Opening speech at the ILPS Public Forum on People’s Resistance Against the WTO and Imperialist Globalization
05 December 2013
By Prof. JOSE MARIA SISON
Chairperson, International League of Peoples’ Struggle
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
I am deeply pleased to open this ILPS Forum on People’s Resistance Against the WTO and Imperialist Globalization. I welcome all the participants in this forum. I congratulate the Indonesian and other chapters of the ILPS and all the concerned officers of the ILPS International Coordinating Committee for organizing this forum.
In behalf of the ILPS, I have made comprehensive statements in my message to the Global People’s Camp and in my speech to the GPC Plenary. In the message, I cover the major issues in the people’s struggle against the WTO and imperialist globalization and urge the people to intensify their resistance. In the speech, I try to give the PGC plenary a historical overview of the issues and development of the people’s resistance to the WTO and its GATT predecessor as well as to other imperialist institutions like the IMF and World Bank.
For the purpose of this forum, I have been advised to focus on the link between the WTO and the ongoing drive of the US to push the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPPA) and the military rebalancing or US pivot to East Asia. I agree that the sharpest possible attention must be drawn to these recent developments because they are of vital importance to the majority of the people of the world who are in the region and because these are properly the targets of serious critical attention and militant opposition now and in many years to come.
The WTO is an overarching framework of the imperialist powers led by the US for governing trade in goods and services, for promoting trade agreements on varying scales, for ensuring the dominance of the developed countries, for settling differences among them in trade and trade-related issues and for perpetuating the lopsided trade relations between the imperialist countries and the underdeveloped countries.
The TPPA is within the ambit of the WTO. It is a trade agreement of countries linked by the Pacific Ocean and yet it conspicuously excludes China. It is an open secret that the US has conceived of the TPPA as a way of guaranteeing the trade dominance of the US and pressuring China to privatize its remaining state-owned enterprises and allow further US economic penetration or else suffer the pain of exclusion and isolation by the TPPA.The TPPA can also serve as a leverage in the WTO talks to extract maximum concessions to the US from underdeveloped countries as well as other capitalist countries.
The TPPA is strategically backed up by the US military rebalancing or pivot to East Asia, which entails the long-term deployment of US military forces, including 60 per cent of US naval forces, in the Asia-Pacific region. The conspicuous objective of the US is to contain China and influence economic, political and cultural developments within China and to take in tow the ASEAN countries and the other Asia-Pacific countries for realizing the objective.
China has now the second largest GDP (with 9 trillion USD, next to the 16.2 trillion USD of the US) in the world because of its huge population, the massive public and private construction and financial bubbles generated by neoliberal economic policy. But it is still a poor country because the social wealth is appropriated by the foreign and local big bourgeoisie.
It has a highly polarized society. It is sharply divided between the big bourgeoisie that has amassed enormous wealth and the toiling masses of workers and peasants who have been extremely exploited and oppressed and are suffering gravely from unemployment, inflation, lack of social services, widespread, poverty, pollution and other social ills, especially as the economic and social crisis is worsening.
Among the Chinese bourgeoisie, the bureaucrat capitalists have the tendency to retain the state enterprises to ensure state revenues and the ability to deploy these for the purpose of building military power and making foreign investments and thus guaranteeing the rise of China as an imperialist power. They continue to wave the communist flag as a matter of convenience. But they are motivated by nationalism and ultra-nationalism.
Although it has been able to use state enterprises as partners and milking cows, the private bourgeoisie is interested in further privatizing these and in the name of democracy devolving political power from the pseudo-communist party. By undertaking the TPPA and the pivot to East Asia, the US seeks to embolden the economic privateers and so-called democracy movement within China to demand further privatization and democratization.
In the strategic deployment of US military power in East Asia, the first arc of offense against China and also the DPRK are the US military forces in Japan, South Korea, Okinawa, the Philippines and other Southeast Asian countries and the second arc of offense are those US military forces in Guam and other Pacific islands and Australia. These forces are commanded and coordinated by the US Pacific Command based in Hawaii and have operational agreements with the governments in the Asia-Pacific region,especially those countries where the US military forces are based.
The aforementioned deployment of the US military forces against China will have a preemptive character for an indefinite period of time and is more intended immediately to consolidate and entrench further US interests in various countries in the region. The US and China will maintain a relationship of contention and collusion for a long time to promote their respective and mutual interests and to stabilize their collusion at the expense of other countries in the region.
China is not a passive object of US interest. The bureaucrat capitalists have appropriated the national sovereignty asserted by the Chinese people through the new democratic and socialist stages of the Chinese revolution in the past and the social capital created by them under socialism. They draw certain advantages from the use of the state to impose labor discipline and obedience on the people, serve no longer the Chinese people but private Chinese capital and protect it from the worst impositions by foreign powers.
China is a permanent member of the UN Security Council and has veto power. It is a major member of the IMF, World Bank and WTO and an even more weighty member in the Group of 20 which has arisen as a result of the current worsening crisis of the world capitalist system. By having served as the sweatshop of the world, in accordance with the US policy of outsourcing manufactures, China has pooled large dollar holdings to be able to buy US securities and become the biggest creditor of the US as well as to invest on a global scale.
It has continued to associate itself with the third world countries if only to facilitate its own foreign investments and trade. To assert independence from the traditional imperialist powers headed by the US, it is playing an outstanding role as a member of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). This is an economic bloc that has a range of products and economic capabilities comprehensive enough to fend off the worst impositions of the traditional imperialist powers and assert economic independence from them in certain respects. For instance, it can initiate joint economic projects without the US or veer away from the US dollar in trade transactions outside of those with the US.
After supporting the US in its war of aggression on Iraq, China and Russia have become more alert to the strategic scheme of the US to expand its interests at their expense. Thus, they have usedthe Shanghai Cooperation Organization as a security counter to the obvious aggressive maneuvers of the US and its NATO partners in Central Asia, West Asia and Africa. China and Russia have also engaged in joint military exercises in Northeast Asia in order to counter the military exercises launched by the US in the whole of East Asia. In the UN Security Council, they have taken positions against the US and its traditional allies with regard to Libya, Syria and Iran and proceed to working out compromises.
The US is trying to benefit from tensions between China and its neighboring countries arising from conflicting claims over territories in common seas. Whenever suitable to its own interests, the US proclaims neutrality or it is openly partisan to one side. In the case of the Diaoyu island, it indicates support for the claim of Japan based on the premise that the island was a war booty. It is more emphatic about being neutral relative to the territorial disputes of China and Southeast Asia countries in the seas between them, notwithstanding the fact that the disputed islets, reefs and shoals are indisputably within the 200-mile exclusive economic zone of a country under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.
The ASEAN has a huge population and a vast area rich in natural resources. It has a high potential as a common market for its member-states. But their general level of development in terms of comprehensive industrialization is still low, despite the previous so-called miracles of Southeast Asian tigers in semi-manufacturing and construction booms and the continuing hype of fast growth immune to the crisis of global cvapitalism. They are generally held captive economically and financially by the imperialist powers. At least four them have trapped into the TPPA talks. At the same time,China courts ASEAN within the framework of the world capitalist system and the neoliberal economic policy.
I have been informed that the Group of 33 (G33) developing countries, which includes the Philippines and Indonesia as well as China and India, have been pushing for a rollback in liberalization of agriculture in the WTO Bali talks, which they hope to somehow blunt the neoliberal offensive. While any such concessions won by third world countries have a positive value, they are clearly too measly to break the imperialist stranglehold.
While Indonesia and the Philippines are often hyped as the next generation or even models of “emerging” economies for underdeveloped countries to emulate, their path to genuine development is blocked by imperialism at every step. All underdeveloped
countries in Southeast Asian and other regions have to assert national independence and carry out real economic development through national industrialization and land reform if they wish to escape the clutches of such giants as the US and China in the course of their collusion and contention. There is no other way.
But the states of underdeveloped countries like the Philippines and Indonesia are subservient to the policies of US imperialism which perpetuate underdevelopment in order to allow US and other foreign monopoly firms and banks to take superprofits from the extraction of natural resources, lopsided trade and international usury.The neocolonial subservience is further manifested by these states further opening up their territorial land, waters and airspace for the setting up of new US bases and forward stations, the expansion or reactivation of old ones, and wider freedom of movement for US armed forces in the context of the US military rebalancing.
As in all underdeveloped countries, the broad masses of the people, especially the toiling masses of workers and peasants, have to struggle for national independence, democracy, real economic development, social justice and international solidarity against imperialism and reaction. Only they themselves, not the existing reactionary puppet states, can fight for their own rights and interests and ultimately establish the people’s democratic states that serve as the bulwark of national and social liberation and development.
In this context, the ILPS is always firmly committed to arousing, organizing and mobilizing the people to resist imperialism and reaction and to uphold their national and democratic rights and interests. On that note, we reiterate our full support for the people’s continuing struggle against the WTO and imperialist globalization, and for the Global People’s Camp being held to counter the 9th WTO summit.
We thank all of you for participating in the forum. We wish you greater victories in the anti-imperialist and democratic struggles of your people.