It’s remarkable how much of the propaganda that America creates about China feels like projection. The United States, which frequently censors dissenting voices, persecutes Muslims and other disfavored ethnic groups, is controlled by an oligarchic corporate regime that keeps half of its own people in poverty, and perpetuates the largest empire in history, is accusing China of all the atrocities that it’s committed itself.
This “accuse your enemy of that which you are guilty” strategy is useful for America’s goal with China, which is to destroy a power that’s threatening to ruin its quest for imperial hegemony. Communist China has been an obstacle to the American empire right from the start, with China having fought on the side of the DPRK amid America’s genocidal invasion of Korea. It’s now continuing its role as a bulwark against imperialism by working to protect Venezuela from a potential invasion, by backing Syria in its fight against U.S.-backed terrorists, and by remaining loyal to north Korea as the capitalist world wages war against the DPRK. So as China continues to move towards becoming the world’s dominant economic and military power, America has every reason to sabotage China.
The propaganda aspect of this sabotage effort, ironically, depends on painting China as the exact kind of imperialist menace that the U.S. is. I debunked many of the lies that make up this false image of China in one of my articles from last month, but that essay requires a second volume. Here I’ll cover the fraudulence of the major concepts about China that are instilled into Westerners.
by Rainer Shea
Big lie #3: “China isn’t on the side of the world’s poor and working people”
It’s always been a strategy of the capitalist class to make poor and working people hate the socialist political leaders and movements which are actually fighting for their interests. The myth that the Soviet Union and Mao’s China weren’t “really socialist” has worked as a way to stop people from trying to emulate the Marxist social development of these countries. The same deceptive practice is now being applied to modern China.
Headlines like “China’s Leaders Confront an Unlikely Foe: Ardent Young Communists” and “Is China’s Version of Capitalism Winning?” are representative of the perspective about China’s economic system that’s always presented in today’s American media. The old red-baiting propaganda approach isn’t what’s now used to demonize China, but rather the narrative that China is a plutocratic dystopia where workers are oppressed by a fraudulently socialist regime. (Irony is again found in the fact that America is ruled by such a plutocracy.)
My last essay about China refutes the talking points that claim China is capitalist, including the one which involves China’s treatment of the Marxist students. The reason why these talking points hold such prominence in Western capitalist-influenced media outlets and academic circles is clear: the capitalist class wants to break international worker solidarity with the Chinese Communist Party. This theory is supported by the fact that China holds a gargantuan amount of national resources and wields vast propaganda power, which it’s using to advance the worldwide anti-capitalist movement.
China is using its military and economic strength to support and defend the revolutionary governments in Cuba, Venezuela, and the DPRK; during his visit to Pyongyang this month, Xi Jinping said that “We strongly support DPRK’s socialist construction,” a statement which reflects the major pivot towards Chinese anti-American resistance that’s signified in this latest summit between Xi and Kim Jong Un. China is also using its massive online propaganda presence to spread Xi Jinping’s socialist teachings to people both within China and around the world, which has predictably provoked alarmist headlines from the Western media about the need to beware of China’s messaging campaign. This additional effort to vilify China ties in with the economic warfare and military threats that the U.S. is directing against China and its allies (which are justified through the bogus narrative that China poses any kind of threat to the wellbeing of the American people).
As the U.S. and China fight out their current cold war, the global left must stand in solidarity with China, both for the sake of peace and for the sake of the worldwide socialist movement. In a 1994 interview, Fidel Castro himself urged socialists not to abandon China’s revolution, stating:
If you want to talk about socialism, let us not forget what socialism achieved in China. At one time it was the land of hunger, poverty, disasters. Today there is none of that. Today China can feed, dress, educate, and care for the health of 1.2 billion people. I think China is a socialist country, and Vietnam is a socialist nation as well. And they insist that they have introduced all the necessary reforms in order to motivate national development and to continue seeking the objectives of socialism. There are no fully pure regimes or systems. In Cuba, for instance, we have many forms of private property. We have hundreds of thousands of farm owners. In some cases they own up to 110 acres. In Europe they would be considered large landholders. Practically all Cubans own their own home and, what is more, we welcome foreign investment. But that does not mean that Cuba has stopped being socialist.
The global left must ignore the nay-sayings about China’s socialist project and recognize the point that Castro was making, which is that socialists need to function on the basis of dialectical materialism (the philosophy which states that revolutionaries have to work through the obstacles they’ll inevitably face and deal with capitalist opposition through pragmatism and realism).
What does dialectical materialism say we need to do while we go forward in this moment? It says that like the CCP, the global left has to overcome a vast amount of capitalist and imperialist opposition. It also says that if we can build a strong and unified global socialist movement, and keep away from false capitalist solutions like social democracy, we’ll be able to win out against a capitalist power structure which is at an unprecedentedly vulnerable point. Amid rising discontent with global inequality, the ongoing collapse of the American empire, the climate crisis, and a looming global financial crash, capitalism is collapsing right now. By the 2030s, which is when the U.S. empire will no doubt have come to an end, capitalism will have experienced a momentous series of shocks.
And largely thanks to China, socialism will be in an immensely strong state by that point. The socialist columnist Saikat Bhattacharya recently wrote that “By 2035, the Communist Party of China has assessed that China will outcompete the USA not only in production but also in finance and military. It is then that socialism will be popular across the globe again. Following China, as different Third World countries will narrow per capita income gap and wage rate gap with imperialist countries, the capital’s bargaining power will reduce and working class bargaining power will rise considerably. Then working class revolutions will spring across the globe again. Belt Road Initiative is one way to develop the Third World quickly…Third World development will be followed by an increase in the power of the working class throughout the globe. Neoliberal globalization is already dying out and there is no strong political ideology strong enough to take the opportunity. Global communists must grasp the opportunity.”
Is it a coincidence that some of the promoters of Chinese regime change are roughly putting the 2030s as the time frame for when they hope to see communism defeated in China? Last year, the warmonger Bill Kristol tweeted that “regime change in China” should be “an important U.S. foreign policy goal of the next couple of decades,” a despicable statement which sadly reflects the ideal end goal of Washington’s project for great-power competition with China. Headlines like “Could There Be Another Chinese Revolution?” (which appropriately came from the New York Times last year) are conditioning Americans for this Soviet breakup 2.0 that our government hopes will soon happen in China.
Despite all of this, China is shaping up to be a far more formidable rival to the U.S. than the Soviet Union ever was, with China having the ability to undermine America’s economy and technological dominance in the same way that the U.S. did to the USSR. As an American who’s lived under the austerity politics, censorship regime, propaganda paradigm, and surveillance state of my country’s current capitalist government, I’m glad to see the socialist state of China get this upper hand. I welcome China’s coming era of hegemony, and I’ll always be grateful to the CCP for how it’s helped my cause of socialist revolution.