Editor's Note: This article was originally published in The Canada Files, December 9, 2020. Join their Patreon. Photo by Darryl Dyck, AP.
“China bashing panders to the infantile opinion found in some currents of the powerless Western “left”: if it's not the communism of the twenty-third century, it is a betrayal!” These are the words of the late Samir Amin, founder of World Forum for Alternatives. Leftists of a certain age were moved by the easy ultra-left slogans of the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the 1968 Euro-uprisings. When China changed course in the post-Mao years, the model was dead and the Westernized left was cast adrift. So, they sought the safe harbour of Marxist texts and Euro-left philosophers and academics.
Amid confusion in the Western left, China does not explain very well what they mean by their system of “socialism with Chinese characteristics.” I won’t try to explain it here, no one will buy it anyway. To get a better appreciation of this phrase, one would have to read the documents of the Chinese Communist Party. The CCP postulates that it would take 100 years to build true socialism in China. Marx critiqued capitalism but he did not have the practice in building socialism. In the meantime, China functions within the global capitalist system - a sin according to the Western left. All the while, the Chinese nurture an alternative world order through internationalism in their relations with the Global South through the Belt and Road Initiative with the Silk Road Fund and the 102 member Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, which aims to improve social and economic livelihood in Asia. All this leads the Westernized left to proclaim Chinese imperialism, without a sound understanding of the Leninist concept of imperialism.
Influenced by social-democracy and the remnants of Trotskyism, the Canadian casual left show a visceral disdain for China and its standing in the world today. The Canadian New Democratic Party and the Democratic Socialists of America have a hold on left wing politics on this continent.
The social democrats take the easy road to reform capitalism by participating in parliamentary elections. As for the Trotskyites, they never believed that there was a socialist revolution in China because it did not meet the Marxist text book definition of revolution in advanced capitalist countries waged by the industrial working class. Mao had news for them, the Chinese revolution, in a semi-feudal and semi-colonial country, was a New Democratic Revolution. The revolutionaries in Nepal and other South Asian countries are also following the path of the National Democratic Revolution.
The left among us
The federal NDP stood with the Conservatives, the Greens and Bloc Québécois in a motion to oppose Chinese “operations” and “intimidation” in Canada on November 18, 2020. No evidence of these operations and intimidation have been produced other than the words of Canada’s security agency, CSIS, which has been driving an anti-China witch-hunt since Stephen Harper’s regime. On the key issues related to China, the NDP lines up on the side of the proverbial angels, Hong Kong, Xinjiang, authoritarian, etc.
“Xi Jinping’s government has attempted to turn the pandemic — which it too mishandled initially — to its own advantage. Beijing has sent tests, ventilators, and masks to many other countries, attempting to project itself as a benevolent global power even as it refuses to concede basic labor rights to workers at home.”
You would think that this is a quote from Fox News but no, it is from the left-washing Jacobin Magazine.
All these arguments used by the NDP and the DSA are easily digested from sources in the mainstream media, with a limited number of alternatives to show the other side. Besides, when an anti-China world-view has been set, despite declarations of anti-Sinophobia, it would take a strong emotional event to shake these people away from this outlook.
Anti-China views from the Diaspora and the Two Imperialisms
The Canada Files previously detailed the neo-colonial ideology that drove the 2019 Hong Kong protests. Few dared to venture into left wing jargon to support these protests. The miniscule Lausan Collective tried to provide a left cover for the colonial and imperialist backed colour revolution in Hong Kong. Without doing any class analysis of Hong Kong society controlled by the taipans, tycoons and compradors, Lausan thought they would gain Western left support with their anti-China rhetoric in claiming the protests were a fight against Chinese imperialism and domination.
It came to prominence in the midst of the HK protests, mainly with writers working out of Western universities such as U of T, York; in American cities like New York and Los Angeles. This quote sums up their anti-China, two-imperialisms stance:
“The handover of Hong Kong from Britain to China can most accurately be understood as a transfer from one capitalist-colonial power to another.”
Billing itself as the left faction of the right-wing Hong Kong protests, Lausan has become the darling of the anti-China forces in the US left like the DSA and Jacobin.
In the US, there are anti-imperialist forces that are working to oppose Sinophobia and the Cold War against China. They are small, but some of them are the anti-imperialist Qiao Collective and the anti-cold war collective, Pivot to Peace.
Although there are individuals in the Chinese Canadian community who oppose the anti-China attacks in the mainstream media and among the political class, there is no organized force. The individual activists from the community, engaged in workers, anti-racist and social movements are intimidated into silence by the Westernized left. Those in the Chinese Canadian community who are vocal in their opposition to the cold war against China are being attacked by the media like the Globe and Mail, National Post, and by politicians like Erin O’Toole.
Reminiscing of the anti-Soviet cold war and the “Red Scare,” Canada’s security apparatus, CSIS, is also an instrument of intimidation against those who dare take a stand to oppose the cold war against China. The Lo Wah Kiu (old overseas Chinese) organizations like the Consolidated Benevolent Association have experienced a century and a half of anti-Chinese racism and Sinophobia, so for them it is second nature to stand up against Sinophobia and the cold war against China.
So, why does the Westernized left hate China? It’s not different from the reasons that the white colonial Five Eyes, the US State Department and the European Union hate China. China challenges the status quo. China challenges the left’s perception of what a Marxist society should be. China is putting into practice the theories of the state and revolution, while the Western left is still philosophizing. China is a challenge to the Western economic order and presents an alternative. The left cannot see their way out of their idealism of either romantic socialism or nothing. There are so many left philosophers pondering this problem. As the old Trotskyists maintain, it was not a socialist revolution in China. Only in the advanced capitalist nation-states of Europe can you have a true socialist revolution. There is an element of racism and Sinophobia in this line of thinking.
Perhaps as a token of peaceful coexistence, let us just get along and stand together in opposition to Sinophobia and the new cold war against China. After all, this would be against the interests of the ruling class in Canada.
William Ging Wee Dere is the author of the award-winning “Being Chinese in Canada, The Struggle for Identity, Redress and Belonging.” (Douglas & McIntyre, 2019). He was a political organizer and a leading activist in the 2-decade movement for redress of the Chinese Head Tax and Exclusion Act.
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