China’s claim to be a socialist country – where the poor and working class are in power – is a joke. The People’s Republic of China was founded in 1949 by the Chinese Communist Party, paying lip-service to socialist ideas and goals, but really laying the foundations for a powerful capitalist economy. With more billionaires than the U.S., China is one of the world’s most important capitalist countries. Workers in China face 12-hour work days, six day work weeks, and unpaid overtime. Unions are actually arms of the government, controlled from above, and used to discipline rather than defend workers.
Young people from China’s Peking University have made a choice not to follow their parents into the elite at the expense of the workers. They read the classic socialist thinkers like Karl Marx, who analyzed capitalism and exploitation, and they decided they would take the side of workers. This year, a group of forty students traveled to the manufacturing hub of Huizhao in support of workers who were trying to form an independent trade union. The government has arrested these and other student activists for supporting workers’ struggles.
These students, and more importantly, the workers, are taking up the fight against capitalism in China. China has seen thousands of strikes in recent years, reaching a high point in 2015 with 2,700 strikes and protests. This has prompted crackdowns on workers and their supporters like the one this year in Huizhou. These crackdowns have slowed, but not stopped the revolt of workers. If the youth side with the workers, and once again bring socialist ideas to the working class, China could see more than just strikes. The workers of China could make a real revolution and take power themselves.