Eva Cheng

The chance of President Chen Shui-bian’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) holding on to its ruling party position in the March 22 presidential poll is in serious doubt after his party suffered a major defeat in the January 12 parliamentary election.
On November 20, two unidentified thugs use butchers’ cleavers to brutally attack Huang Qingnan, an organiser of the Dagongzhe Centre in the south China foreign capital haven of Shenzhen, leaving him seriously injured. The assault came on the heels of the October 11 and November 14 attempts to ransack the workers’ centre by an unidentified gang, leaving behind extensive property damage.
After more than one-and-a-half decades of constant erosion under Beijing’s pro-capitalist policies, China’s public sector has shrunk to less than 40% of the country’s economy, and an even smaller share of industry and services.
On July 29, three leaders of a 29-month factory occupation in the city of Chongqing, in China’s southwest Sichuan province, were each sentenced to suspended prison sentences of 18 months.
Four days after the October 17-21 17th Congress of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), the country’s government body dealing with public petitions and complaints — the State Bureau for Letters and Calls (SBLC) — held a national conference to map out new strategies to step-up its role in managing China’s escalating social conflicts.
At its 16th Congress five years ago, the Communist Party of China (CPC) amended its constitution to allow the admission of capitalists to its ranks and to legitimise the swelling number of capitalists already in its membership. Today, 3 million of its total membership of 73 million are capitalists — over 4%.
Despite China’s spectacular GDP growth of nearly 10% per year since 1978 — and despite Beijing’s claim that the country remains on a socialist course — in the eight years to 2005, workers’ wages as a proportion of GDP plunged from 53% to 41.4%.
Class-free analysis seeking to justify Beijing’s pursuit of capitalism with a human face will likely find a place in the Communist Party of China’s constitution at the party’s 17th congress, which begins on October 15. A scheduled constitutional amendment is expected to be couched in such terms as the pursuit of a “socialist harmonious society” and a “people-centred” “scientific concept of development”, which will be credited as “major theoretical developments” of CPC general secretary Hu Jintao.
On September 21, the UN General Assembly supported by consensus a decision by the 22-member General Committee not to put Taiwan’s bid for UN membership on the assembly’s agenda. It was the island’s 15th application for UN membership in as many years. This year was the first time that the application was made in the name of Taiwan rather than the “Republic of China” (ROC), signalling a more aggressive independence push by President Chen Shui-bian’s government.
Since Beijing’s push to speed-up privatisation in the mid-1990s, left-leaning intellectuals in China have increasingly made use of Dushu (Readings), a monthly discussion magazine, as a platform to challenge this policy direction and Beijing’s overall pro-capitalist agenda. They highlighted the horrific social consequences of Beijing’s course and have generated waves of debates on the way forward for China.
During the last week of August, more than 3000 workers at the state-controlled Chengdu Power company went on strike at their diesel engines producing plant in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, and protested at the city government offices. The action was a bid to pressure the factory management to honour the original agreement under which working conditions would be changed while the company is restructured for privatisation.
On August 22, more than 5000 workers at a mobile phone component factory in Shenzhen, southern China, struck against their bosses’ attempt to increase their work hours without extra pay.