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John Bellamy Foster & Robert W. McChesney: Global stagnation and China

[Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal urges its readers to consider taking out a subscription to Monthly Review, where this article first appeared.]

[For more discussion on China's economic and political development, click HERE.]

By John Bellamy Foster and Robert W. McChesney

February 2012 -- Monthly Review -- Five years after the Great Financial Crisis of 2007–09 began there is still no sign of a full recovery of the world economy. Consequently, concern has increasingly shifted from financial crisis and recession to slow growth or stagnation, causing some to dub the current era the Great Stagnation.1 Stagnation and financial crisis are now seen as feeding into one another. Thus IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde declared in a speech in China on November 9, 2011, in which she called for the rebalancing of the Chinese economy:

Thailand: Free Somyot Pruksakasemsuk!

[More background information is available here.]

By Choo Chon Kai

February 13, 2012 --The Socialist Party of Malaysia (PSM) expresses its solidarity with labour activist Somyot Pruksakasemsuk, who has been imprisoned without bail since April 30, 2011, and who faces charges under lèse-majesté law.  We are deeply concerned over his continuous imprisonment, transferring of prisons and numerous denial of bail requests.

Somyot is known for his tireless work in the workers' movement and the establishment of democratic trade unionism in Thailand. In 2007 he became editor of the Voice of Taksin magazine (now called Red Power), a political publication opposed to the 2006 military coup. Somyot is the chair of Union of Democratic Labour Alliance and the leader of 24th of June for Democracy Group which was formed in the aftermath of the September 2006 military coup.

Philippines: No to an anti-China alliance! For an independent foreign policy and a non-aligned ASEAN

Will US forces return to the Subic Bay naval base?

By the Partido Lakas ng Masa (Party of the Labouring masses)  international department

No to US military presence in the Philippines!

Scrap the Visiting Forces Agreement!

China must stop the bullying!

For an independent foreign policy! For a non-aligned ASEAN!

February 1, 2012 -- The people are now being informed, through media reports, about the possibility of military agreements between the US and the Philippines that would increase the US troop presence in the country.  There has also been a flurry of diplomatic activities in the recent period: visits by a US delegation to the Philippines headed by right-wing Republican John McCain, and Philippine government delegations are currently negotiating in the US. We are being assured by the DFA [department of foreign affairs], in what is really a red herring and an attempt to distract us with a false debate, that what is being discussed is a "rotation" of troops and not "bases", and so on. The "threat" of China is being used as the justification, especially in relation to the competing claims to the seas surrounding the pieces of rock named the Spratly Islands – the West Philippine Sea, also known as the South China Sea.

Martin Hart-Landsberg: Globalisation, capitalism and China

Workers at the Foxconn (the Taiwanese multinational corporation owned) factory located in China in which many Apple products are assembled.

[For more discussion on China's economic and political development, click HERE.]

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

January 24, 2012 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- A January 22, 2012 New York Times story, "The iEconomy: How US Lost Out on iPhone Work", has been getting a lot of coverage. The article makes clear that Apple and other major multinational corporations have moved production to China not only to take advantage of low wages but also to exploit a labour environment that gives maximum flexibility.

The following quote gives a flavour for what attracts Apple to China:

Pakistan: The political context of a ‘religious’ assassination

Salmaan Taseer, assassinated governor of Punjab.

By Beena Sarwar

January 8, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal, a longer version of this article will appear at Viewpoint -- Just over a year ago, Salmaan Taseer, governor of Pakistan’s largest province, the Punjab, was assassinated in the most cowardly manner by a government-assigned security guard in federal capital, Islamabad. The killer, a trained commando of the Punjab Elite Force, Mumtaz Qadri, pumped 27 bullets into the Governor’s back as he headed to his car on the afternoon of January 4, 2011.

This sensational murder rocked the nation and reverberated around the world. It was not a spontaneous enraged act but a well-thought out, cold-blooded plan. One man executed this plan – but was he acting alone and was it an act motivated only by "religious fervour" as has been depicted, or is there more to the issue than meets the eye? And even if the action was purely altruistic, should the law of the land not be applied to punish the guilty?

Global revolt of 2011: Not the time to make peace with the system

By the Partido Lakas ng Masa’s (Party of the Labouring Masses, Philippines) international affairs department

[The following educational report is being discussed in PLM branches across the Philippines.]

January 5, 2012 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal – In 2011 we experienced revolutionary upheavals and mass upsurges that have further deepened the crisis of global capitalism. The impact has been the deepening of the political crisis of the international capitalist system and the weakening of its ideological hold and legitimacy. The inequalities of the “American Dream”, for instance, are now almost household knowledge: that the top 1% get more than 20% of the national income. Perhaps the most telling figure is that one-tenth of the top 1% – around 400 families – earn as much as the bottom 120 million people.

Thailand: In 2012 lèse majesté will be litmus test for democracy

Yingluck Shinawatra tours flood-ravaged areas with army commander-in-chief General Prayut Chan-ocha.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

January 2, 2012 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- In July 2011 millions of Red Shirts turned out to vote for the Pheu Thai party, headed by Yingluck Shinawatra. The party won a landslide majority despite various attempts by the military, the media and the elites to place obstacles in the path of the party's victory. The election result was a slap in the face for the military and the “party of the military” (the mis-named Democrat Party).

But the signs were bad for the Red Shirts from the beginning. The new government did nothing about the Red Shirt political prisoners and the important issue of bringing ex-prime minister Abhisit, his deputy Sutep and the military generals Prayut [army commander-in-chief Prayuth Chan-ocha] and Anupong to justice for their key roles in gunning down nearly 90 pro-democracy civilians in 2010.

Pakistan and Afghanistan: Conference of progressive parties' joint declaration

Statement by Afghan and Pakistan progressive and left parties

December 26, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The progressive and democratic forces of Pakistan and Afghanistan met here in Lahore for two days [December 21-22, 2011] in the first ever joint conference. This is a historic step for the progressive forces of both sides to sit together and share the sufferings of our people at the hands of US-led NATO forces as well as the religious extremists in the form of the Taliban. We also vehemently condemn the military establishment and the governments of both countries who use different excuses to justify the occupation by foreign forces as well as [being the] tacit [patrons] of religious extremism.

We resolve to launch a sustained campaign against the forces of imperialism and religious extremism. We plan to organise coordinated days of action and other initiatives at the political as well as the cultural and educational levels. We plan to broaden this movement and include other left and progressive forces who share the common goals of establishing a just peace and of progress in the region. We resolve to also include the progressive movements in India and Iran in order to build up a broad regional alliance to secure a just peace.

China: Workers' action and collective awakening -- the 2010 auto workers' strike wave

[For more discussion on China's economic and political development, click HERE.]

By Wang Kan*, translated by Ralf Ruckus

Sozial Geschichte Online #6 (2011), posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- On May 17, 2010, a strike erupted at the Honda parts plant in Nanhai, a city located in the Chinese centre of the manufacturing industry in Guangdong province. More than 1800 workers participated, and the strike disrupted all of Honda’s spare parts production facilities in China and led to the paralysing of Honda’s car production in China. On May 28, the strike wave spread to a Hyundai carfactory and on May 29 to US-American Chrysler’s joint venture Jeep factory, both in Beijing. On June 18, Toyota’s second car plant in Tianjin had to close, due to a strike.

In July, the Chinese media were universally asked to restrict their coverage of the strikes, but the strikes in the auto industry still did not stop. Prior to July 22, at least two of Honda’s joint venture factories saw strikes. The organisers and most important participants of these strikes were migrant workers (nongmingong, peasant workers). During the strike wave they showed very strong collective consciousness and capacity for collective action.

China: Misery in Santa's workshop -- inside China's toy factories

A 2004 film shows that little has changed.

[For more discussion on China's economic and political development, click HERE.]

December 23, 2011 -- A new report by Hong Kong-based Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM) reveals the terrible working conditions endured by workers who produce many of the toys that will be enjoyed by children in the Western world this Christmas.

In Guangdong province, from where 70% of China’s toys are exported, migrant workers’ official basic salary is around 850-1320 yuan a month (US$134-208), the statutory local minimum wage. The minimum wage is barely enough for self-subsistence.

China: 'Down with corruption, reclaim our land' -- Call for support for Wukan; 打倒貪官 還我土地 — 香港行動 全球呼籲:支持陸豐烏坎村民的民主鬥爭

Residents attend a rally in Wukan, a fishing village with a population of 130,000 in the southern province of Guangdong. Photo: AFP/Getty Images.

[For more discussion on China's economic and political development, click HERE.] 

The following petition, organised by the Hong Kong-based coalition Left21, explains the background to, and demands of, the rebellion by the people of Wukan.

* * *

West Papua: Support workers at the Freeport-McMoRan Grasberg mine striking for a wage increase

Statement by Asia-Pacific left and workers’ organisations

December 11, 2011 -- The strike started on September 15, 2011, and it involves nearly 12,000 workers. It was called after the negotiations between the union and the management went into deadlock.

The striking workers want to be paid US$7.50 per hour (for grade F1) to $18 per hour (for grade A5) instead of the US$2.10 per hour to $3.50 per hour they are currently receiving.

Their demands are for increases of 250% to 500%, but these wage demands are still much lower than the amounts workers are paid in other Freeport-McMoRan mines such as those in Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico. In negotiations the union has offered solutions, but these have been rejected by the management.

Thailand: Yingluck Shinawatra's government lines up with the military

Protesters gather outside the criminal court in Bangkok December 9, 2011. Protesters wore masks and hold pictures of Amphon Tangnoppaku, dubbed "Uncle SMS", outside the court protesting after he was jailed for 20 years last month for sending text messages deemed to have disparaged Thailand's Queen Sirikit. Photo by Damir Sagolj/Reuters.

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

December 11, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Since the July 2011 election we have seen Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra's Pheu Thai party government and the conservative elites move towards a settlement in the interests of the elites and at the expense of democracy and human rights.

This is a serious betrayal of the Red Shirts who fought and sacrificed for democracy over the last few years. In many ways this “sell-out” by the Yingluck government was hardly surprising. The vast majority of Pheu Thai politicians are not at all radical. Most never took part in the Red Shirt protests. Thaksin Shinawatra and his Thai Rak Thai party always made it clear that they were royalists as well.

Lèse majesté

Can China save the world from economic crisis?

By Jean Sanuk

November 15, 2011 -- Asia Left Observer -- While North America and Europe were hard hit, China has resisted the international crisis of 2008 thanks to a rescue plan which combined huge public spending, a low interest rate and consumption subsidies. China’s growth rate reached 9% in 2009 and 10.4% in 2010, dragging in its wake Asia and Latin America out of the crisis. It has also managed to maintain unemployment to a sustainable level. China even overtook Japan, in 2010, as the second-largest economy in the world in terms of GDP and it is closing the gap with the US. On the whole, China’s rise seems unaffected by the subprime crisis. A closer look shows that real problems lie ahead.

Pakistan: Six workers' leaders sentenced to a total 490 years' jail! Solidarity needed!


On November 2 a protest demonstration was held in Lahore by the Labour Party Pakistan to denounce the jail sentences imposed on six leaders of the power loom workers' movement in Faisalabad.

By Khalid Mehmood and Farooq Tariq

November 2, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- Power loom workers in Faisalabad in mid-2010 went on a series of major strikes and demonstrations. Six of their leaders were arrested by the police. Once in detention, they were additionally charged under anti-terrorist legislation. The six have now been sentenced to a total of almost 490 years' jail (served concurrently). This is a clear message of how "anti terror" laws are used against workers. The Labour Party Pakistan is calling for demonstrations outside Pakistan embassies and consulates around the world.

Biography uncovers forgotten lessons of Sri Lanka’s JVP

Review by Ben Courtice

The Lionel Bopage story: Rebellion, repression and the struggle for justice in Sri Lanka
By Michael Colin Cooke
Agahas Publishers, Colombo, 2011
Order at michaelcolincooke@yahoo.com.au

“The truth is the whole” – Hegel, quoted in The Ecological Rift  by John Bellamy Foster, Richard York & Brett Clark, Monthly Review Press, 2011

October 31, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- A lot of popular non-fiction literature seems very straightforward, to the point. The kind of writing you might expect from a journalist – easy to read, not too many tangents or complicating factors; usually nothing too far from the comfort zone of the average punter.

Thailand's flood crisis: neoliberalism is not the answer

[For more on Thailand and the Red Shirt movement, click HERE.]

By Giles Ji Ungpakorn

October 27, 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- The serious flooding in Thailand has affected millions of people. Houses, property and infrastructure have been seriously damaged. Factories and workplaces have been closed and hundreds of thousands of people have become temporarily unemployed. Agricultural land has been flooded, leading to further loss of incomes. Millions of people who are living modest lives will see their incomes and savings drastically lowered and the economy can only be dragged down. The waters are now predicted to remain high for at least a month.

The longer-term effects of the flood damage will become a real test for the Peua Thai government of Yingluck Shinawatra. If this crisis is not solved to the satisfaction of most citizens, the government risks losing long-term public support.

(Updated Oct. 23) Occupy wave reaches Pakistan


Occupy Karachi march, October 22, 2011. Photo by Comrade Sherbaz.

Occupy Lahore!

By Farooq Tariq

October 19, 2011 -- Left-wing political parties, trade unions, social activists and student groups at a press conference in the Labour Party office invited people to join them in an Occupy Lahore anti-capitalist camp at 1 pm, Nasir Bagh, on October 22. The camp shall continue for at least two days. A program for the camp will be announced soon.

The camp is being set up in solidarity with the worldwide Occupy Movement and the growing unrest among peoples caused by the global economic recession.

Addressing the press conference, Progressive Youth Front representative Ammar Ali Jaan honoured October 15, when the world stood against the capitalist financial system. This unrest has been developing since 2008, as people believed governments would take to task those responsible for causing the global financial crisis.

However, governments gave billions of dollars to bail out financial institutions and corporations at the cost of the masses. In the context of Pakistan, which is facing numerous ordeals like price hikes, electricity and gas shortages, and at a structural level feudalism and capitalism, the security state and there is a global realisation that the system that was preserved by governments has failed us in Pakistan as well and must be overturned.

Afghanistan: Predictions, obstructed justice and 10 years of war

By Rupen Savoulian

October 17, 2011 -- Antipodean Atheist, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- The Washington Post, the highly influential US newspaper, reported that the top US general in Afghanistan predicted that the Taliban would collapse as a viable fighting militia over the next several months, and eventually accept the offer of national reconciliation from the US-supported Afghan government. This confident prediction was backed up by a note of caution; the general warned that the Taliban could still strike. But he was optimistic about the "progress" of the counterinsurgency in Afghanistan. There is just one thing to note about this report: this prediction was made in April 2005. This month marks 10 years since the US invaded Afghanistan in 2001, and the Afghan war shows no signs of abating.

Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam seeks support from Cuba and Latin America

Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran.

By Ron Ridenour

October 4, 2011 -– Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- “We Tamils, inside and outside the island of Sri Lanka, still want an independent state. And because the war crimes and severe brutality of the Mahinda Rajapaksa government against our people has become well known, our cause is being spoken about all over the world”, Visuvanathan Rudrakumaran told me recently in Manhattan, New York.

A positive sign of recognition for Tamil rights is the dramatic Channel 4 UK documentary, Sri Lanka Killing Fields, shown first at a June Human Rights Council session and then worldwide.

Rudrakumaran is prime minister of the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam (TGTE), and a prominent activist in the diaspora. He earned law degrees from the University of Colombo and Southern Methodist University. He later studied and wrote articles about self-determination at Harvard Law School

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