Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

China in Vietnam – An act of aggression to match its return to capitalism

First Published: In Struggle! Vol. 6, No. 31, March 13, 1979
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The Chinese leadership has a message for the leaders of all the countries in the U.S. orbit. It goes like this.

Honourable rulers in capitalist countries around the world: If the Russian bear or any of the regimes backed by the USSR start infringing upon the development plans of your country or the competitiveness of your market, bring out the heavy artillery!’ The new Number One in China, Deng Xiaoping, wants everyone to understand this simple lesson if he has to repeat it a thousand times: “That is the only language the USSR understands.”

In Canada, the Canadian Communist League (Marxist-Leninist) hasn’t spared the candle in its efforts to persuade “our” rulers through the weekly Forge. The latest screaming headline declares ”Socialist China’s counter-blow shows way to resist Soviet aggression[1] (emphasis ours). In the very same article, several paragraphs into the story, The Forge notes that “Moscow was actually caught off-guard and did not make any military moves against China”.

The Chinese leaders and Canada’s own Forge are certainly not short on creative imagination. They have even managed to invent a new military manoeuvre where the counter-attack precedes the attack! Such an invention definitely comes in handy in covering up acts of aggression against other countries. Deng’s simple lesson is nothing more or less than a lesson in double-talk which grows still more florid as China completely abandons Marxism-Leninism and the revolutionary road.

Last July, the official Chinese press spoke openly about the need to revise Marxism-Leninism: “Certain principles, certain conclusions and slogans which are part of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought can be modified as the historical conditions evolve (....) The development of Marxism-Leninism, Mao Tsetung Thought undoubtedly includes the rectification of principles which have become outdated” (Peking Information, no. 29, July 24, 1978, p. 11-12, our translation).

Since this warning was published, historical conditions appear to have evolved with an amazing rapidity in China. Barely six months later, that “outdated” principle of class struggle under socialism went by the boards: ”The great upsurge of class struggles carried out by the masses in the revolutionary period has now come to an end... From now on accomplishing modernization will be the main preoccupation of our Party, except of course in the case of a massive foreign invasion. All other activity, including the Party’s political work, will serve the goal of modernization. The Party will not be leading any more “political movements” or “class struggles” which might distract from the accomplishment of this objective.” (p. 8, our translation).

It follows quite logically that the current Chinese leaders have some very “modern” ideas about how the working class of China should be relating to its traditional exploiters, the Chinese capitalist class. China’s workers should abandon the dictatorship of the proletariat and ally in a united front with the national bourgeoisie. That’s the only possible interpretation that can be made of the directives emanating from the Third Plenum of the Central Committee:

The Central Committee of the Communist Party of China decided recently to give back to the industrial and merchant sections of the national bourgeoisie all of the enormous bank deposits and other assets belonging to them... and to re-institute their high salaries and give them the pay which is presently overdue.” (Les Cahiers de la Chine nouvelle, no. 62, February 2, 1979, p. 6, our translation)

With directives like that, the Chinese leaders have evidently abandoned the objective of building socialism altogether. They have abandoned the very essence of socialism: the elimination of the capitalist class and constant waging of class struggle to defeat the bourgeoisie in all aspects of life. With a perspective such as the one put forward by China’s leaders, there is longer any room for the struggle to achieve a classless society, a communist society, which is the end result of the transitional phase of socialism. According to the current leadership in China the capitalists’ only aspiration is to join in the building of socialism. There we have it – the revisionist thesis of the peaceful transition to socialism where the bourgeoisie marches side by side with the working class. It is the very same revisionist thesis advanced by Nikita Khrushchev and Co. It leads to one place and to one place only – class collaboration and the strengthening of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie over the working class.[2]

The “withdrawal” of Chinese troops from Vietnam is taking a good deal longer than was promised earlier. The destruction of Vietnamese villages continues. Crops are burnt in the fields. The price thus far in human life of China’s aggression against Vietnam has reached over 20,000 deaths. That is the great victory which the Chinese spokesmen have been talking about endlessly these past few weeks.

China is now an expansionist power which poses a real threat to the peoples in other countries. It is now ready to pokes its head in each time a country’s policy will not be to its liking. Vietnam, allied with the social- imperialist USSR, has talked a good deal recently about China’s preparations for a big war to extend its hegemony in South East Asia.

The Chinese provocateurs should be treated for what they really are: a new bourgeoisie which is increasingly aggressive, foaming at the mouth at the prospect of controlling economically and politically larger and larger areas of Asia and the rest of the world. That is the real lesson, pure and simple that Deng and the Chinese leaders want to teach the world.


[1] The Forge, March 9, 1979, p. 12 (vol. 4, no. 9).

[2] It is worth drawing attention to the fact that the CCL(M-L), which has been very quick and definite in its denunciation of the leadership of the Party of Labour of Albania for denying “the existence of antagonistic classes under socialism”, has been as silent as a tomb about the policies of the Chinese leadership.