The following interview was carried out by journalists Pietro Fiocchi and Chen Ji for the Esperanto edition of China Reports in advance of the 20th congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), which will open on 16 October.
How do you see relations between China and Great Britain? How would you like to develop these relationships?
The relations between China and Britain are bad and growing worse, for the simple reason that Britain, as an imperialist country, is implacably hostile to China’s economic and political independence. The more that China develops its technological and military capabilities, the more the imperialists feel threatened, seeing that their ability to blackmail China is steadily disappearing.
As far as the workers of Britain are concerned, we have nothing to fear from the prosperity and success of an independent China, quite the reverse. China is willing to share its expertise in developing green technologies and infrastructure with the world, but in order for British workers to benefit from such a positive relationship, they must first remove the system that keeps them servicing the profit needs of capital rather than the human needs of the people.
The 20th national congress of the CPC is an important moment in China for all the people. In your opinion, what significance and importance might this event have for the peoples of countries outside China?
The stronger China becomes in its industrial, technological and military development, while sticking to a path of people-oriented development and independence from imperialism, the more it is able to help other developing countries to break free of the stranglehold of debt slavery and military coercion that keep them subservient and poor in the imperialist economic system.
Under this system of monopoly capitalism, the hard work of many people in developing countries, along with the riches of their lands, simply go to feed the bank balances of the western monopolies, leaving nothing to meet the needs of the people themselves.
I am sure that a successful 20th party congress will renew the will of the CPC’s leaders to lead China in the way they have been doing recently – ensuring that not only their own people but those of their allies are able to benefit from China’s rapid development and advance.
China’s Belt and Road initiative, to give just one example, is bringing trade, development and technological development everywhere it goes – and thus much of the world has the potential to be transformed and many of its peoples have the chance to lift themselves out of poverty through working with China to build an alternative to the bloodsucking imperialist system that breeds poverty, inequality, crisis and war.
The 20th party congress I feel sure will reassert China’s path in this direction and re-elect the leadership that is committed to this anti-imperialist path – making it a truly significant event for the whole of humanity.
What kind of artistic and cultural projects could be workable and effective to improve mutual understanding between peoples and thus really create an atmosphere in which we could build a common future?
Art and culture do not exist in a vacuum, but reflect the society and class attitudes from which they spring. In Britain, as the postwar welfare provisions are rolled back, the arts are less and less accessible to ordinary working people – either as something they can participate in themselves, or as something they can view as part of an audience. As a result, art that is produced in Britain today is overwhelmingly bourgeois and liberal in nature, and thus hostile to the interests of the working class at home and abroad.
To share art in a meaningful way, we would first have to have art production by and for the masses – as can be seen in socialist countries. China has wonderful examples of this, as did the Soviet Union. Art of this type is aimed at reflecting the real lives and interests of the people, at inspiring them to apply their creativity to solving humanity’s problems, and at sharing the specific local characteristics and historical traditions that give song, dance, theatre, painting, sculpture etc their unique character in each part of the world.
To my mind, the real condition for such a fruitful artistic exchange is based in our socialist revolution – or at least in the emergence of an extremely strong and vibrant revolutionary socialist movement, which is able to draw in the masses and inspire their artistic creation as they struggle for revolutionary change in Britain.
In the meantime, I would love to see China revive one of the best traditions of the Mao era and start to propagate again revolutionary literature in many languages all over the world. This is a great cultural contribution that could be made to help the masses everywhere in their struggle for socialism. I myself grew up reading children’s stories from revolutionary China, which undoubtedly had a great impact on my mindset and worldview. In my twenties, when I started to study Marxism seriously, the texts of Marx, Engels, Lenin and Stalin that I read from had all been translated and printed in Beijing. This gift to the world revolutionary movement is beyond price.
China is now embarking on an all-round construction of a modern socialist country. How do you assess the evolution and economic development of the country?
This is a very big question! In brief, we are delighted to see China catching up, and in many important areas even starting to overtake, the imperialist countries when it comes to technological development and innovation.
The monopoly of key technologies has always been a cornerstone of imperialist domination of the world, and the imperialist powers have worked very hard to maintain this monopoly. They were extremely angry when Colonel Gaddafi’s Libya launched a communications satellite for Africa, for example, for it broke their monopoly of this vital technology, taking both their power to control what Africans could access and their ability to charge incredibly high prices for access to mobile and internet services.
China’s understanding of the need for technological independence to ensure economic and political independence is of great significance not only for China but for the world, since China does not only keep these developments to herself but shares them with others. This is one of the main reasons that the imperialists are so frightened and threatened by the rise of China. They see their ability to monopolise profits and control less developed countries disappearing before their eyes.
You, as an expert on Marxist theory, how do you view the Sinification of Marxist theory? And how do you think of the idea of a Common Future of the Human Community?
In my view, Marxism – that is, scientific socialism – is an international theory, applicable to every single country in today’s world. It is, in fact, the highest achievement to date of human scientific endeavour, and its method – dialectical and historical materialism – has the power to rapidly advance and liberate all areas of human enquiry. This is precisely why our rulers take such pains to pour scorn on it, to bury it, and to separate it from the working masses, in whose hands it is such a powerful weapon for destroying the old and building the new.
Of course, Marxism is a science, not a dogma. Although there are common laws and precepts that we must strive to master, there is no fixed formula for making the revolution or building socialism anywhere. In learning to apply Marxism to living situations, we have to take into account the realities and distinguishing features of our particular society – its history, its class composition, its level of development, its position in the global order and so on – while at the same time being on our guard against those who claim to be updating or applying Marxism ‘creatively’ but who are actually leading us away from Marxist science and back towards bourgeois confusion.
There are ways in which I think the Chinese have been masterly in applying Marxist science over the last century – such as their brilliant waging of the people’s war, for example, or their post-revolutionary programmes of the iron rice bowl, the barefoot doctors and the literacy campaigns, to name just a few of very many.
There are other ways in which I would have comradely disagreements over their approach. Of course, I am no-one important! I am merely a revolutionary who is trying to learn the lessons of history and to master Marxist science to the best of my ability so I can serve the working class in Britain. In the end, the question of how Marxism should be applied in China is for the Chinese communists and people to work out.
As a true and sincere friend of China, however, I feel it my duty to raise any important concerns I may have in a friendly way. On the question of China’s turn towards marketisation of her economy, for example, which so many bourgeois economists are keen to tell us is the true driver of her success, I take another view. My belief is that China’s success is rooted in her revolution, in the giant strides taken during the period of state planning, which abolished feudalism, women’s oppression, illiteracy and famine, during which life expectancy increased by a year every year, and during which the foundations of a modern agricultural and industrial base were laid – amongst many other achievements.
I believe that, sooner or later, if China does not want to share the fate of the USSR, market mechanisms will have to be removed from her economy and a return made to central planning, which alone is capable of solving all humanity’s problems, unleashing the power of the masses, and ridding society of the crises of overproduction, unemployment, inequality, corruption and all the other ills and anachronisms of capitalist production.
The 20th CPC congress will elect its new leaders. What are your wishes and expectations for the new leadership group?
We are sure the Chinese comrades will elect a strong and experienced leadership, capable of guiding the country through the times ahead, which are bound to be turbulent ones. Despite China and the CPC’s wish to live in peace and cooperation with the world, the imperialist powers are growing ever more aggressive.
The imperialists’ economic system is in crisis, which leads them to fight desperately for more markets. At the same time, their global hegemony is threatened by the rise of a strong anti-imperialist camp, with China at its core. The logic of imperialism is that it will try to resolve its difficulties through war – as we are already seeing with Nato’s proxy war against Russia in Ukraine.
Therefore, my greatest hope for China is that its leaders will continue to work for peace while preparing for war, building the broadest possible coalition of anti-imperialist resistance across the world. The imperialists must receive the message loud and clear that there is no way for them to win a war against China or any other part of the anti-imperialist world.
As far as our two parties are concerned, the CPGB-ML will continue to support and cooperate with our comrades in the CPC to the best of our ability. In particular, we will continue to do what we can to expose the lies that fill western media about China and the Chinese people, whether they be lies about Hong Kong, Tibet, Xinjiang, Taiwan, the Chinese economic system or China’s leaders – all of which are aimed at softening up British workers for a war against China and at justifying the imperialists’ desire to break China into pieces that it could more easily dominate and control.
The destruction of the People’s Republic of China would be a disaster for workers and oppressed peoples everywhere, not only in China. Our goal is to bring the message to the British antiwar movement that it is not China that is our enemy but our own ruling class and its parasitic and decaying system, which we must remove as speedily as possible if we want to avoid the catastrophe of an all-out third world war.
On the question of Taiwan, as with all other internal questions to China, we are completely clear: any military action taken by the Chinese government will have been entirely provoked by the USA, which is acting extremely aggressively in the region in its campaign to try to break up and destroy China. The liberation of Taiwan from its current status as an occupied and imperialist-controlled territory is both justified and necessary. China has been at great pains to reunify the country in a peaceful way, but if it is pushed to do so by force, that will not change the fact of its being a just and defensive war of national-liberation against imperialist aggression and control.