The Marx Memorial Library’s annual oration at the grave of Karl Marx will be given, bizarrely, by Minister Ma Hui a senior official from the Chinese Embassy in the UK. The Chinese government is by no stretch of the imagination Marxist or socialist.
China’s crackdown on the Uyghur population has made the headlines recently with the UN reporting nearly a million Uyghurs are currently held in internment camps. The Uyghur people are a Turkic, majority-Sunni Muslim ethnic minority group in China’s northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. Despite the Communist Party’s claims of equality, Uyghurs have been left out of China’s rapid urbanisation in recent decades: over 80% remain farmers.
They join many other ethnic minorities including Tibetans who have long been disadvantaged and subject to employment discrimination in the big cities,
The Chinese government is one of the world’s most repressive states, according to Amnesty International it executes more people than all the other nations with the death penalty combined. For political dissidents and workers organisations the situation is bleak. The All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) is a state union “federation” tied to the state and the Communist Party. Strikes and independent trade unions are illegal. There is still no freedom of press, or genuine free speech, workers have no collective bargaining agreements nor the legal right to protest against their conditions or wages.
Despite the government’s hardline anti-worker policies, strikes have been on the rise in China. In 2015, the country saw a thirteen-fold increase in strikes and activists faced harassment from the government and arrests as a result. The most recent example of state repression of leftist and workers resistances is the crackdown against supporters of workers at the Jasic welding equipment factory, who tried to form a union.
There have been a series of kidnappings and arrests of left wing activists, mostly students and trade unionists. According to the group Global Support for Disappeared Left Activists in China, there are still 44 people detained or missing and government officials have coerced confession videos but have not said a word about the case.
The US organisation Labor Notes reports that despite the Chinese media censoring labour disputes, social media has given a new platform for left-wing activists to organise and get an audience for their struggles.
China has long been an oppressive anti-worker state that cynically calls itself ‘communist’ but is really an authoritarian continuation of the Maoist regime that came to power in 1949. April marks the 30th anniversary of the start of the student-led Tiananmen Square protests which called for the widening of democratic rights and civil liberties. The Chinese state led a brutal crackdown against the movement soaking it in blood.
Last year, President Xi Jinping celebrated the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx’s birth, applauding him as “the greatest thinker of modern times”, calling Marxism “the direction, with scientific theory, toward an ideal society with no oppression or exploitation”; yet, his government is creating increasingly repressive political environment for the Chinese working class, moving ever onwards to increased repression and further exploitation.
Unfortunately, it’s no surprise that the Communist Party of Britain (CPB), the Stalinist rump that runs the Marx Memorial Library, has created a bastardized version of Marxism by inviting the representative of a brutally repressive, anti-worker government to defile the memory of Marx. The CPB and the Stalinist tradition it came from has long defended the Stalinist satellite States of the USSR, and continues to back Cuba, Vietnam and at the wildest edges North Korea. They spend far more time fawning over pretend “socialist states” than striving for international working class solidarity, let alone socialism.
If we believe Marxism is an ideology of political freedom and human liberation, then a Chinese Communist Party official reading the annual oration at Marx’s grave is not just a deeply ironic betrayal of Marx’s legacy, but direct class collaboration with the a ruling class who continue to erect barriers to prevent genuine workers struggle and wish to smother not ignite the flames of the struggle for socialism.
Protest on Sunday 17 March by Workers' Liberty and others: