Opposing the US New Cold War on China

 

China warns Hong Kong protesters not to ‘play with fire’
 
Notes on Understanding the Crisis in Hong Kong and role of the Left in the US

By Duncan McFarland

LeftLinks

o Hong Kong is capitalist; the People’s Republic of China is a country self-identified as in the primary stage of socialism with a Marxist-Leninist political system.  This is a major political contradiction and Hong Kong people are divided in their feelings about being part of China.

o Hong Kong Island was seized and colonized by Great Britain in 1842 as a result of the Opium War, Kowloon peninsula taken by the British later, and the adjacent New Territories leased for 100 years in 1897.  In 1997 sovereignty reverted back to China according to a joint agreement.  The handover stipulated a 50-year period in which Hong Kong would have a high degree of autonomy while China would control foreign relations and defense.  This agreement did not, however, resolve the political contradiction.  Having the character of a pragmatic, short term fix, the agreement is ambiguous as to what will happen to Hong Kong in 2047 when the arrangement ends.

o Hong Kong, long a British colony, has never had democracy.  Its political system is not fully democratic according to bourgeois standards, because the legislature and chief executive are not elected by one-person, one-vote.  Neither is there full democracy according to the Chinese socialist system, because there are no people’s congresses in civil society nor democratic centralism in a ruling communist party.  The hybrid system is a pragmatic patchwork; it is understandable that many people in Hong Kong want developed democratic institutions and that young people want more say in decision-making.

o The political forces and trends in Hong Kong are very complicated.  The protest movement consists of those seeking democratic reforms within the context of China’s policy of one-country, two systems; second, people who want an independent (capitalist) Hong Kong; third, a small group of anarchists and “thugs” initiating confrontation.  There are also counter-revolutionary “protesters” working with US imperialist agencies such as the National Endowment for Democracy, which for many years in Hong Kong has been actively promoting anti-communism and a color revolution in Beijing.

There are also many people in Hong Kong who support China for different reasons: patriotic feelings for China, commercial ties, those who sympathize with socialism.  More recent immigrants have strong family connections to China, rural villagers near the border vote pro- Beijing and the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions supports the government.  In addition to people of Hong Kong, transnational capitalists have considerable influence in different ways. China’s response can only be understood in the context of US imperialist strategy, which during the Trump administration has explicitly targeted China (and Russia) as principal adversaries.  US capitalism-imperialism wants regime change and friendly governments in those two countries.  The pivot to Asia initiated by President Obama and Hillary Clinton has surrounded China with military bases and alliances, including a major base in South Korea and support for revived Japanese militarism. Trump has initiated the trade war to pressure the Chinese economy.

China regards these policies as an extension of the colonial and imperialist efforts since the Opium War to break off parts of the country to weaken and subjugate it.

o Here is my take on the Five Demands currently put forward by the protest movement.

— First, the demand for direct elections for the legislature and chief executive will never be granted because China will not accept the possibility of the election of a pro-capitalist government committed to independence.  However, the Hong Kong government could engage in dialogue to expand democracy and engage young people short of conceding sovereignty.

— Another demand is for the resignation of Hong Kong chief executive Carrie Lam.  I don’t have an evaluation of how she is doing her job; she has kept a low profile and does not want to call in the military to restore order.  It’s possible she could resign.

— A third demand is for an investigation into police brutality.  There could be an investigation into violence, including both police tactics and confrontations initiated by the protesters. — The protesters demand that the government not use the word “riot” to describe the protests.  This is reasonable because the protests are a mixture of peaceful actions and confrontations and cannot simply be described as a riot.

— Another demand is to permanently withdraw the extradition bill, which has been shelved for the time being.  This seems unreasonable to me because almost every country has extradition laws.  A better plan would be to propose a further revision of the bill.  The original extradition issue has been lost; a young woman in Taiwan was murdered and the alleged perpetrator fled to Hong Kong and is now arrested and in a Hong Kong jail.  Taiwan wants the person sent back to stand trial; the original extradition law was an attempt to fulfill this request.  Protesters oppose the bill because it could be used in the future to extradite people in Hong Kong to China; they say this could lead to political repression.  It could also be used to extradite people to China who flee to Hong Kong to escape the major anti-corruption campaign.

— Meanwhile, the government has demanded foreign governments (i.e. USA) cease interference.  CIA etc. involvement in the protest movement could also be investigated. In general, my view is that the Hong Kong government could be more flexible on initiating dialogue and compromise — they do hold state power.  However, it is understandable that the Hong Kong and Chinese governments regard sovereignty as non-negotiable; Hong Kong may have autonomy but not independence.

What is the role of the US Left?

— The US media has mostly an anti-China bias, petitions and rallies supporting the Hong Kong government are barely mentioned.  The Left should strive to understand all sides of the story for a balanced perspective.

— The people of Hong Kong and China are the ones to resolve the problems and issues.

— The role of the US Left is to call for an end to US militarism and intervention in all forms.  We want a policy of peace and friendly relations with China, not tension and conflict.  The US should cooperate with China on climate change and other issues.  The US should bring the troops home, make deep cuts in the military budget and increase support for social programs. Cease using Hong Kong as a base promoting a ‘color revolution’ and regime change.

— It is urgently hoped that matters will be resolved through peaceful dialogue and not violence.

The author wishes to thank the Massachusetts Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism for its input; he is also the coordinator of the China Study Group at the Center for Marxist Education in Cambridge.

Farmworkers Rise Up Against Trump and Labor Exploitation

By David Bacon,
Truthout August 10, 2019
Link to Truthout Article

BELLINGHAM, WA – 4AUGUST19 – Farm workers and their supporters march to protest the H2-A guestworker program and the death of Honesto Silva, on the anniversary of his death twho years earlier. They also protested recent federal regulations making it more difficult to protect the rights of H-2A and resident farm workers. The march was organized by Community2Community and the new union for Washington farm workers, Familias Unidas por la Justicia. © 2019 David Bacon

Washington State today is ground zero in the effort to hold back the massive use of agricultural guest workers by U.S. growers, and to ensure that farmworkers, both those living here and those coming under the H-2A visa program, have their rights respected. For a second year, on August 4 workers and their supporters marched 14 miles in 90-degree heat through berry fields just below the Canadian border, protesting what they charge is widespread abuse of agricultural labor.

“Farmworker families have been living and working in local fields since the early 1950s,” according to Rosalinda Guillen, director of Community to Community, a farm worker organizing and advocacy group in Whatcom County. “But we’ve seen a big increase in growers’ use of the H-2A guest worker program in the last few years, and it’s had a huge impact on working conditions in the fields. We’ve had to feed guest workers who come to us hungry, fight to get them paid their wages, and help them deal with extreme work requirements. At the same time, our local workers find they’re not being hired for jobs they’ve done for many seasons.”

… (continued)
Link to Full Truthout Article

CCDS Calls On Progressives To Oppose US Intervention In Venezuela

Statement of the Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism

January 31, 2019 

There now should be no doubt that the Trump Administration is pulling out all the stops to overthrow President Nicholas Maduro and the United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV).

This week US State Department Secretary Mike Pompeo announced Venezuelan bank accounts in the US will be turned over to right wing oppositionist and self-proclaimed president Juan Guaidó. National Security Advisor John Bolton announced that revenues of the Venezuelan-owned oil company PdVSA and its CITGO subsidiaries in the US – worth billions of dollars – are henceforth seized.

The aim of the Trump-Pompeo-Bolton regime is nothing less than a naked grab for the country’s rich oil reserves and many other minerals that have been used by the Maduro government and Hugo Chávez before him to raise the living standards of the poor and working class. In an interview with Fox News on 1/29/19, Bolton made it very clear: “We’re in conversation with major American companies now… It will make a big difference to the US economically if we could have American oil companies really invest in and produce the oil capabilities in Venezuela.”

The Committees of Correspondence for Democracy and Socialism condemns the Trump administration’s outlaw interference in the affairs of Venezuela, demands an end to US imposed economic sanctions fueling the crisis, and supports negotiations among Venezuelans to end the political crisis. The governments of Mexico and Uruguay called for an international meeting next week in Montevideo to discuss a peaceful solution to the crisis.

Meanwhile, the U.S. is ratcheting up pressure, refusing to rule out a military invasion. Sen. Marco Rubio is leading others in Congress calling on the Venezuelan military to overthrow its government. Some $20 million in US taxpayer money has been given to the Venezuelan opposition.

The US has support for “regime change” among the neo-liberal governments of Europe led by France, Germany and Spain, but is opposed by Greece and Portugal. Russia, China, South Africa, Cuba, Bolivia, Mexico, Uruguay, Equatorial Guinea and most countries of the Caribbean have rejected US interference. At the January 26 UN Security Council meeting, Pompeo called on all countries to “pick a side” but failed to gain support for a vote. The 34-member Organization of American States, at its meeting January 24th could not muster the necessary 24 votes needed with only 16 voting with the US.

The economic situation in Venezuela is dire. Mainstream media spout the line of the US State Department blaming Maduro and “failed socialism.” But the US has been subverting the economy of Venezuela ever since Hugo Chávez was first elected in 1999. The US supported a coup against Chávez in 2002 and when it failed, the Venezuelan oligarchy shut down businesses, a virtual capital strike against the country. As most of the economy is privately owned, it caused a catastrophic 27% drop in the GDP. US governments from President Barack Obama and now Donald Trump have piled on sanction after sanction to cripple even more the ability of the government to provide food, medicine and control of the out-of-sight inflation. The US has seized assets of individual government officials, restricted access to U.S. debt and equity markets, and prohibited transactions on Venezuela’s use of a cryptocurrency, the petro, seen as a way to circumvent sanctions. Venezuelan Foreign Minister Jorge Arreaza said on January 26th that US sanctions have cost Venezuela $23 billion to date

Great Britain has piled on, freezing Venezuelan assets and gold estimated at $8 billion. At the behest of Juan Guaidó, Venezuela’s Central Bank was denied a request to withdraw $1.2 billion of its gold reserve.

US intervention throughout the Western Hemisphere began as far back as the 1850s, when various mercenary expeditions attempted to forcibly acquire the Central American states of Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, and diplomatically acquire Cuba from Spain in order to create several new states based on plantation slavery economics. The doctrine that justified brutal repression of the hemisphere was laid down by President James Monroe in 1823 – the Monroe Doctrine.

The aim has always been to control natural resources, gain unfettered access to exploit land and labor and create an unchallenged free trade zone in the Americas. In response, the Bolivarian government of the PSUV worked to realize a new framework of regional economic integration. The trade blocs of ALBA and MERCOSUR encompassing 10 countries of Latin America dared to use the rich resources of their region to provide for social welfare and mutual economic aid. A new currency, the Sucre, was established to circumvent the US dollar. These important new economic blocs pose a direct threat to US Wall Street and corporate fossil fuel industries.

With the ascendancy of the far right in Brazil, Argentina and Colombia, Venezuela stands as an obstacle to US aims, as do the socialist governments of Cuba and Nicaragua and now the important new left government of Andrés Manuel López Obrador in Mexico. As the Wall Street Journal reported, the overthrow of the Maduro regime is just one stage in a Trump policy to overthrow the popular will throughout Latin America. The ultimate target, writes the WSJ, is the revolutionary government of Cuba. (1/31/19)

CCDS rejects US interference in Venezuela and joins with the peace movement, organizations, leading individuals and several members of Congress who are standing up to the Trump-Bolton-Pompeo outlaw regime.

CCDS urges members, friends and all peace and justice loving people to:

  1. Call your Senators and Representative in Congress to demand, an end to all US sanctions against Venezuela, return all Venezuelan assets to the duly elected government of President Maduro, stop all interference in Venezuela and all other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, and oppose all war plans and other acts of aggression against Venezuela and all sovereign countries.
  2. Call the Congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121 to reach your elected representatives.
  3. Plan and attend public demonstrations, rallies, forums, letter-writing campaigns to the media and elected officials to stop all US interference in Venezuela, and in support of the four demands listed above.

Hands off Venezuela. End the sanctions now.

Yes to negotiations and a peaceful resolution of the crisis in Venezuela.