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China

Blood on Their Hands

On 7 January this year Pol Pot was toppled from power, and a few days later the founding of the People's Republic of Kampuchea was announced, the president being Heng Samrin. The new government was installed in power with the help of Vietnamese troops, and was very much a Vietnamese creation. The Heng Samrin regime was immediately recognised by the Russian-bloc states, but most countries still regard the Khmers Rouges as the "legitimate" rulers, in spite of the horrors they inflicted on the country and manifest fact that they control no more than a small part of its territory. Norodom Sihanouk, who has distinguished himself solely by often and abruptly changing sides. has prostrated himself before the United Nations, begging for international assistance and support for the barbarians who helped destroy his country. Kampuchea and its people have become entangled in a web of hypocrisy, deceit and suffering which is remarkable even by capitalism's gruesome standards.

Film Review: 'The Last Emperor'

Splendid anachronism

'The Last Emperor' is a film about contradictions: the apparent omnipotence of Pu Yi, crowned emperor of China at the age of three and proclaimed "son of heaven" and Lord of Ten Thousand Years", who by the age of six had been forced to abdicate without knowing it and has become a prisoner in his own palace. The contradictory arrogance of a child ruler who is, at the same time, a pathetic anachronism, overtaken by history. And the contradiction of a film that is rich in form but poor in substance.

Rewriting Marx

We are used to various Leninist regimes distorting the views of Karl Marx to try to bring some kind of spurious legitimacy to their vile social systems. A recent, almost breathtaking, example occurred in the Beijing Review (no. 34, 23-29 August). An article by one Ed Rothberg, who is apparently a professor from New York, defends the changes in the Chinese economy over the last twelve years or so as being in line with Marx's views. From a centrally-planned economy, China has changed to one where prices and wages are controlled by the market; this is allegedly all within a Socialist system, whereas in fact it is a change from state capitalism to a mix of state and private capitalism.

The Passing of Mao

The death of Mao Tse-Tung has been anticipated for many years in speculations over who would be his successor. Now it has happened and drawn world-wide attention to China. Ostensibly the interest is in the passing of a celebrated national leader; practically, it is in whether there will be changes of policy and how they will affect China's relationship with the rest of the world.

The history of China since 1949 closely resembles that of Russia thirty years before. The Communist revolutions in both countries were the taking of political power so that capitalism could develop and the entry to the modern world be made. Like Lenin, Mao provided a figurehead, and as with Lenin a version of Marxism was put out in his name to create a social vision to gain mass support for modernization. The projection of Mao's personality has been carried much further than Lenin's; but behind this cultivated charisma has stood a ruling class strongly conscious of its economic aims.

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