Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Chinese Communist Party Treads Water

China's Eiffel Tower in a town with almost no inhabitants
by Richard Mellor
Afcme Local 444, retired

The Chinese Communist Party met in Beijng over the past four days during which it created a new agency to manage what it sees as growing unrest.  There are literally thousands of protests a year in China over land acquisition by government agencies.  There have also been some major successes in auto as strikes forced wage increases as much as 20% in some cases.  Some manufacturers like Foxconn have moved production to Vietnam where labor power is cheaper.

The CCP hopes the new “State Security committee” will "effectively prevent and end social disputes and improve public security", reports say. "It will set new curbs and limitations on freedom of speech and thought." Says one activist.

One wonders if these developments are a response to Snowden’s revelations about the NSA and the US spying on everyone on the planet, as the new agency will also deal with national security.

During the four-day meeting, hundreds of what are describe as “petitioners” complaining about all sorts of issues, were detained by the police including 300 former PLA officers prior to it. “The requisitioning of rural land for lucrative property deals by cash-hungry local governments also triggers thousands of ‘mass incidents’ across China every year.
Many result in violent suppression, the detention of the main organizers, and intense pressure on the local population to comply with the government's wishes.”
  Radio Free Asia reports.

The authorities have responded with massive police presence, somewhat similar to gatherings of government, World Bank or WTO officials here in the US and throughout the world. One significant difference would be that the 1000 protesters gathered outside the Beijing Southern railway station Monday morning were chanting anti-corruption slogans while singing the Internationale, the historic anthem of socialists, communists and class conscious workers throughout the world.

Other issues of concern among millions of Chinese is the "hukou" residency system which denies migrant workers who move to the urban centers to work benefits like state  health care and education for their children as it ties these type of benefits to a person’s place of birth.

The environment and pollution is a major issue for millions of Chinese as is abuse in the workplace. One worker who petitioned the session about these abuses at a woman’s labor camp and was arrested described her ordeal:
"I'm in a vehicle again, but I have no idea where we're going. I haven't been able to take my shoes off in a week, and my feet have swollen up."

"My health is very poor, and I don't know where we're going, or where they're going to lock us up this time……"They fed us two steamed buns, some cabbage, and a small sausage.... I got diarrhea and asked to see a doctor and asked for some medicine, but they didn't even have that," she said. "It is terribly cold at night, and I've caught a cold."

Economic issues like industrial overcapacity and housing prices which doubled in most major cities last month are a problem as well. The bureaucracy is debating solutions to this problem which include more land acquisitions in order to meet demand.  This in itself seems to be a bit dodgy in that taking collectively owned land for private use is a major source of the unrest.

On the one hand, China’s ruling clique says that they want the market to play a greater role in the economy, "They are looking to break away from government control, allowing the markets to take the lead. In the past, prices and investment decisions were predominantly made by the government," says one Hong Kong banker; but the Communist Party also affirms that the dominance of the public sector in the economy would remain.

I am not an expert on the Chinese economy or politics by any means, but I cannot imagine there not being real explosive movements ahead as the Chinese working class, hundreds of millions strong bursts on to the world stage. The bureaucracy cannot maintain what it claims is social stability forever, repeated protests aside.  There is the working class on one side, the rising Chinese bourgeois on the other and the parasitic bureaucracy in the middle of it all.

I can’t wait.

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