Marxist Protest in China

Henry C.K. Liu hliu at
Thu Dec 31 03:34:38 PST 1998

Hardliner in attack on reform

A CHINESE die-hard Marxist has condemned the sell-off of small, ailing state-owned enterprises and warned that capitalism is eroding socialism.

Hardline comments by Deng Liqun, 84, once China's propaganda chief and still regarded as the country's leading leftist figure, reflect a broader political chill.

In a speech reprinted in the December issue of the monthly magazine Zhong Liu _ literally meaning ``midstream'' _ Mr Deng took a swipe at reformists in the Communist Party whom he said had abandoned socialism.

``In their hearts, it's no longer `only socialism can save China' but `only capitalism can save China','' he said.

``The rights of an overwhelming majority of people would be guaranteed if state-owned enterprises were in the hands of Marxists and Leninists.''

China is selling off thousands of money-losing state enterprises while shoring up its top 1,000 or so corporations under the slogan ``grab the big, abandon the small''.

Avowed Marxists led by Mr Deng have made no secret of their opposition to the sweeping reforms endorsed by the Communist Party in September last year and aimed at thrusting state firms into the marketplace.

Leftists _ small in number and largely toothless, but a vocal and influential group _ say the reforms will undermine communist control and spark a social backlash as millions of workers lose their cradle-to-grave security.

``The sale of state enterprises to capitalists has transformed workers from the masters of enterprises to the hired hands of bosses,'' Mr Deng said in the speech given to the Society of Research on the History of the People's Republic of China.

He said the role of the state sector in the economy had been reduced to one-third this year from 76 per cent last year.

``This situation cannot be ignored,'' he said.

``Public ownership should be the mainstay and non-public ownership supplementary.''

Mr Deng warned against administrative orders to forcibly sell off ailing state enterprises.

Premier Zhu Rongji toured northeastern Liaoning province, the cradle of China's Soviet-style heavy industry, in November and was quoted as saying sell-offs should not be the sole way of reforming state enterprises.

Mr Zhu cited instances in which state enterprises had been disposed of by a ``half-sale, half-give-away method'' at great loss to the state, and called for an end to the practice.

Mr Deng said there were about 30 million xia gang workers _ state workers laid off but still receiving partial pay _ with 50 million dependants.

Mr Deng accused foreign investors, including those from Hong Kong and Taiwan, of opposing the establishment of labour unions, refusing to implement the labour law and hiring child labour.

He said 48 million rural residents lived below the poverty line. - Reuters

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