Provoking China

Imperialists out of the South China Sea!

22 July 2020

The South China Sea is the site of myriad irredentist territorial claims by China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines, over islands, oil and gas resources, and fishing and maritime boundaries. Recent weeks have seen a series of bellicose provocations by US imperialism in the region – part of a concerted campaign against the Chinese deformed workers’ state to overturn the remaining gains of the 1949 Revolution.

In early July, Washington deployed the aircraft carriers USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan, along with dozens of aircraft, cruisers, destroyers and a B-52 bomber, to conduct naval exercises under the pretext of ensuring “freedom of navigation,” i.e., blocking China’s access to raw materials and energy sources from Africa and the Middle East. This was quickly followed by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s hypocritical insistence that Chinese activity and territorial claims, such as military installations on islets throughout the South China Sea, were “illegal” under “international laws” to which the US itself does not adhere.

Donald Trump’s hardline approach, with support from the Democrats, is a direct continuation of the Obama administration’s “Pivot to Asia,” which involved then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reframing previously low-level territorial disputes in the region into matters of US “national interest.” Washington’s aim then, much like today, was to exacerbate existing tensions and prevent China from taking a leadership role in the area, while supporting US allies by protecting their access to resources.

The renewed “maximum pressure” campaign against China has several other fronts. Trump continues to speak of Covid-19 as the “Chinese virus,” while both the US and British governments have labelled Chinese tech company Huawei a “national security risk” due to claims of potential espionage and risible concerns over violating the online “privacy” of users of its 5G infrastructure. The Washington-backed “democracy” campaign in Hong Kong is manipulating public opposition to the recent National Security Law but is essentially a wedge against China and a justification for yet another round of US sanctions.

While the Chinese regime has developed large sectors of capitalist enterprise and welcomed foreign investment, particularly in the coastal Special Economic Zones, it remains fundamentally a planned economy, where the operation of the market is significantly moderated or overridden by state control. Key functions such as power generation, metals and transportation remain largely in the hands of massive State Owned Enterprises. State ownership of major financial institutions has also contributed to China’s ability to weather the storms of Covid-19 and the global economic downturn – a further cause for concern for US imperialist strategists worried about declining American power in the coming period.

China is a highly contradictory society. Ostentatious displays of wealth sit alongside desperate poverty and inequality, suppression of democratic rights and oppression of national minorities (all hypocritically denounced by the US and its allies). It is a powder keg that will eventually explode.

We denounce US imperialism’s saber-rattling, call for all imperialist troops out of the South China Sea, and militarily defend the Chinese deformed workers’ state against imperialist attack. We also warn against capitalist counterrevolution from within and call for workers’ political revolution to oust the CCP bureaucrats. Recognizing China’s right to self-defense and territorial integrity does not mean blanket support for Beijing’s territorial squabbles over every piece of rock dotting the South China Sea, but American imperialism is clearly weaponizing the competing claims as the “thin edge of the wedge” to target China at large. The duty of Marxists in this situation is to unambiguously defend China against imperialist aggression and its proxies in the region. Ultimately, a Socialist Federation of East Asia is required, not only to resolve national disputes but to establish a framework in which the working class can take hold of the reins of economic development and turn it toward a future of prosperity, freedom and international solidarity.

Related articles:
Whither China? (1917 No.31)
Defend China against Pro-Imperialist 'Democracy’ Campaign! (1917 No.42)
WikiLeaks & Whistleblowers in the Age of Imperialism (1917 No.42)