Why more and more people are looking to work with and in China

 

An intriguing article from Dr Ralf Speth, CEO of Jaguar Land Rover. He obviously has an immediate business interest, but the long-term experience of engaging with China also presents a broader picture. Note especially the comments on his daughter, who is working in Shanghai and finds Chinese medical research and technology the more advanced than anywhere else. Copied from the People’s Daily.

I visited China for the first time in the early 1980s. Back then, China had just started reforming and opening up, and was in an early stage of accelerated urban construction. There were not many cars, but the people there, many of whom were riding bikes on the streets, were showing energy in their eyes.

About 10 years later, I went to China again. The country was showing even greater signs of change, with a rapid development of infrastructure. The living standard of the Chinese people was improving everywhere you looked. There was a tremendous momentum all throughout the country.

To put it simply: one noticed right away that the roads were wider, and that automobiles were getting more affordable for average families. I started to realize that, as China’s automobile market took off, the country was seeing huge market demand. This demand would soon make China the world’s fastest-growing and largest auto market.

Subsequent visits to China gave me a more comprehensive understanding of the country’s development potential. After I became the CEO of Jaguar Land Rover in 2010, I immediately led the company to enter the Chinese market. We soon achieved leapfrog growth after entering what had indeed become the world’s largest auto market.

We started cooperation with China’s Chery Automobile Co., Ltd to produce automobiles and engines. So far, we have set up offices in four Chinese cities, including Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou and Chengdu, employing over 6,000 staff and authorizing 245 dealers across the country. I continue to be hugely optimistic about the Chinese market, and look forward to finding out what the future will hold.

As a witness of – and participant in – the miracle of China’s development, I am amazed by the spectacular progress achieved since the foundation of the modern nation. My daughter also developed a strong interest in China, under my influence. After she came to see it firsthand, she was immediately attracted by the dynamism and charm of the country. Now she is a doctor serving an internship in Shanghai.

As I started to learn more about this country, I came to understand why young people around the world are yearning to engage with it. My daughter often tells me that being a doctor in Shanghai means working at the forefront of medical science and having access to the world’s most advanced technologies.

This is true. It only took a few decades for China to become one of the leading countries in medical science, and ‘miracle’ has become the most frequently used word to describe China.

China has not only achieved economic development, but also advanced technological progress and an open and inclusive culture. The country is promoting world peace and development through dialogue and cooperation.

In recent years, China has lifted more than 10 million people out of poverty annually; it is seeing rapid expansion of the middle-income group, which is resulting in a growing set of expectations for the country from the world.

I believe China’s development is not only quantitative, but also qualitative. The country is leading the world in multiple areas and becoming one of the most attractive destinations on offer. Young graduates from many countries hope to work in China and get involved in the great tide of the country’s development.

Rather than focusing on only its own development, China also hopes to promote shared progress across the world. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) being implemented by the country has created a great opportunity for global economic prosperity. Today, the joint construction of the BRI is yielding rich developmental fruit.

In particular, the initiative is rapidly improving the infrastructure of participating countries. Infrastructure is an accelerator of commercial development, and the Belt and Road countries are seeing the benefits from it already.

Culturally, joint construction of the BRI has significantly boosted understanding and inclusiveness among different civilizations and diverse cultures. The BRI advocates for the principle of seeking shared benefits through consultation and collaboration, which not only helps innovation and fosters mutual understanding, but also improves the livelihood of the people. Besides, it also bears huge significance for promoting peaceful development.

We, as multinational enterprises, welcome the application of such principles. In our industry, the ideals being upheld by the BRI ultimately facilitate the international auto trade and the trade in auto parts. Only by sticking to this kind of reciprocal cooperation can enterprises achieve long-term development.

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More reason to support China’s promotion of human rights in Xinjiang

The State Council Information Office of the People’s Republic of China recently released a white paper called ‘Vocational Education and Training in Xinjiang‘.

Well worth a read, since it reveals why developing countries, and especially Islamic countries understand and support the very successful measures in Xinjiang to curb the three evils of terrorism, extremism and separatism. The following article from The Global Times explains why:

China on Friday released a white paper on vocational education and training in Xinjiang. For the past two years, the vocational education and training centers have been the focus of debate on Xinjiang affairs. Western countries have been fiercely critical, while developing countries, including Islamic nations, have shown a general understanding and support.

Through a thorough review of the white paper, it is clear why Islamic countries support the facilities, and why they receive more significant approval worldwide amid adverse reports from Western media.

A closer examination of the white paper shows the following reasons why the vocational education and training centers are valuable.

First, they were created based on facts, while providing an objective and powerful response to the situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Terrorism and extremism used to run rampant in Xinjiang. As mentioned in the white paper, there had been thousands of terrorist incidents including bombs, assassinations and poisonings from 1990-2016.

Violent terrorist attacks are spiritually instigated and supported by extremism and too powerful and complicated to be addressed by the general rule of law. As a result, vocational education and training centers serve as the best solution to solving this problem at its root. The facilities are a manifestation of the times.

Second, the centers are nothing like the depictions from Western media that have referred to them as “detention camps” that torture specific ethnic minorities. The centers have become a life school for the trainees and a place where they learn vital knowledge on laws and standard Chinese language while mastering one or two vocational skills. The centers provide possibilities for many impoverished trainees who were infected by extremism and have now reshaped their livelihoods. Undoubtedly, the centers will continue to change the fate of many poor people in Xinjiang.

Third, the centers are managed with care. They provide trainees with ideal conditions and are an improvement for those from impoverished places. Besides, the centers are not “closed learning” facilities. Even though they function as boarding schools, trainees are allowed to go home regularly, request time off, and communicate freely with the outside world.

Fourth, as a key governance measure in Xinjiang in recent years, the centers have achieved more than initially expected. So far, many trainees have already graduated. In doing so, not only have they strengthened their abilities to resist extremism but have also secured employment. In nearly three consecutive years, there has been no violent terrorist attack in Xinjiang, which is mainly due to the vocational education and training centers.

When looking back on recent years, the centers haven’t been crushed by the enormous pressure placed on them by Western opinion, and instead, have become even better. It shows that as long as a cause is based on facts and benefits majority of the people, it can experience continuous development.

The West-dominated discourse targeting the centers is similar to an iron curtain. But progress has been achieved in the communication over the centers. Attacks of the West have not extended beyond public opinion and went pale in the face of transparent progress by the Chinese side. Besides, the US and other Western countries have been unable to convince Islamic nations to join them to oppose the Xinjiang governance. China has gradually gained the initiative.

It’s fair to say China has conducted its most difficult human rights debate with the US and other Western countries in recent years, securing a glorious victory. China won as its efforts in Xinjiang have been pragmatic and based on facts. Proper governance has been implemented for the wellbeing of all ethnic groups in the region, rather than an attempt to win laud from the US and other Western nations. By adhering to this principle and moving forward, China has received more recognition from the international community, while its opponents are destined to become further isolated.

 

Posted in: EDITO

The tide is turning against the masked mob violence in Hong Kong

As the masked mob spreads violence in Hong Kong, the tide is clearly turning against such acts.

Local newspapers recently ran a front page statement, headed ‘Hong Kong has had enough of it‘.

International observers are noticing how the black-clad and masked perpetrators use petrol bombs, rocks, air-guns and others means to attack visitors, reporters, citizens and police. The vast majority of Hong Kong residents want a return to peace and stability.

There are calls to revise the educational curricula, which are still infused with too much Western liberal popaganda, as well as insuring that socialist rule of law prevails.

And we cannot forget the crucial long-term role played by a handful of former colonisers in interfering with Chinese sovereignty. Needless to say, the demands for an end to such violations of sovereignty are perfectly understandable.

Throughout it all, it is noticeable that China will continue on its own path and not be swayed by external pressures. Thus, the ‘one country – two systems’ approach is being rigorously upheld. This applies even to the possible deployment of Hong Kong’s PLA garrison. On this matter, I have copied the article below from The Global Times.

Even if the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Hong Kong Garrison is deployed to maintain social order in Hong Kong, the “one country, two systems” approach will not be damaged, said a Chinese expert.

The remark was made by Han Dayuan, a member of the Hong Kong Basic Law Committee of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, at a press briefing held by the Information Office of the State Council on Thursday.

Citing the law that governs the PLA Hong Kong Garrison, Han said that the Hong Kong regional government could ask the central government to allow the PLA garrison in Hong Kong to help maintain social order and carry out disaster relief missions when necessary.

Han also cited Article 18 of the Basic Law, which reads: In the event that the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress decides to declare a state of war or, by reason of turmoil within the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region which endangers national unity or security and is beyond the control of the government of the Region, decides that the Region is in a state of emergency, the Central People’s Government may issue an order applying the relevant national laws in the Region.

The Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress is entitled to judge, decide and declare on a state of emergency, Han stressed, noting that there are strict standards.

Exercising these laws would not mean the failure of “one country, two systems,” because the meaning of ruling Hong Kong by law is to safeguard national sovereignty, Hong Kong’s prosperity and stability, and Hong Kong residents’ rights and freedom through the rule of law, Han said.

“One country” comes first in “one country, two systems,” and the start point of “one country, two systems” is the unity and dignity of the country, Han said.

Non-political elections

In Engels’s key work, ‘Dell’ Autorità’, which was originally published in Italian in the midst of the struggle with the Anarchists (who were popular in Italy) and their ‘anti-authoritarian’ push. Engels writes: ‘All socialists are agreed that the political state [Stato politico], and with it political authority [l’autorità politica], will disappear [scompariranno] as a result of the coming social revolution, that is, that public functions [funzioni pubbliche] will lose their political character [carattere politico]’. But what, exactly, does political character mean?

The answer is simple enough: by political character both Engels and Marx mean the reality of class struggle and its manifestation in the state. Thus, the manifesto observes, immediately after mentioning the political character of public Gewalt absorbed into the state: ‘Political Gewalt, properly so called, is merely the organised Gewalt of one class for oppressing another’. I do not need to reiterate the details of Engels’s work on the state as a separated public power here (emphasis on separated), except to point out that if public Gewalt – with the senses of power, force and even violence – loses its political character, it ceases to be a manifestation and instrument of class struggle and thus coercion. Clearly, public Gewalt is not necessarily separated from society, for it may take other forms.

The formulation may be relatively simple, but the implications are far-reaching. On this matter at least, Marx offers a couple of hints, of which the second is the most interesting.

In his cryptic notes on Bakunin’s Statism and Anarchy, Marx refers to what may be called non-political elections. How is this possible? Are not elections inherently political? This is so for those who have been indoctrinated by the Western liberal tradition, in which elections are the manifestation of regulated class conflict within the bourgeois state. So let us see what Marx suggests, all too briefly. He begins by pointing out that the character of an election depends in its ‘economic foundation [ökonomischen Grundlage]’, on the ‘economic interrelations [ökonomischen Zusammenhängen] of the voters’. That is, if economic relations are antagonistic, and if classes have formed and are engaged in class struggle, then elections will be ‘political’. What if this situation does not apply and economic relations are not antagonistic? Then ‘the functions have ceased to be political [die Funktionen aufgehört haben, politisch zu sein]’.

Marx then specifies the sense in which he uses politisch, or, rather, its absence. First, there are ‘no ruling functions [keine Regierungsfunktion]’. I have stressed the sense of rule and reign that are part of the semantic field of Regierung, since ‘government’ or even ‘administration’ (also senses of the word) are too weak and do not capture Marx’s sense. This meaning appears in the second point: ‘the distribution of general functions has become a routine matter [Geschäftssache] which entails no domination [keine Herrschaft]’. By this point, Marx is not speaking about the period of the proletarian dictatorship, but afterwards, when antagonistic contradictions have ceased. Now we come to third point, where he observes: ‘elections have nothing [hat nichts] of today’s political character [politischen Charakter]’. If political character means what pertains to antagonistic economic relations and class conflict, characteristic of the bourgeois state and its electoral system, then without that context, elections will lose, will have nothing of the political character of today – not only in Marx’s context where the bourgeois state was gradually being implemented across Western Europe, but also in those parts of the world today that are influenced by this tradition, either in Europe itself or in some of its former colonies.

Do non-political elections already take place today? Let me offer an example drawn from elections in China. Elections are held more regularly than in bourgeois states, both direct and indirect. Thus,  elections internal to the Communist Party are held at all local branches. In a village, in a small company, in a school – wherever there are three or more party members a branch is formed and elections are held for local posts, especially the local branch secretary. Why three? Only then can you have elections to such a post. In society as a whole, elections are held for the local National People’s Congress (NPC) and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Congress (CPPCC). These elections are held annually, are direct and include candidates from all nine political parties.

At higher levels – from the provincial to the national – elections are indirect. That is, people are elected from the lower and local bodies, and are subject to assessment as to whether they have the appropriate skills and experience. Thus, the national NPC and CPPCC require significant electoral processes each year. Thousands of representatives from across the country, from all classes, minority nationalities, religious groups and other sectors of society, are elected to the two bodies. I cannot go into more detail here, but the question remains: do these elections have a political character? No, for the system is known as a ‘multi-party cooperation and political consultative system [duodang hezuo he zhengzhi xieshang zhidu]’, which designates that the system of elections that is not based on class conflict but on non-antagonistic relations among the different groups and their representatives.

Thus, in many respects elections have already lost their political character in China.

Introduction: Friedrich Engels and the Foundations of Socialist Governance

With some intense work over the last few weeks, this book will be complete by the weekend. It is called Friedrich Engels and the Foundations of Socialist Governance and will be published initially in Chinese as part of the celebration of the 200th anniversary of Engels’s birth, which happens to be next year, 2020.

What follows is the introduction to the book.

This work began as a larger project on socialist governance. The study of Engels was to be its second chapter, after Marx and before Lenin. Stalin, Mao and others. However, as I began to write the chapter it became apparent that Engels has far more to offer than Marx’s relatively cryptic formulations. As I read further, particularly in relatively unstudied material of the 1880s, I began to realise it was Engels, rather than Marx, who provided the main groundwork for a historical and dialectical materialist theory of the state. More than the state, which he defines as a separated public power, for he also provides the basic philosophical principles for what may be called socialist governance. The result was a book in itself, focused on Engels. Indeed, so important is Engels on this matter that I have reversed the usual order of referring to ‘Marx and Engels’ to speak of ‘Engels and Marx’ when it comes to co-authored material. This is not to disparage Marx’s contribution, for it remains very important (Boer 2019) and much of the material that came from Engels’s pen arose from discussion between them over such matters. But when it comes to socialist governance, Marx left us with an unresolved contradiction, between the Paris commune and the dictatorship of the proletariat. He made some tentative moves to resolve the contradiction, but his energy was on other projects rather than the state as such. It fell to Engels to develop such a theory, especially when Marx’s energy had waned and after he died in 1883. This book is an effort to explicate this theory in light of all the relevant material.

Rather than leaving the question begging to the very end, let me state here what Engels proposes concerning socialist governance. It entails that public power (Gewalt – a term we will meet frequently) loses its political character and focuses on the administration of the stuff of life and conduct of the economy for the good of the whole community (Gemeinwesen). This means that such a public power stands in the midst of society, rather than separate from and opposed to it. Far from being simpler and local (as the Anarchists would have it), this approach is even more complex and detailed than anything we have seen before, so much so that it constitutes a whole new level of authority, sovereignty and power. This is not all, for in extensive research later in life, especially into the German ‘Mark’, Engels argued for a dialectical transformation, an Aufhebung to a whole new qualitative level of original or baseline communism and its democracy. These concise points require a significant amount of explanation and exegesis of Engels’s texts in order to show how he arrives at such formulations.

In a moment, I will offer an outline of the arguments of each of the four chapters of the book, but first a word on secondary literature. It is quite sparse, particularly work that focuses on Engels’s distinct contribution.[1] Most of the material available focuses on Marx, with either dismissals of Engels’s contribution or at most deploying Engels to fill in some gaps. Further, the works referenced here tend to be highly selective in the range of texts discussed, with the result that the conclusions reached are somewhat skewed. This is particularly so with the ‘dying away’ of the state, which is seen as either an expression of the core ‘anarchist’ position of Marxism itself (Kelsen 1949, 12; Tucker 1967); or somewhat of a fig leaf for ‘authoritarianism’ (Bloom 1946; Adamiak 1970); or as a dismantling of the structures of governance very soon after a proletarian revolution (Medalie 1959; Hunt 1984, 231-46). At times, the selection emphasises one feature at the expense of others – the most notable being a liking for the Paris commune and a down-playing of the proletarian dictatorship, let alone socialist Gewalt (Miliband 1965; 1991, 151; Avineri 1968, 202-20; Johnstone 1971; Balibar 1977, 58; Jessop 1978; Hunt 1984; Draper 1986, 175-306; Paolucci 2007, 233-37; Van Ree 2015, 77, 115; Ware 2019, 161-63). In other words, there is very little that engages with the important material Engels produced in the late 1870s and especially the 1880s. There are one or two exceptions, although now somewhat dated: the first is the work of Hal Draper, especially those relevant to the current study (Draper 1970, 1977, 1986, 1990). While Draper has worked with much of the relevant material and his work is helpful as a beginning point of research, like many others he focuses overwhelmingly on Marx and sidelines Engels. Further, his conclusions have a tendency to confirm his presuppositions and are not always so helpful. The second is Richard Hunt (Hunt 1984), whose exhaustive study does at least deal with some of the relevant texts by Engels, although not crucial ones such as ‘The Mark’ or ‘The Role of Force in History’. Yet, Hunt’s study is vitiated by an assumption found in much of the material mentioned above, namely, that subsequent historical experiences of socialism in power and the arduous task of constructing socialism somehow departed from what Engels and Marx had thought. This book should go at least part of the way to show how erroneous such an assumption is.

Now for a synopsis of the content to come. The first chapter deals initially with Engels’s programmatic observations on hitherto existing states, which would set the subsequent agenda not only for Marxist studies of such states, but also the Weberian tradition (Weber’s definition of the state borrows heavily from Engels). Apart from noting the key features of this analysis, which involves the core idea of the state as a ‘separated public power’, the chapter focuses on Engels’s shifts between seeing such states state as semi-autonomous, as instruments of a particular class in power, or as shaped in their very nature by the class in question. Engels moves between these three overlapping approaches, depending on the point he seeks to make, but he tends in more detailed work to opt for the third: that the nature of the state is determined by the class in power. This position emerges particularly in a relatively ignored work, ‘The Role of Force in History’ (1887-1888). Here Engels offers an analysis of Bismarck in Germany that is a close companion to Marx’s ‘Eighteenth Brumaire’ (1852), with the specific point that the bourgeoisie was able to shape the state in its image indirectly, even when it did not hold the reins of power. Even more important is the emergence of a core category, Gewalt. The word is difficult to translate; its semantic field includes the senses of force, power and violence, so I leave the word untranslated. This provides a rather new angle, not only on his proposal that hitherto existing states may be defined as a ‘separated public Gewalt’, that a ‘public Gewalt’ exists that is not so separated, and that it is necessary for the workers’ movement to exercise socialist Gewalt.

This point leads to the second chapter, concerning socialist Gewalt and the dictatorship of the proletariat. The key finding of this chapter is Engels’s emphasis on proletarian Gewalt, in both the revolutionary process and in the early stages of the construction of socialism when power is gained through a revolution. The concrete manifestation of this socialist Gewalt is the dictatorship of the proletariat, which Engels (like Marx) defines carefully not as an individual dictatorship (as with Bakunin) or by a small band (Blanquist), but as a collective dictatorship by the majority, the workers. On this basis, Engels’s important contribution was to go beyond Marx in identifying the Paris commune with the proletarian dictatorship. The context was a struggle with the moderates of the increasingly large German Social Democratic Party, which tried to dispense with the dictatorship of the proletariat in its program and work within bourgeois democracy. In light of later tendencies in European communism to downplay the proletarian dictatorship and idealise the Paris commune (for example, with ‘Eurocommunism’ and the tendency among some European Marxists), Engels explicit argument that the commune was the exercise of the proletarian dictatorship, even that it did not go far enough in exercising such a dictatorship, is a timely warning. The chapter concludes by analysing Engels’s explicit usage of ‘socialist Gewalt’ itself, both before and after a revolution. Crucially, Engels points out that political power also has economic influence and potency (Potenz).

The third chapter focuses on the ‘dying away’ of the state, in contrast to its ‘abolition’ as promulgated by Bakunin and the Anarchists in the late 1860s and 1870s. Given the many misunderstandings that surround the idea of the ‘dying away’ of the state, this is the longest chapter in book since it analyses in significant detail all of the relevant material. It begins by studying the wider context in the 184os among German socialists, finding that while they spoke of the abolition (Abschaffung), annihilation (Vernichtung) and dialectical transformation (Aufhebung) of private property, money and inheritance, they rarely, if ever, spoke of the state as such. Instead, they envisioned alternative structures, either of a new state or of a new form of social organisation. This is true even of Proudhon, who deeply influenced these early German socialists. There is one notable exception: Max Stirner in his liberal anarchist work, The Ego and Its Own (1845), urged that the state should be abolished and annihilated. Thus, only when Engels and Marx (and others like Moses Hess) engage with Stirner do they speak of the abolition of the state, finding Stirner’s proposals wanting since its focus on an act of pure will.

It is only in 1850 that Engels (and Marx) speak directly of the ‘abolition [Abschaffung]’ of the state for the first time. Notably, this is a critical response to what had become a popular slogan in all manner of circles, including bourgeois ones where such an ‘abolition’ entailed a bourgeois order in which they would be left alone to pursue their private gain. Crucially, this piece – which borrows the language of the slogan – identifies Stirner as the source and introduces the need for a delay in such an abolition. This delay is an early result of the method hammered out in the years before and expressed clearly for the first time in the manifesto of 1848: the primary concern should be socio-economic matters. Thus, a communist revolution would have these as its main task, while any ‘abolition’ of the state would follow as an outcome of such activity. This would be the position, refined and sharpened, that both Engels and Marx would hold in the struggle with Bakunin, who first formulated a somewhat coherent Anarchist position in the late 1860s and particularly in 1870s.

For Bakunin, the state was the prime cause and foundation of all exploitation and oppression, whether political or economic. Thus, the first task of a revolutionary movement upon attaining power should be to abolish (Abschaffung) the state, as a willed and conscious act. Bakunin struggled to show why the state should have this foundational role, at times connecting its quasi-sacred status with the role of the Christian church. But for Engels and Marx, this approach simply did not make sense: in light of their approach, the state was a secondary phenomenon, arising from economic conditions and class struggle. Thus, a communist revolution would need to enact wide-sweeping changes to the means and relations of production before aspects of the superstructure, such as the state, could be addressed. In this context, we find an increasing emphasis that one of the final results of the process of constructing socialism, after other tasks had been achieved and the counter-revolution had been defeated, would be not the ‘abolition’ of the state, but its falling away, disappearance, going to sleep – the terms all appear in works of this time. Finally and as a way to sum up this position, Engels coined in the third edition of Anti-Dühring of 1894 the famous slogan: ‘the state is not abolished, it dies away’. The influence of this slogan is due to its appearance in the extracted material that appeared as ‘Socialism: Utopian and Scientific’, which was read and studied by all communists of the second and third generations.

The final chapter begins by addressing a contradiction that has arisen in light of the previous two chapters: between socialist Gewalt and the dying away of the of the state. The initial narrative of the former passing to the latter, which is part of Engels’s approach, addresses neither how authority and Gewalt would continue, nor the nature of governance in a communist society. Dealing with these questions is the focus on this chapter, although I undertake the task with an important caveat: Engels, and indeed Marx, never experienced the actual exercise of power after a communist revolution. They were fully aware of this reality, warning to such analysis can be undertaken only scientifically, only from actual experience. As Engels points out on a number of occasions, he and Marx were not in the business of creating utopian systems for the organisation of future of society.

The chapter has two main sections. The first part analyses a number of brief statements by Engels and Marx that may be collated as follows: public Gewalt loses its political character and becomes the administration of things and conduct of forces and relations of production, for the genuine good of society. The statements are notably brief, even formulaic, for the good reason that they had in their context no extensive data on the actual practice of socialist governance. There was, however, an abundance of information from another source: pre-state forms of social organisation that existed in many parts of the world. It was precisely to this source of information that Engels devoted considerable energy in the 1880s. Here he found complex and many-layered types of what he carefully called ‘social organisation’, which was not separated from but stood ‘in the midst of society’. They were not separated from society, not manifestations and means of class struggle, and thus did not constitute a state. Here, I seek to develop a terminology based on Engels, which speaks of the ‘enmeshed governance’ of ‘baseline communism’, with its attendant and indeed first form of human democracy. This is all very well, based as it was on the available historical anthropological material of the time, but what relevance does it have for the enmeshed governance of socialism, let alone communism? To answer this question, I focus on the remarkable work from 1882, ‘The Mark’. Here Engels outlines his research into this feature of German social life, from its earliest days to the present. The point – directed explicitly at peasant farmers – is that the communism of the future would entail a dialectical transformation (Aufhebung) of this baseline communism. Far from a hankering for the rural socialism of the European Middle Ages, or for an idealised ‘primitive communism’, or even for a secularised version of the religious return to Paradise, this dialectical transformation would both negate this baseline communism and transform its core features into a qualitatively different reality. Given that such a form of governance would stand in the midst of society, it cannot be called a ‘state’; indeed, we reach the limits of the language derived from the Western European tradition, for with this type of enmeshed governance it becomes increasingly difficult to speak of the separation of state and society.

The conclusion to the book outlines the way Engels’s contributions provide the philosophical basis for future developments of the historical reality of socialist governance. These insights include: the need for socialist Gewalt in constructing socialist society and economics; the dying away of the state – understood as a separated public Gewalt – as a secondary, long-term and gradual process; the development of de-politicised governance, which means that class struggle in no longer a feature of social and economic life, even if non-antagonistic contradictions persist; the enmeshment of governance within society, so that it is becomes increasingly impossible to distinguish between state and society or between state and economy. That this would entail new forms of governance is obvious, but at this point a question arises concerning continuity and discontinuity. On this matter it is important to strike a realistic balance: to suggest that Engels and indeed Marx foresaw, or perhaps should have foreseen, all of the developments in later efforts to construct socialism is simply unrealistic; to propose – as some of the literature mentioned earlier does – that later historical realities departed significantly from the original thoughts of the founders is even more extreme and simply not sustained by the evidence. Far better is a balanced approach. Thus, there is clearly significant continuity, much more than one might expect, between the initial philosophical foundations and the historical realities of socialism in power. At the same time, in the actual construction of socialism, from the Soviet Union to China, one would expect to face new problems for which new solutions were and are needed – albeit based on the initial principles and the method through which they were derived.. As Engels put it in 1890, ‘So-called “socialist society” is not, in my view, to be regarded as something that remains crystallised for all time, but rather being in process of constant change and transformation like all other social conditions’.

Finally, a word on the approach to citations. In all possible cases the primary citation is to the original language text by Engels (and Marx where relevant). These are in German, French and Italian, mostly available in the standard collections (Gesamtausgabe and the Werke), but at times they are not, since neither collection is complete. Where necessary, I have found the original language source outside such collections. In most cases, I provide my own translation to highlight particular features of the text, or at least a modification of the standard English translation found in the Collected Works. At the same time and for ease of reference for readers, I provide a reference to the English version, even if the translation offered does not conform to this version.

[1] In this work, I do not engage with Chinese language material, for that is the main focus on another work called Socialism with Chinese Characteristics.

Increasing international support for China’s human rights achievements in Xinjiang

‘No investigation, no right to speak [meiyou diaocha jiu meiyou fanyanquan]’.

This Chinese saying is particularly relevant for some in a small number of former colonising countries who like to make unfounded statements about China. That they have been used to seeing the world in their image is obvious; that they misunderstand much of the rest of the world is also obvious. But times are changing fast, for the voices from precisely such parts are increasingly strong and being heard.

Xinjiang and its highly successful counter-terrorism and de-radicalisation programs are a case in point. In contrast to the former colonisers, many foreign delegations and journalists from other countries have visited Xinjiang and undertaken proper investigation. Notably, this includes investigators from Muslim-majority and developing countries, which support China’s approach.

One recent result of this process of investigation is a joint letter from the ambassadors of 37 countries, which was sent to the UN’s human rights council. The letter indicates strong support for China’s successes in Xinjiang and its promotion of a Chinese Marxist approach to human rights.

As Xinhua news reports:

July 12 (Xinhua) — Ambassadors of 37 countries on Friday sent a joint letter to the President of the UN Human Rights Council and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to show their support for China on its “remarkable achievements in the field of human rights”.

“We commend China’s remarkable achievements in the field of human rights by adhering to the people-centered development philosophy and protecting and promoting human rights through development,” the joint letter said.

“We also appreciate China’s contributions to the international human rights cause,” it said.

The ambassadors expressed their “firm opposition” to relevant countries’ practice of politicizing human rights issues, by naming and shaming, and publicly exerting pressures on other countries.

“We urge the OHCHR, Treaty Bodies and relevant Special Procedures mandate holders to conduct their work in an objective and impartial manner according to their mandate and with true and genuinely credible information, and value the communication with member states,” the joint letter said.

The letter was signed by the ambassadors to UN at Geneva from Russia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Cuba, Algeria, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Nigeria, Angola, Togo, Tajikistan, Philippines, Belarus and a number of other countries from Asia, Africa, the Middle East and other parts of the world.

RESPECTING HUMAN RIGHTS IN COUNTER-TERRORISM

As for issues related to China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, the UN envoys said that terrorism, separatism and religious extremism have caused enormous damage to people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, which has seriously infringed upon human rights, including right to life, health and development.

“Faced with the grave challenge of terrorism and extremism, China has undertaken a series of counter-terrorism and de-radicalization measures in Xinjiang, including setting up vocational education and training centers,” they noted.

They mentioned that safety and security has returned to Xinjiang and the fundamental human rights of people of all ethnic groups there are safeguarded.

“The past three consecutive years has seen not a single terrorist attack in Xinjiang and people there enjoy a stronger sense of happiness, fulfillment and security,” the envoys stressed.

The ambassadors said they noted “with appreciation” that human rights are respected and protected in China in the process of counter-terrorism and de-radicalization.

“We appreciate China’s commitment to openness and transparency. China has invited a number of diplomats, international organizations officials and journalist to Xinjiang to witness the progress of the human rights cause and the outcomes of counter-terrorism and de-radicalization there,” they said, adding that what they saw and heard in Xinjiang completely contradicted what was reported in some western media.

“We call on relevant countries to refrain from employing unfounded charges against China based on unconfirmed information before they visit Xinjiang,” they concluded.

FULL SUPPORT FROM LOCAL PEOPLE

At the end of the letter, the ambassadors, on behalf of the respective country of them, request that this letter be recorded as an official document of the 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council and be published on the official UN Website.

Friday marked the last day of the 41st session of the UN Human Rights Council, which started on June 24.

Li Song, the Charge d’Affaires of the Permanent Mission of China to UN at Geneva, spoke on Friday at a UN Human Rights Council session, expressing appreciation and gratitude to the 37 ambassadors for their supports.

Li Song told the Council that China welcomes those who truly adhere to the principles of objectivity and fairness to come to visit Xinjiang, to take a look and feel its beauty, prosperity, hospitality, development and progress.

Once plagued by terrorist attacks, Li said, Xinjiang was determined to take lawful actions to fight crimes of violence and terrorism, and at the same time to take prevention and de-radicalization means to address the root causes, including the setting up of vocational education and training centers.

“Now these measures have achieved good results and gained full support from the local people,” the senior Chinese diplomat said.

“The people of all ethnic groups in Xinjiang, along with the entire Chinese people, will stride forward to build a brighter future of their own,” Li added.

Neo-colonialism and Hong Kong: Ambassador Liu Xiaoming responds to a couple of ignorant UK politicians

Following my earlier post about ‘Colonial Policy By Other Means‘ (in relation to Hong Kong and Taiwan), I have been enjoying reading the replies by the Chinese Ambassador to the UK, Liu Xiaoming, in response to one or two ignorant politicians in the UK, who have been cheering on the violence in Hong Kong.

In reply to someone called Jeremy Hunt (seems to be important over there):

It seems that he [Jeremy Hunt] is still immersed in the faded glory of colonialism. He is obsessed with condescendingly criticizing other countries. He keeps lying without remorse. Here I will say a few more words.

First, after Hong Kong’s return to China, British rights and obligations as outlined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration were completed. On July 1, 1997, China resumed sovereignty over Hong Kong. The Chinese Government started exercising jurisdiction over Hong Kong in accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law of Hong Kong SAR.

The UK has no sovereignty or rights to rule and supervise Hong Kong after the handover. There is no room for Britain to claim any so-called responsibility over Hong Kong whatsover. Claiming itself the guardian of Hong Kong is nothing more than self-entertaining.

Second, Mr Hunt says that the UK negotiated freedoms for Hong Kong. How brazen is that! Was there any democracy when the British governors were in Hong Kong? People in Hong Kong didn’t even have the right to take to the streets then. It is only after the return that Hong Kong residents started enjoying unprecedented democratic rights and freedoms. The Chinese Government strictly follows the Constitution and the Basic Law. It earnestly implements the  one country, two systems” policy. It ensures that the people of Hong Kong govern Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy.

Third, the violent storming of the Legislative Council on July 1 is a grave illegal activity. It tramples on the rule of law and undermines social order. In total disregard of facts, Mr. Hunt called the SAR government’s response “repression”. That is entirely misleading. I want to ask Mr. Hunt, if it were the British Parliament that had been stormed and vandalized, what would the British government do? Will it sit by idly and let the protesters have their way? If this is the democracy he believes in, should the police guarding the Parliament withdraw to allow in protesters across the street? Will he call the British police’s handling of the August 2011 riot in London “repression”?

I shall stress that Hong Kong is China’s special administrative region. Its affairs are purely China’s internal affairs. They brook no interference from any country, organization or individual in any form. We hope that the UK side, especially Mr. Hunt, will cease to overreach and interfere. Such attempts are doomed to fail.

And in reply to last colonial governor of Hong Kong, Chris Patten, who claims that as a former colony, the UK has a ‘right’ to interfere:

As the last governor of Hong Kong, his body is in the 21st century, but his head remains in the old colonial days. This bill won’t make it easier for Hong Kong to extradite people to the mainland. There are many safeguards. You know, first of all, there are 37 clauses as safeguards in this Bill. That means, no people would be extradited to mainland because of their religious or political beliefs. And the crime has to be punishable in both places. That means, to make an extreme case, if murder was not regarded as a crime in Hong Kong, then people who committed murder would not be extradited to the mainland.

As for the bill of extradition itself, what was its origin?

The whole thing was started by Hong Kong SAR government. Just as the Chief Executive said, she received no instruction from Beijing. She received no order from Beijing. It is completely the initiative launched by Hong Kong SAR government, to make Hong Kong system more perfect, to improve the legal system.

You mentioned “One China, Two Systems” for 50 years. We are fully committed to this promise. There is no question about that. So you can see that from day one till now, the central government has not interfered at all. Every step of the way, we let the Hong Kong SAR government handle this. Instead, it is the British government that was trying to interfere, voicing support for the demonstrators … they tried to obstruct the legal process. To answer your question in a simple way, have full confidence in Hong Kong SAR government. And it shows that they are capable of handling the situation.

 

Why Is Chinese Governance Better?

Recently, Martin Jacques observed that Chinese governance under the CPC is a better, more efficient and higher form of governance than we have seen thus far. To begin with, Jacques is correct. This is particularly obvious if we compare it with bourgeois (liberal) democracy, which is now obsolete and quite clumsy. The latter arose in a specific context, in eighteenth and nineteenth century Western Europe, and may have been appropriate in that part of the world in the wake of the bourgeois revolutions. It has also been transplanted to some former colonies in North America, Australia and New Zealand. But the system is rather crude, with nearly every feature of public life politicised, with antagonistic political engagement in which one policy is promulgated by a particular political party only to be undone by the next. Chaotic, clumsy and outdated.

As is usually the case with Martin Jacques, he tries to explain this reality by going back into China’s more distant past. Strangely, he skips past the central role of Marxism in shaping the current practice of governance in China. So let us see what such a focus indicates (this article is also useful).

Here I draw on a book I am writing on Engels, for it is precisely Engels (more than Marx) who provides the philosophical basis for socialist governance. The book has taken longer than expected, since I need to work carefully through material few consider. In the final chapter, I examine Engels’s ideas concerning what a socialist form of governance might be.

There are two main points.

First, the organs of governance ‘stand in the midst of society’. Engels draws this insight from his careful study in the 1870s and 1880s of what he calls ‘pre-state’ societies, but which may also be called ‘base communism’ and ‘base democracy’. Why ‘pre-state’? For Engels, the state is a ‘separated public power’, which arises from class conflict and stands over against society. By contrast, base communism does not have this separation. All the various organs of governance – and there are many – stand in the midst of society. They are woven within social structures, being part and parcel of society as a whole. In my book, I have developed the category of ‘enmeshment’ to understand how this might work: society, state and economy are not separated from one another, but rather enmeshed within one another.

One might respond: but Engels is dealing with ancient societies, in a historical and anthropological way, so these insights are not relevant for how socialism today functions. The answer: in a crucial but under-studied piece called ‘The Mark’, Engels points out that this type of base communism would be dialectically transformed under socialism, so as to become the type of society and governance that would be appropriate.

This point I have realised for some time, but the second is relatively new: ‘public functions will lose their political character and be transformed into the simple administrative functions of watching over the true interests of society’. This text is quoted from Engels’s 1873 piece, ‘On Authority’, in which he castigates the impractical proposals of the Anarchists, especially under Bakunin’s leadership. But the core idea of political character disappearing and being replaced by an efficient administration focused on the public good is crucial (it appears elsewhere in Engels’s work and is voiced by Marx).

Let us begin with political character. Under bourgeois democracies, a whole spate of areas are political footballs: education, health, environment, public transport, immigration and refugees, economic policy, and so on. They are the subject of election campaigns, of bewildering changes in policy with changes in the party in power, of implementation and winding back. But if they lose their political character, they cease to be tossed back and forth depending on the whims of political parties.

In place of this political character is efficient administration focused on the public good. Let me give three examples drawn from China. In education, the long-term plan is to improve the already impressive educational system in all respects. This entails careful research, significant funding, trials of new methods in some areas before extending them to the rest of the country, and so on. For this reason, people with whom I speak in China find it unbelievable that the Australian government – as one example – has been reducing funding for education for quite some time now.

Another example concerns public transport, which is reasonably well-known internationally. Simply put, the Chinese rail system is now the best in the world. Three levels of high-speed train operate across the country, while the slower ‘green skin’ trains ply local routes. In cities across China, world-leading metro systems are being implemented at a breath-taking pace. One that I know well is in Beijing, where they are working towards increasing the total kilometres covered from about 500 km to 1,000 km. Currently, it caters for 6 billion passenger trips per year, but this will increase. Again, this is seen as a public good, requiring long-term planning and efficient implementation.

Finally, environmental policy and action, which is called in China ‘ecological civilisation [shengtai wenming]’. The term refers to the modes of life and their relation to the environment: only when this is sorted out can we speak of wenming, which is not so much ‘citification’ (as the Latin origins of ‘civilisation’ suggest) but the just, peaceful, healthy and stable nature of culture. In China, the realities of climate change are not politicised; instead, they needs to be addressed directly. I have seen this with my own eyes, in what may be called the greening of China. The country leads the world in reafforestation, the water, plants and air of major cities have been improving year on year, and green technologies are leaping ahead. Again, this is efficient administration for the public good.

So yes, Chinese governance is clearly the highest form we have seen thus far, precisely because of the CPC and the socialist road. We should of course be careful: Engels’s formulations are not the final word on the matter. He had never experienced the actual process of constructing socialism, let alone a successful communist revolution. But it is rather striking how he and Marx provide the philosophical basis of socialist governance in terms of the disappearance of its political character and the development of efficient and careful administration for the public good. That the Chinese have developed these much further, in light of their conditions and the actual experience of constructing socialist governance, should be clear.

Organisation of Islamic Cooperation supports China’s anti-terrorism actions in Xinjiang

The Xinjiang Autonomous Region has developed what is arguably the most effective anti-terrorism and de-radicalism program in the world. Since 2016, no further terrorist attacks have occurred, a notable achievement in light of the multitude of incidents incited by ‘East Turkistan’ forces since the 1990s. Recently, the UN’s under-secretary of counter-terrorism, Vladimir Koronkov (see here, here and here), visited Xinjiang and indicated strong support for the local and central government approaches to dealing with the problem of terrorism in Xinjiang.

Perhaps even more important are the resolutions of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which has well over 50 members and represents the voice of the Islamic world.

Most recently, the foreign ministers of the OIC met on 1-2 March 2019 and adopted a series of resolutions, the most pertinent of which are the following:

Welcomes the outcomes of the visit conducted by the General Secretariat’s delegation upon invitation from the People’s Republic of China; commends the efforts of the People’s Republic of China in providing care to its Muslim citizens; and looks forward to further cooperation between the OIC and the People’s Republic of China.

This is resolution 20, which must be seen in light of the initial resolutions:

1. Reiterates its commitment to all ministerial resolutions on Muslim communities and minorities in non-OIC Member States and calls on Member States to provide assistance to them and to contribute to the settlement of their problems in full respect of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the countries to which they belong, and through cooperation with the governments of these States;

2. Emphasizes the need to respect the rights of Muslim communities and minorities in non-OIC Member States; alarmed by the problems they face, resulting from discrimination, repression or persecution; and stresses the importance of continued coordination between the Member States in order to find ways to assist them to solve their problems, protect their religious, cultural, civil, political and economic rights and preserve their Islamic identity;

3. Emphasizes that the protection of the rights and identity of Muslim communities and minorities in non-OIC Member States is primarily the responsibility of the Governments of those States, consistent with the principles of international law.

6. Emphasizes that the UN Human Rights Council Resolution 16/18 on “Combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatization of, and discrimination, incitement to violence and violence against persons based on religion or belief” constitutes a historic consensus by bringing together divergent views on eliminating religious discrimination and intolerance on the basis of proposals made on behalf of the OIC and other stakeholders and encourages the OIC member states to extend full support to the Istanbul Process in connection with the Resolution 16/18”.

7. Reaffirms that education is a natural right for all members of the community free from any discrimination as underlined by all the pertinent international accords and treaties and invites the Member States, including Islamic non-governmental as well as civil-society institutions, in coordination with the states concerned, to extend all forms of assistance such as to strengthen the educational system, particularly through sending teachers to contribute to the education of the children belonging to Muslim communities and through the extension of scholarships for studies in schools and universities.

As far as the OIC is concerned, China is doing a great job in Xinjiang. Other countries will soon adopt its approach.