The class nature of the People’s Republic of China

Resistance Books 2004
By Doug Lorimer

[This pamphlet is based on a report that was given to the 18th Congress of the Democratic Socialist Party, held in Sydney in January 1999. It deals with the Theses on the Class Nature of the People’s Republic of China, submitted by the DSP National Committee for a vote at the congress. Both the report and the theses were adopted by the congress. Doug Lorimer (1953-2013) was a longtime leader of the DSP.]

The class nature of the Chinese state

The purpose of this report is to motivate the adoption by the party of the “Theses on the Class Nature of the People’s Republic of China” approved by the National Committee at its October plenum last year.

Since 1993 our party has held the position that the ruling Chinese bureaucracy has been presiding over the restoration of capitalism in China. However, our policy toward China has been ambiguous: while taking an oppositional stance in our public press toward the ruling bureaucracy’s restorationist course, we have left it unclear as to whether we continued to believe that China is still a bureaucratically ruled socialist state.

In a report to the October 1997 meeting of the National Committee on “The Evolution of Economy and State in China”, the National Executive argued that the process of capitalist restoration in China was not the unintended consequence of concessions that the Chinese state was forced to make to secure foreign capitalist investment and access to the world market, but the consequence of a consciously restorationist orientation by the commanding personnel of the state – the ruling bureaucracy organised in the Communist Party of China – to replace China’s nationalised, planned economy with a market economy and to convert themselves into private exploiters of commodified labour power, i.e., into capitalists. The report argued that: While the process of capitalist restoration is not yet completed in China, there is sufficient evidence for us to conclude that this is the conscious orientation of those who hold political power in China, and that therefore China, like Russia and the former Soviet bloc countries of Eastern Europe, is a capitalist state.

The theses that delegates are being asked to vote on today set out the theoretical framework upon which this assessment is based and provide a historical analysis of how the People’s Republic of China was transformed from a bureaucratically ruled socialist state into a capitalist state.