The League of Three

They are now in the same league—Mao, Deng and Xi. The 19th Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) ended without much ado—it was business as usual though it was a gigantic show. It was a congress of ‘unity’ as it happens in every communist party’s congress, no matter whether it is big or small. On the last day of the one-in-five-years national congress of CPC 2300 delegates endorsed a second five-year-term for President Xi Jinping and all new leaders appeared to back him solidly. Those who were hoping, somewhat against hope, that the congress would reflect two-line struggle in the party were broadly disappointed. The all important congress was literally a one-way traffic. There was no opposition to Xi as he presented his thesis on ‘Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era’. And much to the applause to the house Xi Jinping thought on ‘Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era’ was enshrined in the CPC constitution. Elevation of Xi to Mao’s level in Chinese communist pantheon was really a shocking episode. Shocking it was but it was perhaps the most widely watched political opera telecast live across the world.

They have made Mao smiling along with Deng and Xi. What a scenario! The thoughts of Deng, the chief architect of capitalist China, were incorporated posthusously in the CPC constitution. There was nothing new in Xi’s ‘ideological thoughts’. It is all about development of China—peacefully and he has been advocating this strategy for long without wrapping it under ideological garb. Only three people are included in the CPC constitution as fundamental theoretical and ideological contributors. No doubt Xi emerges as the most powerful leader since Mao. His very attainment of iconic status enjoyed by Mao, is anything but ludicrous. Xi, now only the third Chinese leader to have his thoughts on governance enshrined, which will now be part of school text books all over China.

In the yester years they used to interpret the complex doctrine of Marxism with Chinese characteristics. And now they are talking about socialism with Chinese characteristics more forcefully than even before.

For one thing Xi didn’t elaborate his thoughts on ‘New Era’—the era of globalisation and neoliberalism, critics these days around the world are discussing imperialism with Chinese characteristics, not socialism with Chinese characteristics.

Xi’s much publicised and, yet less explained, project of ‘Belt and Road Initiative’—OBOR—has nothing to do with socialism or concrete application of Marxism in concrete conditions. The OBOR concept which Xi announced in 2013, is basically aimed at establishing Chinese hegemony in place of American hegemony in Asia and South east Asia. Not that only academics are debating the nascent stage of Chinese imperialism in relation to its neighbours. In principle the Xis don’t differ from their Western and American counter-parts when they do business in Asia and Africa. In many African countries the Chinese grant loan with a much higher interest rate. They charge above 6 percent interest on their credits and loans that they provide to poor countries in Africa and Asia, whereas the international line of credit for soft loans ranges from 0.1 percent to 3 percent. And yet Xi derives comfort from the fact that they are building ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’ in their client states. In today’s China, capitalism, not socialism, has taken deep roots. In Africa, particularly in Angola, local people are even accusing them of practising cultural apartheid.

The CPC is all set to mark its centenary in 2021 under Xi’s baton. Revolutionaries around the world have lost faith in the Chinese way of practising Marxism because they are now vindicating Marx’s ‘law of value’, rather ‘capitalist law of value’ by laying off thousands of workers, hopefully to strengthen the idea of the Chinese brand of socialism. Even as per their official data published in the People’s Daily, 26 million workers were laid off between 1998 and 2002. And they call it ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’.

The world is changing and somehow it will change for the worse or for the better. But China is changing very fast. It’s already an economic superpower, the second largest economy in the world, replacing Japan. To cope with the obsession of ‘growth and development’ China now needs new markets without any war, they want to dominate markets through their deceptive device of socialism which is anything but socialism. OBOR is designed to create and capture markets while making mythical illusions around the overland Silk Route Economic Belt and a 21st century Maritime Silk Route.

No doubt world capitalism—imperialism—has undergone profound changes since the end of the Second World War and especially since the global crisis of 1973 that marked the beginning of what is widely known as neo-liberalism and globalisation. Whether they call it globalisation or something else, it is actually sugar-coated colonial exploitation—plain and simple. Being part of it the Chinese cannot change the rules of the game in the middle. Deregulation, financialisation, informalisation of labour, unrestricted movement of capital across national boundaries and unprecedented financial integration through mergers and acquisitions—all these are symptoms of colonialism or neo-colonialism in the changed modern epoch about which Xi was so eloquent in his speech to the congress. In reality the CPC is dreaming of getting back the past ‘glory of the Han and Tang Dynasties’.

Vol. 50, No.18, Nov 5 - 11, 2017