Asia

This is a translation of a column by Munno Bhai published in the daily Pakistani paper Jang on May 25th, 1999, with a circulation of 750,000. Munno Bhai writes regularly for the Marxist fortnightly paper Jeddo Judh (Class Struggle)

This article tries to answer to the following important questions about the Tiananmen Square movement: What was the character of the movement of April - June 1989? What were the programmes and policies of the main tendencies? Could the disaster of the capitalist path have been averted in any other way than the way chosen by Deng Xiaoping, Li Peng and the leadership at that time?

Outraged by the NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Yugoslavia, almost a million people took to the streets on the mainland. The Chinese Vice Premier Hu Jintao announced on TV that although NATO attacked China's embassy, "reform and opening up will continue". Voices questioning the pro-capitalist path have grown louder, gaining a base amongst CCP members, lower levels of the bureaucracy, the workers and youth.

"Rakyat Bersatu Tak Terkalahkan", (the people united will never be defeated) is one of the most popular slogans shouted at the student demonstrations in Jakarta these days. It is proof of a clear shift in the orientation of the democratic student movement towards joining with the workers, the urban poor and the peasants in order to defeat the regime. The new organisations of students which sprung in existence the three last months tend to call themselves people's committees and not a few students are directly involved in organising the workers and the peasants.

Indonesian Revolution Photo Gallery

October 28, youth pledge day

(click on each of the pictures to get a full size version)

The brutal air strikes on Sudan and Afghanistan constitute a further sample of the bullying tactics of US imperialism and will be condemned by activists in the labour movement everywhere. By such means Washington uses its powerful airforce in order to throw its weight around and intimidate and blackmail all the peoples of the third world. This latest escapade is clearly intended for US public opinion, to show that "something has been done" in relation to the terrorist bombings in Kenya.

On June 17th the Indonesian rupiah hit a new low of 16,800 to the dollar - a fall of 10% in one day, a collapse of 30% in one week. Economists are now predicting that inflation will hit 100% and the economy will contract by 20%. The rupiah has now devalued by a staggering 66% this year and more than 80% since the economic crisis began to unfold in mid-1997.

Belgian trade union activist Mark Slane visited Indonesia in July. These are his impressions on the development of the working class movement after the May events.

The dictator of Indonesia, Suharto, resigned on 21 May 1998. As Alan Woods and Ted Grant wrote at the time, this bloody tyrant ruled Indonesia with a rod of iron, having come to power over the corpses of over a million people. But he was blown away like a dead leaf in the wind by a mass movement of the students and workers. This momentous event opened up a revolutionary opportunity in Asia, one that was sadly never grasped. Nevertheless, the collapse of Suharto's regime was a tremendous victory for the Indonesian masses.

"Flat on its back for years and showing few signs of life, Japan's economy was nonetheless still in the world of the living. When we last checked, that is. Reports of its imminent demise are now coming thick and fast. A world that had grown bored with the 'Japan isn't growing' story is suddenly paying attention to the new 'Japan will collapse and take the rest of us with it' story." The Economist, 11/4/98. Phil Mitchinson analyses the reasons behind.