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The "China Exclusion Campaign" of 2000 is overlaid with overt anti-commun!sm and
WHY ANTI-CHINA CAMPAIGN HURTS MOVEMENT|
By Richard Becker
Is China the main problem for the workers of the United
States and the rest of the world? Or is it U.S.
imperialism, which has extended it tentacles into most of
the world's countries?
The answer seems so clear that it should hardly need
discussion. But it has become the issue around which a
major struggle has broken out in the important upcoming
mobilization to Washington.
Thousands of students, workers, environmentalists, church
and political activists will gather in Washington on April
16-17 in an attempt to shut down the semi-annual meetings
of the International Monetary Fund and World Bank. The IMF
and World Bank are U.S.-dominated instruments of the giant
banks and corporations. Together the IMF and World Bank
have played a major role in making the rich much richer
while spreading poverty and environmental destruction,
especially in Asia, Africa and Latin America. They are an
integral part of capitalist globalization
The many activists and organizations involved in what is
being called "A16" hope for a repeat of the successful
demonstrations in Seattle four months ago, when the meeting
of the World Trade Organization was severely disrupted,
leading to a collapse of the talks. The Seattle protests
gave great impetus to the movement against corporate
globalization and the April demonstrations promise to be
the largest ever held in the U.S. against the IMF/World
Now a serious struggle over direction and demands that
could potentially derail this incipient movement has broken
AFL-CIO TARGETS CHINA
The leadership of the AFL-CIO labor federation, along with
some other sectors of the movement mobilizing for A16 and
the activities leading up to it, have chosen to make the
People's Republic of China their main target. The AFL-CIO's
major activity is a "mass lobbying day" on April 12, under
the banner of "No blank check for China."
Before and after Seattle, AFL-CIO President John Sweeney
announced that stopping China's admission to the WTO and
blocking the granting of permanent Normal Trade Relations
to the world's most populous country was a top priority.
NTR is also known as Most Favored Nation status. Having
NTR or MFN status merely means that a country is not
subject to any special tariffs or sanctions in its
commercial relations with the United States. The U.S.
presently grants MFN status to China on a year-by-year
basis, a process to which other countries are not
subjected. Hearings are held in Congress annually to
determine if the PRC "deserves" another year of MFN. This
process causes deep anger and resentment in the PRC.
Several groups mobilizing for A16, like the Economic
Policy Institute, Global Exchange and Public Citizen's
Global Trade Watch, have joined in the AFL-CIO-led
Mike Dolan of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch was
quoted in the Dec. 6, 1999, Wall St. Journal as saying,
"China, we're coming atcha. There is no question about it.
The next issue is China." A spokesperson for the Economic
Policy Institute, a liberal group, has opposed China's
admission to the WTO because it is involved in "market
distorting government policies, including requirements for
technology transfer to domestic firms, local content and
The AFL-CIO leaders, their mainly Democratic Party allies
in Congress and the other groups mentioned above oppose MFN
status and admission to the WTO for China because, they
claim, China does not have adequate labor standards, uses
prison and child labor, violates human rights, and does not
allow workers to organize "independent unions."
Leaving aside for a moment the very dubious accuracy of
the charges against China, couldn't the same be said about
the U.S., and even more so about its neocolonies like south
Korea, Indonesia, Guatemala, Saudi Arabia, Azerbaijan,
Panama, and so on? There is no campaign to exclude these
countries from the WTO.
PROTECTIONISM DOESN'T PROTECT WORKERS
The key issue, the real issue, for the AFL-CIO leaders is
protectionism. Because Chinese workers are paid lower wages
than U.S. workers, they argue, normalizing trade between
the two countries will undercut U.S. workers, especially in
The threat of job loss is far from hypothetical. Tens of
millions of manufacturing and other jobs have been lost
over the past three decades due to plants closing in the
U.S. and relocating in lower-wage areas, primarily in Asia
and Latin America. Countries with right-wing military
dictatorships installed and supported by the U.S.
government have been particular favorites for relocation.
This is a process that will continue, trade agreements or
not, as long as capitalism exists.
The protectionist stance of the AFL-CIO leaders will not
stop capital flight.
But protectionism does accomplish something: It pits
workers in the advanced capitalist countries against their
sisters and brothers in the oppressed, trying-to-develop
countries. The anti-China campaign misleads workers here to
believe that another country and its people is the main
enemy, rather than our "own" capitalist ruling class. By
doing so, it undercuts and diverts the struggle into "safe"
channels--safe for the ruling class. The capitalist owners,
the ones who shut down and relocate the factories, are let
off the hook.
In addition, the anti-China campaign is overlaid with
overt anti-commun!sm and covert racism. The latest issue of
the Teamsters union magazine features a back cover
attacking "Commun!st China." And it is impossible to forget
that anti-Chinese racism has a long and inglorious history
in the U.S. with which any anti-China campaign inevitably
More than a century ago, the U.S. Congress and many
Western state governments, including California, passed
racist anti-Chinese legislation, barring property-owning,
immigration, voting rights and more for Chinese people. In
1882, the federal government passed the Chinese Exclusion
Act, outlawing Chinese immigration to the U.S.
It cannot be forgotten that the labor movement of that
era, including many unions and the Workingmen's Party, then
a major power in California, spearheaded the anti-Chinese
hysteria, which frequently took the form of lynch mobs in
the streets of San Francisco and other cities and towns.
This history is not unknown to those who are joining in
the "China Exclusion Campaign" of 2000. Global Exchange has
written: "We hesitate to become involved in the AFL-CIO
campaign to keep China out of the WTO because we fear that
it may promote protectionism, racism and anti-Commun!sm."
But then it goes on to support the campaign, arguing that
"we should oppose granting China permanent NTR because
permanent NTR will harm Chinese workers' interests."
The argument that China should be kept out of the WTO and
denied NTR to "protect the interests of China's workers and
peasants" has become suddenly fashionable among the left-
liberal supporters of the China exclusion campaign. It has
the advantage of providing a left-sounding cover for a
It also disregards the PRC's right to self-determination,
and treats the Chinese government as lacking in legitimacy.
This view is shared, of course, by large sections of the
U.S. ruling class.
U.S. IMPERIALISM'S AIMS TOWARD CHINA
A half-century ago the Chinese Revolution broke
imperialism's grip, united the country and shocked the
imperialist ruling class here. "Who lost China"--they
really did think it was theirs--was the question posed by
the corporate media and politicians, and this set off a new
wave of anti-commun!st repression in the U.S.
Since then, the U.S. has employed different tactics at
different times in its campaign to regain China: nuclear
encirclement, war, sanctions, economic, political, military
and diplomatic isolation or engagement, and so on.
But there is no real division over the aims. These are to
contain the PRC, limit its development and power, destroy
its socialist industrial core, oust the Commun!st Party
from power and ultimately reduce the country to its former
status as a colony, open without restriction to U.S.
capitalist exploitation of its labor, resources and market.
Since the revolution, China has made enormous strides
forward in economic development, to the point that some
imperialist strategists believe it could become the major
rival of the U.S. within several decades. At the same time,
China is still a developing country, struggling to
modernize and acquire technology of all kinds. And it is
still encircled militarily by the U.S., which maintains
large, nuclear-equipped forces based in Japan, south Korea,
Taiwan, the Philippines and on a huge off-shore fleet.
China is targeted by more than 6,000 U.S. nuclear missiles.
China's interest in joining the WTO is based on
development and acquiring technology. The U.S. ruling class
wants to bring China in with the hope of subjugating it.
This is a continuation of the same struggle that has been
going on for 50 years.
Full text at http://archives.econ.utah.edu/archives/marxism/2000w13/msg00122.htm