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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:

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:

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.

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Interview with Adam Hanieh: Class and capitalism in the Gulf

December 5, 2011 -- New Left Project's Ed Lewis interviewed Adam Hanieh about the international political economy of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Hanieh is a lecturer in development studies at SOAS, and is an editorial board member of Historical Materialism. He is the author, most recently, of Capitalism and Class in the Gulf Arab States. It is posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission.

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Ed Lewis: You see the six states of the Gulf Cooperation Council – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, Bahrain and Oman – as being at the centre of the Middle East economically and politically, but not simply because of their vast reserves of oil. What, then, is your account of how the Gulf states have come to be in this position of centrality?

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.

China: Marxism with capitalist characteristics?

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

Ian Parker reflects on a recent visit to China

November 9, 2011 -- Socialist Resistance -- Capitalism in China is rapidly uprooting and throwing into the marketplace all that seemed fixed and frozen since the revolution in 1949, but -- as with all other forms of capitalism -- this market is all but free. The bureaucracy holds in place systems of authority necessary for capital accumulation, and the Chinese state is a key player in the enrichment of a new bourgeoisie. There are particular political-economic and ideological conditions for this transition, of course, and one of the most important is the legacy of Maoism, and how the claim to be a socialist country is squared with the rapid abandonment of each and every tenet of socialism.

(Updated Oct. 19) Occupy Wall Street inspires global protests against the '1%' (activist reports, videos, pics)


Occupy Sydney, October 15, 2011. Photos by Kate Ausburn.

October 16 , 2011 -- Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- According to http://15october.net, protests and actions -- inspired by the Occupy Wall Street mass movement across the United States -- were to take place in more than 950 cities in more than 80 countries on October 15. Actions had already begun in some parts of the world before that.

China: 'Smashing the iron rice bowl' -- expropriation of workers and capitalist transformation

"Managers have powerful market-based incentives that their predecessors did not—fines, bonuses and the threat of termination." Graphic by Jon Berkeley.

By Joel Andreas

October 2011 -- China Left Review, #4 -- In debates about whether the economic order that is emerging in China after three decades of market reforms can be called capitalist, the main focus has been about trends in the relative importance of private and state enterprises and the role of the state in the economy. These are important issues, of course, involving fundamental features of capitalism. Much less attention, however, has been given to employment relations.

In this paper, which focuses on the restructuring of urban enterprises beginning in the early 1990s, I argue that the dismantling of the old “work unit” system and the elimination of permanent job tenure have effectively severed ties between labour and the means of production. This has changed not only the nature of employment relations, but the fundamental goals of economic enterprise, establishing the foundations for a capitalist economic order.

Martin Hart-Landsberg: The troubled US economy means a shaky world economy

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

August 15, 2011 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with Martin Hart-Landsberg's permission -- The US economy is in trouble and that means trouble for the world economy. According to the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development’s Trade and Development Report, 2010, “Buoyant consumer demand in the United States was the main driver of global economic growth for many years in the run-up to the current global economic crisis.”

Before the crisis, US household consumption accounted for approximately 16 per cent of total global output, with imports comprising a significant share and playing a critical role in supporting growth in other countries. In fact, “as a result of global production sharing, United States consumer spending increas[ed] global economic activities in many indirect ways as well (e.g. business investments in countries such as Germany and Japan to produce machinery for export to China and its use there for the manufacture of exports to the United States)”.

Vietnam: Extraordinary petition by 'patriotic personalities'

By Michael Karadjis

July 29, 2011 -- Vietnam from the Left, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Below is an extraordinary document initiated by some 20 prominent Vietnamese academics, former military figures, former officials, writers etc, who express great unease about the current situation for Vietnam, faced on the one hand by increasingly aggressive Chinese actions in the East Sea (also known as the South China Sea), and on the other by an economic situation characterised over the last few years by mounting crisis and severe inflation, which is hammering people’s living standards.

Should China create a law on workers' strikes?

State-backed "trade union" officers (in yellow caps) harrass striking workers at the Nanhai Honda plant in 2010.

July 20, 2011 -- China Labor News Translations, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with permission -- Even though strikes frequently occur across China, the country actually has no law regulating labour strikes. There is no law permitting strikes, but at the same time there is no law banning them.

China, Brazil, Indonesia: Capital is a fickle lover

By Walden Bello

June 22, 2011 -- Foreign Policy In Focus -- "China is today the ideal capitalist state: freedom for capital, with the state doing the 'dirty job' of controlling the workers”, writes the prominent Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek. “China as the emerging power of the twenty first century … seems to embody a new kind of capitalism: disregard for ecological consequences, disdain for workers' rights, everything subordinated to the ruthless drive to develop and become the new world force."

Capital, however, is a fickle lover.

Recently, a growing number of corporate leaders are having second thoughts about the “Chinese model” that has been so central in the globalisation of production and markets over the last three decades.

Labour rises

Capitalist globalisation and the environment: Offshoring carbon emissions

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

June 12, 2011 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- More than 3000 participants from 183 countries are attending a two-week UN sponsored climate gathering in Bonn, Germany.  The talks are supposed to help prepare the agenda for COP 17, or as it is more formally known, the 17th Conference of the Parties of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (defenders of the environment have renamed the meeting the Conference of Polluters) which will take place November 28 to December 9, 2011, in Durban, South Africa. 

The cost of climate inaction grows worse.  As the Earth Island Journal reports:

China: Capitalist globalisation and its consequences

'China is not stealing jobs from anyone. The globalisation process is erasing jobs everywhere, including in China'

By Martin Hart-Landsberg

June 6, 2011 -- Reports from the Economic Front, posted at Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal with the author's permission -- Although capitalism has always been a global system, the international integration of production and finance and our dependence on cross-border activities seems greater than ever before. At the risk of oversimplifying, we now have a world system within which Latin America, Africa and the Middle East specialise in the production and export of primary commodities, increasingly to East Asia.

East Asia operates as the world’s manufacturing hub, exporting final products to the developed capitalist world, especially the United States. And the United States specialises in providing the finance that underpins the international production system and developed capitalist country consumption. 

Free Tibet!

By Norm Dixon

September 25, 1996 -- Green Left Weekly -- The visit of Tibet's exiled ruler Tenzin Gyatso, better known as the 14th Dalai Lama, has focused attention on the Chinese government's continued denial of the Tibetan people's right to national self-determination, the absence of democratic rights and the widespread repression of dissent.

Tibetans are entitled to claim their right to national self-determination. They have a common language, territory and culture. A distinct, continuous Tibetan history can be traced back 2500 years. Whatever the arguments about the independence or otherwise of Tibet during this long period, when China's last dynasty was overthrown in 1911, all Chinese officials were expelled and the 13th Dalai Lama issued a proclamation that many Tibetans consider a declaration of independence.

While no country formally recognised this independence, Tibetan officials conducted all governmental functions without reference to, or interference from, Beijing. Lhasa conducted government-to-government relations with many countries, signing trade pacts and other deals. Until 1950, Tibet operated as a de facto independent state.

Philippines socialists call for negotiated settlement to Spratly Islands dispute

For more background to the Spratly Islands issue, see "China, Vietnam and the islands dispute: What is behind the rise of Chinese nationalism?"

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June 10, 2011 -- The Partido Lakas ng Masa (Party of the Labouring Masses, Philippines) condemns any actions that increase military tensions in the region and contribute to a regional military conflict, by countries that lay claim to the Spratly Islands. We are opposed to any sabre-rattling and stand for a negotiated, political settlement of the disputed claims to the area. Therefore we deplore China’s strong-arm tactics and bullying, which undermines efforts towards a peaceful, political settlement, of the disputed claims.

The Spratly Islands, less than four-square kilometres of land area spread over 425,000 square kilometres of sea and usually submerged, probably have strategic importance fuelling the numerous territorial disputes. The area holds significant reserves of oil and natural gas: reportedly some 17.7 billion tons of oil and natural gas reserves, larger than the 13 billion tons held by Kuwait, thus making it the fourth largest reserve bed in the world. In an energy hungry world, these reserves intensify the disputed claims over the area.

Pamphlet: Capitalism and workers’ struggle in China (revised edition)

[For more on China, click HERE.]

By Chris Slee

Preface to the revised edition (2011)

June 6, 2011 – Links International Journal of Socialist Renewal -- There are a number of changes in this edition compared to the first edition (Resistance Books 2010). Most of these changes merely expand on points made in the original, supplying more detail in the text and/or the footnotes. Others take account of new developments in the year since the first edition was published.

The biggest change is in the discussion of the Great Leap Forward, which has been significantly expanded and rewritten. I felt this was necessary for two reasons. First, I wanted to acknowledge that natural disasters as well as mistaken policies played a role in the reappearance of famine in 1959-61. Second, I wanted to explain in more detail what the policy errors were, and why I consider that Mao was largely responsible for them.

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