CC of the Communist Party of Greece (KKE).
The tripartite “security” alliance between the US, Australia, and the UK under the name “AUKUS”, announced on 15/09/2021, constitutes a new important development in the structure of imperialist alliances.
What does this development mean and which additional tasks arise for the communist movement?
The importance of the Indo-Pacific region
A significant part of the US naval and air forces has already been dispatched to the Pacific. New US military bases are being constructed and large-scale military exercises are taking place there.
In that same region, there are ongoing disputes over sea and land borders, where it is clear that China seeks to call into question the international law of the sea and the sovereign rights of countries in the region, such as that of Vietnam. Speaking at this year’s 76th Session of the UN General Assembly, the President of Vietnam, Nguyen Xuan Phuc, called on the countries in the region to refrain from unilateral actions in the East Sea (South China Sea), underlining the Law of the Sea1. A few days earlier, the spokesperson for the Vietnamese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Le Thi Thu Hang, had stressed that Vietnam would defend the islands in the Hoang Sa (Paracel) and Truong Sa (Spratly) archipelagos, whose sovereignty is being disputed by China2.
Thus, the visit of the US Vice President, Kamala Harris, to Vietnam and other countries in the region was not coincidental at all. It should be remembered that since 2016, following a unilateral appeal by the Philippines, there is a ruling of The Hague tribunal dismissing the Chinese claims, which nevertheless China does not recognize, arguing that it is a matter of national sovereignty outside the particular court’s jurisdiction.
The United States is once again seeking to establish itself as a “self-appointed protector” of the peoples, this time in the specific region, against Chinese monopoly expansion plans and China’s aspirations in Southeast Asia. It is becoming clear that the means of war cannot be left out of the picture in this conflict. The United States is, after all, the most powerful military force today, while China seeks to narrow the gap by increasing its military spending. The recent withdrawal of the USA from Afghanistan and the US “Patriots” from Saudi Arabia, aims, among other things, to redeploy the US military forces in the direction of strengthening the US presence in the Indo-Pacific.
In addition, in recent years, cooperation between the USA, India, Japan, and Australia has been strengthened in the form of the “Quadrilateral Security Dialogue” (QUAD), clearly targeting China, as was demonstrated in the military exercises of these countries under the name Malabar in the past two years. These exercises were touted as the pillar of the so-called “Asian version of NATO” and the goal of addressing China’s military and political influence in the region was openly set.
Attention is being focused on the straits of Taiwan, alliances are sought to be expanded by both sides, and the ideological constructs of “democracy”, “self-determination”, and territorial integrity are being utilized. NATO 2030 strategy is further strengthening the targeting of China.
It is within this framework that the “AUKUS” agreement was reached.
The struggle for supremacy in the imperialist system
The new alliance forged by the USA is clearly targeting China, which today objectively forms the preconditions to imperil US supremacy in the international imperialist system in the years to come.
It is no coincidence that the CIA created a special China Mission Centre. These dynamics are reflected in the significant increase in China’s share in the 2000–2020 Gross World Product, as well as in the spectacular increase in the US trade deficit in bilateral trade with China (during the period 1985–2019). In this regard, all this time we have witnessed a number of trade “wars”, with the USA placing considerable weight on maintaining its superiority in the field of new technology and at the same time on limiting the expansion of China in this sector, which would entail the strengthening of its political influence (e.g. the intensified effort to exclude China from 5G networks in Europe). In addition, the US administration, taking advantage of the huge tax reduction for the capital, has called on US new technology monopolies operating in China to abandon it or repatriate to the US. It promotes its own interests and attempts to prevent the expansion of China, which is implementing the Silk Road initiative (Belt and Road Initiative), is exporting a huge amount of capital, and is making large investments in other countries in Asia, Africa, and other regions.
The power struggle between the USA and China for world supremacy is indisputable. Attention is now focused on whether we are witnessing a new “cold war”, a confrontation between a capitalist superpower and a socialist one, even with “Chinese characteristics”. The reality, however, is that we are talking about the USA and China, that is, two powers of the current capitalist world. Today China is a strong base of monopoly groups and an active member of every international capitalist union, such as the World Trade Organization and the World Bank; it is closely linked to the global capitalist economy. “Multinationals serve as vital driving force to sustain China's domestic circulation3”.
The fact that a Party with the title “communist” rules in China does not change that the latter is dominated by capitalist relations of production. Starting in 2012, the private sector has been contributing to more than 60% of China’s GDP4. A legal basis in favour of capitalists has been developed in China as well, allowing them to heavily exploit hundreds of millions of workers to accumulate wealth. China is in “competition” with the United States for the number of billionaires as well. According to the Hurun Research Institute in Shanghai, at the beginning of 2021 China was the first country in the world where the number of billionaires exceeded 1000, reaching 10585. Billionaires in China control colossal e-commerce business groups, factories, hotels, shopping malls, cinemas, social media, mobile phone companies, etc. The country’s richest billionaire, Zhong Shanshan, who got rich from the bottled water industry, owns a personal fortune of $67.3 billion, while the fortune of the second on the same list, Ma Huateng, who is active in new technologies and was elected as a member of the National People’s Congress (NPC), amounts to $46 billion6. At a time when tens of millions of people are excluded from contemporary social services, the luxury of billionaires and millionaires clearly shows the huge social injustice and exploitation that characterizes the capitalist mode of production in China as well. The Chinese monopolies, as do the monopolies of all origins, exploit the working class in their enterprises abroad, such as the shipping giant of COSCO in the Piraeus port in Greece. The COSCO workers organized a 7-day strike in honour of their dead colleague who was recently killed at the workplace demanding health and safety measures, with the employers responding with blackmail and lodging appeals with bourgeois courts against the strike to declare it unlawful.
Claims that China, like Soviet Russia in the past, implements some kind of New Economic Policy (NEP) in cooperation with private capital in order to develop its productive forces have nothing to do with reality and are misleading. The above elements substantiate that, objectively, there is no concrete basis to compare NEP with the current situation in China. Moreover, the duration of NEP was limited, it had a “retreating” character, as Lenin stressed numerous times7, and it was not elevated into a theoretical principle of the socialist construction, as happens with the prevalence of capitalist relations in China and the ideological construct of “socialism with Chinese characteristics”. Furthermore, during the NEP period entrepreneurs not only were not allowed to be members of the Bolshevik Party but, based on the two Soviet Constitutions (1918 and 1925) that were voted that period, they were deprived of civil rights; in contrast to today’s China, where dozens of entrepreneurs occupy positions in the Parliament and the CP.
That is why the new “bipolar” is not related to the confrontation between the USA and the USSR. Today, the USA and China are in conflict on the basis of the domination of the capitalist relations of production that prevail in them and lead to the struggle over raw materials, the transport routes of commodities, the market shares, and the geopolitical influence, which cannot conceal that we are faced with an inter-imperialist struggle for supremacy in the imperialist system.
“AUKUS” – another lever for imperialist war
“AUKUS” covers an extended gamut of cooperation, from diplomacy and defence to supply chains and artificial intelligence. However, the focus of attention was on the fact that the USA and the UK will give Australia the “keys” to nuclear technology, violating the relevant agreements on non-proliferation of nuclear technology for military purposes and selling 8 nuclear-powered submarines to it, making it the seventh country in the world to possess such submarines, following the USA (71), Russia (33), China (14), the UK (11), France (10), and India (2).
The acquisition of such submarines by Australia will enable it to participate in military naval operations far from its territory, i.e. in the Indo-Pacific region, where the attention of the USA and NATO is focused, as these submarines are almost silent and they can travel long distances without the need for refuelling.
In addition, the USA is provided with the opportunity to expand its air and naval military bases in Australia. Several thousand US troops are already there. The infrastructure that is being prepared concerns the mooring for aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, and strategic bombers.
The disturbances in NATO–EU and the “strategic autonomy” of the EU and other major powers
The AUKUS agreement was able to disturb the “stable” alliances of Euro-Atlantic imperialism, of NATO, of the US relations with the EU and particularly with France. The latter reacted, calling the cancellation of the contract for the supply of 12 conventional submarines worth about 56 billion euros a “stab in the back”.
Immediately after the agreement, once again, a series of misleading assessments prevailed in various media outlets, such as that the USA is withdrawing from many areas and that peace requires the “strategic autonomy” of the EU and other parties, such as India, which in the past was thriving as a “non-aligned country”.
The reality, however, is different. The United States is redeploying its military forces. Thus, for example, not only is it not withdrawing its forces from Greece but it is reinforcing its military bases; it is enlarging the air and naval base of Souda, which was used in the imperialist wars against Iraq, Syria and Libya; it is creating new military infrastructure (in Alexandroupoli, Larissa, Stefanovikio etc.), while the Greece-US agreement signed on 14 October, 2021 enables it to utilize all the military infrastructure of Greece initially for five years and then for an indefinite period of time.
The argument that a “stronger” and more autonomous EU could effectively guarantee peace as a “balancing factor” in the US–China–Russia conflict has no foundation.
The EU is an alliance of the bourgeois classes of Europe, targeting both the peoples of Europe and other peoples. Thus, the militarization of the EU is deepening in parallel with the sharpening of imperialist competition, posing new and greater risks to the peoples in order to shield the interests of the monopolies.
This militarization is first and foremost oriented towards Europe itself in order to stifle any radical sign, to suppress any demand for a better life, especially when it concerns contemporary popular needs and is directed against capital, its profitability or power.
In addition, the EU regards the world as its “strategic environment” based on the Global Strategy it has drawn up, which is about to be readjusted under the name “Strategic Compass” and adopted during the forthcoming French Presidency of the Council of the EU. It also seeks the most effective penetration of European monopolies in third countries under the pretext of ostensibly defending human rights. Thus, the so-called “Permanent Structured Military Cooperation” (PESCO) was established. At the same time, the French-inspired “European Intervention Initiative” is being promoted in order to overcome the delays caused by the unanimous decision process, so that imperialist missions can be carried out immediately. Already today, the EU has sent twenty imperialist missions8 on three continents.
Measures are being taken to advance the objective of the so-called “Strategic Autonomy” in the context of strengthening the alliance and joint interventions with NATO, which remains its main pillar. Aiming at autonomous military capacity, the planning for the development of research programmes and armaments from the EU market is reinforced, in an effort to reduce dependence on the US armaments market.
The KKE, studying both its history and the history of the international communist movement, has arrived at the conclusion that the perception which dominated the ranks of the international communist movement in the past, characterizing even powerful capitalist states as “subordinate” and “US colonies” and called for “independence” of their foreign policy, was erroneous. In several cases, it separated the bourgeois class into “patriotic” and “subservient to foreigners”, seeking to forge alliances with the so-called “patriotic” section of the bourgeoisie. In reality, the bourgeois class in each country promotes its own interests, first and foremost to consolidate its power, and it forms its international alliances on this exact basis. The existence of the USSR and the other socialist states in the past provided the bourgeois classes of some capitalist countries with the opportunity to carry out manoeuvres, while limiting that opportunity for other countries. Today, the so-called multi-polar world is praised by many parties, while some call on the EU or European countries to stop being “subordinate” to the US, to act “autonomously”, based on their interests.
Such perceptions, irrespective of their intentions, ideologically embellish imperialist barbarism across the world, as they suggest that it can change without the necessary overthrow of capitalism. They reject the Leninist conception of imperialism, detaching economy from policy. For these forces, imperialism is the political and military activities of the most “aggressive” forces against the “national sovereignty” of other countries. They thus ignore the fact that it is monopoly competition that leads to military imperialist interventions and wars and not some “more aggressive forces”. This competition is conducted using every means possessed by each capitalist power in each country and is naturally reflected in the interstate agreements and the various alliances. Through these alliances, the bourgeois classes cede part of the national sovereignty and the sovereign rights of their countries in order to secure their power, always pursuing new profits. At the same time, they also use means of war, since “war is the continuation of policy with violent means”.
The reason why the USA chooses the dangerous tactic of “soft alliances”
The claims that NATO or QUAD are floundering following the formation of AUKUS have no foundation. NATO, despite the contradictions manifested within it, continues to play an important role as an “arm” of Euro-Atlantic imperialism. Thus, it is constantly “encircling” Russia, deploying new forces in the Russian borders, disputing Russian sovereignty over Crimea and maritime zones of the Black Sea, provocatively exploiting the conflict in Ukraine and threatening Russia with the use of nuclear weapons9. Moreover, NATO has already turned against China.
QUAD is taking on a special role in the effort to contain China. Each one of the bourgeois classes of the countries that make it up (Australia, Japan, India, USA) is in competition with China’s monopolies for its own reasons. At the same time, its existence enables some of them, such as the bourgeoisie of India —which is simultaneously participating in other associations such as the Shanghai Cooperation Organization and the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) and is one of the largest buyers of Russian weapons— to manoeuvre and simultaneously be part of the overall US plan seeking to change the dynamics, which today favour China.
Different “speeds” are developed during the deepening of the cooperation of the USA with the other bourgeois classes of the region, through more “loose” forms, such as QUAD, and more advanced forms, such as AUKUS, but always with the same goal, in an attempt to avoid a full-scale confrontation that would hamper US alliances in the region.
In addition, the lifting of US sanctions against the construction of the Russian gas pipeline “Nord Stream 2”, which ends in Germany, was thought to be the “carrot” in the US effort to strengthen relations with the EU and the European “component” of Euro-Atlanticism in the face of the serious confrontation with China. This is also supported by the announcement of the EU–US agreement on the abolition of tariffs on steel and aluminium.
The formation of “AUKUS” shows that the USA, apart from the carrot, can also effectively use the stick approach while forging its alliances.
The tasks of the communists
The “need for compliance with international law” is being raised as a demand by certain quarters to avoid war, while various campaigns are being launched with slogans such as “hands off Russia and China” or even in defence of “socialist China”.
This approach seems to ignore key elements, such as that international law today is interpreted at will. Thus, the United States, which never signed the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea adopted in 1982, now appears in the East Sea (or the South China Sea) as its strongest defender. On the other hand, China, which has ratified the specific international agreement, is undermining it every day to the detriment of the countries of the region (Vietnam, Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Brunei). In other words, the correlation of forces and geostrategic aspirations are the factors that determine the stance towards international law.
In addition, the perception that portrays the USA as a force which unilaterally violates international law and, therefore, is an attacking and “imperialist party”, while portraying China and Russia as “defending” and “anti-imperialist” has nothing to do with reality. All the above major powers of the contemporary imperialist world, in different cases and for the promotion of the interests of their monopolies, interpret international law as it suits them and act accordingly. Therefore, the above notion has nothing to do with the Leninist conception of imperialism, which is clearly not just a foreign aggressive policy but monopoly capitalism. It has nothing to do with perception of the leader of the October Revolution of wars, their causes, and their character. Lenin on similar occasions slated such views, saying: “As if the question were: Who was the first to attack, and not: What are the causes of the war? What are its aims? Which classes are waging it?”.10
The communists, therefore, must not become ensnared in notions that, intentionally or unintentionally, entrap the popular movement into dead-end pacifist positions, calling on bourgeois classes or imperialist unions such as the EU to display “autonomy” or hiding the imperialist character of the conflict for world supremacy and eventually calling on the people to take sides in this conflict.
The dilemma facing the communists about choosing an imperialist is not new. As we know, it was strongly raised during the First World War and led to the dissolution of the Second International. At that time, among other things, “the French social chauvinists assured [the workers] that the Entente countries were on the ‘defensive side’, they were the ‘vehicles of progress’ in the struggle against aggressive Prussianism11”. Today, some forces in the ranks of the international labour and communist movement are calling on us to support China in the new inter-imperialist confrontation, which they consider “socialist with Chinese characteristics”, distorting or ignoring our reality and world view.
In these circumstances, it is important to oppose not only imperialist war but also every imperialist hue, every old or new imperialist alliance; to struggle for the disengagement of every country from imperialist plans and alliances, for workers’ power, socialism.
In this regard, the KKE voted against the so-called “defence agreements” of Greece with the United States and France in parliament. It spoke out against the huge military expenditures of the country and highlighted that they are made in the framework of the effort of the Greek bourgeoisie to enhance its position in imperialist plans and organizations.
The communists systematically enlighten the people and mobilize thousands of workers and young men and women.
The KKE is at the forefront of the anti-war and anti-imperialist movement, of the workers’–people’s movement, to prevent the creation of new military bases in Greece, to dismantle all US–NATO bases and infrastructure, to hinder the transfer of nuclear weapons to the country.
The KKE demands that the participation of the Greek armed forces in imperialist missions abroad should be stopped, that the people should not pay for the military equipment that serves the aggressive plans of the Greek bourgeoisie and Euro-Atlantic interventions and wars, that Greece should not participate in military exercises that turn against other states.
The KKE seeks to strengthen internationalist solidarity with all peoples who are struggling and facing imperialist interventions and wars.
Moreover, it struggles for the disengagement of the country from the imperialist unions of NATO and the EU, believing that this can be achieved for the benefit of the popular interests by the workers’ power, the struggle for the overthrow of capitalism and the construction of socialism–communism.
1 President’s statement at general debate of UNGA’s 76th session, https://vietnam.vnanet.vn/english/presidents-statement-at-general-debate-of-ungas-76th-session/498071.html, 23/09/2021
2 “Vietnam resolutely protects sovereignty over Hoang Sa, Truong Sa archipelagoes”, https://vovworld.vn/en-US/news/vietnam-resolutely-protects-sovereignty-over-hoang-sa-truong-sa-archipelagoes-1022184.vov, 02/09/2021
3 Title of an article published in People’s Daily Online, http://en.people.cn/n3/2021/0719/c90000-9873653.html, 19/07/2021
4 People’s Daily, http://en.people.cn/n3/2019/0306/c90000-9553302.html , 06/03/2019
5 Interfax agency, https://www.interfax.ru/business/754207, 02/03/2021
6 People’s Daily, http://russian.people.com.cn , 29/10/2021
7 V.I. Lenin, “Ninth All-Russia Congress of Soviets”, Collected Works, Vol 44, Synchroni Epochi, pp. 310
9 Statements by Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu, https://tass.com/defense/1353311, 23/10/2021
10 V. I. Lenin, “An Open Letter to Boris Souvarine”, Collected works, Vol 30, Synchroni Epochi, pp. 265
11Academy of Sciences of the USSR, World History, Volume Ζ2, pp.737.