By Robert Griffiths, from the Morning Star
In one enormous hall in a tower block near Tiananmen Square, Beijing, Communist Party of China central committee member He Yong and other officials were welcoming a deputation of communist parties from western Europe.
In another part of the building, Chinese government and party leaders were meeting US Vice-President Joseph Biden.
The Western communists were expressing varying degrees of admiration, solidarity and concern about economic and political developments in the world’s most populous society.
The imperialist politician from the world’s wealthiest country had come to Beijing to beg for more Chinese investment in US industry.
China’s socialist state is already the biggest owner of US Treasury bonds, helping to fund the biggest national debt in the world.
Now Chinese funds are sought to create jobs in the US’s productive economy.
On his first day in the Chinese capital, Biden had made a detour from his schedule to attend a “friendly” basketball game between a local team and their US visitors.
The match had to be abandoned during an almighty brawl — an example, it might be said, of an antagonistic contradiction.
The public relations fiasco was fully covered in China’s mass media, most of which are in the public sector, just as — contrary to Western media claims — the July 23 Wenzhou bullet train disaster was widely reported, including by the state-owned People’s Daily Railway newspaper.
The scale of economic and social transformation taking place in that country has to be seen to be fully appreciated.
The figures are impressive enough on paper — annual growth rates of 10 to 14 per cent and, between 1981 and 2004, more than 600 million people lifted out of absolute poverty (defined by the World Bank as an income of less than $1.25, or 78 pence, a day).
But to see the forest of cranes in city after city, the new office and residential apartment blocks, shopping centres, civic and business parks, railway stations and airline terminals under construction or newly opened, to travel along the new eight-lane motorways or ride in modern trains with enough leg-room to swing several cats, is something more.
A modern, industrial and predominantly urban society is being built in China without foreign conquest and colonies, without a slave trade, without shoving children up chimneys or down coal mines.
This is happening in a country the size of a continent, with a population of 1,346m bigger than Africa (1,033m), Europe (733m) and north America (352m).
It is being done on the basis of state economic planning, a mixed economy and Communist Party rule.
Private capital from emigre, foreign and now domestic sources has been utilised, under licence by the state, to drive investment, employment and technological advance.
Many such arrangements will be renewed into the middle of the 21st century at least.
Although Chinese communists are not comfortable with the analogy, this strategy is akin to Lenin’s New Economic Policy of the 1920s in Soviet Russia, but on a vast scale and over decades rather than years.
A native Chinese capitalist class has been created over the past two decades, although it is small.
As yet it has no political voice outside the Communist Party, although its economic concerns are expressed in sections of the press, by some academics and — within the context of the party’s strategy and policy — by business owners who are now allowed inside the CPC itself.
There are eight other political parties in China, mostly based on intellectual, peasant or emigre circles and founded before the People’s Republic in 1949.
They supported the national-democratic and socialist revolutions and participate in the National People’s Convention and other representative bodies.
Potential threats to the revolution do not come from any existing political forces.
They arise from the very forces of economic development unleashed by the CPC itself.
Robert Griffiths is general secretary of the Communist Party of Britain. You can donate to the Morning Star’s fighting fund here.
Photo shows some of the 500000 new public sector owned appartments being built this year in Chongqing, southwest China, for rent to low and middle income families. Source www.gov.cn