Spoiler: China is an imperialist state. Even though the mass murderer Lenin’s ramblings about Imperialism were meaningless, one could use them to show that the Genocidal communist regime is an imperialist country according to Lenin.
Capital exports, concentration and merger of industry and capital is a defining characteristic for China. The Belt and Road Initiative’s infrastructure projects, in emerging African and Asian countries, are financed by Chinese banks and built by Chinese construction firms. Most of these projects are unprofitable, making the host countries indebted to the Chinese government.
China has not only fought imperialist war against Tibet, and China also threatens to invade Taiwan and large parts of the South China Sea.
But China has taken Imperialism to the next level. In Lenin’s definition, Imperialism was the final stage of capitalism, an end. China has turned the definition upside down, Imperialism is a means to an end, Chinese domination. China intends to impose its model of oppression, violation of human rights and genocide on the rest of the world.
In his little pamphlet “Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism”, Lenin listed five criteria which he thought should be included in a definition. The five criteria are about the concentration and merging of industry and finance, exports of capital, and territorial division of the world between imperialist powers.
The concept of Imperialism¸ is mainly used by Tankies. It has been used by them in so many ways that it is even more meaningless than Lenin’s definition. But only towards “capitalist” countries or organisations encompassing such countries.
Since the Soviet Union collapsed, Tankies now hope that China will fulfil their communist dreams about a socialist paradise. That’s why the Tankies hail the Chinese communist regime despite its abolishment of the mass murderer Mao’s economic policies. Tankies are able to, one the one hand, dream about a worldwide socialist paradise, and on the other hand hail the increased living standards in China even though that would never have been realised if Mao’s economic policies would have been pursued. But ideological schizophrenia is not their only mental problem.
In the Tankies’ view, communist China can not be imperialistic since it is communist. But instead of taking the Tankies’ word for given. Let’s see how their ideas of Imperialism apply for communist China. A Tankie point of departure would be to use Lenin’s on China
According to Lenin, China is an imperialist country since it runs a current account surplus.
Let’s begin with capital exports. As I pointed out here, Lenin did not know the first thing of economics.. As everyone knows, if you spend less than you earn, you can save an amount. These savings can be lent to someone who spend more than he or she earns. In Lenin’s terms that would be export of capital which is the third criteria of five in what he considered to be key elements of any definition of Imperialism. Since Lenin was unable to support himself during a long period of his life, he received financial support from his mother and sisters making them imperialists.
Also, countries can save more than they spend. It’s only slightly more complex. Households and firms make up the private sector and national, regional, and local governments make up the public sector. In the private sector, savings equals disposable income minus expenditures on consumption and investments. Disposable income is what is left after you have paid taxes to and received transfers from the government. In the public sector, savings equals taxes minus transfers to the private sector and investments. Adding these together plus net income yields total financial savings. And a country’s total financial savings equals its current account balance.
So, let’s use this criterion to see if China is an imperialist country or not. Yes indeed, but also Russia while USA is not, c.f. Figure 1.
Figure 1. Current accounts in percent of GDP in USA, Russia, and China.
Source: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, Balance of payments BPM6: Current account Balance: Total: Total Balance as % of GDP, retrieved from FRED, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis; https://fred.stlouisfed.org
According to Lenin, China is imperialist since it exports both capital and products to emerging countries
According to Lenin, the fast emerging and highly concentrated finance capital merged with the industry in imperialist ventures. Lenin denounce the practice of imperialist countries like United States, Great Britain, France, and Germany, to provide loans to colonies or emerging countries. These loans were often used to import goods from the creditor countries. This is exactly what China does now!
The finance capital has grown fast in China, which now has some of the largest banks in the world. The largest banks in China are state-owned. These banks finance or guarantee infrastructure project that are carried out by Chinese construction firms abroad and back manufacturing plants that are established in emerging countries in Africa and Asia. The overall Chinese construction market may appear fragmented but there are only a limited number of large construction firms that carry out large infrastructure project. These firms, the banks, and the Chinese government work closely together in the Belt and Road Initiative.
The Belt and Road Initiative provides a good example of imperialist behaviour. Through its banks, the Chinese government loans money to, mostly, emerging countries in Africa and Asia, for construction of infrastructure projects that are carried out by Chinese firms. The Belt and Road initiative is considered a Debt Trap which I wrote about here (https://gubbdjavel.com/2020/01/01/is-the-belt-and-road-initiative-a-blessing-or-a-trap/) and is also discussed here (https://www.csis.org/npfp/its-debt-trap-managing-china-imf-cooperation-across-belt-and-road). China is seen by many in Africa as far worse than some of the colonial powers (https://nationalinterest.org/feature/takeover-trap-why-imperialist-china-invading-africa-66421 )
China’s occupation of Tibet, its aggressions against Taiwan and annexations of islands in the South China Sea are imperialistic
Lenin did not explicit talk about imperial wars in his little pamphlet. He rambled about annexation of territories, the Boer War, the use of natives as soldiers in wars pursued by imperialist but he didn’t pin down any clear description of imperialistic wars. But in the above-mentioned pamphlet, he probably meant that expansions of territories by force, was imperialistic.
The Chinese invasion and annexation of Tibet definitely was an imperialistic war. The Chinese aggressions against Taiwan (https://www.businessinsider.com/china-taiwan-tensions-increasingly-aggressive-2018-4?op=1&r=US&IR=T) as well as China’s annexation of islands (https://www.southasiamonitor.org/china-watch/sindh-islands-illegally-annexed-china-alleges-ppp-leader-bilawal-bhutto)in the South China Sea which are also claimed by other countries are clearly also imperialistic attempts to annex territories. Chinese aggression in those waters https://www.cfr.org/global-conflict-tracker/conflict/territorial-disputes-south-china-sea) has made the area to one of the hottest conflict zones in the world. China has sent more than 200 fishing ships into Philippines’ territorial waters. And they’re not all fishing.
China as the highest stage of Imperialism
According to Lenin, capital exports, concentration and merger of industry and finance capital, and territorial expansions were means to an end, Imperialism. But for China, Imperialism is one means to another end, imposing of China’s “values” on the world. China wants to impose its model on the world. Xi Jinping wants China to dominate the global economy and dictate the rules of international diplomacy and discourse. “And such a world is not safe for democracy.” Xi despises democracy, his vision is a world ruled by authoritarianism without any civil rights and where individuals and minorities aren’t protected from the tyrannies of states. He laid out his vision in a January speech, where he argued that it was “arrogance, prejudice and hatred” to promote democracy and human rights.
To pursue this vision, critics must be silenced and punished; allies must be found and bought or bent to Chinas will; enemies attacked and slandered. The CCP has a vast number of foreign policy tools to achieve these goals. All of them typical for an imperialist.
China tries to use international bodies for its means. China has actively tried to increase its influence in United Nations. Chinese officials occupy or control nearly a third of the 15 specialised UN agencies. China’s allies are not democratic countries where human rights are guaranteed and protected. China’s allies are dictatorships and autocracies like Russia, Belarus, Syria, and Venezuela. But these countries are not enough. China needs to find more allies.
This is where the Belt and Road Initiative fits in. Some African and Asian governments who are indebted to China have difficulties in servicing their debts. They may get some debt relief by supporting China in the UN and other international bodies. An illustration of this behaviour is China’s crackdown on human rights in Hong Kong by imposing the new draconic security law. China’s violation of human rights was debated in the UN Human Rights Council last year. While only 27 countries backed a resolution criticising China, 53 countries supported China. More than 40 of those countries were participating in the Belt and Road project. Many of the African countries supporting China were renegotiating the debts.
The Belt and Road Initiative is also used to silence criticism of its genocide of Uighurs. Governments in several, predominantly Muslim, Central Asian countries turn a blind eye to the Chinese persecution of its Muslim minority.
Attacking journalists and independent media
Using trade barriers as a weapon
When the Australian government demanded an independent investigation of the outbreak of the corona virus in China, China responded by imposing trade barriers on Australian products. Australia learnt from Norway how China uses trade as a weapon. When the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to a well-known Chinese political dissident, China wanted the Norwegian government to withdraw the award. Since the Norwegian couldn’t or did not want to do that, China walked away from the free trade negotiations with Norway and restricted imports of Norwegian salmon.
To the CCP’s disappointment, China’s vaccine own vaccine is not as the vaccine developed in the West. But instead of admitting this, CCP let its propaganda media spread disinformation about other vaccines which this awful example illustrates.
But the Chinese Communist Party does not stop at combatting the truth. It has its own network of organisation for spreading lies and for advocating China’s right to be a genocidal regime, the Communist Party has a United Front. This organisation is used by China to “extends its authoritarian rule to its population abroad as a way to gain support for its policies and control its opponents.” The United Front has established a number of organisations in Germany, infiltrated the European Parliament and governments and institutions in especially Hungary in order to pave the way for Chinese investments such as university where academic freedom will be close to zero.
Using technology to infiltrate and spy on other countries
Another cause of concern is the close relationship between the Chinese intelligence services and Chinese firms. According to Chinese laws, Chinese firms are obliged to cooperate with the Chinese intelligence services when so required which is why for example Huawei has become under scrutiny not only in USA but in many other countries.
I could go on forever. The bottom line is that Imperialist China wants to dominate the world and the CCP will use all the dirty imperialist tricks in the world to achieve it. The question is what we should do to stop China. Whatever is decided, will have the support of a lot of people.