TODAY sees the start of a three-day visit to Britain by the Chinese president Xi Jinping, a visit that has seen the British ruling class roll out the red carpet, all the better to grovel before him on.
Included in the itinerary is a programme of meetings with Treasury officials and City of London financiers, accompanied by state banquets hosted by the Queen.
Xi Jinping and his wife have been invited to stay at Buckingham Palace during the visit which has been described by David Cameron as establishing a ‘golden era’ of relations between Britain and China. In addition to official receptions, the president will be addressing both the House of Commons and Lords.
Fearful that Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn might use this opportunity to upset the carefully choreographed display of grovelling by raising human rights issues, Cameron has arranged for a private meeting between the two away from the press.
Similarly, Cameron has refused to meet with the Dali Lama so as not to cause offence to the Chinese Stalinists. This state visit follows on the heels of Chancellor George Osborne’s visit to China which aimed at ‘strengthening the economic and financial ties’ between China and Britain, expressed in the Treasury’s hope that China will become Britain’s second-biggest trade partner within a decade.
Historically, British imperialism sought a very different relationship with China. In the middle of the 19th century, British imperialism, then at its most powerful and dominating the world, opened up the vast resources of China by force of arms, the infamous ‘gunboat diplomacy’.
Two Opium Wars were fought by the British, the first between 1839-1842 and the second 1856-1860, with the aim of opening up the vast country to imperialist exploitation. The name Opium Wars reflects the drive by the British to force the Chinese rulers to legalise opium and allow the import of opium produced by the British in India, a trade they had banned due to the enormous rate of addiction in China.
But the wars were not just over opium; the various treaties that British imperialism imposed on the Chinese ceded Hong Kong to the British and granted ‘most favoured nation’ status on them. France and the US gained similar concessions at the point of British naval guns. China was opened up for capitalist exploitation by military conquest and under the ‘coolie’ system imposed by the British, its people were transformed into cheap labour to fuel the profits of the great British Empire.
155 years on from the end of the second Opium War and the situation looks radically different.
From being the master of the world able to impose its will on every nation and people on the globe, British imperialism has sunk into an economic abyss and in a complete historical turnaround is reduced to pleading for economic aid from China which, despite being deformed by the Stalinist bureaucracy, still retains the huge advantages of being a workers state with nationalised industry and a planned economy.
In fact it is the 1949 workers revolution in which the working class took the power in China and overthrew the Chinese capitalist class that has made the difference. It is the strength of these property relations established in the Chinese revolution that British capitalism is desperate to make use of, hence all the grovelling and kowtowing of the British ruling class to Xi Jinping.
All the grovelling in the world by British imperialism will not save it from the anger of the British working class who have had enough of bankrupt British capitalism, and in the period ahead will move forward to organise the socialist revolution.
Likewise in China, the Chinese working class will put an end to the pro-capitalist policies of the Stalinist bureaucracy by carrying out a political revolution and bring in rule through workers and peasants soviets. This twin movement of the working class of the East and the West will constitute a gigantic leap forward for the world socialist revolution.