CHINESE Premier Li Keqiang did not exactly say it that way, but with his delineation of China’s vision for the world, he touched, wittingly or unwittingly, upon one of the greatest controversies that over the past century has hounded the world proletarian revolutionary struggle.
In a speech before the 20th China-Asean Summit meet held November 13, 2017, at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), Li made a very comprehensive review of the evolution of what used to be a dismembered nation, apportioned among the great powers of Europe and America in the 1920s to the 1930s, and from the shambles of World War 2 struggled to rise above adversities and in the 21st century now stands as the second largest economy (if not already the largest) in the world.
Such a development is definitely of miraculous proportions, and the Chinese leader aptly termed it, a miracle nonpareil, except by, in his own words, “the Asian Miracle,” the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).
Li reminded his listeners that the developments undergone by China and Asean have been on parallel paths so that while one took on a forward trajectory, the other did the same, and in the 21st century the two cohere in a most awesome convergence. China was the first to join the Treaty of Amity and Cooperation in Southeast Asia, the first to establish strategic partnership with Asean, and trade ties between the two burgeoned enormously so that in the past eight consecutive years, China has stood as Asean’s largest trading partner, with a two-way direct investment reaching a total of almost $200 billion, and counting.
In 2013 Chinese President Xi Jinping initiated the revival of the Maritime Silk Route which, as former ISAFP Chief Gen. Victor Corpus explained at the Kamuning Bakery breakfast forum last week, was spanned by the Galleon Trade in 16th century, connecting China to Acapulco in Mexico, onward to Spain in Europe. The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) which China has embarked upon of late meantime established the land connection of China with the Middle East, Africa and Europe, thereby completing a commercial circumnavigation of the world. Corpus pointed out that in both the Maritime Silk Route and in the Belt and Road Initiative, the Philippines serves as an indispensable hub, which is why, he said, instead of focusing on its political differences with China, the country must assert its pivotal role in the propagation of Chinese advocacy of common world economic development, what Li called “community shared future,” whether regionally or globally.
Listening to Li’s speech at the China-Asean Summit, one inevitably gets a picture of Chinese unassailed prosperity spilling over into the whole of Southeast Asia and much of the rest of the East Asia region. China has grown to be as much the largest trading partner of Asean as that of the Philippines, and this prosperity is quickly being made to uplift as well the economies of the Middle East and Africa. And with the European Union about ready to get on board the BRI, China appears well on the road to spreading Chinese economic visions the world over before the next decade ends.
To this particular observer, Li’s elucidations on those visions bring recollections of the Sino-Soviet rift in the 1960s.
That was the period of the Cold War, which should have been a conflict between the socialist and the capitalist camps but in which all of a sudden the socialist camp got split between China and the Soviet Union. The popular perception that arose out of the rift was that the two socialist giants were quarreling over ideological questions, i.e., the method of advancing the world proletarian struggle. Nikita Khrushchev, after a thorough character assassination of the departed Joseph Stalin, severely criticizing the latter’s implementation during his rule in the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (CPSU) of so-called “Marxist-Leninist dogmas,” advocated a “peaceful co-existence” with the capitalist West, i.e., America and allies.
Meantime, through Khrushchev’s patronage, Leonid Brezhnev rose to become the CPSU First Secretary and eventually deposed Khrushchev from the party leadership, shortly after advocating the establishment of an international dictatorship of the proletariat. According to this doctrine, all other socialist states of the world must come under the control of the Soviet Union.
China, then under the tight reign of Mao Zedong, rejected the Brezhnev call, whereupon the world socialist movement got splintered into the orthodox Marxist-Leninist camp, the followers of Mao, and the Revisionist camp, represented by Russia.
So much water has gone under the socialist bridge since then. In 1991, the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, after 73 years of existence, crashed at the intense glasnost and perestroika reforms implemented by Mikhail Gorbachev, leading to the dissolution of the Soviet Union, leaving Russia with no more of its Eastern Europe satellite states.
Meantime, China, eventually under Deng Xiaoping, persevered in his “I don’t care if a cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice” doctrine, propelling itself into today’s extremely enviable notch as the world’s leading economic power (a lender to the United States of reportedly $1 trillion), a great benefactor to the world’s poor aspiring for better times.
Here then is the country, which once upon a time just rejected Brezhnev’s injunction of the international dictatorship of the proletariat under the aegis of the Soviet Union, and now priding, as Li avowed in the China-Asean summit, in sharing its prosperity with the communities of the world.
Face to face with these opposite developments, we are confronted with the question: Which of the two paths is correct, China’s or the Soviet Union’s, in advancing the concept of the dictatorship of the proletariat?
(To be continued)