From the Morning Star (07/06/2019) it seems that their people had a wonderful time on a recent visit to what they describe as “the world’s socialist super-power.”
“Earlier this year”, reported the Morning Star, “Communist Party of Britain (CPB) representatives took part in a joint delegation of Communist parties from northern Europe and North America following an invitation from the International Department of the Communist Party of China (CPC)”. CPB Executive member Jonathan Havard told the Morning Star: “Their utilising capitalism to move forward to a modern First World society is entirely based upon MarxistLeninist theory. It’s difficult to define the Chinese characteristics [as in ‘Socialism with Chinese characteristics’ – JD] but they would say they have learnt from the mistakes of the collapse of the Soviet Union.”
The Morning Star concedes that “Havard was... critical of the very limited role of trade unions in Chinese society… Their idea of independent trade unions is not the same as ours.” Actually, the Chinese Communist Party’s (CPC’s) idea of independent trade unions probably is “the same as ours”… it’s just that they don’t allow them Thus far, workers have mostly struggled to make the state-controlled All-China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU) more responsive rather than to replace it (sometimes, especially in disputes with foreign owners, the state-appointed ACFTU officials have been willing to take up workers’ grievances, as also, sometimes, have local authorities and the CPC-controlled press). But workers have taken action independently of the ACFTU, and it is increasingly common for them to elect their own representatives for the duration of particular disputes.
It’s not clear from the report whether the Brits asked their hosts about human rights at all. Havard told the Morning Star: “The human rights issue is in the background in the literature they give you. Freedom of religion is mentioned, but there are certain things they won’t tolerate such as organisations plotting the overthrow of the party…
“it was kind of an unspoken thing that you wanted to ask questions about Tiananmen square but it was never asked.” Very diplomatic, comrade Havard. It was also very diplomatic to ask no awkward questions about the treatment of Tibet, protests in Hong Kong against Chinese rule, or the Hukou system that effectively imposes apartheid upon migrant workers from rural areas. Or about the estimated one million Turkic Muslims detained in what are euphemistically called “de-extremification training centres” in Xinjiang where they are made to disavow Islam, criticise themselves and their families’ beliefs, watch propaganda films, and study Chinese language and history.
Those who object risk solitary confinement, food deprivation, being forced to stand against a wall for extended periods, waterboarding and electric shocks. There is also growing evidence from relative’s accounts and satellite photos that following a course of indoctrination, internees are forced to work in factories in or near the camps. The delegation chose instead to look on the bright side.
They visited the Nanhu Revolutionary Memorial museum “to learn about the early history of the CPC”, and then there was “an opportunity to visit the famous Red Boat where the first national congress of the CPC was convened in July 1921.” The comrades also had a “key meeting” with officials from the central committee of the Communist Youth League and were “impressed by their ideological and philosophical grounding.” Havard told the Morning Star that “on the one hand they (the CPC) are developing diplomatic links with the capitalist world. On the other hand they are maintaining links with what’s left of the socialist countries including North Korea – if you regard that as a socialist country – and also with communist parties across the world.” The comrade did not offer an opinion as to whether he regards North Korea as a socialist country.
Havard “admit[ted] that China’s environmental record and contribution to reducing climate change is mixed”. He “argue[d] that China is still largely a patriarchal society despite some progress” and suggested that the decision to relax the one-child policy “may have to be reexamined in the future.” But, after all, this was Socialism with Chinese characteristics, and the Brits weren’t going to let their trip be spoiled by pettifogging concerns about so-called human rights.