Enough is Enough

1) We note that the World Bank (WB), in its report "China 2020"
compares economic development in China from 1978 to 1995, to development
during the 19th century and the first half of the 20th century. On the
basis of this comparison, the WB concludes that economic growth in the
period from 1978 to 1995 is unprecedented. The WB report also states that
the "pragmatic reforms" of the Chinese government enjoy the broad support
of the Chinese people. (China 2020, page 4)


2)We also note that since 1981, the WB has involved itself in almost
all aspects of Chinese social and economic life. Not only in education,
industry, agriculture, forestry, communications, raw materials, environmental
protection, local health programmes, and urban construction, but also
in poverty alleviation, social security reform and housing reform. The
developmental work of the WB covers all China's mainland provinces except
Tibet. (see WB report: World Bank Projects in China: An Overview. shijie
yinhang jituan zhongguo yewu gailan
)


3) The WB also provides a prescription for future development in China
which includes steps to:



a. Encourage the spread of market forces, especially through the reform
of state enterprises, the financial system and labour markets;


b. Deepen integration with the world economy by lowering of import
barriers, increasing the transparency and predictability of the trade
regime and gradually integrating with international financial markets;


c. To redirect government toward making markets work better by building
the legal, social, physical, and institutional infrastructure of the
economy (China 2020, p99).



4) The WB also points out that "in China, where the economy is rapidly
growing, neccesary adjustments carried out in line with trade liberalisation
can be completed quickly, and losses can be kept comparatively low. Moreover,
no matter how high the costs are in the short run, they will be far outweighed
by the long-term benefits which an open, flexible and competitive economy
can bring." (China 2020, p3)


In the light of the above four points CLB
would remind the WB that:


1. Comparing the Chinese economy from 1978 onwards with the Chinese economy
of 1820 is absurd and the conclusions drawn from such a comparison do
not reflect the rate of improvement in the living standards of Chinese
workers. However the WB's conclusions and the authority they carry, will
only serve to greatly encourage the confidence of the party's Central
Committee to continue the reforms on the basis of a dictatorship, from
which only a minority of Chinese will benefit. The 'authoritative' conclusions
of the WB are, as far as the overwhelming majority of China's workers
are concerned, an undisguised piece of deception.


2. The past 18 years have witnessed the completion of the first round
of the re-distribution of special powers, interests and privileges among
China's bureaucrats. But a price has been paid for the financial and material
successes - chiefly enjoyed by bureaucrats at all levels - of the reform
process: the impoverishment of the overwhelming majority of Chinese workers.
The fact that, under the politically repressive regime Chinese workers
have no right to speak out on government policies that strive to improve
the social and economic interests of a minority, certainly does not indicate
that Chinese workers support the so-called "pragmatic reforms". The past
18 years of reform have proceeded on the premise that the rule of the
Communist Party is unquestionable. It is on this premise that corruption
has become a permanent feature of government, even of society in general.
Every single activity, of any person or organisation in China, must first
of all serve the interests of the party rather than those of the mass
of ordinary people. Change the rules of this charade and it would be almost
impossible to hide the sinister scheming of corrupt bureaucrats. CLB
is not suggesting that the WB or foreign investors and organisations are
party to this process, we but feel it is imperative to point out that
the activities of the WB and foreign investors in China are providing
endless opportunities for officials to become extremely rich. At the same
time, it is the poor and working people of China who must tighten our
belts and pay the wages of these corrupt bureaucrats and managers.


3. CLB does not deny that market forces are capable of increasing
China's gross national product or per capita income. But we do not believe
that the market is a means to answering all China's problems or that large-scale
and rapid privatisation is the only way forward for the reform process.
We believe that of paramount importance, in both private and nationalised
industry, is the establishment of a reasonable and democratic system of
management. The reforms should only continue on the basis of a thorough
reform of China's economic and government systems, and the establishment
of the fair and democratic rule of law. Moreover, the function of government
is to serve society as a whole, not just the market.


4. Unemployment in China has already passed the 30 million mark. Another
30 million are on the verge of being laid off. 300 million farmers are
also having to find alternative employment. Chinese workers do not even
enjoy minimum social guarantees and our demands have already reached the
stage of calling for "the right to eat". Yet we are still subject to government
repression and violence when we voice our demands; we are hungry, but
we still have to pay off the debts of corrupt and greedy officials to
the WB. The WB is encouraging the pace of privatisation at the same time
as acknowledging that corruption is rampant. The WB acknowledges that
the rights of workers to organise and bargain collectively should be respected,
yet when workers in China do stand up and organise, they are locked up
in labour camps, abused and insulted. In the face of these realities,
we cannot help but suspect that the reason respect for workers' rights
is mentioned at all, is merely to render the WB report a little more creditable,
as the icing on the cake.


The price we have paid is already too high and we are reaching the limits
of our endurance. 18 years is already more than a generation! If the future
holds nothing more for us than increased levels of exploitation and endurance,
then our response is clear:


We Say No!


 


Han Dongfang

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