[Marxism] China Irks U.S. as It Uses Trade To Embellish Newfound Clout (WSJ)

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Mon Oct 3 07:20:57 MDT 2005


>WALTER COMMENTS:
>Washington's fear of China's expanding role isn't limited to its
>close and friendly ties with Cuba and Venezuela, which get scant
>mention here. In fact, China's international role indicates clearly
>that Washington isn't interested in capitalism, as advocates of the
>so-called "free enterprise" system teach its doctrines in colleges
>and in newspaper columns. They're not motivated by any other thing
>than private property and raw power.

Walter, capitalism *is* private property and raw power.

>The widespread claim that capitalism can provide a better standard
>of living for people is belied by the fear Washington expresses
>toward China for its practice of capitalist trade principles all
>over the world. Some on the political left argue that capitalism
>has been restored in China.

Yes, I think so myself. You can read my report on Martin Hart-Landsberg and 
Paul Burkett's book-length MR article at:

http://www.columbia.edu/~lnp3/mydocs/state_and_revolution/SocialismChina.htm

Here's an excerpt:

In part 3, Marty and Paul look at the domestic consequences of the 
transformation of the Chinese economy. This involved an increase in worker 
insecurity as the number of SOEs fell from 100,000 to 60,000 between 1995 
through 1999. This translates into massive unemployment. From 1996 to 2001, 
some 36 million state-enterprise workers were laid off; over the same 
period collective farms let go of 17 million workers. These are the 
official figures. However, the government disguises unemployment by 
considering only workers under 50 (for men) or under 45 (for women) as 
officially unemployed. In addition, if your employer is a SOE that has 
stopped operating, you are not counted. This also leaves out the immense 
number of rural workers who are simply too marginalized to count.

Not only has unemployment increased, so has inequality. The Gini 
coefficient for China rose to 0.46 in 2000. This surpasses the inequality 
level in Thailand, India and Indonesia. Most observers suspect that the 
coefficient may be as high as 0.50, which puts China in near Brazilian and 
South African levels. (According to Wikipedia, The Gini coefficient is a 
measure of income inequality developed by the Italian statistician Corrado 
Gini. The Gini index equals Gini coefficient times 100. The Gini 
coefficient is a number between 0 and 1, where 0 means perfect 
equality--everyone has the same income--and 1 means perfect inequality--one 
person has all the income, everyone else has nothing).


Wall Street Journal:
>Chinese officials say they are not trying to rival the U.S. or stir
>trouble. Beijing's trade and investment agenda, they say, is designed
>to support an economy dependant on exports that also has a thirst for
>energy and raw materials. In addition, for decades, U.S. presidents
>have urged China to join the international economy and to take its
>rightful place on the diplomatic stage.

Did you catch the misspelling: "dependant"? Ha-ha!

>One reason for the slowdown, say trade experts, is that U.S.
>negotiators are forced to load up agreements with environmental and
>labor conditions to help them pass through Congress. They also have
>to try to protect sensitive U.S. markets by maintaining tariffs or
>quotas. China generally eschews such niceties.

Yes, China does eschew such niceties:

LA Times, May 13, 2005
The deaths of five girls draw attention to the practice, common in 
struggling rural areas.
By Ching-Ching Ni
Times Staff Writer

BEIXINZHUANG, China — Christmas was just two days away and snow was falling 
when the five factory girls finished their shift. They'd been working for 
12 hours, it was already after 1 a.m., and their dorm was freezing cold. 
One of them ran out to grab a bucket and some burning coal. The room warmed 
slightly. They drifted off to sleep.

The next morning, none of them woke up. They had been poisoned by the 
fumes. But their parents believe at least two of the girls died much more 
horrible deaths.

They charge that the owner of the canvas-making factory was so impatient to 
cover up the fact that three of the unconscious workers were underage that 
he rushed the girls into caskets while some were still alive.

"You see the damage on the corner of the box, the bruises on the side of 
her head, and the vomit in her hair?" said Jia Haimin, the mother of 
14-year-old Wang Yajuan, pointing to pictures of her daughter lying in a 
cardboard casket stained with vomit and appearing to show evidence of a 
struggle. "Dead people can't bang their heads against the box. Dead people 
can't vomit. My child was still alive when they put her in there."

The case, made public months later by New York-based Human Rights in China, 
highlights this country's often hidden problem of child labor. The Chinese 
government officially forbids children under 16 from working, but critics 
say it does little to enforce the law. Statistics are hard to come by, but 
in some estimates, as many as 10 million school-age children are doing 
their part to turn China into a low-cost manufacturing powerhouse. China's 
one-child policy may have produced a generation of spoiled "little 
emperors" in the nation's relatively wealthy cities, but poverty and 
lopsided development have driven a disproportionate number of rural 
children out of the classrooms and into lives of labor.

full: http://www.laborrights.org/press/childlabor_china_0505.htm

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