Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

China’s actions serve the international proletariat

First Published: Unity, Vol. 2, No. 5, March 9-22, 1979.
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Paul Saba
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The situation in Southeast Asia has been the subject of concern and debate within the U.S. revolutionary movement. A fair amount of confusion has existed, with many revolutionaries unclear as to how to analyze the recent turn of events.

Some people have felt that China’s actions were wrong, for didn’t China cross an international border, thus aggressing on another country? Other people have agreed that Viet Nam should not have invaded Kampuchea, but feel that China should not have “invaded” Viet Nam. These people say that “two wrongs don’t make a right” and that the “socialist countries should not fight amongst themselves.”

Marxist-Leninists must analyze things concretely, rather than through abstract formulations. We do not oppose war or fighting in the abstract. As Lenin stated, there are just wars and there are unjust wars. Communists oppose wars of imperialist aggression and annexation, but we support wars for national independence and liberation, wars for revolution and socialism. This is a fundamental principle of Marxism-Leninism.

It would also be abstract to make the act of crossing a border itself a criteria for what is aggression. Again, one must distinguish between what is just and what is unjust. At the conclusion of World War II, the then-socialist Soviet Red Army marched through and liberated the Eastern European countries from the Nazis. Certainly this wasn’t aggression.

How, then, do we judge what is just and unjust? There is only one basis: Marxist-Leninists must concretely answer the question, who does it serve? Does it help or hurt the proletariat and the oppressed masses? Does it help the imperialists, or does it help socialism?

Viet Nam’s attacks against China’s border areas and its invasion of Kampuchea are clearly not in the interests of the masses or of socialism. The Vietnamese authorities used blatant force to violate Kampuchea’s independence, topple its legitimate government, and station 150,000 troops there. They want to annex Kampuchea and subjugate the Kampuchean people against their will into a so-called “Indochina Federation” under Hanoi’s control.

As for Viet Nam’s attacks against China’s border regions, the Vietnamese authorities encroached on China’s territory over 3,000 times since 1974. They burned and looted villages, shot at frontier guards, peasants and schools, laid their own military lines on China’s territory and even moved border markers. Viet Nam’s aggression and expansionism is even more dangerous because it directly serves the interests of the Soviet imperialists’ designs to dominate the whole world.

But it cannot be likewise said that China’s strike against Vietnam serves the interests of imperialism. China’s actions were necessary to defend her sovereignty. When words failed, then action became necessary. To say that China should not have “resorted to violence” is an idealistic view which only appeases the Soviets’ and Vietnamese authorities’ violence.

Furthermore, unlike Viet Nam, which set up a puppet government in Phnom Penh and tried to take Chinese territory piece by piece, China has clearly no intentions of taking any Vietnamese territory.

But even more than defending her own borders, China’s actions were a service to the other countries and peoples of Southeast Asia and the world. China put a check on the aggression and expansionism of the Soviet and Vietnamese authorities, and upset their plans to control Asia by force. China struck a blow to the Soviet imperialists’ war designs. This shows that the only way to combat the war danger is by taking a firm stand, not by appeasing aggression.

To realize that the Vietnamese authorities are now practicing a policy of colonialism and aggression is a hard pill for many people to swallow.

But the fact is, following Viet Nam’s liberation from the U.S. imperialists, the leading authorities in Hanoi chose not to repair the wounds of war and rebuild the country, but rather poured everything into realizing their aims of taking over all of Indochina for themselves. Today the Vietnamese economy is in ruin and the masses of people suffer from food shortages, inflation, unemployment and repression. The Vietnamese have long fought for freedom, but that dream has been turned into a nightmare.

Thus, when concretely analyzed in the context of current international conditions, China’s actions against the Soviet and Vietnamese aggressors is just and necessary, with far-reaching political significance. By striking a blow against the Soviet imperialists’ war designs, China has acted in the interests of the international proletariat.