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Newsletter (in English)


Workers protests are spreading across China. The state answers with repression. A conversation with Qichang Huang, worker and socialist from China. He writes for the website

The reports available in Europe on the situation of the working class in the People’s Republic of China are quite slim. Now and again we read of protests and strikes. What do you know about this?
Protests by workers and peasants are not just due to the economic crisis. Actually, since the start of this century there has been a rising tide of ‘mass incidents’. This is government language for strikes and demonstrations. In 2006 there were over 90,000 mass incidents, but last year this rose to over 120,000. That’s over 300 per day.

What are the causes?
Protests and demonstrations often break out over unpaid wages, land-seizures, privatization of state owned enterprises, corruption and environmental destruction. Since last October, over 23 million migrant workers lost their jobs. In addition, there are 8 million university graduates who need to find a job in 2009. So besides protests by migrant workers, who have almost no job protection, there have also been protests by students.

How has the People’s Republic reacted to these protests?
The government’s reaction depends on many factors. Until now most struggles are generally loose, short-lived, and unorganized, but they are becoming more and more radical, coordinated and politically conscious. If protests are organized well and are solid, the government will often make some concessions. If they are very loose and only involve a minority, the regime will crush them with police violence.

Have these protests been coordinated nationally in any way?
There are no trade unions or national organizations that are not controlled by the government. Informal links are beginning to be made. Last year there was a chain of taxi drivers’ strikes in different cities against the high fees which the drivers must pay to the taxi companies. In Chongqing, over 70,000 taxis were on strike for two days and the local party chief had to make concessions to the strikers – for example he had to negotiate with them on the TV. After that, taxi drivers in other cities copied Chongqing’s success, but the results were mixed – some were successful, others were ended by the government and police (1).

The Chinese Communist Party is the largest communist party in the world, with 70 million members. But the party constitution was changed in 2002 to also allow millionaires to join the party. How do the leaders of the party live?
Even under the Maoist regime, the bureaucracy of the CCP had many privileges in comparison to the normal population. But in the last 30 years, this gap has become enormous. China is becoming one of the most unequal societies in the world. 0.4% of families (that is 1.5 million families) control 70% of China’s wealth (2). Government officials spent over €90 billion on overseas travel, cars, offices and banquets last year. This is about 20 percent of the national budget! (3)

How does the Chinese left deal with Mao’s heritage?
Maoist ideas and symbols are experiencing a broad revival. At this stage, most of the emerging left wing is Maoist influenced, with a smaller but also fast-growing Trotskyist layer. Mao’s ideas and traditions have a wide reach not only among the old generation, but also for many of the youth. Last year, an underground organization called “Maoist Communist Party of China” was launched. They oppose the current leadership of the CCP as a “totally pro-capitalist revisionist group”, which they want to overthrow.
This “Neo-Maoism” expresses a search for socialist alternatives. But I don’t believe Maoist ideas offer a real alternative. On our website, we try to draw out the lessons of history: real socialism must mean democratic control by the working class, not by a bureaucracy as was the case under Mao. The weaknesses of Maoism are shown by current experience: the reintroduction of capitalism in China happened under a party and a government that Mao created. Clearly, these institutions were not under the control of the working class.

It has been 20 years since the Tiananmen Square protests began. What direction is China moving today?
In 20 years China has become more capitalist but less democratic. It is a myth that the market and democracy go hand-in-hand. Democratic rights must be won through struggle, above all by the working class. In the coming years there will be new, big movements – even a new 1989 is possible – against job losses, economic austerity, but also for democratic rights such as free trade unions, freedom of the press, the right of assembly and so on. Not only the Chinese regime, but also the capitalists and the multinationals don’t want this to happen. This is why the capitalists prefer a one-party state in China.

You work for the web site What kind of work does the Trotskyist left do in China?
We work to publicize and support workers’ struggles and provide a forum – also with books and magazines – for discussing the lessons of various struggles: how can we organize and what programme do we need for the workers to unite and implement their demands? I can’t say more for security reasons, but a big part of our work is on the internet which is becoming more and more important for the Chinese youth.

Is the left opposition repressed?
No independent organisations are tolerated in China. Previously, it was only the right, procapitalist currents that the government was wary of, and left oppositional groups were not seen as a threat. But especially since the beginning of the current economic crisis, the left is increasingly being monitored, there are arrests and other forms of harassment.

Interview: Wladek Flakin

(1) Link
(2) Link
“The Chinese branches of the Boston Consulting Group, on the Chinese government’s behalf, published an investigative report on October 17, 2006, which was covered by numerous Chinese periodicals such as the Chinese Youth. According to the report, the top 0.4% of Chinese families (about 1.5 million) own over 70% of the nation’s wealth, while in contrast, in most developed nations, the top 5% of the families own around 60% of the total wealth.”
(3) Link
“Oh My! A total of RMB 900 billion of taxpayers’ money spent each year by Chinese officials on meals, overseas travel and “public” cars. I guess RMB 900 billion is not an astronomical number anymore, not now that the central government has announced a RMB 4 trillion stimulus package and local governments have proposed RMB 20 trillion. Still, as discussed in several Chinese media reports, RMB 900 billion is enough to build 90 maglev trains, complete 5 Three Gorges Dam projects and shock 1 CCTV reporter.”

4 Responses to “Interview: Worker’s Movement in China”

  1. bhaskar Says:

    Want to know more about Maoist Communist Party of China, their activities and their limitations.

    Also want to know about chinaworker and its allied activitis and how I can be of any help to strengthen the Trotskyite thinking in India where I live.

  2. wladek Says:

    This interview was mirrored on (in a different translation from the German):

    I can’t find any information about the Maoist Communist Party of China online. Comrade Qichang Huang said that they distributed thousands of flyers illegaly in several large cities.

    You can find all kinds of information about on their website.

    As for spreading Trotskyist ideas in India: What do you think of our programmatic document, the “Basic positions”?

    That gives a good introduction to Trotskyist strategy and can be used to convince other people.

  3. systemcrash Says:

    the work of the CWI about china is im my opinion very importend.

    china is the key of the world situation—similiar as the words of trotsky about germany.

    i look forward to the day, that a trotskyist party will be build of chinese workers and intellectuals, as a section of a rebuild new communist (trotskyist) international!

    with marxist greetings,

    systemcrash (

    ps.: sorry for my bad english.

  4. Aloke Says:

    This is a very informative article. Needs more detailed study and informative discussion

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