> Via Workers World News Service
> Reprinted from the June 1, 2000
> issue of Workers World newspaper
> CHINA & NORMALIZED TRADE: WHERE TO WORKERS'
> INTERESTS LIE?
> By Fred Goldstein
> Confusion, deception, and reaction reign in the public
> debate over the vote in the U.S. Congress to grant
> Permanent Normal Trade Relations to the People's Republic
> of China.
> It is difficult for any worker or progressive person to
> find an independent class orientation. Both sides of the
> debate consider the Chinese government as an opponent. They
> differ only on whether China has to be punished by
> withholding PNTR, or be politically and economically
> transformed through forced concessions granted to
> imperialism in return for PNTR.
> It is the height of chauvinism that nowhere in the debate
> is the sovereignty of the government of China even
> considered. It represents one fifth of the human race,
> liberated from centuries of oppression, invasion, and
> occupation only 50 years ago by a socialist revolution.
> Whatever happened to the right of self-determination for
> 1.2 billion people trying to overcome poverty and
> underdevelopment? China's onerous legacy comes from the
> very colonial interventionist powers--Europe, the United
> States and Japan--who rule the World Trade Organization.
> WHY BILLIONAIRES PUSH FOR PNTR
> The corporate CEOs and the billionaires they work for
> support PNTR because they don't want their European and
> Japanese corporate rivals to gain any advantage in a
> developing market that has twice the population of the U.S.
> and Europe combined. They are palpitating over the prospect
> of sales, particularly as the rest of the world's markets
> grow more and more saturated with overproduction and the
> capitalist expansion is perpetually in danger.
> President Bill Clinton and all the politicians promoting
> PNTR and pushing for China to enter the WTO in return for
> economic concessions say this is the way to strengthen
> "economic reform" and "human rights" in China. The
> translation of these catch words is that they want to
> strengthen and deepen capitalist penetration of China,
> subvert the political rule of the Chinese Communist Party,
> and ultimately re-colonize China.
> All the more shameful is it that the leadership of the
> AFL-CIO has spent over a million dollars of the workers'
> money on a deeply chauvinist campaign of "no blank check
> for China." It has frightened the workers into fighting
> China as a way of protecting their jobs. But the
> capitalists are forever taking away high-paying jobs for
> low-paying jobs as well as eliminating jobs altogether.
> This is the nature of capital.
> The way to protect jobs and wages in the present situation
> is for the unions to fight against layoffs and plant
> closings at home. The class struggle must be waged here.
> The bosses have no right to lay off workers. If they want
> to open up a plant in China, Indonesia, or Haiti, they
> still have no right to lay off the workers who made them
> rich and who built up the capital that created the plant in
> the first place. The fighting slogan of "a job is a right"
> should be made as fundamental as the slogan for a living
> wage in the labor movement.
> AFL-CIO SHOULD ESTABLISH RELATIONS WITH CHINA'S
> But equally important, the unions should begin by
> establishing relations with the 103-million-member All-
> China Federation of Trade Unions, and discuss the situation
> in the spirit of class solidarity. So far the Sweeney
> leadership has not even publicly considered such a course,
> even though it was suggested by the general secretary of
> the Congress of South African Trade Unions.
> In this regard it is very important to note that the
> International Longshore and Warehouse Union on the West
> Coast recently shone a ray of light in the labor movement
> by passing an important resolution at its convention in
> Portland, Ore., at the beginning of May. While expressing
> opposition to PNTR and so-called "human rights" violations
> in China, the emphasis of the resolution was to combat the
> campaign of China-bashing. The resolution denounced
> "racially tinged pronouncements" spoken at labor rallies as
> " and causing "distress among all people of Chinese
> The resolution concluded "that the ILWU will prioritize
> and prepare for a delegation of rank and file members to
> travel to China to make contact with trade unionists from
> China, including government-sanctioned unions as well as
> opposition leaders, and report to the ILWU on
> recommendations for enhancing worker conditions and human
> rights in our two nations.
> It is to be hoped that this break with the official policy
> of total hostility to China will reverberate through the
> progressive ranks of the labor movement and the leadership
> will be forced to pull back from Cold War style anti-China
> and anti-communist baiting.
> In fact, the "human rights" argument being mouthed by the
> Sweeney leadership was originated by the bosses and their
> propaganda machine as a way of trying to undermine the
> socialist camp. The unions and the workers must know that
> "human rights" is a vague slogan concealing class aims.
> The capitalist class understands the "human rights" of
> pro-imperialist intellectuals and religious leaders who
> want to overthrow socialism in China, but they have a hard
> time understanding the "human rights" of striking workers
> here on picket lines who fight cops, scabs, and attempts by
> employers to starve them into submission. They seem
> unconcerned about the "human rights" of the two million
> people, mainly Black and Latino, suffering from
> incarceration in the U.S. prison-industrial complex.
> In fact, the bosses, although they are inconvenienced by
> having to spend a lot of money and energy getting PNTR
> passed over the objections of the AFL-CIO leadership,
> really do not mind one bit seeing the minds of the workers
> poisoned against socialist China. In fact, both sides are
> condemning China in the same way. The difference is that
> the bosses want the business and the profits.
> It is false for the labor leadership to compare the
> struggle over PNTR for China with the NAFTA struggle. The
> struggle over NAFTA was about deepening the exploitation of
> a long-standing neocolony of the U.S. corporations-Mexico.
> The struggle over PNTR for China is over the right of China
> to enter the WTO, a right it should enjoy without having to
> give any concessions whatsoever to the transnational
> DANGEROUS CONCESSIONS
> China's policy of concessions to U.S. and European
> monopolies is complicating the entire question. Ever since
> the ascension of Deng Xiaoping to leadership in 1976, the
> government of the PRC has thoroughly retreated from its
> earlier revolutionary road. The pragmatic use of the market
> has now given rise to widespread unemployment, growing
> discontent among the workers and peasants, and a dangerous
> new layer of capitalists and bourgeois intellectuals, with
> all the corruption and subversion that they purvey. The
> dangers to socialism are all too apparent and are of the
> deepest concern to all partisans of the Chinese Revolution.
> To make matters worse, the giant U.S. transnational
> corporations, which have worked overtime to get Congress to
> pass PNTR, have extracted concessions that, on paper,
> further weaken the grip of the Chinese government over its
> Indeed, the agreement crafted by Premier Zhu Rongji in
> April of 1999 and renegotiated in November seems to come
> dangerously close to crossing the line that has been
> followed up to now. From mutual concessions made by both
> sides, in which China has gained much in national
> development, the new agreement appears to have moved
> heavily to one-sided concessions by China, in accord with
> Zhu's line of "integration" into the world capitalist
> economy. Such "integration" will surely end in disaster
> when the world capitalist expansion inevitably ends in
> Specific concessions in the new agreement include, among
> others, giving up the demand that foreign auto companies
> turn over blueprints of plant construction; allowing
> corporations to bypass state distribution networks and set
> up their own; letting imperialist banks make consumer loans
> in Chinese currency; and a phase-in period of opening up to
> U.S. agribusinss.
> Of course, this is all still on paper. China has a
> powerful apparatus capable of finding ways to protect its
> interests within the framework of any agreement. Only the
> actual struggle will show what the real effects of the
> agreement will be, should it be implemented.
> SOCIALIST FOUNDATIONS STILL STAND
> All this does not change the fact that China is still a
> socialist country. The state still owns the commanding
> heights of industry, although in diminishing proportions.
> It still owns transportation, communications, finance, and
> the land. All this was established by the revolutionary
> transformation flowing out of the 1949 socialist
> revolution, when the bosses, landlords, and imperialists
> were expropriated and the masses took over under the
> leadership of the Chinese Communist Party and the People's
> Liberation Army.
> The pillars of socialism--state ownership, the planned
> economy, and the monopoly on foreign trade--have been
> considerably eroded. But the Chinese Communist Party, which
> has presided over this situation, is nevertheless the
> inheritor of the socialist foundations and is trying to
> hold on to them, while at the same time promoting economic
> market reforms that seem to further undermine them.
> This contradiction must sooner or later be resolved.
> The worst thing that could happen to the world working
> class and oppressed people, already impacted by the
> collapse of the USSR, would be the overthrow of socialism
> in China and its recolonization by imperialism. The
> complete subjugation of 1.2 billion people by world
> capitalism would have a truly devastating effect on the
> wages, working conditions, and all other aspects of life of
> all the workers, including the U.S. working class. Anyone
> here who disregards this fact and adopts slogans that help
> imperialism undermine the Chinese government is objectively
> aiding reaction.
> Although there are clearly forces both inside and outside
> the CCP that are moving in the direction of imperialism,
> the true sentiments of the masses were reflected after the
> U.S. bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade during
> Washington's war of aggression against Yugoslavia. This
> sentiment will ultimately be reflected in the party. In
> fact, in spite of rightist elements, the CCP and the
> People's Liberation Army are the only real barriers to
> counter-revolution in China.
> Profound hatred of colonial and imperialist domination
> lies beneath the surface of Chinese society. But in the
> long run the only way to secure China from recolonization
> is to march firmly back onto the road of socialist planning
> and put the material security and morale of the workers and
> peasants back on the highest priority, along with national
> development. This is the surest antidote to capitalist
> subversion and the best way to fortify the revolution
> against imperialist hostility.
> - END -
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