The Guardian • Issue #2084

Book Review by Denis Doherty

The East is still Red

Carlos Martinez

  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2084

This is a book that appeals to all people in Australia to look at China with eyes that are open, fair, and modest. For too long we have stood by and witnessed anti-China rhetoric which is piled on us each day from the media, and we have been somewhat powerless to step in and correct the misinformation.

So let’s pay tribute, as this book does, to China’s achievements, rather than looking for tiny cracks in some idealised model of socialism that may inhabit some Australian heads.

Before liberation, China was one of the poorest countries in the world, wracked by famine, starvation and poverty. Yet under the Communist Party of China (CPC) government, it may well be the richest country in the world by 2028. China has doubled life expectancy since liberation, and literacy is almost 100 per cent. Everybody has access to healthcare and education. The UN Development Programme describes China as having achieved “the most rapid decline in absolute poverty ever witnessed.”

We need some humility here, because as we know Australia is one of the richest countries in the world, but is content to allow around 13 per cent to live below the poverty line. China’s achievements are many and varied, and when it comes to suffering sanctions or restrictions it manages to overcome obstacles with its ability to concentrate its peoples’ skills and resources to solve a problem. When the US barred Chinese scientists from the orbiting Space Station, China built its own. When the US stopped the supply of chips to its mobile phone and other networks, China built a superior chip. China leads the world on fighting climate change. The author goes on to say “China’s extraordinary achievements are built on specifically socialist foundations.”

Of course, as Martinez freely acknowledges, there are billionaires and inequalities in China. China’s socialism is socialism with ‘Chinese characteristics,’ a socialism that has been honed by the task of feeding its people after the deprivations of imperialism. The Chinese government and people still command the heights of the economy, and there is no chance that these billionaires can run the country as in Australia or other western nations.

The book covers a lot of the issues that are thrown up to denigrate China. Is China imperialist? What about Xinjiang and the Uyghurs? These issues and more are dealt with in a calm relaxed manner with plenty of facts and quotes to back up the case for China.  The expansion of China’s interest in Africa, South America are treated thoroughly, as is the Belt and Road initiative. These and many more issues are all treated with candour and in a readable and easy style.

The book devotes a chapter to the Chinese study of the fall of Soviet Union and explains why what happened there would not happen to China. It is impossible to summarise the fall of the Soviet Union in this space, but this quote from a high-ranking Soviet official gives a clue:

What happened in our country is primarily the result of debilitation and eventual elimination of the Communist Party’s leading role in society, the ejection of the party from major policymaking, its ideological and organisational unravelling.

The Chinese have very firmly kept the party’s leading role paramount and honoured past leaders for their contribution to making China a more equitable society. China has never had a Krushchev and his denigration of Stalin. The Chinese believe if they follow Deng Xiaoping’s four principles: 1) Defend the socialist road, 2) Maintain the people’s democratic dictatorship, 3) Maintain the leadership of the party, they won’t fall into the faults that the Soviet Union did.

China’s ecological record is dealt with as well, and again it is a revelation. It’s easy to believe that China in its haste to catch up with the west threw caution to wind and industrialised without restraint, and to blame ‘China’ for environmental problems. The reality is very different. John Kerry, the US special envoy for the climate observed “China is becoming an energy superpower” and “China is has surpassed us for the lead in renewable technology.” This book outlines steps regarding reafforestation, renewable energy, China will not finance any overseas coal mines. Martinez outlines how China has become the leading nation in fighting climate change.

Martinez describes the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) as a generating hub for anti-Chinese rhetoric, which was clearly illustrated recently when this institute funded by the Australian government and elements of the US arms industry assisted the publication of the Channel 9 newspapers in Sydney and Melbourne with its cover story of ‘Red Alert.’

The book campaigns to fight the denigration of China and the new cold war which is being waged against it every day by elements in the west alarmed at China’s success. We know from the last cold war that the cold war is class war. It is war waged against progressive elements in all nations so that the US and the West can keep their hegemony. This book is a call to arms to defend this socialist and very successful country from all sorts of attack.

The East is still Red by Carlos Martinez
Praxis Press 2023.

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