Letter from China – What is happening in Chinese society?

We are publishing a letter we recently received from a reader in China, who considers himself a Marxist. Although we would not necessarily agree with every point he makes, the letter does give a very interesting insight into what is happening in Chinese society.

We are publishing a letter we recently received from a reader in China, who considers himself a Marxist. Although we would not necessarily agree with every point he makes, the letter does give a very interesting insight into what is happening in Chinese society. He makes the interesting point that the introduction of capitalism is an expression of the collapse of so-called “Socialism in one country”, which was so dear to the Stalinists for decades.

Also of interest is what he says about the economy and the effects it is having on the workers. It shows the differentiation that is taking place between different layers in society, as capitalism gets a grip on the whole of Chinese society. With this comes the return of the old superstitions, religion, mysticism and so on. And nationalism, which was always a part of Stalinism, is now being fomented and to a degree also tolerated by the authorities.

All this is a condemnation of the old Stalinist system. How could all this be happening now if the old regime had been genuinely one of workers’ power and workers’ democracy? It was clear that the seeds of the present situation were present within the corrupt bureaucracy that was already a layer of society separate and isolated from the masses living with certain material privileges.

The workers of China are now tasting what capitalism is like. And they will turn against it in the future, as this letter clearly indicates from what is said about the comments of ordinary workers.

We wholeheartedly agree with the letter when it says that the Chinese workers will intervene in the process in the future and their struggle will be against global capitalism. [Editor]


Hi Comrades,

Hello, I'm a person who believes in Marxism and I am from the People’s Republic of China. I have read some articles on your site; however, I don't agree with all the points the writers hold about the situation in China, there are things they don't know about some areas of Chinese society.

I would like to tell you something about my journey to Marxism. In primary school, I joined the Communist Pioneers (of Children). At that time, I was only a kid who didn't understand a word about Marxism, Communism, Socialism, etc. I didn't even know who Marx was. At the age of 15, when I was in the 3rd year of high school, we had a class that introduced Marxism and Socialism. Although simple, and it might even contain incorrect statements, I began to know something about the ideal world of Communism in the future.

At the age of 16, there was a new class about Marxism in the area of economics. Then over the next two years, there was a class about the philosophy and politics of Marxism. In those years I learned much about Marxism and its proletarian point of view, and at that time, I became a Marxist, although not a very firm one. When I was on vacation between terms, I went to the provincial library, and from the books they have in the library I read more about Marxism and I managed to use the perspective of Marxism to analyse some social problems.

Here is something about China as I know it (not in detail).

1) The bureaucracy and corruption are horrible in many places

2) Some members of Communist Party are really Communists who fight for the interest of the workingmen, but some are only mediocrities who try to gain profit from their position as party members.

3) Fewer people believe in Marxism, even among the workingmen.

4) In some places, the local governments, i.e. the Party, are doing well and they have the trust of the citizens.

5) The salaries of workingmen in different places are different. In some places, the payment has risen to a certain degree after a decade of immobilization.

6) The central government has banned some ultra-right organizations such as the so-called religious "good men" named Falungong which now send emails to many users periodically to insult Marxism and its followers.

7) The anti-Japanese nationalism is only an unmediated movement which is not permitted by the government – although in reality the government seems to hold a neutral attitude towards it (in the universities of China, there's an order that the students are not allowed to join that kind of movement). Nationalism is spread mainly via the Internet and short messages on mobile phones.

8) The economy is growing in China, and some people's lives - of people in the cities - are now better than in the old days, however, in some country areas the peasants are still living hard lives, and the local government there is only made up of a group of parasites.

9) The petty-bourgeois thinking is now popular among the youth.

10) Mysticism, especially superstition and Christianity, is now also popular among the youth.

11) There's ideological chaos in this country. People don't know how to choose and what to believe in, as all kinds of bourgeois thinking is flooding into China. Also there is some old and corrupt feudal thinking that is capturing people's minds.

12) In China, what happened on June 4th, 1989, is considered as a movement against the authoritarianism of the Chinese Communist Party and for liberalism and democracy from the west. As I know it, some of the so-called students' leaders are now in the USA or Taiwan, working for some anti-Communist organisations.

13) Some private minefields are colluding with the local governments, exploiting workers as cattle.

14) Child labour does exist.

The reform of economy and government are somewhat advancing, as the old centrally planned state controlled economy was leading the lives of the people in this land to a dead point. At that time, although the distribution of products was more equal than it is now, the people led such simple lives that they didn't even know what was going on abroad in the capitalist countries.

The policy of Deng Xiaoping seems to have made people's living conditions better. However, the policy of Deng can be seen as a kind of Revisionism (a combination of Capitalism and the idea of Socialism). He re-introduced the stock market and capitalism, but preserved the highly centralised state ownership of assets in certain important industrial sectors such as military stores, energy, banks, etc., and most of the "not-so-important" sectors were opened to international capital controlled by bourgeois monopolies. And a few years ago, Jiang Zemin changed the rules of the Communist Party to allow the national bourgeois to join the party. And from last year, the new leadership has been planning to give up the total control of national banks and permit foreign capital to enter the Chinese market. That means surrendering the people's (the proletariat’s) interest to the capitalists!

But on the other hand, this also represents the defeat of the theory of "Socialism in one country" on mainland China. The monopoly of the autarchic state is crashing. The proletariat of China will step into the struggle against global capital as they had lost the chance to do so decades ago.

In some workplaces, I have heard some workers (especially the building workers) complaining about their low pay and high intensity of work. But some of the workers who work in machine-tool factories seem to be content with their salaries. In the small private companies, almost all the employees are complaining about their bosses and their companies. Just a few days ago, a roommate of mine told me that his girlfriend had seen a group of workers sitting outside the school gate and asking for payment for their sweat and blood from my school. (Now I'm a student in a university far away from my home.) There is also this same kind of behaviour of the workers in other places, including my hometown Guangzhou, a central city in Southern China.

I think the situation of the workers on mainland China has been changed, some of the workers are now living better lives, but some are still poor - even poorer than before. The way that China is now using to develop itself is based on exploiting the blood and sweat of the workers. It is an old way of developing; we need a brand new way to develop China, even the world.

This is what I know about this country.


S.J. Guan

September 17, 2005