CHINA The US offensive against China – why?

Cartoon by Craig Stephens in the South China Morning Post: on the left Chinese Xi Jinping, on the right Joe Biden … and shadow of Trump.

La Tribune des Travailleurs, organ of the Independent and Democratic Workers’ Party in France, published an article devoted to answering the question « Why this offensive by the United States against China? We are reprinting it here. 

What does Biden want? 

On 21 September at the United Nations, Biden declared, hand on heart, that he did not want a « new Cold War », that the US is « not in conflict » with China but only « in vigorous competition ». But a week before this speech, Biden had announced the formation of a new US-British-Australian military alliance against China, AUKUS. The Australian government then took this occasion to cancel its order for French submarines in favour of American nuclear-powered submarines, which would enable a rapid military attack by Australia against the Chinese coast. It is a fact: « More than ever, confrontation with China is Joe Biden’s top international priority. And the US president is coolly plotting his course, even if it means doing collateral damage among his allies « ( Agence France-Presse, 21 September). Biden’s policy, says the think tank Atlantic Council Institute (quoted by AFP) is indeed « a form of continuity » with Trump’s policy and his « America first » motto, both in substance and « in the rather unilateral method », where « Europe takes a back seat. » It was with the same logic of focusing against China that the US administration handed Afghanistan over to the Taliban, after twenty years of occupation. 

Who needs this march to war? 

Faced with the crisis of the system of private ownership of the means of production, the capitalists – starting with those who are the most powerful in the world: those of the United States – need to restore their profit margins. As the market has been saturated for a long time, there is only one way to do so: attacking the workers and all their gains, demolishing any and all obstacles that keep them from plundering. 

But the Chinese market has largely escaped this plunder, despite decades of bureaucracy policies of « opening up to capitalism”. The capitalists say it very clearly: « The Covid crisis, emanating from China, has changed the perception of this country, considered opaque by international investors (…). Whatever the interest of private companies in the huge Chinese market, it remains a given that this market will never resemble a classic Western market » (Capital, 28 August).

Capital goes on to say that the Chinese government does not « fit into the frame work of what is usually understood by free economy (…). The world has discovered that in China, far from the entrepreneurial dream, fortunes and careers were made and unmade by party technocrats. No one should become so rich and powerful as to oppose the current status quo.” Today, the severe crisis of the capitalist system demands that all obstacles to the imperialist plundering of China be removed. 

How is the Chinese government reacting? 

Faced with this offensive, the Chinese government is looking for allies. On 17 September, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO), which China pilots, along with Putin’s Russia, approved Iran’s bid to become a member. But this structure, which is supposed to serve as a counterweight to US policy, has its limits: it includes some of the former Soviet republics of Central Asia, but also India and Pakistan, whose governments – opposed to each other although – are loyal allies of the United States. On the domestic front, Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party, launched the so-called « common prosperity » policy in August. The draft five-year plan unveiled on 27 August « reflects far more con cern about the employment situation in China than the previous plan » (Trivium, 30 August). The aim is to « strengthen emergency responses to the risks of largescale unemployment. 

Faced with these risks, and the US threat, the Chinese govern- ment has taken coercive measures against certain billionaires: the boss of the company Alibaba, the boss of Didi (the Chinese Uber), the bosses of a few food delivery platforms and others. On another front, the government has banned the lucrative private tuition sector, commandeering thousands of public schools (translator’s note: “public schools” in UK English are “private schools” in US English). 

What about Chinese workers? 

The Chinese government’s measures against a few billionaires are not, on its part, a « desire to return to socialism », as the BBC worries (23 September). 

For socialism is about the workers. But in China, workers have no say and no right to organise freely, neither in trade unions nor politically. 

The same Chinese regime that takes measures against a few billionaires throws delivery workers (and other categories of workers) who organise and strike for their demands in jail. The website Sinocism (2 September) summarises: « On the one hand, companies that exploit workers are repressed, on the other hand people who help workers are arrested. So only changes approved and directed by the Party are allowed… ». 

In Hong Kong, the Chinese regime has just forced the independent trade union confederation HKCTU to dissolve itself! Yet it represented about a hundred workers’ trade unions, organising 145,000 workers. Of course, to justify its repression, the Chinese government accuses the HKCTU of being « foreign-funded », by which it means the United States. 

Who can defend China? 

When Biden, following Trump and on behalf of Wall Street, focuses all his efforts against China, who is he targeting? He is targeting Chinese workers and their gains from the 1949 revolution, including State ownership of the economy. So repressing workers’ strikes and independent trade unions, as the bureaucracy does, can only contribute to weakening China in the face of the US offensive. 

Conversely, the workers of the world must stand with their Chinese brothers and sisters, with the workers’ strikes, with the HKCTU and with the independent underground unions in mainland China. Defending the Chinese working class, helping them to win their right to form their own organisations, is the best way to oppose Biden’s threats of war against China. 

Dominique Ferré