Statement from the CCDS Peace and Solidarity Committee
Sixty years after an armistice ended the fighting in the Korean War, the situation remains tense, abnormal and dangerous on the Korean peninsula. Any military conflict in Korea carries the risk of broadening into a catastrophic war as the US, China, Japan and Russia all have strategic interests in the area. Another major Korean war would mean large increases in US military spending and more austerity and repression at home, as well as great destruction and loss of life. The crisis of March-April 2013 did not lead to a military confrontation; however, since the basic issues have not been addressed, another crisis is at some point likely.
The first source of tension is the US refusal to negotiate a peace treaty with North Korea legally ending the Korean War. Sometimes characterized as inscrutable, North Korea’s prime diplomatic objectives are actually simple and clear: sign a peace treaty with the US, get the sanctions lifted and join the international community as a respected and equal nation. It is US policy that is blocking normalization.
After World War Two, a reunited Korea would surely have chosen the popular Kim Il Sung as president since Kim had been the national leader of the Korean resistance to the Japanese occupation. Kim Il Sung, however, was also leader of the Korean Communist Party and thus unacceptable to the US, which blocked reunification. In the 1990s, North Korea participated in discussions to suspend its nuclear program in return for economic aid and movement towards recognition. In 2001, however, the Bush administration labelled Pyongyang as one of the "axis of evil" and showed in Iraq what that meant. North Korea then restarted its nuclear program and moved to further development of a nuclear weapon and long range missiles. The simulated nuclear bombing runs of US B-52s and stealth bombers practicing over South Korea only justifies in North Korean eyes their need for nuclear weapons and a powerful military.
As the world’s military superpower, far more powerful than North Korea, the US should take the initiative to reduce militarization and tensions rather than conducting provocative military exercises with South Korean forces. However, partly as a result of the Obama administration’s "pivot" to Asia/Pacific, the US has been strengthening its military presence in East Asia, including working with Japan to strengthen anti-missile defense systems. This has encouraged rightist Japanese prime minister Abe to suggest altering the Japanese pacifist constitution to allow for a stronger Japanese military presence, further inflaming tensions.
China has proposed restarting the six-party talks to energize the diplomatic process. The Chinese are North Korea’s long standing ally; China wants a denuclearized Korean peninsula and calls for reduction of US/South Korea joint military exercises and an end to provocative language. This would create a better environment for talks and reconciliation and benefit the Korean people as well as peace. China also wants closer consultation with North Korea.
CCDS urges that people contact the president and Congress to demand the US agree to negotiate a peace treaty with North Korea and stop its campaign of pressure and regime change. Talks among equal partners are the only way to improve the situation in Korea. Activists should call for cutting the military budget by the US withdrawing troops and pulling back from its growing forward position in the Asia/Pacific region.
April 25, 2013
Followers of Bo Xilai Criticize Direction of Communist Party, Exposing Leaders to Sensitive Questions Over Mao’s Legacy
By BRIAN SPEGELE
SolidarityEconomy.net via Wall Street Journal
BEIJING Oct 6, 2012—Supporters of ousted political leader Bo Xilai are turning up the note of political discord in China with increasingly loud criticism that the policies of current Communist Party leaders are widening inequality and breeding social unrest.
The movement, known as the new left, remains relatively small and obscure, and is unlikely to have a major impact on the coming shuffle of party leadership positions. But criticism from Communist hard-liners in the era of online social media places China’s leaders in a tricky position as a debate over the direction of the party and China’s economic model is quickly spreading from universities and closed-door sessions into public view.
Calls from what’s known as China’s new left are growing in volume, laying bare divisions around Mao’s legacy and the role of the state in China’s economy, placing leaders in a tricky position. Anti-Japan protesters hold portraits of Mao outside the Japanese Embassy in Beijing last month.
The new left—a loose collection of academics, lower-ranking government officials, writers and overseas activists—advocates a stronger hand for the state in economic planning as well as a return to the values put forth by the late Chairman Mao Zedong. The new left argues that China’s economic reforms over more than 30 years have led to wide income disparity, and the movement has criticized the takedown of Mr. Bo, once its most visible leader.
Dealing with the new left requires some balancing for the party. Unlike the political activists who often oppose the party on democratic or human-rights grounds, the new leftists act as defenders of the vision Mao once laid out for China: Rejecting them outright would risk exposing party leaders to sensitive questions around the very foundation the party is built on.
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The Associated Press
Saturday, March 10, 2012
China’s government vowed Friday that it will not deviate from its socialist path, defending anew its authoritarian system and saying Western capitalist political systems are not suitable for China.
China’s top legislator, Wu Bangguo, said in a report delivered to the annual National People’s Congress that China needs to keep to the socialist path and understand the differences between its political system and those of Western capitalist countries.
As China has grown more powerful and rich in recent years, it has strongly rejected any criticism of its policies and suggestions that the economic changes would bring about any lessening of power for the ruling Communist Party.
Wu, the second most powerful person in the party, said the socialist system with Chinese characteristics "is the fundamental institutional guarantee for the development and progress of contemporary China, and we must cherish it even more and adhere to it for a long time to come."
He said that China needs to understand the "essential differences" between its systems and "Western capitalist countries’ systems of political power."
"To manage China’s affairs well, we need to stay grounded in its realities, rely on the strength of the Chinese people, and follow a development path suited to China’s conditions," he said.
Wu also reiterated goals laid out by Premier Wen Jiabao at the opening of the 10-day congress on Monday _ that the government must rebalance the economy by increasing domestic demand, especially consumer demand, and boosting investment in science and technology while promoting energy conservation and the cutting of emissions.
Even though China’s economy has grown at a double-digit pace for years, the government is now grappling with a slowing economy and rising public demands for greater fairness. Officials have also been slow to tackle entrenched interests, particularly the powerful state enterprises that dominate the economy. The World Bank and outside economists said recently that such a restructuring is needed if China wants to rise from a middle-income to a rich country.
Wu said that legislative work this year would also focus on social and cultural areas. On the social front, legislative committees will discuss drafts of the mental health law, the law on insurance for military personnel and the draft amendment to the Civil Procedure Law, among others.
He said 2012 is an important year because of a once-every-five-year party congress in October that will oversee the change of most of the ruling party bosses.