China no victim of Western imperialism

February 18, 2021
Photo: Pixabay

I am interested in China’s recent trade retaliations to our country in response to our government’s decisions of late relating to China.

I have followed the excellent analysis of Chris Slee on matters relating to China and, after reading the Sydney Morning Herald and relevant on-line blogs, I have sought out additional material. Of particular value is Clive Hamilton’s Silent Invasion: China’s influence in Australia and Clive Hamilton and Mareike Ohlberg’s Hidden Hand: Exposing How the Chinese Communist Party is Reshaping the World.

Although I have a healthily-sized ASIO file (courtesy of my long membership of the Communist Party of Australia) and I have no penchant for conspiracy theories, it is clear that we have a lot to worry about regarding the influence of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) government on Australia.

We need a clear-eyed understanding of the implications of current Chinese policies concerning Australia.

The policy adopted by the Socialist Alliance (SA) at its 15th national conference fails to provide this. While it appropriately identifies Australian and other capitalist “allies’” response to China as hypocritical and phoney, it fails to accurately identify China as a growing danger to the world.

The policy is dangerously naïve in portraying China as a victim of Western imperialism.

No, it is not a victim: it is a “child” of Western neoliberal capitalism. It is a Frankenstein monster created by European neoliberal capitalism which, over the last 30 years, has been exploiting its workforce using state-of-the-art technology to reap massive profits for foreign multinationals. Go to Bunnings and buy yourself a Chinese gizmo!

We must be careful in dismissing claims of “Chinese infiltration” as “scaremongering”.

Is it scaremongering to alert Australians to the take-over of our electricity retailers, ports, National Trust buildings, manufacturing companies and prime real estate?

All foreign take-overs should be carefully vetted, not just those by Chinese buyers. It is clear that the CCP and its wealthy corporate allies see Australia as a “soft touch”, vulnerable to direct take-over of attractive resources. It is a form of creeping imperialism, encouraged by the CCP.

The oligarchs of the CCP may see themselves as “building socialism with Chinese characteristics”, but if you believe this you probably believe in the tooth fairy. That certainly hasn’t been happening.

Chinese workers are being ruthlessly exploited and peasants are having their land expropriated by corrupt CCP officials, a process reminiscent of the Enclosure Acts of the 19th century that facilitated the growth of capitalism in England.

The CCP has built, and is building, a new imperial China. Socially, China has gone backwards: “greed is good” appears to be the mantra.

Bizarrely, President Xi Jinping has even been appointed president for life: a sort of “Emperor” and something Australian prime ministers can only dream of.

The ideology that dominates China appears to be nationalism, not socialism. But the form of this nationalism will be determined by the CCP and used to maintain its power and public support.

Global dominance has been facilitated by economic dominance, but China has been building its military. Its island-building in the South China Sea is a gratuitous provocation to the international community.

This militarisation isn’t a reaction to Western aggression, but a deliberate state policy dictated by the bellicose CCP leadership of Xi Jinping.

The Chinese talk of peace but carry a “big stick” and that stick” is getting bigger.

Given the brutality of the United States over the last 100 years, a strong Chinese defence capacity is merited. But unilaterally confiscating islands is not the action of a socialist country. This is what the US did early last century in colonial Cuba.

Clearly there are no “angels” in this story.

China is a big worry: it is authoritarian; a one-party state; corrupt; aggressive; dismissive of criticism of its behaviour in the South China Sea, its bullying of Taiwan, its incarcerating the Uyghur minority; no independent judiciary; its colonising of Tibet and its destruction of democracy in Hong Kong.

On the other side, we have the US and its allies: brutal, ruthless military, dominated by finance capitalism, climate-change denialists, White racism and wars everywhere. The list goes on.

A pox on both their houses.

I would be happier if the SA reviewed its policy to provide a more accurate assessment of the political issues we and the Chinese people face.

As good internationalists, we should dispassionately gather the facts available and determine a policy that gives members a useful picture of the reality we and the people of China are facing.

We should not be distracted by the hypocrisy of our politicians or the CCP apparatchiks. Nor should we be afraid to criticise China: that doesn’t mean we are attacking the Chinese people or Chinese Australians. We must make that clear.

Finally, the policy designates the Australian government and its imperialist allies as the aggressors in the trade and political conflict with China.

SA cannot maintain such a one-sided, distorted position: policy cannot be based such poor analysis.

The future looks grim for us all — Australian and Chinese people — unless we make substantial political changes in our respective countries.

We must be socialist internationalists and identify the needs of our people and be harsh critics of the corruption that poisons our communities in all countries. SA must be a champion for a socialist society, not of nationalist imperialism, Chinese or Australian.

[Dave Bell is a member of the Socialist Alliance.]

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