China and the Left – Critical Analysis & Grassroots Activism Online Discussion Series, September 2020

For the past decades, the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party has orchestrated a development program that has made the People’s Republic of China the ‘factory of the world.’ Strengthened economically it has increased China’s economic role and influence globally and promoted a regional military buildup in the Asia Pacific region in the past few years.

Meanwhile, the same leadership has stifled labor unrest, peasant resistance, and feminist activism in China. It has pushed repressive policies in Xinjiang and Tibet, and it has strengthened its means of control and surveillance in the whole country to prevent organized discontent and secure its rule.

Left-wing actors and organizations around the globe, however, still have problems to ‘rethink’ China and the Chinese Communist Party and expose its capitalist or imperialist policies. Referring to China’s ‘socialist’ history and its role vis-à-vis the imperialist regime in the U.S., they often simply ignore the repression of social unrest by the leadership of the Communist Party.

This online discussion series series brings together activists and researchers with a left-wing perspective in order to shed more light on China’s changed role in the world as well as on the social conflicts and mobilizations in the country. It tries to instigate more direct exchanges and solidarity at the grassroots level between overseas initiatives and social struggles and activists in China. In doing so, it also aims to undermine the rising tide of anti-Chinese racism in countries of the Global North that governments and right-wing players stir up to promote their own economic and political nationalism.

The online discussion series series is organized by people from different left-wing initiatives, including gongchao.org (https://www.gongchao.org), Made in China Journal (https://madeinchinajournal.com), and the group behind the protests against the EU-China-Summit in Leipzig, Germany, which was scheduled for September 2020 but has been postponed (https://noeucn.org).

All interested in participating, please, register for the four events below. Places are limited, so, please, register as soon as possible to secure your participation. On the day of the event, all who have registered successfully will receive a link that will be needed for logging in:

 

 Saturday, September 5, at 2 p.m. CET (Europe) / 8 p.m. CST (China) / 8 a.m. EDT (U.S.)

Clash of Capitalisms? EU-China Relations at a Crossroads

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The postponed EU-China Summit in Leipzig had been aimed to reset EU-China relations which seem to be at a crossroads. China’s ambitions to move its state-capitalist economy up the global value chain and the Chinese governments’ more assertive role in world affairs are increasingly posing a challenge to European capitalist interests. As a result, and in the shadow of rising US-China tensions, China is increasingly perceived not as a partner but a threat by political and economic elites in various EU member states, a “competitor” and “systemic rival” as the European Commission put it in 2019. In this online discussion series, we will discuss the current state of EU-China relations, focusing on the controversies over Chinese investments in Europe, EU member states’ diverging interests and reactions related to the Belt and Road Initiative, the impact of the US-China conflict, as well as the question of how the Left can and should position itself amidst growing geoeconomic and geopolitical tensions.

Presentations by Stefan Schmalz and Jenny Simon

Moderation: Daniel Fuchs (gongchao.org)

 

Saturday, September 12, at 2 p.m. CET (Europe) / 8 p.m. CST (China) / 8 a.m. EDT (U.S.)

The Hong Kong Protest Movement

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The protest movement against China’s increasing influence and control in Hong Kong since mid-2019 has been supported by a large part of the local population and challenged the city’s authorities as well as the Communist Party government in Beijing. The movement demanded an end to police violence and more democratic participation, but it has not addressed much social inequalities, capitalist exploitation, poverty, or high rents in the city. Still, new forms of grassroots organizing played a role not just in the protest but in everyday issues like, for instance, during the COVID-19-pandemic, and even led to a new unionization drive at workplaces. Recently, the National Security Law imposed by the Communist Party government has been a turning point for the movement. These and other aspects of protests and organizing such as cross-border solidarity and gender discrimination will be discussed during the online discussion series.

Presentations by activists from Hong Kong

Moderation: Ralf Ruckus (gongchao.org)

 

Saturday, September 19, at 2 p.m. CET (Europe) / 8 p.m. CST (China) / 8 a.m. EDT (U.S.)

Feminism and Queer Activism in China

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The protest of the Feminist Five and the Young Feminist Activism Movement (青年女权行动派, YFA) represents a new momentum for the feminist movement in China. Their representatives criticize issues of women* and femme-presented people and draw attention to social injustices. With their protest they fight for the rights of victims of sexual violence, women* discriminated against in rural land entitlement, employment, and higher education, people, suffering from HIV/AIDs, disabled individuals and people who experience discrimination because of their queer identity. As feminists and LGBTQIA activists who draw attention to existing realities and criticize the biopolitics of the Chinese state, as well as economic inequality, they must expect repression and imprisonment at any time. In this online discussion series we will look at intersectional feminism and queer activism in China and discuss how feminist activism can be practiced under repression and increasing state control. We also ask how we can support each other in our global struggles in the long term.

Presentations by Dong Yige and one other guest

Moderation: Jule Müller (Platform Against the China-EU-Summit in Leipzig)

Saturday, September 26, at 2 p.m. CET (Europe) / 8 p.m. CST (China) / 8 a.m. EDT (U.S.)

 

Recent Labor Unrest and Organizing in China

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The last decade has been the rise of a militant migrant working class in China, leading with massive strike waves. However, in recent years, against the more assertive working class, the Chinese state has turned toward repression against labor organizers, and grassroots labor groups and networks. Industrial and geographic restructuring of the Chinese economy further eroded manufacturing workers’ bargaining power, while giving rise to a larger working class in the service and logistics sectors. How should labor organizers continue to organize under such conditions? What should be their strategies? And, how would they respond to the challenges of COVID-19? The online discussion series will address these and other pressing questions for labor organizers in China.

Presentations by Eli Friedman and labor activists from China

Moderation: Kevin Lin (Made in China Journal)