Encyclopedia of Anti-Revisionism On-Line

AKP (ML): Opinion on the events in China

First Issued: July 1989
First Published in English: International Review, [published by the Revolutionary Communist League of Britain], No. 7 (1990).
Transcription, Editing and Markup: Sam Richards and Paul Saba
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In May, the AKP (ML) resolved their point of view on the mass demonstrations in China. We presented our point of view in mass media.

We made an energetic protest against the massacre 4.6 [June 4th], and broke off the party connection with those in the leadership in CPC at that time.

We took initiative in organizing demonstrations in Oslo and several other towns in Norway.

When those responsible for the massacre consolidated their position in CPC, and got approval for their behaviour from the party institutions, we made it clear that the break off the connections was final.

Here follows a summary of our statements and initiatives. Finally some comments to make some of our statements and evaluations on the development in China clearer. The author of this note is responsible for the details here.

Statement from the Working Committee in the Central Committee, Published in Klassekampen 20.05.89:

“The mass demonstrations in China are to the benefit of the development of socialism. Claims on greater freedom of speech and openness, will enlarge the peoples control and sharpen the fight against corruption, and are therefore progressive. This is also true in respect of the anti-imperialist claims against Japanese exploitation of China. This shows that the demonstrators are engaged in the development of socialism and that they want greater responsibility for the development of society to the people. The demonstrations are not against the socialist society. The ways the demonstrations have been carried out up to now, both the peaceful methods the demonstrators have used, and that the authorities have met the demonstrators with dialogue and argumentation, are positive signs. From our point of view would it be right and important that the Chinese government approach this democracy movement. That would be benefit to socialism in China, and would have positive effects on class struggle all over the world.”
Party leader Siri Jensen and leader of the International Committee Pal Steigan made a public protest when the state of emergency started 20.05.89.

Reactions after the massacre 4.6.69:

Demonstration outside the Chinese embassy in Oslo Sunday 4.6. Participants also from two minor Trotskyist groups in Norway and youth movement called Blitz.

AKP(ML) public statement 5.6.89:

“AKP(ML) sharply dissociate from the Chinese authorities slaughtering peaceful demonstrators. These are fascist acts against a progressive popular movement for democracy, against corruption and misuse of power. The Chinese revolution was the greatest in history of mankind; and it raised hope to suppressed people all over the world. That is why it is a deep tragedy that the People’s Liberation Army is being used to commit mass murder of the people. AKP(ML) suspend their party connection with CPC immediately; We cannot accept connections with a party which is governed by those responsible of the use of military power against the people. The development shows that CPC is deeply divided: The clique who has taken power has isolated themself from the people. The Chinese people will not make progress unless this clique is out of power, and other forces who will create a real socialist democracy gain power. The basis for this is present among CPC’s 48 million members and in the mass movement.”

Comments from Sirj Jensen and Pal Steigan, Klassekampen 5.6.89:

Strong reactions by Siri Jensen, leader in AKP(ML), against the massive error against unarmed civilian people in the streets of Beijing. “We cannot have party connection with rulers who start fascist acts like this. We say in our party’s statement that we suspend the connection with The Communist Party of China. That means that we break off with those in power at this time, and that we don’t want contact with these people later on. But we want the right to resume party connection with CPC if and when new leaders, who are pro socialist democracy, take the place of the present leadership. This also means that we will follow with great attention the fight for power that surely takes place inside CPC, and which without doubt will continue. It is clear that the contradictions inside CPC are powerful and the fight has to be increased by what happens now. For the last 10 years China has been in the melting pot. Friends of China have had doubts and uncertainty about several parts of CPC’s politics. It was easy to see that there was a need for reforms. The great question was: what sort of development would the market forces set up in the Chinese society? That sort of questions is of minor importance today, after what has happened now. At the present time fascist terror have been used against the people, the rulers have isolated themselves from the people, We have to trust the proud Chinese people and the millions of millions party members who surely are in angry and desperate opposition to the rulers blood-stained harassments.” says Siri Jensen.
Leader of AKP(ML)’s International Committee, Pal Steigan says: “We are now witnessing fascist acts, The authorities are destroying the possibility of a dialogue with the peaceful democratic movement. Those who have consolidated their power have declared war against the people and the party. It has been obvious for a long time that the opposition inside the party have been large, Prime Minister Li Peng and the others have’ fought, for their view for a long time. Certainly it is not an agreed party which approve what is happening now. Methods of extreme dictatorship are being used. In my opinion it is very uncertain how long this leadership can hold on to their power. Last time people were killed at Tien An Men was in spring 1976. The leaders behind that event fell shortly afterwards. The only hope now is that the rulers of today also will fall down. They have burned all bridges. The governing clique has set itself up as dictators and enemies of the people. AKP(ML) cannot have connection with these people. The hope now is that there will be popular uprisings, which sooner or later will over throw those in power today” says Pal Steigan.

Demonstration in Oslo 8.6.89 with following slogans:

“Stop the massacre – support the students”
“Democracy and socialism – no to terror and fascist methods.”
“Punish the executioners Li and Deng.”
Organizers: AKP and its youth organisations, Sosialistisk Venstreparti and its youth organisation, Norges kommunistiske Parti and their youth organisation, Oslolista, and the two Trotskyist groups, Blitz, most of the Norwegian student organisations and the Chinese Students Union in Norway.
Demonstrations took place in several other towns the same day, and local groups from the party were co organizers.

Confirmation of the break with CPC.

The break of the party connection was confirmed 22.6., after it became clear that the responsible for the massacre got support from the elected committees of the party.

Protest against the prosecutions and executions.

22.6. Delivered AKP a protest note to the government in China, via the Chinese embassy in Norway:
“AKP(ML) protests sharply against the executions of three workers in Shanghai. We will strongly call on the Chinese authorities to abolish the other death penalties and stop the legal prosecutions of participants in political demonstrations.”
Participating in negotiations to establish a solidarity committee pro the Chinese people. On the initiative of Sosialistisk Venstreparti preparations has been made to start a solidarity committee pro the Chinese people. All political parties in Norway are invited and are interested. If they will agree on a political platform and the way of working, is not yet decided.


1. Evaluation of the mass movement.

As our statements make clear, AKP looked at the mass movement as mainly a progressive force, to the benefit of development of socialism in China. They were spokesmen on claims on greater popular responsibility and influence on the development of society in China.

They were also dissatisfied with the results of the campaign against corruption, a critique of the party protecting theirs. (Both Deng and Li Peng were criticized in the start in connection with the affairs of their sons). It was not clear what point of view the movement had on the mainstreams in the economic reform policy. Some supported the economic reforms, but wanted them to be followed up by political reforms too. .At the same time there were a social basis on protesting against lower standards of living for large groups of people, which have increased the last two years.

We still know far too little about how this affected the movement, except the protests against the bad sides of the reform policy: like corruption, speculation and permission of foreign, (especially Japanese) influence in China. We still know too little about at which level this movement was a genuine mass movement or a reflection of the disagreement and fight for power inside CPC. Probably was this at a large scale an independent mass movement, with centre outside the inner circles in CPC, more independent than comparing mass movements in the beginning of the Cultural Revolution and the fall of the Gang of Four in 1976. But, it is likely to think that the struggle inside the party also made the movement so comprehensive. A great many party members and public employees participated in the demonstrations. The organizing and the large scale of demonstrations tells that the party probably contributed. (relatively soon demonstrations were step up in more than 2/3 of the Provincial Capitols, and participants from different groups in society, not just students). If we should speculate about motives, then Zhao Ziyang and his fans had a great need to mobilize mass support, to avoid being pushed totally out of the leadership. Rumours told that he would be degraded in connection with the 40th anniversary this autumn.

It is clear that such a mass movement also would recruit forces which are against socialism. Both ordinary Chinese who are influenced by western propaganda and deliberate anti-communists, these did not manage to put their mark on the policy of the demonstrations.

The question may of course be if these forces gained greater influence in the last days of the demonstrations, the week before the massacre, when the demonstrations lost strength. (They adopted a tactic for making their claims sharper, and from wanting dialogue, they raised claims that meant confrontation with the government.) Anyhow, this does not justify the massacre. The leaders exposed themselves and gave anticommunism a great propaganda victory.

2. Development in China the last 10 years.

AKP has been careful with drawing fast, simple conclusions about development in China in the 80s. We still hold on to this. Despite the fact that the comrades who argued for break off in the party connection, claiming the Central Committee’s plenary meeting of the CPC in December 78, had been a contra-revolution, now says the latest events shows that they were right then.

The massacre cannot be used as proof of the theory of contra revolution. The massacre must be evaluated separately, as a reactionary act which has been a risk to socialism in China. Which factors in the development the last 10 years, and earlier, that have made the massacre possible, are there different opinions about.

Anyway, it would be too simple to blame the economic reforms. The state sector (public sector) still has a dominating influence on Chinese economy, and it is still, at a large scale, a planned economy. Despite the increasing of the capitalist sector the last years, China is a poor country in the 3rd world, surrounded by imperialism. They make a gigantic economical experiment, among other things they change an agricultural country into a modern industrialized country, without mass unemployment and huge slum areas surrounding the large cities.

The socialist passing stage will last for a long time in such a society, with both capitalist and socialist production conditions side by side. This will be the basis for a new bourgeoisie, and this make it more difficult to build communism here than after a revolution in a highly developed industrial country.

This put great demands on the political leadership; put the bourgeoisie under control, both through the communist party and the development of popular mass organisations.

That’s why it is also important to study with great accuracy these sides of the development of the proletarian dictatorship in China:
–The development of CPC from the fifties and up to now. Which parts played the strong party fights from the late fifties, through the cultural revolution and further on? What have this meant for the development of the party, and for the relationship between the party and the masses?
–The development of the workers and peasants mass organisations.
–The development of state governing committees, from the local area and to the top of the state. As regards the production, public service, administration of the state and administration of justice.

When we study these topics, we must not moralize and we must not forget that socialism in China was built on the ruins of a feudal society, and their staring point with only one party with mass support in the population.

The 8 democratic parties, which now participate in the Consultative Conference are only small groups compared with CPC, they have at most some ten thousand members, CPC has 48 million. CPC is not a common party of cadres, it is a mass party, more than 4% of the population are members. It is the only organisation of mayor importance which opens doors to powerful positions in society. This has not been changed by what has happened. That’s why the development inside CPC is final when it comes to the future development in China. It has to be the communists in CPC who have to mobilize the progressive forces in the population and fight to recreate the socialism in China.

Oslo July 1989