In August and September Japan’s manoeuvres of the disputed islands of Diaoyu provoked some of the largest demonstrations in China since the uprising of Tiananmen Square in 1989. The dispute over the islands is predominantly an imperialist conflict over control of trade routes and oil resources. However, the protests in China went beyond the level of expressing anti-Japanese sentiment. In fact, although the government did attempt to limit them to this, the protests were as much against the regime in Beijing as against Japan’s aggressive manoeuvres.

As the Chinese Communist Party gathers for its 18th Congress, we look back at the 1925-27 revolution, which was a heroic attempt of the Chinese workers to follow in the footsteps of the October 1917 Russian Revolution. However, due to its unprepared and irresolute leadership, it went down to a tragic defeat. Failed revolutions are always the greatest of tragedies. However, the only way of really honouring the many victims of the counter-revolution that ensued is to study the revolution and learn from its mistakes.

In the past two months a handful of tiny Islands off the coast of China have been making headlines across the world. The disputed island chain, known as the Diaoyu in China and the Senkaku in Japan, made international news after Japanese nationalists planted the flag of Japan on its uninhabited shore (with lavish media coverage). The tension escalated when in September the Japanese government nationalised the islands, previously owned by the Kurihara family, sparking off a wave of militant nationalist protest in China. But why are these seemingly irrelevant islands so significant?

The picture of the Chinese economy painted by commentators in the West is often one of strength; an economy dominated by exports, with unstoppable growth and development; in short, a model to emulate. Recent figures released by the International Monetary Fund, however, describe a very different situation; a situation where contradictions are intensifying below the surface; a situation that is pregnant with crisis and revolutionary consequences.

"For a revolution to take place it is not enough for the exploited and oppressed masses to realise the impossibility of living in the old way, and demand changes; for a revolution to take place it is essential that the exploiters should not be able to live and rule in the old way. It is only when the ’lower classes’ do not want to live in the old way and the ’upper classes’ cannot carry on in the old way that the revolution can triumph” (Lenin, ‘Left-Wing’ Communism, an Infantile Disorder).

After overtaking Japan, this year China became the second largest economy in the world. Some experts have even predicted that by the end of this decade China may become the largest economy bypassing the United States. However, that is based on a mechanical, empirical approach that sees China maintaining its present levels of growth uninterruptedly for years to come. In the past Japan was also supposed to keep on growing, but then its apparent meteoric rise was cut across by a long period of stagnation.

Join us!

Help build the forces of Marxism worldwide!

Join the IMT!