China keeps up the pressure on Maoists, leftists, as Jasic labor activist released

Wu Lijie, also known as Wu Yishan, returns to his Henan hometown after a three-year jail term.

China keeps up the pressure on Maoists, leftists, as Jasic labor activist released

Three years after dozens of Maoist leftists were detained in connection with a labor rights movement at the Jasic Technology factory in Shenzhen, a top Maoist editor remains in police detention, while one activist has been released after serving a three-year prison term, RFA has learned.

Chai Xiaoming, a former editor at the Maoist website Red Reference, has been in detention since his initial detention on March 21, 2019 by state security police in Nanjing, initially under "residential surveillance at a designated location."

Meanwhile, several people connected to the Maoist faction in the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) told RFA that Wu Lijie, the editor of the Maoist Red Flag Network who is also known as Wu Yishan, was recently released from prison after being sentenced amid a 2018 crackdown on a Maoist-led labor movement at the Jasic Technology factory in the southern city of Shenzhen.

Wu was released on Oct. 22 after serving a three-year sentence and is now back in his hometown in Xinye county in the central province of Henan, a Maoist who gave only the surname Zhang said.

"Wu Yishan got out after three years just recently," Zhang said, using Wu's alternate name. "Another guy, Chai Xiaoming, is still being held in Nanjing Detention Center; he's been there for two years and seven months."

"There was a trial back in August 2020, more than a year ago, but there has been no sentence passed," he said.

Wu was detained after paying a visiting to the young people spearheading the bid to set up an independent trade union at Jasic Technology and the campaigners in Jasic Workers' Solidarity Group (JWSG), many of whom had traveled to Shenzhen to support them.

Little has been heard from others among a group of more than 30 former workers at the Jasic Technology factory in neighboring Guangdong province and the JWSG campaigners.

At least 44 labor activists, students, and recent graduates of China's top universities have been "disappeared" or criminally detained since the nationwide crackdown on the Jasic labor movement, which started in July 2018 and continued with further waves of arrests and detentions in August, September, November, and January.

Among the "disappeared" were Sun Yat-sen University graduate and Jasic movement spokeswoman Shen Mengyu and Peking University #MeToo campaigner Yue Xin.

Former Red Reference editor Shang Kai -- who was supporting the Jasic campaign -- was released on "bail" under conditions preventing him from appearing in public, RFA has learned.

An officer who answered the phone at the Shenzhen municipal police department, which led the operation targeting the activists, declined to comment when contacted by RFA on Wednesday.

"I don't know anything about this; you need to write to us, and I will find out," the official said.

Call to farmers, workers

According to a Maoist who gave only the surname Chen, Wu Lijie was targeted because the website had posted an article calling on farmers and workers to put their Marxism into practice and rise up against oppression.

"The Red Flag Network did that in 2012, because they are at the bottom of the social hierarchy themselves, so they see a lot of injustice, more than most," Chen told RFA on Wednesday. "They support farmers and workers to stand up for their rights."

"They use a server based in Hong Kong, but they still get blocked every couple of days [by government censors]," he said. "By the end of the Jasic campaign, [Wu Lijie] had expressed solidarity with the [movement] and also donated money to them."

"That was why they had to take him down."

Chen said most of the university graduates who had supported the campaign were dealt with fairly leniently, being subjected to "stability maintenance" measures that typically include release on "bail," police restrictions on contact with fellow activists and the media, and surveillance.

The activists who were prosecuted and jailed were mostly workers who had played a role in defending labor rights, he said. He said Wu Lijie, as a former migrant worker, fell into that category.

"He was arrested because of [Jasic], but they actually sentenced him for the crime of 'illegal business operations'," Chen told RFA.

Chai's detention came after a March 20 article on the website suggesting that China could take "a different path to modernization."

Chai, 43, is a prominent writer on the left of the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP)'s political spectrum, and a former lecturer on Marxism at Peking University, which reports directly to the highest levels of the Chinese leadership.

'Stability maintenance'

Wu's release comes after authorities in the eastern province of Shandong detained Maoist activists ahead of the CCP centenary celebrations on July 1, 2021, Taiwanese media reported.

Police in Shandong's Jining city ran a nationwide operation targeting leftwingers in a bid to "maintain stability" ahead of the politically sensitive anniversary, Taiwan's Central News Agency (CNA) quoted sources as saying at the time.

Among them was Maoist dissident Ma Houzhi, 77, who was released from a 10-year jail term in 2019. A retired Qufu Normal University professor, Ma was jailed for setting up a Chinese Maoist Communist Party, defying a ban on the registration of new political parties under the CCP.

Other prominent leftists including Liu Qingfeng, Fu Mingxiang, Hu Jiahong, Nie Jubao, and Wu Ronghua were also detained. Most of them are under 30, CNA said.

The most recent detentions came after the CCP canceled a conference of prominent Maoist ideologists slated for May 16, the anniversary of the start of the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976), suggesting that CCP leader Xi Jinping is unwilling to allow the faction to increase its power base in a possible challenge to his "core" leadership.

China's Maoist left straddles the established party and unofficial activism alike, and, as such, isn't an entirely controllable quantity.

While many commentators have noted an apparent shift towards political practices and ideological tropes that echo the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) under late supreme leader Mao Zedong in recent years, it appears that Xi is unwilling to allow actual Maoists free rein under his rule.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

Source : Radio Free Asia More   

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The Latin American element in China’s CPTPP bid

Author: Juan J Palacios, University of Guadalajara China’s bid for membership in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is a multifaceted move. An overlooked aspect of it is the fact that the CPTPP is the first major free trade agreement established on a trans-Pacific scale and that three of its four members […] The post The Latin American element in China’s CPTPP bid first appeared on East Asia Forum.

The Latin American element in China’s CPTPP bid

Author: Juan J Palacios, University of Guadalajara

China’s bid for membership in the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) is a multifaceted move. An overlooked aspect of it is the fact that the CPTPP is the first major free trade agreement established on a trans-Pacific scale and that three of its four members on the eastern side of the Pacific happen to be Latin American countries.

China’s application was presented to the CPTPP Commission the same day that the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia announced AUKUS — a security alliance that unabashedly seeks to bring about a new balance of power in the Pacific.

This was also the rationale for the design of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), an agreement predicated on former US president Barack Obama’s statement that ‘the United States is a Pacific power and we are here to stay’. In both cases, the underlying purpose was to counter the strides that China was making to gain military and strategic supremacy in the region.

Although it may take years to materialise, accession to the CPTPP would permit Beijing to be part of a regional arrangement that was originally intended to counter its power in the Pacific. It would also open the possibility for China to fill the power vacuum left by the withdrawal of the United States from the TPP in 2017.

Beijing could profit from the closer economic integration the CTPPP is likely to generate among its member countries which, in the absence of Washington, would probably slide towards China’s economic and political sphere. CPTTP membership would simultaneously enable Beijing to deepen its economic and political ties with the pact’s Latin American members and with Latin America at large.

Those ties were significantly strengthened with the creation of the China–CELAC Forum in July 2014. The Community of Latin American and Caribbean States (CELAC) is an intergovernmental mechanism which was established in 2010 for dialogue and cooperation among the 33 nations of Latin America and the Caribbean.

Membership of the CPTPP would widen the possibilities for China to tap into this market of more than 652 million people and a region rich in natural resources with a myriad of greenfield investment opportunities. It would also provide a huge potential to expand trade links and build supply chains led by Chinese companies.

China’s membership would be beneficial for Latin America as well. China is South America’s top export market and the second for Latin America and the Caribbean as a whole. Among China’s top 100 trading partners, 13 are Latin American and Caribbean countries. Chinese exports to these countries topped US$142 billion in 2020 — 5.5 per cent of China’s total exports.

With the exception of Asia’s main trading destinations, China’s exports to Mexico are larger than those to any other East Asian economy, including Australia. Three of China’s top 25 import-originating countries are Latin American — Brazil, Chile and Mexico.

It can then be expected that Latin American members will welcome China’s incorporation into the CPTPP — in principle, the same could occur if Taiwan is accepted, although in this case Latin American governments might be more cautious so as to not compromise their support for China. Besides the likely economic benefits, the presence of China would counter the weight and influence the US would command should the Biden administration decided to join in and thus bring about a more balanced power play within the pact.

The Latin American country that would give China the warmest welcome is Mexico, especially given the openly anti-US stance Mexican president Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has adopted since Biden took office, Mexico’s membership in the US–Mexico–Canada Agreement (USMCA) notwithstanding. In fact, visible signs of mutual empathy have been sent from both sides. At the 2021 CELAC summit meeting held in Mexico City on September 18, two world leaders were invited as keynote speakers — Chinese President Xi Jinping (the first to speak) and UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Two days before, Xi had sent a warm congratulatory message to Lopez Obrador to mark the 200th anniversary of Mexico’s independence.

On those bases, Xi could cultivate a closer relationship with Lopez Obrador by building on his anti-US stance and thus gain a valuable ally. Beijing could find friendly ground in a country that shares a 3145-km border with China’s rival in the new cold war that is unfolding nowadays.

If Biden decides to join the CPTPP, Washington would surely do what it could to make Beijing’s accession difficult. One way of doing this would be to press Canada and Mexico to force China to satisfy more and harder-to-meet requirements. Another would be to invoke the USMCA’s Article 32.10.5, the so called ‘poison pill’ clause, and threaten to walk away from the agreement.

Mexico and Canada signed the CPTPP in March 2018 and the USMCA eight months later. If China were accepted to the CPTPP, neither would be signing a new agreement with a ‘non-market’ economy but simply abiding China’s admission into a multi-country trade agreement of which they happen to be members already.

If the ‘poison pill’ were invoked, then Canada or Mexico would have to agree on exiting the USMCA and promptly sign a bilateral pact with the United States. This seems highly unlikely given the strong trade links among these three countries and the deeply entrenched continental supply chains they share.

Juan J Palacios is Professor at the Centre for Strategic Development Studies, University of Guadalajara, and a member of the PAFTAD International Steering Committee.

The post The Latin American element in China’s CPTPP bid first appeared on East Asia Forum.
Source : East Asia Forum More   

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