Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

The New Voice

Interpreting News from China

First Published: The New Voice, Vol. IX, No. 12, November 10, 1980.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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China has not abandoned socialism, contrary to suggestions by the Western press and also some U.S. leftists who are actually angry that China has definitely maintained its longstanding foreign policy orientation.

Among the news of changes or developments recently coming out of China are the following:

•Enterprises will get more independence. Factories, collective farming groups and other economic units have worked under detailed administrative orders from layers of government. They will now enjoy more freedom to retain part of their net revenue (instead of returning it all to state accounts), find markets for what they produce, and team up with other enterprises for joint operations drawing on the strengths of each partner.

State-owned enterprises remain property of the state, and economic planning will not vanish in face of the market. (In fact, it will increase; see below.) Furthermore, the government intends to conduct experiments, revise ideas, and spread new methods after testing them.

•A longterm plan will be mapped out. Socialism requires economic planning to direct investment for the greatest benefit, mesh the various sectors of industrial activity, and avoid the crises, waste and shortages of capitalist economies. In his speech to the September session of the National People’s Congress, Premier Hua Guo-feng reported how no five-year plans had been carried out since 1958. Now the government aims to make a plan for 1981-85 and an outline ten-year plan for 1981-90.

Planning serves socialism as a method for uniting people’s efforts, letting everyone see what can be achieved and how living standards can be raised, and in general replacing the individualistic outlook that capitalism forces on people (“Look out for #1”) with a collective outlook (“Together we can move mountains!”). As Premier Hua put it in his speech, “Thus, by studying the outline they can envisage how much our socialist economy will grow and how much their living standards will rise over the next ten years....Then everybody will continue to display the spirit of arduous struggle and devote themselves to the cause heart and soul, knowing that it is their own.” (Beijing Review, Sept. 22, 1980)

•Mao Zedong’s role will be evaluated. The Communist Party of China is expected to make an evaluation of Mao Zedong’s more than 50 years of revolutionary activity. Preliminary views affirm his great leadership in the Chinese revolution and his contributions to enriching scientific, Marxist-Leninist thought in politics, party life, military strategy and tactics, philosophy, art and literature. At the same time, criticisms of events during his last years (he lived to be 82) when he continued to be Chairman of the Communist Party are expected. Certainly, nothing like the false and vicious attacks that Soviet leaders made on Stalin in 1956 will occur.

A number of lesser changes are also being made in China. Hua Guo-feng gave up his position as Premier, and five Vice Premiers also resigned. Hua remains Chairman of the Communist Party; the Congress appointed Zhao Ziyang to be the new Premier. The purposes of the shifts were to separate Party and government office and to encourage veteran revolutionaries to bring in new, younger blood at all levels.

An income tax was instituted, but it applies only to incomes over 800 yuan per month. The average Chinese income is a mere fraction of this figure, and only a handful throughout the country will be subject to the tax. Its main purpose is to tax resident foreigners who enjoy government services while they are working in China. At least one ultraleft group in the U.S., the Communist Workers Party, reported the new tax without mentioning these features, which amounts to a distortion used to attack China’s socialism.


China’s basic foreign policy remains steady. It is founded on the recognition that the Soviet imperialists are the principal problem in world politics today. They are the source of a potential third world war, and the world should unite against Soviet aggression such as was carried out in Afghanistan. In this perspective China is willing to continue its relationship with the United States, but only on equal terms. China will not accept the Reagan-led attempt to resurrect the Kuomintang clique as “independent Taiwan” or a separate “Republic of China.” There is only one China, Taiwan is a province of it, and its government is the People’s Republic.

The internal changes do not signify departure from socialism nor embrace of the capitalist system. Premier Hua repeated the basic principles of the Chinese way and welcomed innovation, saying, “Guided by the four fundamental principles of upholding the socialist road, the dictatorship of the proletariat, the leadership of the [Communist] Party and Marxism-Leninism-Mao Zedong Thought, cadres and the masses have emancipated their minds, sought truth from facts, dared to air their views and make criticisms...” China embarked on the socialist road in 1949 from its own starting point. It did not start where the Soviet Union began after the October Revolution in 1917, nor where the United States will begin once there is a proletarian revolution here. Furthermore, the effort to modernize China’s economy is charting new territory; the measures taken are not found in Marxist books or Soviet history, nor are they correct in every feature from the outset. But nothing is accomplished without acting forthrightly, and that is what the Chinese people are doing.

If a person is really interested in socialism, then Chinese experience should be sympathetically but critically received, just as one looks back at the construction of socialism under Lenin and Stalin in the Soviet Union. But the job in the United States is not yet socialist construction; it is to handle the threat of world war and the strategy for proletarian revolution correctly.

Attempts to breed a morbid feeling about China are mounted by those U.S. leftists who are objectively pro-Soviet, such as the Guardian newspaper, the so-called anti-dogmatist trend, and ultraleftists like the RCP and CWP. These groups mislead people about the problem of Soviet aggression and world war. Ironically, the root of their disagreement is not over changes in China but rather over what remains unchanged, namely, China’s leadership in meeting Soviet expansionism with the call for a collective response.