Looking at the world today, who can deny that the Chinese are indeed a risen people? Writing in Timemagazine, David Shambaugh, a bourgeois US China expert, observed:
“As the People’s Republic of China commemorates its 60th anniversary, it seemingly (sic) has much to celebrate. China is the world’s most populous and industrious nation, is the world’s third largest economy and trading nation, has become a global innovator in science and technology, and is building a world-class university system. It has an increasingly modern military and commands diplomatic respect …
“growing soft power of China was strengthened by the 2008 Olympics extravaganza, and the Shanghai Expo next year will similarly dazzle. The 60th anniversary celebration in Beijing on 1 October will impress, if not frighten [we sincerely hope that it will frighten the imperialists – Eds] with an arresting display of military hardware and goose-stepping soldiers. Less visible is the fact that China is the first major economy to recover from the global recession and, indeed, is leading the world out of it …
“China is now the world’s third largest economy, after the US and Japan, and recently surpassed Germany as the largest exporting nation. Its GNP is on course to overtake Japan’s by 2010 and perhaps that of the US by 2020.
“Much of this dynamic growth has been export-driven, benefiting the low- and medium-technology sectors of the economy. But China is beginning to move up the technological ladder and is becoming more innovative in certain sectors such as electronics and biotechnology. The country has become a manufacturing superpower and the workshop of the world, producing two-thirds of all photocopiers, microwaves and shoes; 60 percent of cellphones; 55 percent of DVDs; over half of all digital cameras; 30 percent of personal computers; and 75 percent of children’s toys, plus a wide variety of other goods. ” (The road to prosperity, 28 September 2009)
Whilst such a phenomenal rate of development has certainly not come without social, economic, environmental and other costs and dangers, the main point is that the country has been, and is being transformed, and the lives of the people are being improved immeasurably. Indeed, People’s China has lifted more people out of poverty than any other country in human history.
All this is a very far cry from the China of 60 years ago. Then, the country was one of the poorest and most wretched on earth. It had been torn apart by imperialists, warlords and other reactionaries and the masses of people led a miserable and precarious existence. In the 1930s and 1940s, every morning, the bodies of the dead, who had succumbed to cold, hunger and disease, were collected from the streets in the centre of Beijing and other cities. In the vast countryside, millions fell victim to famine in any given year.
In turning this situation around, over the past 60 years, the Chinese economy has grown by an average annual rate of 8.1 percent – this despite periods of political upheaval, war, natural disasters and long periods of economic blockade. (i)
In order to reach its present third place in global rankings, China’s GDP has increased 77 fold since liberation. Infant mortality has plummeted and life expectancy has increased from 35 to 73 years. According to Time, maternal mortality per 100,000 has declined from 1,500 to 34.2.
Whereas scarcely more than 100,000 people were in higher education when China was liberated, now, Time notes:
“Some 21 million students attend university today, while an estimated 300,000 study abroad every year. Approximately 260 million Chinese children attend primary and secondary schools. Basic literacy is almost universal in China today, while it was roughly 20 percent in 1949.”
China has now abolished all taxes for farmers, whilst spending massively to ensure compulsory nine-year free education for all rural children, along with introducing a new cooperative rural medical programme and a new rural pension scheme to guarantee security and dignity in old age.
Since the latter part of 2008, faced with the impact of the international financial crisis, the Chinese government has put in place a massive fiscal stimulus package. This focuses on expanding domestic demand, so as to drive domestic growth through expanded consumption and investment. For example, in rural areas, the government is offering subsidies and discounts to promote sales of home appliances (including televisions and computers), farm machinery and vehicles, particularly energy-efficient vehicles.
Of the total sum of central government investment allocated by the end of this July, 52.4 percent had gone to subsidised housing, projects to improve farmers’ living standards, and social programmes; 24.7 percent has been channelled into such areas as innovation, energy conservation, emission reduction and improving the environment; and 22.9 percent had been earmarked for major infrastructure projects.
The 2009 central government budget for education, medical and healthcare services, social security, employment, subsidised housing, and other programmes related to the livelihood of working people is 29.4 percent higher than that of last year.
Just imagine, an increase of nearly 30 percent in the space of one year! Imagine – and compare it to the present situation in Britain, where each of the three main bourgeois parties are now reduced to competing as to which can offer the most “savage cuts”, to use the charming expression of Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg. Within a year, our masters will serve up an election in which three groups of expense-fiddling shysters, not to say imperialist mass murderers, will compete as to who can crack the whip harder across the back of the working class.
The reason why there is such a contrast between a country like China, where social provision for working people can be increased by a third in the space of a year, and a country like Britain, in which the rulers increasingly do not even pretend to offer anything but misery to the working masses, even though China is still a developing country, and Britain is a country that has grown fat by looting half the world, not least China, for several centuries, is very simple:
In China, the oppressed and downtrodden rallied behind a communist party. They overcame innumerable and indescribable hardships. But finally they were successful. They sent domestic and foreign exploiters packing and working people set up a state and a society in which they are the masters and the government exists to serve them. It is a matter of which class holds power and hence whose needs are considered paramount.
In celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, as with the Great October Socialist Revolution that created the Soviet Union, this is by far the most important lesson for working people in Britain. Only by building a strong and militant communist party, united by a steel-like adherence to the science of Marxism Leninism, can the working class take the road of seizing power, and then set about the building of a society where everything is at the service of, and under the control of, the majority of society, the working class.
(i) This and other figures (unless otherwise cited) are from a speech given during a recent visit to London by Comrade Liu Jieyi, Vice Minister of the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China.