[Marxism] Sino-Globalism

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Apr 25 08:21:09 MDT 2006

ZNet | China

Thorton; April 25, 2006

Line in the Sand

When Fei Xiaotong died at 95 in 2005, China lost one of its last effective 
voices for democratic reform from within establishment ranks. Fei's 
classic, Peasant Life in China, reminds us of how rural Chinese paid the 
price for change in the formative years of Chinese communism (Thurston 
2005). Now, likewise, they are paying for Chinese capitalism. The 
difference is that the former gave them some actual benefits in return. 
They not only got minimal health care, but the psychological satisfaction 
of knowing that however bad things were, the hardship was broadly 
distributed. Anyone who thinks those are insignificant benefits should 
consider becoming a World Bank economist.

Having so much to like about current PRC (People's Republic of China) 
policies, corporate CEOs and their neoliberal scribes have developed a 
political double vision about the erstwhile Second World. Even as they 
vilify Cuban communism, they refuse to process the grim realities of the 
PRC power structure (Parenti: 27). This double standard also infects 
assessments of China's economic performance. CCP (Chinese Communist Party) 
policies have generally been considered beneficial for the vast majority of 
Chinese, which is a myth. Deng's economic restructuration tipped China like 
a seesaw, with the spotlight aimed at the winning side. Even by the 
mid-1980s inflation of up to 28 percent was sorely felt on the losing end 
of the seesaw (Yee 1989). Public resentment was natural, but lacked a 
political outlet. Reformist officials such as Hu Yaobang struck terror in 
the CCP Old Guard by broaching the subject of political reform. That not 
only killed Hu's chance to be Deng Xiaoping's successor, but probably 
killed him literally. Many suspect Li Peng of giving the order. In any case 
Hu conveniently expired on April 15, 1989.

It will be left for historians to debate how close the Hu faction had been 
to effecting political reform from within CCP ranks. The Tiananmen Papers 
(documents smuggled out of CCP archives and published early in 2001) 
suggest that China's power elite was divided over the proper course of 
development, but the bottom line was the fact that the Army answered only 
to Deng (Thornton, Fire: 31). He had never been the budding liberal that 
neoliberal commentators like to imagine. The one who came closest to 
fitting that mold was the CCP general secretary Zhao Ziyang. Zhao did his 
best to cushion the CCP crackdown that was all but inevitable by late 1986 
and early 1987, after Fang Lizhi (the dissident physicist known widely as 
China's Sakharov) lit the fuse on a string of pro-democracy demonstrations 
across China.

It was encouraging that although Fang was thrown out of the Party (for the 
third time), he was allowed to continue his academic career and even 
permitted to travel abroad. The message this send to his mostly silent 
intellectual sympathizers, inside and outside the Party, was almost as 
stunning as the crackdown itself. Even Fang was plainly surprised, during 
an interview with NBC anchorman Tom Brokaw, when he was shown footage of an 
interview with Zhao the day before. Here was the general secretary giving 
assurance that although Fang would be ousted from the Party, his freedom 
and that of other intellectuals would be respected in their capacity as 
citizens (Schell 1988). The CCP Old Guard was angered by Fang's speeches, 
but it was even more appalled by Zhao's temperate response. The decision 
was made to slam the door on such tolerance. Far from a panicked reaction 
to unforeseen events, the government's action at Tiananmen was part of a 
carefully scripted CCP plan to abort Zhao's reformism while accelerating 
GDPism. From this point on the hardliners took the offensive, or rather the 

A key player in this rearguard shift was the future president, Hu Jintao, 
who in December 1988 was appointed to the dismal post of Party Secretary of 
TAR (the Tibet Autonomous Region), replacing the relatively liberal-minded 
Wu Jinghua. This was the Chinese equivalent of Siberia, and Hu -- 
complaining of altitude sickness and Tibet's "lack of culture" -- would 
avoid physical location in Tibet as much as possible. In retrospect it is 
obvious that this posting was no demotion. It put Hu in close working 
contact with the military, which was more active in TAR than in any other 
Chinese province or region.

full: http://www.zmag.org/content/showarticle.cfm?SectionID=103&ItemID=10153



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