First Published: The Worker, for Hawaii, Vol. 1, No. 4, January 1976.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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President Ford’s trip to the Peoples Republic of China in December underlines the growing danger of world war.
Since Ford’s visit didn’t result in any new agreement, there has been a lot of speculation as to exactly why he went there in the first place. Ford certainly had in mind “looking presidential” for the coming elections. But mainly he went because he had to recognize the growing strength of socialist China and because of the rivalry between the US and its chief competitor–the Soviet Union.
Ford and other spokesmen for the ruling class in this country bragged about how taking this trip was more evidence of their tireless efforts towards peace in the world. But at the official banquet for Ford, the Chinese vice premier said that “detente” between the US and USSR is a fake and that the conflict between them is increasingly leading the world towards a new world war.
This is the truth of the matter despite Ford’s hypocritical denial. Even while they’re trying to fool people by talking peace, the rulers of both the US and the USSR are building up their armed forces and carrying out armed confrontations with each other all over the world, such as in Angola today. And as part of their expansion, both superpowers have threatened China.
China used the occasion to warn of the danger of war between the superpowers and expose the real nature of the situation so as to help alert people and delay the outbreak of such a war. China also used the Ford trip to make it more difficult for either superpower to attack China, especially the USSR.
The press in the US tried to turn the truth upside down on this. Calling every nation warlike except their own, they claimed that Ford went seeking peace while the Chinese urged the US on to war. But the drive toward war between the superpowers is a fact “independent of man’s will,” as the Chinese said. It is the capitalist system and its constant drive for profits that forces both the US and the USSR to expand, and each is the major obstacle to the other as long as these capitalists exist. Their test of strength can only be settled by war.
Trips to China, unthinkable only a few years ago, now seem to have become almost a matter of course for US presidents. Part of the reason is that after decades of trying to “contain” China and overthrow socialism there, the US ruling class now has to face facts. Before its revolution, China was once so weak that almost half a dozen imperialist countries were able to rip off a chunk of it. Now the Chinese workers and peasants are a major force in the world.
And this change has been accompanied by others. The position of US imperialism is growing weaker as the US capitalist class faces a crisis at home and is battered on all sides by revolutionary struggle. Their attempts to occupy and militarily dominate Asia have led to some big defeats, such as in Vietnam.
The other major change is that the Soviet Union has become a capitalist country, even though it still calls itself socialist. In the mid 1950s, Khrushchev and a small group around him were able to take power out of the hands of the Soviet workers. Since then this new capitalist ruling class has lived high on the hog at the workers’ expense. Along with the US ruling class, today these new Soviet rulers have become one of the two main bands of capitalist robbers bringing misery to the people of their own countries and around the world.
Just as in the US, the capitalist system has caused economic crisis in the USSR. To “solve” this crisis, the rulers of both countries are trying to squeeze more than ever out of the workers at home and everywhere.
As a latecomer to the international thieves’ banquet until recently headed by the US rulers, the USSR is grabbing wildly for a big portion of investments, markets, raw materials, and space for military bases in all corners of the globe. Everywhere the people’s struggle has forced the US to retreat, the USSR is trying to take advantage of the situation to snatch things up for itself.
These are the conditions that have forced the US ruling class to scale down attempts to encircle and destroy China and to improve relations with China somewhat. Right now, beating back the growing Soviet challenge and extending the US empire at Soviet expense is the main goal of the US imperialists, and attacking China is secondary to that. That’s why Ford went to China, like Nixon before him.
Besides making use of the trip to expose and help delay the outbreak of war, the Chinese agreed to Ford’s visit for other reasons, too. As a country where the working class has put an end to capitalism, China wants to live in peace with other countries, including the US. It has given support to the revolutionary struggles around the world, such as their aid to Vietnam and their positions against the two superpowers in the UN. At the same time, the Chinese know that revolution in each country must be made by the people of that country themselves.
But China exists in a world where there are still butchers on the loose. Part of its policy must be aimed at defending itself from attack. The rulers of the two superpowers fear each other more than they fear China right now, because China is not a rival for world domination. But as part of their attacks world-wide and against the people of their own countries, the imperialists want to attack China.
They want to boost their profits by exploiting workers there, and they can’t stand what China represents. The successes of socialism in China, in transforming a country so long kept poor and oppressed by the imperialists, stands as an example to people everywhere that they don’t have to live in the way the capitalists now force them to.
Even though the US capitalist class has been forced to change its tactics toward China, they also hate it and can’t help dreaming of overthrowing socialism there. The US still has thousands of soldiers stationed in Chinese territory in Taiwan, against the spirit of the agreement reached during Nixon’s trip to China.
Recently the US has given Taiwan rulers new diplomatic encouragement and military aid to keep the island from being reunited with the mainland. They hope to use it as a base for more threats and aggression against China. This is only one of a whole series of recent hostile acts by the US.
But today, the most immediate threat of attack on China comes from the Soviet Union. The new Soviet rulers have started several border battles with China by trying to snatch up Chinese territory. They’ve encouraged other countries, such as India, to attack it, while the Soviets themselves have a million troops stationed on the Chinese border. They’ve also tried to overthrow socialism by using agents within China.
These Soviet capitalists have a special hatred for China because China has exposed their phony “socialism” and their real capitalism and imperialist expansion and aggression. The Soviets are counting on their fake “socialist” label to help them deceive people and take over positions once held by the US imperialists.
To defend itself, as its vice premier told Ford, China depends first on its own strength–on “independence, self-reliance, and millet plus rifles,” as he put it. In addition, China is using tactics, including diplomacy such as the Ford trip, to get the US to back off China and even to use the US as an obstacle to Soviet plans to attack China.
The necessities of capitalism itself are driving the superpowers to war. Their talk of “detente” is a smokescreen to hide their real bloodthirsty nature. In exposing this and delaying the outbreak of war, China is helping the revolutionary struggle against these two big oppressors to gather strength. The existence of China itself is proof that the working class can break free of the system which has caused so many wars.