Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

China’s foreign policy:

A policy that supports the revolutionary struggles of the peoples!

First Published: In Struggle! No. 92, July 7, 1977
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Malcolm and Paul Saba
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Socialist China, the principal stronghold of the world proletarian revolution, is the constant target of attacks not only on the part of imperialists but also on the part of revisionists and Trotskyist sects all across the world. And China’s foreign policy is undoubtedly the favourite target of all these reactionaries. How many times have we heard Canadian Trotskyists such as those of the Revolutionary Marxist Group, the Worker’s Socialist League or the Groupe socialiste des travailleurs du Quebec (GSTQ) claiming that China betrays the world revolution? How many times have we heard the revisionists of the “Communist” Party of Canada asserting at the top of their lungs that China’s foreign policy is prompted by a desire to bring about a third world war, that make it an ally of American Imperialism against the “socialist” countries, the USSR first of all? Not to mention the stupidities served up regularly by the bourgeois press concerning China: according to them, China is in the process of becoming a new economic power, and even a superpower like the USSR and the USA, and thus threatens the “free” countries of the Western world and... the white race – in short, the good old argument of the “Yellow Peril” that crops up regularly in different versions. On top of all this there is the confusion deliberately created by the imperialists, revisionists and their ass-lickers the Trotskyists concerning focal points of the international class struggle like the Middle East, Angola, Chile, etc. It has only one aim: to discredit the peoples’ revolutionary movement and the consistent support given it by the People’s Republic of China (PRC).

Given this avalanche of propaganda, why be astonished that numerous people, sympathetic to the Marxist-Leninist movement, ask themselves if the PRC always follows a revolutionary policy in international affairs? Conscious of the importance of this question, particulary in the context of the preparation for the Third Conference of Canadian Marxist-Leninists on international questions, IN STRUGGLE! intends to reaffirm once again how, behind the confusion intentionally created by reactionaries of all sorts, one can distinguish the foreign policy of a great socialist country, based on the principles of proletarian internationalism, and which is a solid support for revolutionary struggles across the world.

A particular characteristic of our era: the coexistence of different social systems

The period in which we live is characterized by the coexistence of a system of exploitation – capitalism in its ultimate stage, imperialism – and a certain number of countries where the system of exploitation has already been abolished, the socialist countries, China and Albania. In this, Marxist-Leninists differ from Trotskyists, who completely contradict reality by repeating that socialism is impossible in a single country. According to them, we’d have to wait for the world-wide revolution in order to build socialism.

However, the coexistence of socialism and declining imperialism isn’t new. Indeed, it characterizes the entire historical period begun in 1917 with the October Revolution in Russia. This reality, denied by the Trotskyists, in which socialist countries coexist with many capitalist countries, has certain implications for the foreign policy of a socialist State. In these matters, in effect, it must act on three different, though interrelated, levels: on the level of its relations with other fellow-socialist countries; on that of its relations with countries with different social systems; and on that of its relations with the world-wide revolutionary movement.

And in their Proposal concerning the General Line of the International Communist Movement published in 1963, this is what the Chinese comrades recalled to the Soviet revisionists who were doing away with support for revolutionary movements in favour of simple “peaceful coexistence”. “In our view, the general line of the foreign policy of the socialist countries should have the following content: to develop relations of friendship, mutual assistance and co-operation among the countries in the socialist camp in accordance with the principle of proletarian internationalism; to strive for peaceful coexistence on the basis of the Five Principles [1] with countries having different social systems and oppose the imperialist policies of aggression and war; and to support and assist the revolutionary struggles of all the oppressed peoples and nations. These three aspects are interrelated and indivisible, and not a single one can be omitted.” These principles of foreign policy, expressed in the heat of the struggle against the revisionists, have always guided the foreign relations of the PRC up to the present time.

In terms of relations with other socialist countries, the example of the relations between the PRC and Albania speaks for itself. These relations have lasted almost 30 years, and have always been founded on the principles of equality, fraternal cooperation, non-interference in the internal affairs of fraternal countries and mutual respect. At the same time these countries consolidate themselves on all levels – economic, political and cultural.

Again, in terms of relations with the revolutionary movement, the facts speak for themselves. During the Korean War, 200,000 Chinese volunteers went and fought side by side with their Korean brothers who were resisting the aggression of the American imperialist camp. During these years, and up until the independence of Algeria, the PRC unconditionally supported the FNL, worrying little about the delay thus caused in the establishing of diplomatic relations with France. In 1955, at the International Bandung Conference in Indonesia, where 29 African and ’Asian countries attended, the PRC played a decisive role in reinforcing the still fragile unity of the young Third World countries and calling upon the peoples and nations still dominated by colonialism to revolt and win their independence, with arms if necessary. In 1961, the PRC supported Cuba, attacked by American imperialism with all its force.

Far from abating, this internationalist support grew with time, and in proportion to the reinforcing of the dictatorship of the proletariat within the country, and spread to the young international Marxist-Leninist movement which was strengthening itself everywhere in the struggle against revisionism. This support has always been based on relations of equality between the mighty Communist Party of China and the youthful Marxist-Leninist organizations and parties.

But in addition to unwavering support for fraternal socialist countries and consistent and resolute support for the world-wide revolutionary movement, the foreign policy of a socialist State is characterized by relations of peaceful coexistence with countries having different social systems. But how can this particularity be compatible with proletarian internationalism?

Peaceful coexistence is imposed by the struggle against imperialism

First, one thing must be remembered: the existence of the dictatorship of the proletariat in a given country is the very condition of a policy of true peaceful coexistence for that country. In the case of China, it is indeed the consolidation of the dictatorship of the proletariat that caused the USA and other imperialist countries to abandon for the time being their hopes of destroying this socialist State and, on the contrary, forced them to recognize this same State. Everyone knows that one of the aims of imperialism is precisely to make the socialist countries degenerate into capitalist countries by relying on the domestic bourgeoisie and other reactionary classes which, while overthrown, conserve nevertheless a certain force in socialist society considering their long experience of corruption and exploitation. By waging a fierce struggle against the bourgeoisie and other reactionary classes within the country, in short, by constantly weakening them and thus strengthening the proletariat’s position, the Chinese comrades have thus caused the imperialists’ hopes of taking their socialist fortress, from within or without, to dwindle. Indeed, it is truly the strengthening of-the dictatorship of the proletariat that forced them to change their attitude towards the socialist State!

It follows therefore that a State’s foreign policy cannot be dissociated from its domestic policy. A State of the dictatorship of the proletariat has therefore the base to establish a foreign policy that defends the point of view of the proletariat. As for a State of the dictatorship of the bourgeoisie, it inevitably defends a bourgeois foreign policy. It is precisely because the USSR has degenerated into a revisionist country, thus concretely renouncing in practice the dictatorship of the proletariat, that its foreign policy, which it would have one of “peaceful coexistence” like that of the PRC is in fact one of compromises with imperialism.

Thus, in opposition to what one might think, peaceful coexistence is not in the least a concession to capitalist countries. It is when one tries to apply the principle of peaceful coexistence to the relations between imperialism and oppressed peoples and nations, or to class relations within a single country, as the revisionists have tried to do, that one makes concessions to imperialism and betrays the proletarian revolution. On the contrary, the peaceful coexistence of a socialist State with countries having different social regimes consists, in fact, of forcing the latter to recognize the independence and non-interference in the internal affairs of a country. And imperialism implies precisely meddling in the internal affairs of other countries, and constant attacks on the sovereignty and independence of weaker countries.

The fact that it took more than 20 years to breach the wall that the imperialist countries built around the PRC after its creation in 1949, in order to try to isolate and strangle it – this fact shows clearly that peaceful coexistence can only be obtained through constant struggle, and this, against the will of the imperialist powers. The PRC’s conditions for establishing diplomatic relations at the beginning of the 1950’s were the same as they are today. However, at that time, no imperialist country in the sphere of American imperialism wanted to consider diplomatic relations with the PRC. But in recent years, thing have changed. All these same countries, including Canada, have self-glorified in sending their leaders, up to and including the former chief clerk of American imperialism, Nixon, to solicit a return to more normal diplomatic relations with the Chinese State. Fine victories of the PRC on the world scene; a testimony to its growing role in the international balance of power. But also an irrefutable sign of the rise of the revolutionary forces in the world and of the weakening of imperialism!

Given its increasing importance on the international scene, the fact that China intensifies its diplomatic offensive does not imply the abandoning of its initial internationalist positions. It’s the very opposite: this break-through has had in return positive effects on the entire revolutionary movement and has accentuated the falling apart of American imperialism.

Who is interested in peaceful coexistence? The socialist countries and the revolutionary forces of the world. Who is hostile of it? Imperialism whether it says or not that it is “socialist” and all of world reaction. In effect, they can only tolerate the existence of socialist countries when forced to! It acts as a ball and chain, making them hobble!

That is why the socialist countries strive by all possible means to force imperialism and social-imperialism and all of world reaction to peace and peaceful coexistence. Because peace and peaceful coexistence are two factors that allow revolution to make headway across the world.

A policy that takes into account world-wide upheavals

The PRC’s foreign policy is determined by the major changes that have taken place on the international scene since the Second World War. US imperialism, at one time dominant on a world-wide scale, main enemy of the socialist camp and of the oppressed peoples and nations, nonetheless suffered many severe blows: the creation of the PRC itself in 1949, then Korea in 1952, later Cuba in 1959, and more recently the countries of Indochina. As well, since the 60’s its imperialist camp is increasingly falling apart. Finally, all the member countries are caught up in forever growing economic, political and social crises.

At the same time, from 1956 to 1963, from its XXth to its XXIInd Congress, the foreign policy of the Soviet Union’s Communist Party took on a new look. It abandoned proletarian internationalism and the offensive against US imperialism, promoting instead “pacific competition”. Simultaneously, on the internal scene, it definitely abolished the dictatorship of the proletariat and re-established capitalism at full speed. The forsaking of socialism on the domestic and international front because a clique of bourgeois succeeded in getting hold of the Party’s leadership, led to the socialist camp’s dismemberment. This of course constituted a severe blow for the international communist movement but at the same time, it accentuated the inter-imperialist contradictions.

The process of capitalism’s restoration in the USSR was quickly accompanied by a desire to control the international scene, by a need to enlarger its zones of influence at all costs. For the Soviet revisionists, it was even easier to do, since they could easily use the glorious reputation of the USSR under Lenin & Stalin, to attain their reactionary goals. Such is the ruthless logic of capitalism at its imperialist stage.

During the 60’s, the USSR’s relations were principally marked by collusion with the USA, by the total abdication of the struggle against imperialism and the danger of war that it represented for all humanity, by the refusal to support the national liberation movements on the pretext that they could become the source of a nuclear war, by the call for the pacific coexistence of the world-wide proletariat with capitalism, and of the oppressed peoples and nations with imperialism.

Capitalism’s restoration in the USSR went hand in hand with the militarization of the economy and the enormous production of war material. Since it was not as economically powerful as the USA on this level, which already controlled huge regions of the world, the USSR’s mode of expansion, although it was based on the neo-colonial domination of the weaker revisionist countries, was also based on the sale of armaments and on military as well as political and economic “aid” so as to infiltrate, pillage and agress the countries of Asia, Africa and South America. Though younger, Soviet social-imperialism reinforced itself at high speed and quickly became a superpower whose mode of expansion and penetration mainly uses war or direct military agression, as was the case in Czechoslovakia in 1968 or indirectly by means of Cuban mercenaries. In this sense, since 1972, the Chinese communists have declared it the main source of war, the most aggressive and dangerous of the two superpowers, all the more so since it has a socialist mask to hide its acts.

It is certain that the fact that the USSR has abandoned socialism increases the imperialists’ strength. But at the same time, this fact also introduces new rivalries in their midst, rivalries that divide them and accentuate their disintegration. Today, commonly speaking, the “imperialist camp” does not exist anymore. The two great superpowers have replaced it and are engaged in a death struggle to obtain the leadership of world affairs. They are ready to drag humanity into a world war in order to reach their hegemonic goal.

Because of this new situation, the PRC has adopted a foreign policy true to proletarian internationalism but that also takes into account this new reality.

Unite all the forces that can be united

In this new conjuncture, the immediate goal of the PRC’s foreign policy is not to prevent an imperialist world war, for even if it wanted to, it could never do it on its own. Its goal is rather to delay the start of the war as long as possible, 5, 10, 15 or 20 years so that the peoples will be well prepared for it, in order to gain time so that war will provoke revolution and revolution will ward off war. Thus, since the beginning of the 70’s, the PRC has intensified its struggle to unite the countries oppressed or menaced, mainly by the superpowers, but also by the other imperialist countries, through sustained diplomatic, economic and political activity. Its aim? To oppose the strongest and largest possible united front against imperialism and especially the hegemonic goals of the two superpowers, the two main sources of war.

Thus the PRC plays a determinant role in these countries struggles to reinforce their independence and national sovereignty, to control their natural resources, to develop their national economy and to establish fruitful relations of cooperation and mutual aid among themselves. This support to the Third World countries, without any interference in the internal affairs of these countries, doesn’t keep China from supporting the revolutionary movements of these same countries. When the PRC supports Iran’s participation in OPEC, as a manifestation of resistance against the superpowers, this in no way implies that it “supports” the internal regime or that it lessens its support to Iranian revolutionaries. Contrary to revisionist countries, the PRC has never bartered its support to liberation movements in exchange for the establishment of State to State relations. Since its creation, it has always supported the revolutionary movements of the Third World. Just yesterday, it supported the movements of Indochina, Mozambique, Guinea-Bissau and Angola. Today, it supports the movements of the Middle East, South Africa, Latin America, Indonesia, India, the Philippines...

If at one time, the case of Angola, it lessened its support to the national liberation movements of Angola, it is because one of these movements, the MPLA, bartered the struggle for national independence in exchange for Soviet support against the two other movements. The recent events in Angola and the invasion of Zaire speak for the correctness of the Chinese comrades’ positions. China refuses to support any liberation movement that relies upon one superpower to oppose the other, for this means that sooner or later that movement will lose its independence.

Act upon interimperialist contradictions

With the same aim, the PRC establishes distinctions between the 2 superpowers and the other weaker imperialist and capitalist countries, those of the Second World. Contradictions oppose these countries to the superpowers. They are themselves victims of the superpowers. Whether they agree to it or not, they are dragged into coalitions and imperialist blocs dominated by a superpower that attack their independence and national sovereignty to different degrees.

Without interfering in their internal affairs and all the while supporting the revolutionary struggles of the peoples of these countries, China defends the right of these countries to enjoy complete independence and national sovereignty. It opposes all the superpowers’ attacks against these rights, and defends the principle of the equality of all States in international affairs. Using the conflicts that oppose these countries to the superpowers, it encourages them to unite, to establish direct relations with the Third World countries, to concede certain things to the Third World countries. Thus, the PRC pays special attention to the reinforcement of the Common Market which is a good mirror of the sharpening of interimperialist conflicts. In fact, both superpowers are hostile to it.

This doesn’t keep the Chinese comrades from being extremely conscious of the reactionary and imperialist character of the bourgeoisie in power in these countries, of the fundamental interests that tie it to one or the other of the superpowers. On the other hand, the smallest breach between the imperialist countries weakens them even further and thus reinforces the world-wide revolution.

Because of its possibility to establish State to State relations, to act upon the contradictions between imperialists, China uses all the means that it disposes of to delay the start of a new world war and thus to favour the reinforcement of the revolutionary movement.

The PRC has also given us a striking example of how to use the contradictions opposing US imperialism against social-imperialism. The Kremlin’s new tsars deeply hate China and for years have been preparing to attack it. To put their plan to work, they must first be assured of US imperialism’s neutrality if ever they should attack China.

But taking advantage of US imperialism’s defeat in Indochina, of its internal crisis, of its relative weakening, China has favoured the opening of diplomatic relations with it in the last few years. This attitude took the social-imperialists and their shoe-shine boys, the revisionists, totally by surprise and smashed their plan of attack. But has this kept China from supporting the revolutionary struggle of the American proletariat and people? Absolutely not!

The Trotskyists and revisionists, those are the real traitors!

Won’t you kindly tell us, Mr. Trotskyists, who betrays the world-wide revolution? Is it the PRC that has a consistent policy based on the principles that consists of acting upon the interimperialist contradictions, and of relentlessly struggling to isolate imperialism and particularly the two superpowers, thus contributing to delaying the start of a new world war and to giving more respite to the revolutionary movement? Isn’t it rather the Trotskyists who never cease repeating, throughout history, that socialism is impossible in one country and who act like the imperialists in attacking the PRC? Isn’t it these same Trotskyists that support the gestures of Russian imperialism and defended the invasion of Angola. It’s this that leads to liquidating the revolutionary struggles of the peoples and of the international proletariat.

And you, Mr. revisionists, do tell us who are fomenting a third world war? Is it the PRC that has a policy consisting of the support for any correct cause against any reactionary cause, of the unconditional support of the peoples’ revolutionary struggles, of the right to independence of all nations and States and also denouncing the war preparations of the two superpowers? Isn’t it rather the Soviet revisionists at the head of social-imperialism, for whom you are the loudspeakers, who oppress and overexploit dozens of peoples throughout the world, who “support” the liberation movements with the sole aim of putting their hands on them, and who, in their mad race for world hegemony, threaten to throw humanity into another world war?

No, the facts speak for themselves, the PRC’s foreign policy serves the peoples of the world and strongly supports them in their revolutionary struggles.

Canadian Marxist-Leninists must draw the lessons from China’s principles and analyses

As we’ve seen, China’s foreign policy is a correct policy based on proletarian internationalism that serves the interests of the peoples and of world-wide revolution. In fact, this policy is mainly determined by a new situation: the transformation of socialist Russia into an imperialist country competing for world-wide hegemony. This situation lead the Chinese Communist Party to put forward that the universe is divided into three worlds, the first being composed of the two superpowers, the third (the Third World) of the developing countries, and the second of all the advanced capitalist countries other than the superpowers (the European countries, Canada ...). This analysis of the three worlds is conjonctural, it is the product of the four fundamental contradictions [2] that govern imperialism’s whole era. At present, this conception of the balance of power on a world-wide scale takes the international situation as a whole well into account. To recognize the implies that all Marxist-Leninists must draw lessons from the principles and correct analyses of the Chinese comrades. But this does not imply that we should mechanically copy the application of the proletarian policy of a socialist State to our own conditions.

In Canada, we first witnessed the “CPC (ML)”’s counterrevolutionary clique push to the point of ridicule its mechanical application of the strategy of the Chinese revolution to our country. We all saw that this in no way guaranteed the correctness of its counter-revolutionary line.

But this tendency flourishes in the Marxist-Leninist movement. Since its creation, the CCL(ML) has particularly set itself apart by this kind of method that consists in “forgetting” that we must apply the 3 world analysis from the viewpoint of the proletarian revolution in Canada. Didn’t we see it foolishly support the Canadian bourgeoisie’s military policy under the pretext that the Chinese comrades, as leaders of a proletarian State, favour even the smallest and most secondary manifestations of the Second World imperialist countries’ opposition to the super-powers? Didn’t we see it support the agreements contracted by our bourgeoisie, an imperialist bourgeoisie, with Third World countries, under the pretext that the Chinese communists favour all forms of drawing together of Third and Second World countries?

The comrades of the League probably take themselves for the leaders of the future Canadian socialist State!

But must we remind these comrades that the Chinese comrades’ “3 worlds” analysis, that permits them to act in the interests of world-wide revolution, must not be used to mask the class character of the contradictions on the international scene, contradictions summarized in the 4 fundamental contradictions of our era? To forget this leads us directly to the formation of a united front with the 100% reactionary Canadian bourgeoisie. Besides, have we ever heard the Chinese comrades ask Marxist-Leninists from another country to form a united front with their imperialist bourgeoisie under the pretext that contradictions exist between it and the superpowers? The example of the Chinese comrades themselves teaches us the contrary.

In fact, when they developed their State to State relations, did the Chinese comrades cease to wage the struggle against the bourgeoisie in their country, did they cease to wage the struggle for the reinforcement of the dictatorship of the proletariat? On the contrary, they accentuated that very struggle.

IN STRUGGLE! considers that we in no way serve the revolution when we repeat the application of the Chinese comrades’ analysis of the international situation like a bunch of parrots, for their analysis takes into account the State to State relations they can act upon as a socialist State.

As a matter of fact, the rich experience of the Chinese revolution teaches us precisely that the different organizations or communist parties must elaborate independently, on the basis of the Marxist-Leninist principles and of the general line of the international communist movement, a political line shaped to the concrete condition of their respective countries.


[1] The 5 principies of peaceful coexistance: mutual respect of sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-agression, mutual non-interference in internal affairs, equally and mutual advantage and peaceful coexistance.

[2] 1. The contradiction between the oppressed peoples and nations on the one hand, and imperialism (today, principally the imperialism of the two superpowers, USA and USSR) on the other hand;
2. In the capitalist (and revisionist) countries, the contradictions opposing the proletariat aid the bourgeoisie;
3. The contradiction between the imperialist countries (principally between the two superpowers);
4. The contradictions between the socialist countries on the one hand and the imperialist countries and social-imperialism on the other hand.