Workers Vanguard No. 1147
18 January 2019
Huawei Executive Arrested—Drop the Charges!
Imperialist Provocation Against China
On December 1, Canadian police in Vancouver arrested Meng Wanzhou, the chief financial officer of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, on the pretext that she had supposedly committed “bank fraud” in connection with the criminal U.S. sanctions against Iran. Canada, a junior imperialist partner to the U.S., acted at the behest of Washington. Out on bail, Meng now faces possible extradition to the U.S. Part of a broad imperialist offensive against the Chinese bureaucratically deformed workers state, the arrest of Meng is a sinister provocation against China. The Spartacist League/U.S. and our comrades of the Trotskyist League in Quebec and Canada demand: Drop the charges now!
The U.S. is ramping up its counterrevolutionary drive against China, today the most powerful of the countries in which capitalism has been overthrown. On a military level, Trump is implementing Obama’s “pivot to Asia,” which has been stymied by U.S. entanglements in the Near East. Longstanding efforts by the U.S. imperialists to militarily encircle China have heated up with a series of confrontations in the South China Sea, where China has taken important steps to fortify its defenses, as well as ongoing arms sales to Taiwan. On an economic level, Trump’s tariffs threaten a broad trade war.
The ultimate aim behind these measures is to restore capitalist rule in China and make it one giant sweatshop under the imperialist boot. The Democrats and Republicans fully agree on such fundamentals, for all the squabbling between the two capitalist parties currently on display in Washington. The trade-union bureaucracy, with its “America First” protectionism and anti-Communist China-bashing, plays right into this reactionary campaign.
Workers in the U.S. and around the world have a fundamental class interest in defending China against the imperialists. The 1949 Chinese Revolution, carried out by Mao Zedong’s peasant-guerrilla army, overturned the rule of the capitalists and landlords and created a workers state, liberating the country from brutal imperialist domination. With an economy centrally based on collectivized property forms, hundreds of millions were lifted out of poverty, mass literacy was achieved, and women made huge strides over their miserably oppressed past symbolized by footbinding. As Trotskyists, we stand for unconditional military defense of China against imperialism and internal counterrevolution.
However, the workers state was deformed from its inception by the rule of a parasitic bureaucracy fundamentally like the one that governed the Soviet Union under Stalin and his successors. From Mao’s time to today, the policies of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have expressed the nationalist Stalinist dogma that socialism—a society of material abundance marked by the disappearance of classes—can be built in a single country. This program is utterly counterposed to the Marxist program of world proletarian revolution, the prerequisite to creating an internationally planned economy that would eliminate scarcity, including by harnessing the most sophisticated technology. We are for proletarian political revolution to oust the Stalinist bureaucracy and replace it with the rule of workers and peasants councils committed to the fight for world socialism.
While several U.S. allies complain about Trump’s trade war, they are all united with Washington on blocking China’s continued technological development, which was spectacularly shown by the recent landing of the Chang’e-4 lunar probe, the first-ever on the far side of the moon. One of the imperialists’ preoccupations is making sure that advanced technology primarily remains their domain. Trump has stepped up measures begun in the Obama administration to thwart Chinese investments in American firms that provide access to advanced technology. Germany has also become paranoid about Chinese takeovers, particularly following the acquisition of German robotics manufacturer KUKA by the Chinese conglomerate Midea. Huawei is the world leader in next-generation “5G” mobile network technology and is the global No. 2 smartphone maker (ahead of Apple). Meng, whose father is the former People’s Liberation Army engineer who founded the company, is the public face of Huawei.
U.S. officials fret that Huawei’s dominance in the development of 5G technology gives Beijing vast powers of global surveillance. That is rich coming from the masters of government snooping in Washington. Six years ago, Edward Snowden released documents exposing the U.S. government’s all-pervasive spying on its own citizens, foreign nationals and even allied heads of state. As Snowden revealed, the National Security Agency has routinely planted “backdoors” in Cisco routers and other network equipment being shipped overseas. It also hacked Huawei’s internal computer network and accessed its email archive, customer list and source code for its software products.
Australia and New Zealand have joined the U.S. in attempting to prohibit Huawei products from being used in the rollout of 5G technology. Last month, Japan banned Huawei from being awarded government contracts. British Telecom has announced that it will remove existing Huawei equipment from its networks and not deploy Huawei 5G switching, despite the fact that Britain’s spy center GCHQ has repeatedly signed off on Huawei products. At the same time, a number of wireless providers in Europe that hold agreements with Huawei have continued to test its products for a future 5G rollout.
Last week, after U.S. officials had fanned out over Europe to bully governments as well as Huawei’s parts suppliers, Polish authorities arrested a Huawei sales director and another telecom employee on espionage charges. In conjunction with the arrests, Poland’s internal affairs minister proclaimed that the EU and NATO should consider jointly excluding Huawei from their markets. Beijing countered Meng’s arrest by detaining two Canadian nationals on charges of undermining national security. Now, on January 14, a Canadian was sentenced to death for drug smuggling in China, notorious, like the U.S., for its use of the barbaric death penalty.
China’s impressive development in recent decades is used by CCP leaders to promote the false notion that they can transform China into the global superpower of the 21st century by trading and collaborating with the imperialists, who dominate the world market. It is a binding article of faith of Stalinist bureaucrats going back to Stalin himself that “peaceful coexistence” with the imperialists is achievable. A December 18 article in China’s state-run Global Times insists that “China’s high-technology sector is not vulnerable” due to the extensive economic ties between the two countries.
Contrary to such illusions, the U.S. imperialists have demonstrated their ability to cripple Chinese tech giants. For a period of time last year, the Trump administration cut off export of advanced microprocessors manufactured by U.S. companies to another Chinese telecom, ZTE, threatening its very existence. Some 90 percent of chips used in China are either imported or manufactured by foreign-owned firms in China, even while China manufactures 90 percent of the world’s IT hardware. Advanced chip technology is an engine of today’s global economy and a key to military prowess. Trump only dropped the ban on ZTE in order to use its fate as a bargaining chip in his strong-arming of China over trade.
China is a concentrated expression of the contradictions inherent to a workers state ruled by a privileged bureaucratic caste. On the one hand, it has become the second-largest economy in the world, creating a massive, militant proletariat. Testifying to the superiority of a collectivized economy, China’s output continued to grow while the capitalist world plunged into economic meltdown a decade ago.
On the other hand, China has a much lower overall level of labor productivity than the advanced capitalist countries. This is glaringly seen in the countryside, where nearly half the population lives, supplying the bulk of the country’s army of migrant workers. Decades of CCP market reforms have vastly increased inequality. To maintain their rule, the Stalinist bureaucrats vigorously repress any independent political expression by Chinese workers, who continue to engage in widespread protests and strikes.
The ruling CCP bureaucracy must be ousted by a proletarian political revolution in order to institute a regime of workers democracy. The rule of workers and peasants councils would fight to preserve and extend the working-class property forms and pursue the struggle for socialism worldwide. The all-sided, egalitarian modernization of China hinges on the sharing, allocation and further development of world resources that will be made possible through socialist revolutions in the advanced capitalist countries.
Only the establishment of an international planned economy can unleash the productive forces necessary to abolish want and lay the foundation for a socialist society. To bring that consciousness to the proletariat and provide leadership in struggle requires an international revolutionary party, with sections in countries across the globe. Such a party must be based on the lessons of the October 1917 Russian Revolution led by Lenin and Trotsky’s Bolsheviks, the first four Congresses of the Communist International, and Trotsky’s later struggle to build the Fourth International as the world party of socialist revolution. This is the perspective of the International Communist League.