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AUSTRALIAN
MARXIST
REVIEW

Journal of the Communist Party of Australia

ISSUE 63December 2016

Reliable friends of China

For many years, the Communist Party of Australia (CPA) has been drawing attention to the drive of US imperialism to isolate, encircle, disrupt and, eventually, dismember and exploit the People’s Republic of China. The US has sought to exclude China from trade arrangements and applied pressure to its allies to do the same. It has ignored and then abused international institutions such as the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) in a flagrant and hypocritical manner to attack the interests of China, including those in the South China Sea.

The US administration has funded a range of essentially subversive organisations like the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) to destabilise governments around the world who do not submit to its geopolitical and economic diktat. It gave $5.3 million to “democracy” activists in mainland China and additional millions to anti-Party forces in Xinjiang, Tibet and Hong Kong. The NED gave Liu Xiaobo’s organisations, Independent Chinese PEN Centre and Democratic China, approximately $1 million from 2004 to 2007. These are just some of the public examples from a single US actor.

The CPA has consistently drawn attention to the reactionary agenda of the US and its threat to progress and peace. Countries in the region have shown different levels of complicity, compliance or resistance to pressure from the US to join a war-fighting alliance against China. Different political forces in the various countries can take different positions on these questions of war and peace. Though Australia is locked into an alliance with the US, the situation is no different from its neighbours with regard to the range of opinion and contradictions developing within the political life of the country about relations with the People’s Republic of China.

Who are China’s friends in Australia?

The Australian political process is dominated by two major parties: The Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the Liberal Party. Although these parties developed from separate roots and historically displayed slightly different stances on major issues, they share an unshakeable dedication to representing the ruling class. In relation to China, they pursue the same basic policy of: unconditional support for the US, lip service to economic cooperation with China while blocking Chinese investment and interfering in China’s affairs under the cover of democracy and human rights.

In 2009, while the ALP was the ruling party in the Australian parliament, two attempts by Chinese companies to buy Australian mines were blocked on the grounds of “national security” [1] & [2]. In 2012, Huawei was in the lead to win a bid to work on Australia’s National Broadband Network, a once in a generation infrastructure project, but was also rejected by the ALP-lead federal government for national security reasons[3]. The Liberal Party defeated the ALP in the 2013 federal election and upon taking government, continued to block Huawei from participating in the NBN [4] & [5]. Huawei, and by extension all Chinese telecommunications companies, are labelled a security threat and even harassed out of the US market over fraudulent spying claims[6]. Yet no such ban is placed on US companies, even though the National Security Agency admitted to placing millions of spy tools into US produced routers for export[7]. Over the last two years, the Liberal Party-led federal government has blocked two more major Chinese investments, a large cattle farm and the Ausgrid power infrastructure, in NSW with the same flimsy excuse of national security.

The anti-Chinese position of the two major parties becomes even clearer when their policy towards the United States is examined. Both parties are unconditionally supportive of Australia’s military alliance with the United States. Australia hosts 30 US military installations including a base for 2,500 US marines and a major electronic spy station at Pine Gap that controls US spy satellites as they pass over China[8] & [9]. In Defence White Papers, government documents that describe Australia’s defence policy and planning, China has been labelled a threat[10]. A government official responsible for the production of the 2016 Defence White Paper commented: “(The) aim of the policy is to equip the ADF to make meaningful contributions in maritime SE Asia with the strategic defence objective of contributing to international coalitions to maintain a rules-based global order” [11]. A rules-based global order is code for the status quo of US imperialist domination, so translated out of double-speak, the goal of Australian defence policy is to band together with US allies to enforce US imperialism, specifically in the South China Sea.

In recent years, Australia has been drawn further into the US alliance with the stationing of US marines in Australia’s north[12] and has encouraged the militarisation of other US allies in the region. Australia’s Foreign Minister, Julie Bishop, welcomed moves by the Japanese government to re-militarise, stating: “Australia fully supports reforms that increase Japan’s role in our shared interests in regional and international peace and security” [13]. Remember that the “shared interests” of US allies are to maintain a “rules-based global order” while regional security in this instance means continued US hegemony. If the subservient role to the US that the major parties advocate weren’t clear enough, in 2015, US president Obama publicly criticised Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnball for not informing him in advance about the sale of a civilian port in Australia to a Chinese company[14]!

Anti-Chinese attacks by the major parties are not limited to economic sabotage and military preparations; the ideological realm is also key. Spokespersons of both parties use concepts of bourgeoisie democracy and human rights, as weapons when discussing China. Australia recently joined other US allies, including Japan, in Geneva to condemn “human rights abuses” in China[15]. Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, a China expert and fluent Mandarin speaker, used his language skills and knowledge of China to criticise the Chinese government over supposed human rights problems in Tibet[16] while speaking to a gathering of students at Qinghua University. He used the Chinese concept of “Zhengyou” [17], a “true friend” to mask his delivery of anti-Chinese government propaganda to the future elites of the country, planting the seeds of domestic counter-revolution.

The Australian political scene is also composed of minor parties with varying degrees of influence; however all of these parties express anti-Chinese sentiments. The largest independent minor party is The Greens. Nominally a left-wing party, it focuses on environmental and social justice issues. While generally progressive on domestic issues, The Greens take a hard-line anti-Chinese stance in regard to Tibet, Xinjiang, the Dalai Lama and any other “human rights” issues[18], [19] & [20]. The founder of The Greens used his first and last speeches in parliament to raise the Tibet issue. The Greens also welcomed the decision by The Hague, denying all of China’s claims to territory in the South China Sea, and called on all sides to abide by the decision[21].

The other minor parties and individuals who hold seats in Australia’s parliament are largely right wing. They too hold anti-Chinese government positions however they are typically motived by anti-Chinese racism rather than faux human rights. Clive Palmer, leader of the Palmer United Party (PuP), publicly called the Chinese government “bastards” and “mongrels” [22]. Palmer was quoted on national TV saying: “I am saying that because they are Communists, because they shoot their own people, they haven’t got a justice system and they want to take over this country” [23]. Jacqui Lambie, a former PuP and now independent Senator, said: “The Communist Chinese military capacity and level of threat to the western world democracies is at an unprecedented and historical high” [24]. Even supposedly “centrist” candidates such as the Xenophon Team advocate strongly anti-Chinese policy. This group of senators are strongly opposed to Chinese investment such as the proposed Kidman and Ausgrid sales [25] & [26]. They also strongly support increases in Australia’s submarine fleet, which would of course be used to help contain China[27].

Finally, the ultra-left parties and Trotskyite groupings are all vehemently anti-Chinese. Trotskyite groups first appeared in Australia in the 1930s. They remained small and isolated though two early members went on to make history. CIA-connected Laurie Short went on to defeat the Communist leadership of the Federated Ironworkers Association (as the union was then known) and establish a yellow, right-wing union in a key industry. John Kerr later became the Governor-General of the country and dismissed the government of Prime Minister Gough Whitlam. From 1972 - 1975 it had a record of important pro-people reform and foreign policy shifts, including the early recognition of the People’s Republic of China.

Well-resourced Trotskyite groups began to appear in the late 1960s. They attached themselves to the anti-Vietnam war protest movement. They had their greatest success in recruiting among university students on the basis of ultra-left political slogans and anti-Communism. The consolidation of these groups was a setback from which the left has not fully recovered. They distract many with their seemingly “radical” activities and publications but, most importantly, take positions very helpful to imperialism.

Trotskyite groups backed the dismemberment of Yugoslavia. They supported a NATO-imposed “no-fly zone” over Libya in that country’s dying days. Today they support the opposition to President Assad in Syria, claiming that the US puppet “Free Syrian Army” is largely a progressive force. They support “independence” for Tibet and maintain campaigns of disinformation from a phoney “left” perspective regarding the recent history of China.

One group, the Socialist Alliance, attacks the economic course pursued by China while supporting essentially identical changes in the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. One former leader of a Trotskyite group was in Beijing and participated in the anti-government disturbances of June 1989. The effect of all of this meddling is to divide and confuse the left of our country at the same time as it is receiving heavy blows from the political right that dominates in state and federal governments and the media.

From big to small, far right-wing to ultra-left and everywhere in between, every party in Australian politics, except for one, is opposed to the Chinese government and the Peoples’ Republic of China.

What is to be done?

The evidence presented to us by history and by current events reaffirms a basic truth: the United States, as the chief imperialist nation, is fundamentally opposed to the peaceful rise of Socialist China and the continued existence of the Communist Party of China. The imperialists are not interested in mutual benefit and they cannot be defeated militarily. So what is to be done?

One proven moderating influence on the policy of imperialist countries is mass political campaigns by progressive domestic political forces.

When Australia was locked into the carnage of the First World War by its subservience to British Imperialism, popular forces successfully rallied to defeat the federal government’s plan to impose conscription. In the lead-up to the Second World War, Australia was selling pig iron to Japan that was used to make weapons to slaughter the Chinese people[28]. Ted Roach, a Communist Party of Australia member and union leader, led waterside workers in refusing to load war materials on ships destined for Japan[29]. Other waterside workers followed suit and Australian shipments of war material to Japan dropped. This is an early example of a common trend in Australian union history; Communist-lead unions fighting for social justice.

The US-led invasion of Vietnam, which Australian soldiers took part in, was ultimately defeated substantially by the resistance of the people of Vietnam, and by the peace movement in the imperialist countries. The Liberal government, which had held office for 22 years, was defeated by mass opposition to Australia’s role in the Vietnam War. Upon winning the election, the new Whitlam labour government withdrew Australian forces from Vietnam. This new government, which took office in a climate of Communist-led labour unions and successful public campaigns for social justice causes, finally recognised the Peoples’ Republic of China.

More recently, Communist Party of Australia members joined other peace activists to form a united front against the South Australian government’s plans to turn this state into a centre of weapons production. This united front successfully shut down the Asia Pacific Defence Security Expo in 2008, deeply embarrassing the government who had widely publicised the event. Party cadres are now at the core of a new movement to prevent South Australia from becoming a nuclear waste dump site, and by extension, opposing the expansion of the nuclear industry.

There is a growing resentment among working Australians today about the export of their jobs and their replacement domestically by migrant workers. Australian workers are also angered by the actions of Chinese companies such as Yuanda, which imported deadly asbestos building materials, exposing them in the process. These are legitimate concerns but they are being hijacked by right-wing forces and turned into a racist criticism of China and Chinese people. Among the very few forces standing against the racist line is the CFMEU (the union which covers building workers), which has a history of Communist leadership and whose leadership still includes a number of Communist Party members.

Progressive social forces and groupings including the Communist Party of Australia have forced Australian governments to curtail specific reactionary policies in the past and is working now in the peace, environment and labour movements to build popular support for progressive positions.

Helping others to help oneself

The major weakness of the imperialist countries is internal. Real life experience has proved that united action by the working masses can force policy changes, even if they don’t change the nature of those states. However, these forces need to be led by a party with a firm political stance in favour of Socialism and the Socialist countries; otherwise they will succumb to ideological confusion or infiltration by the rest of the Australian political spectrum which is firmly anti-Communist.

So, what should China do to minimise the threat of the imperialist countries? The Chinese government and the Communist Party of China should focus on strengthening Communist parties in the imperialist countries.

These parties have been weakened by the retreat of Socialism since the ’90s and the collapse of the Socialist World. Vital support from the Soviet Union disappeared and the class enemy has grown bolder. These Communist parties have the potential to be more effective defenders of peace and solidarity with the People’s Republic of China but they need a critical mass of support before they can do this.

The Chinese government and CPC could consider the following:

  • Host cadre training schools and invite Communists from abroad to attend. These schools should teach cadres both Marxist-Leninist theory and practical political skills such as secure communications and how to avoid arrest.
  • Host technical training in graphic design, video editing, social media, public speaking, accounting, printing, photography and other basic skills required for political action.
  • Provide materials tailored to the individual country’s situation that argues the Chinese case on foreign affairs issues.

Communist Parties are the strongest and most reliable voices for defending China’s interests. They are the only force that will willingly lead people onto the streets to shut down the aggressive policy of imperialist countries against China. Despite their small size, they have already achieved much more than their numbers would suggest. A small commitment from a Chinese perspective would make a big difference by helping to create suitable circumstances for China’s peaceful rise.

Is doing nothing an alternative?

The idea of showing such support to Communist parties in the capitalist world is not a new or outrageous one. Socialist countries have historically provided vital aid to the struggles of peoples around the world against the class enemy. China itself provided much needed aid to struggles in Korea, Vietnam, Algeria, the Philippines and a large number of African countries. Despite this glorious tradition of Marxist-Leninist internationalism, modern Chinese scholars and officials appear to be shocked by the suggestion that the CPC should give assistance to foreign Communist parties.

The first and perhaps most common objection to supporting the Communist parties of other countries is that this would constitute interference in their internal affairs or in the affairs of foreign countries. This is a misguided view. China’s purchasing of large quantities of Australian commodities has an enormous effect on the Australian economy and follow-on effects on Australian politics. Chinese officials have denounced the actions of the Australian government, an action which is considered to be interference in internal affairs when US officials do the same to their Chinese counterparts. While imperialist countries spend hundreds of millions of dollars funding anti-Communist agents, organisations and action within China, how can Chinese comrades continue to be afraid of offending the imperialists?

It is incorrect to view support as interference in the affairs of foreign parties. Training, education and financial support does not necessitate hegemonic relations between parties, nor does it even imply a one-way relationship of giving. The cooperation suggested by this paper is in fact one of mutual benefit. Foreign Communist parties receive an essential boost, helping them build to a critical mass where they can become major political players in their home countries. The CPC gains powerful, valuable allies in the capitalist world who will put strong pressure on the governments of the imperialist world to moderate their anti-Chinese policy.

Other naysayers complain that supporting fraternal Communist parties will be seen as provocative, adding fuel to the propaganda assault by imperialist countries against China. A great Australian Communist once said that we can’t expect the enemy to ever have a good word for us. It does not matter what the Communist Party or the Peoples’ Government does, it will always be the target of lies, vitriol and rumour. So it is pointless to try and appease the propaganda apparatus of the enemy; it will not be appeased until the destruction of socialism in China and the enslavement of the Chinese people to international capital. Instead of appeasement, we need to assertively fight back and use all methods at our disposal to win the ideological battle.

A similar claim is that Communist parties will appear compromised if it becomes known they accept money from the CPC. This is similarly naïve. It is generally assumed in the West that local Communist parties are merely puppets of larger Communist parties, such as the former Communist Party of the Soviet Union. One of the authors of this paper met with a very knowledgeable expert on Chinese politics and when the topic of the lack of cooperation between the CPC and the Communist Party of Australia was raised he was shocked that we don’t receive training and other support!

Finally, more realistic observers may comment that China should support foreign forces but they should only choose parties that are already strong in each country. They may suggest political donations to the Australian Labor Party or Liberal Party as these are the two biggest parties in the country. This would be a good idea if these parties weren’t already deeply wedded to the ruling class of Australia and know which interests they serve. Both parties, while in government, give honeyed speeches about the value of the Australia-China relationship but their policy shows their real agenda. As has been demonstrated in the previous section, both parties have entangled Australia ever deeper in the US alliance, use “human rights” to attack China and hypocritically support the decisions of international bodies to raise tensions in the region.

Instead of attempting to influence parties that are already well paid to oppose China’s rise, it is much more valuable to help China’s real friends to become more successful. As they grow in strength, their influence grows and their ability to defend China’s sovereignty and socialist development is heightened.


[1]www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/australia/5061446/Australia-blocks-Chinese-takeover-of-sensitive-mine.html

[2]www.smh.com.au/business/world-business/australia-blocked-china-investment-on-supply-concerns-20110214-1au8x.html

[3]www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/china-company-ban-puts-trade-relations-at-risk-20120326-1vunh.html

[4]www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/joe-hockey-says-no-to-huawei-investment-in-nbn-20131029-2wf1f.html

[5]www.smh.com.au/business/china/huawei--ban-threat-to-free-trade-deal-20131030-2wfy8.html

[6]www.theguardian.com/books/2014/may/12/glenn-greenwald-nsa-tampers-us-internet-routers-snowden

[7]ibid

[8]Communist Party of Australia, Political Resolutions, p.27

[9]Middleton, Hannah (2009). “The Campaign against US military bases in Australia”. In Blanchard, Lynda-ann; Chan, Leah. Ending War, Building Peace. Sydney University Press. pp. 125–126.

[10]www.smh.com.au/national/chinas-fury-at-defence-paper-20101209-18rel.html

[11]www.afr.com/news/policy/defence/walker-on-richardson-head-here-20160317-gnlaud

[12]www.smh.com.au/comment/as-us-marines-arrive-in-darwin-australia-must-consider-its-strategic-position-20160422-goco5s.html

[13]www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/sep/19/julie-bishop-welcomes-japan-reforms-which-could-see-its-troops-fight-abroad

[14]www.afr.com/news/politics/let-us-know-next-time-how-obama-chided-turnbull-over-darwin-port-sale-20151118-gl1qkg

[15]www.smh.com.au/world/australia-joins-concerned-nations-to-condemn-china-on-human-rights-20160311-gngjvb.html

[16]www.theage.com.au/news/national/rudd-confronts-china-on-human-rights/2008/04/09/1207420486421.html

[17]www.theaustralian.com.au/news/kevin-rudds-speech-at-beijing-uni/story-e6frg6n6-1111116015758?nk=83ed0e8b64e397c985e6b320211563cc-1473569783

[18]bob-brown.greensmps.org.au/content/news-stories/turning-blind-eye-china

[19]bob-brown.greensmps.org.au/content/media-releases/tibet-motion-passes-senate

[20]greensmps.org.au/category/issues-tags/tibet?page=1

[21]greens.org.au/news/wa/greens-welcome-un-court-decision-south-china-sea

[22]www.abc.net.au/news/2014-08-19/government-extending-olive-branch-to-china-after-palmer-tirade/5681118

[23]www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2014/08/19/lambie-warns-chinese-invasion-threat

[24]ibid

[25]www.afr.com/business/energy/electricity/nick-xenophon-demands-more-clarity-before-ausgrid-sale-to-chinese-firm-20160718-gq8m45

[26]www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/south-australia/nick-xenophon-vows-election-brawl-over-selloff-of-skidmans-sa-cattle-empire-to-china/news-story/aff2acb23468e24994dc688e99799c39?nk=bcf10f63e4bac2c452a6652bdefb5bdc-1473418153

[27]www.abc.net.au/news/2015-09-15/nick-xenophon-writes-to-malcolm-turnbull-on-sa-submarines/6776498

[28]asslh.org.au/hummer/vol-3-no-2/dalfram-pig-iron/

[29]workinglife.org.au/2013/11/22/the-wharfies-who-stopped-pig-iron-bob/

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