Xi Jinping and the Future of China – Part Two
Xi Jinping and the Future of China � Part
Written by Daniel MorleyThursday, 22 November 2012
At the moment, the Chinese capitalist class, on the whole, is happy to go
along with the status quo. They see no alternative, and are terrified of
lifting the lid on the anger of the working class, therefore they seek
stability at all costs.
[*Read part one
removal of Bo Xilai, not a socialist threat but a political loose-cannon,
sufficiently demonstrates their fear of the appearance of any divisions and
any legitimisation of a leftist alternative. But as these figures suggest,
capitalism cannot deliver stability forever. Should an economic crisis
break out, and a wave of defaults flood through the system, engulfing the
state finances, what will happen then?
Notwithstanding the upturn in the class struggle this is likely to generate
(this we will deal with shortly), such a crisis will also expose all the
splits amongst the Chinese ruling class and in the state. Those salivating
at the prospect of breaking up the monopolistic SOEs will try to seize the
In Wenzhou, the government is already experimenting with liberalising the
banking system. The*Financial Times* has also reported that,
�China will give foreign investors greater access to its stock and bond
markets as part of a cautious reform push to open its financial system to
�Guo Shuqing, the securities regulator, said China would increase the
quotas that are allocated to foreign institutions for investing in its
closely guarded capital markets.
�With the ruling Communist party gathered in Beijing this week for a
congress at which they will unveil the country�s leaders for the next
decade, Mr Guo signalled that the government wanted to accelerate the
opening of the country�s financial system.�
Already Li Keqiang�s department, as mentioned earlier, has published a
joint report with the World Bank which concluded that the banking and other
monopolies must be broken up. If these monopolies, which are basically
state subsidised capitalist firms, had state support withdrawn, many of
them would go bust. Thus the situation is analogous to the crisis in the
British economy in the 1970s, when Keynesianism had run its course. The
unprofitable state owned companies were privatised, others had state
subsidies withdrawn. The result was massive layoffs, worsening in terms and
conditions, and naked profiteering from which the British working class is
Those smug liberals in journals such as *The Economist *and *The Guardian*,
who look forward to the breaking up of these monopolies as the heralding of
a glorious democratic era in China, are deluded. Although, in the face of
economic crisis and a strike wave, a section of the Chinese leadership may
pose as democratic reformers in the hope of diverting this anger
(democratic reform is often spoken of as necessary, both by Chinese
politicians and liberal intellectuals, because it can help to stave off
revolution), this would always be a smokescreen for full-scale
privatisation. Such a policy is no solution to the Chinese working class�
problems. It would raise unemployment, increase inequality and accelerate
the development of capitalism. The only people to really benefit would be
the bureaucrats at the top of the SOEs. As Marxists we are utterly opposed
to privatisation in all its forms, even when hidden behind the mask of
It is also completely false, as the liberals maintain, that corruption is
due to the state owned character of much of the Chinese economy. As already
explained, corruption represents the capitalist corrosion of the old state
apparatus. Much of the anger of the Chinese people is correctly directed at
the corruption generated by privatisation. Companies are sold off at
knockdown prices to insiders, top bureaucrats, who then become top
capitalists. Privatisation involves and encourages corruption; it is not
The brewing economic crisis threatens to turn China�s simmering class
struggle into an all out explosion. The slowing economy has recently led to
a rise in unpaid bills between businesses. Another expression of the
scarcity of cash is the sudden sharp increase in wage arrears,
Labour Bulletin*. This has led to an immediate increase in strike activity
and workers� protests, which this October reached their highest level for
almost two years.
There was a strike surge in September as well, especially in the service
sector. The infamous Foxconn, which employs an incredible one million
workers in China, has been particularly strike prone and seems to represent
the vanguard of the class struggle in China. It is reminiscent of
Petrograd�s legendary Putilov Works. The production of the iPhone 5 twice
came to a halt due to strikes in one fortnight in October. Apple, whose
profit margins are around 30%, compared to Foxconn�s 1.5%, is well known to
put extreme demands onto Foxconn, which in turn puts unbearable pressure
onto its workers so that that tiny profit margin is maintained.
�Every job is tagged to time, there are targets on how many things must be
completed within an hour,� said Xie Xiaogang, 22, who worked at Foxconn�s
Shenzhen plant and was transferred to Taiyuan in June this year. �You don�t
have much time to relax. In this environment, many people cannot take it.�
(Quoted from *Bloomberg*).
So intense is the pressure that riots are frequent occurrences. The most
recent one took place in Foxconn�s Taiyuan factory in the province of
Shanxi. This factory employs 79,000 people and the riot involved anything
between 2,000 and 10,000 workers. The immediate cause of the riot appears
to be the ongoing brutality of the security staff, who apparently stabbed a
female worker. In another incident, four or five guards almost beat one
worker to death. This brutality is a general feature of Foxconn and is a
direct result of the equally brutal drive for profits. So intense is the
pressure that this factory alone loses 400-500 workers a day. Some of them,
as was widely reported, left the company by committing suicide.
�And some workers from other Foxconn plants in Henan, Shandong, and
Shenzhen posted letters praising the Taiyuan workers for their courage to
start a riot...workers had not meant to instigate a riot but they had no
other way to address injustice. When they called a hotline to complain
about the abusive security guards, for example, they were told their
complaint could not be handled...Although several workers posted demands to
set up their own more representative trade union, they are unlikely to gain
support from local official unions�. (*China Labour Bulletin*)
This is only one example of the extremity of the class contradictions in
China, and helps to explain why the Chinese ruling class cannot tolerate
any genuine democratic reform, especially the granting of genuine trade
October also witnessed a successful strike at Xinfei Electronics Co. in
Henan Province. During a public consultation regarding revisions to the
Labour Contract Law, half a million people submitted suggestions, forcing
the delay of the drafting of this law. No doubt this inundation reflected
the burning desire for genuine workers� rights. These are the class
tensions that threaten to explode and which Xi Jinping is charged with
holding down at all costs.
Further evidence of the simmering class struggle is the famous Siege of
Wukan, lasting from September to December last year. Protests several
thousand strong erupted in this Southern Chinese village of around 15,000
people, gathering momentum and militancy after the police cruelly tricked
the population into electing their own leaders, 5 of whom were then
kidnapped by police and one of them, Xue Jinbo, was killed. Although police
laughingly claimed he died of a sudden heart-attack from his non-existent
heart condition, relatives eventually allowed access to his body (but not a
post-mortem) reported it being covered in large bruises, cuts, dried blood
and with his thumbs twisted and bent backwards. 7,000 took part in Xue�s
funeral ceremony after his murder.
What caused this movement is very instructive both of the social crises
caused by the development of capitalism in China, and of the relationship
between the looming economic crisis and the class struggle. For the past 30
or so years the Chinese peasantry has been experiencing something like the
infamous Enclosure of the Commons which laid the basis of the industrial
revolution in Britain. Untold hundreds of millions of peasants have had
their land stolen from them by local �Communist� authorities in collusion
with predatory land developers. These landless peasants have fed what has
been the world�s largest ever industrial revolution by flocking to the
cities, where they have been and still are ruthlessly exploited.
Although the solvency of local authorities has now been so heavily
undermined by their involvement in the fiscal stimulus that the central
government has recently allowed them to start selling bonds (thus dragging
them into the inescapable trap of debt), until recently they have relied
heavily on selling off communal land (tilled by peasants) to raise funds.
One report has estimated that in 2010 74% of local authority income was
from illegally selling off communal land. �According to the Chinese Academy
of Sciences, by the end of 2011 there was a total of 50 million displaced
farmers across China (from all preceding years), and an average of 3
million farmers are displaced across China per year.� (Wikipedia).
This process has accelerated greatly since 2008, because local authorities
were the chief vehicle for delivering the vast stimulus whose intention was
to prevent economic crisis. All the debt burden of this short-sighted
stimulus was (and is) borne by local authorities, who were obliged to
borrow heavily, against dubious collateral of local, communal land, to fund
the infrastructure projects. In order to be able to keep the ball rolling,
these authorities have had to rob peasants of land, selling it off to dodgy
property speculators and developers, who apparently buy it up for an
average 40 times more than what the authority pays to the peasants (if it
pays anything at all)! Nice work if you can get it!
This is another example of the way in which the Chinese economy resembles
the bus from the Hollywood movie *Speed*. The boom has been based on such
unstable foundations, with so much swindling and so much debt borrowed on
the assumption that the market will keep going up and up, that they will do
anything to keep it from moving forward so that the rotten reality does not
come to the surface.
So Wukan�s local authority had naturally been practicing this scam on its
own people. The CCP village leader, who had been in the position for 42
years, was only too happy to sell off the land, without permission from the
peasants, to local developers, who have already been building vulgar
nightclubs, holiday resorts and sumptuous CCP local HQ in the area for
years. This also demonstrates why corruption in China is not some sort of
mistake which its politicians can �opt� out of. It is not a question of bad
morality. The local CCP leaders are merely carrying out the brutal
requirements of capitalism�s violent entry into China, and taking a cut for
themselves in the process.
Two days before Xue died, on 12th December, daily protests against this
land theft started taking place, and on 14th, when it became known Xue had
been killed by the police, an uncontrollable mass of the villagers
overwhelmed the local authorities. All police and CCP officials were
utterly expelled from the village, which was now administered by the
1,000 police stormed but failed to retake this village of only 15,000. The
unity and militancy of the entire village population, their determination
in beating off the formidable forces of the Chinese state, shows, in an
anecdotal way, the shared experience of exploitation and injustice amongst
the Chinese masses, and the immense potential they have for running society
themselves when united.
By 21st December the movement ended in victory. The Guangdong provincial
CCP stepped in, terrified of the irrepressible determination embodied in
this small number of peasants. They agreed to the demands of making Wukan
Village�s finances public and to redistribute all the recently taken land.
Elections were then held in which the CCP authorities had no choice but to
allow the people to elect their own leaders, and unsurprisingly it was the
recognised leaders of the movement who took the positions. However, being a
one-party state, they were of course elected as CCP officials.
The demands and the political character of this movement are useful as a
litmus test as to the consciousness of the Chinese masses. Although on the
one hand driving out *all *CCP officials and the forces of the state, the
villages also displayed banners pledging their support for the CCP as a
whole. To an extent, this will have been to protect them from government
reprisals and to make it easier for the provincial party to give in to
their demands whilst saving face. But it also represents the contradiction
at the centre of the coming Chinese revolution.
There is certainly a very militant opposition to the apparatus of the CCP,
which is really part of the state and is correctly seen as thoroughly
corrupt. Workers and peasants rightly want to see all these place seekers
who have profiteered from the labour of hundreds of millions in China
purged from all positions of influence. In this respect, the Chinese
revolution will bear some resemblance to the Tunisian revolution, in which
the Tunisian people attempted to drive out the whole apparatus of power.
The hated and corrupt party of the dictator Ben Ali was expelled from
Tunisian politics, just as the local CCP leadership in Wukan was driven out
of the village. The demands were for the wealth of this entire layer, who
had lined their pockets at the Tunisian people�s expense, to be confiscated.
This would be a good demand for all those corrupt officials in the Chinese
state, *especially those at the top like Wen Jiabao*. All wealth acquired
in China through the looting of the former planned economy must be put back
in the hands of the people.
Thus there is a high level of consciousness that those running the CCP are
fake communists. There is a strong desire for a purgation of these types
and the building of a real Communist Party, which for millions of Chinese
is the real tradition of China. However, as they move into struggle, they
will find that it is not a question of simply a few corrupt officials and
capitalist-roaders at the top. In fact a great deal of the CCP has been
transformed into one half a part of the state apparatus, like a spy
network, and the other half a career ladder and �old boys club�. This means
that the CCP as a whole is unwinnable to the interests of the working class.
However, the party has around 80m members, and it is the party of the 1949
revolution, the war against Japan and the ending of feudal anachronisms. It
is impossible to imagine that a movement in China powerful enough to
transform society, that is a worker led revolution involving hundreds of
millions, will not in some way express itself inside the CCP, which is
after all the only party in China. Not all these 80m party members are
careerists and crooks!
Therefore, in the event of a new Chinese revolution, we can anticipate the
splitting of the CCP, and the formation of a workers� CCP. Those who
represent capitalism, such as Xi Jinpgin will receive a fate similar to
that of Ben Ali, Gaddafi and Mubarak. Xi�s ten years of power will not be
anything like those of Hu Jintao. They will be wracked by social turmoil
and possibly even revolution.
*For a workers� Communist Party!
No to privatisation of the SOEs! For workers� control of the SOEs to
prevent corruption and creeping privatisation!
Re-nationalise the privatised SOEs! Nationalise all major private
Confiscation of the property of all who have amassed wealth through
corruption and privatisation!
Full trade union freedom for all workers!
End the capitalist transformation of China! For a planned and
democratically controlled economy!*
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