum seekers and of Britain becoming "a foreign land".

 Probably he was referring to closer integration into Europe but not surprisingly this ambiguous comment was taken by some in his party to come out with far more extreme racism.

 John Townend MP spoke of "Anglo Saxon society" being "seriously undermined by the massive immigration, particularly Commonwealth immigration that has happened since the war.

 Hague rebuked him for this outrageous remark but did not throw him out of the party or withdraw the whip. Townend responded by saying he will refuse to keep quiet on race and has still not been expelled from the party.

 Next Tory MP Christopher Gill announced he was leaving the party to join the xenophobic United Kingdom Independence Party -- which has links with the British National Party and other fascist outfits.

 Then Ceri Evans, a senior Tory aide in Wales, quit the party in order to distance himself from the rising tide of racism within
that party.

 He accused Hague of turning in desperation to the "suicidal twilight zone of extremism" and of preparing to play the race card in the coming election.

 Meanwhile, inside the Metropolitan Police Force which claims it is getting to grips with its own institutional racism, Superintendent Ali Dizaei is continuing to struggle against a racist witch hunt.

 He is one of Britain's very few senior police officers from a black or Asian background, having British and Iranian citizenship, and has been suspended over a host of criminal and disciplinary allegations.

 He was suspended on 18 January after he had been a vocal critic of the Met's record and practices on race.

 The allegations include misuse of drugs, deception, seeking pecuniary advantage, corrupt practice, divulging confidential information, unregistered business interests, accepting gratuities, sex with prostitutes and being beholden to individuals.

 But he has not actually been charged with anything. He and his supporters are calling on his accusers to "put up or shut up".

 * The family and friends of a racist murder last week accused the Metropolitan police of failing to take steps to eradicate racial violence after a recent spate of murders in east London.

 Shiblu Rahman, a Bangladeshi chef, died in hospital after being stabbed near his home in Tower Hamlets. He is the fourth person to be murdered in the borough this year although his is the first case to be treated as a racist murder.

 Tower Hamlets Racial Equality Council has condemned public authorities for failing to implement measures to prevent the growing number of racist attacks in the borough.

 And in Stamford Hill, north London, Kurdish asylum seeker Mehmet Selimoglu is in a coma in hospital after a vicious racist attack by a violent drunken stranger.

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