William Morrison discusses the efforts of China to tackle the legacy of environmental pollution domestically while also providing a determined example in the international fight against global warming.
The Chinese Communist Party brought its nation from a poor, underdeveloped, and poverty-ridden society that was afflicted by disease, starvation, and death into one of the most prosperous and successful countries in modern times. Through hard work and a dedication to Marxism-Leninism, the Communist Party in China have completely eliminated extreme poverty, increased the productive forces of its economy so effectively that they produce so much, they acknowledged as the workshop of the world, as well as creating 35,000 kilometres of high-speed rail, which is 90% of the total amount of kilometres of high-speed rail in the world. Additionally, their agricultural industry is so effective that China is now completely self-reliant, relying on no country for food imports.
These are just some of many examples I could have involved that shows China’s rise to global superiority in recent decades. The history of the Chinese Communist Party can be characterized by extreme effectiveness, economic success, and hard-work and dedication to its people. Contrary to Western imperialist propaganda, China is not a corrupt authoritarian police state that spies on its own people, but a country whose government has a 95% approval rating among its people. The Chinese Communist Party isn’t a dictatorial, omnipotent political entity, but a scientific, adaptive, and effective organisation consisting of 99 million Chinese people from all ethnic minorities.
As a second Cold War looms over our future like a sinister shadow waiting to engulf the the planet, the capitalist west is now seeking to encircle, undermine and attack China, as their perceived new adversary, akin to the USSR. And, as the threat of a new Cold War increases, the imperialist propaganda machine of the west will undoubtedly ramp up its lies and slanderous claims against China. This being said, it is of upmost importance that modern day Marxists analyse this increasingly concerning situation and see the necessity of defending and supporting China in these rocky and uncertain times ahead.
Hence this article – in a world of negativity and nihilism caused by the masses being disillusioned and disenfranchised by capitalist society, I feel it is so incredibly important to give credit where due. That’s where these pieces come in, these metaphorical islands of journalistic and political optimism in an ocean of hatred, chaos, and misery.
That is not to say China, historically speaking, is not also due criticism on its environmental record. Given that modern day China is an economic industrial powerhouse, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the economic success of China has been very much to the detriment of the environment. Dating back to Mao’s agricultural collectivisation, which did indeed help prevent the starvation of millions of his people and was generally very good policy, in hindsight, it was devastating for the environment, causing deforestation and infertile and unusable land. Deng’s reforms in the 1970’s didn’t do anything to help the environment either. As Deng prioritised increasing the economic productive forces of his country to provide for his people and be able to defend against the threat of US imperialism, this came very much to the detriment of the environment. Industrialisation caused and still causes awful urban pollution, dangerously bad air quality and also dangerous and contaminated drinking water. The economic success of China has come with severe consequences to our planet.
For example, since 2006, China has been the global leader of carbon emissions, although it should be noted that a large proportion of these emissions are released producing goods for global and particularly western consumption. And, in 2013, air quality in Beijing got so bad that reports found that it was the equivalent of living in an ‘airports smoking lounge’. 4,000 people were dying a day in the city from health conditions related to poor air quality. It was clear that China had a lot of cleaning up to do. Fortunately, socialist China did not disappoint.
One area in which China has greatly succeeded in its fight against climate change is in their water quality. For the past 10 years, the Chinese Communist Party has been cleaning up their country’s waterways, as well as investing hundreds of billions in wastewater treatment infrastructure, which turns wasted water into fresh, clean water. China’s hydro clean-up has made the horrifying stories of ‘black and stinking’ water stories of the past. Swamps, rivers, and lakes that were once highly polluted, diseased, and stagnant have been turned into great sources of clean, fresh, and drinkable water. This hydro infrastructure provides the Chinese people with safe water. Statistics from a recent Chinese study found that water quality in China has improved from only 38% in 2007 to 79% in 2017. A remarkable statistic that shows an inspiring and hopeful story from socialist China. This clearly shows the effectiveness of China’s government in fighting against climate change and how successfully they can meet the needs of their citizens. Reports statethat “China’s unequivocal and steadfast commitment to combatting pollution and climate change” will result in complete victory by 2030, if not earlier.
Afforestation (the growing of forest in an area where there was no previous tree cover) is another arena where China has shown success. Staggering progress is being made in afforestation projects across China. Large areas of China that used to be sand deserts are now covered in lush, green trees and vegetation. This is no exaggeration. Take the Matoushan mountains as one example, in Youyu county in the Shanxi province. This mountain used to be a barren, empty and dry place where nothing grew; it is now a mountain that flourishes with green vegetation and trees. This is thanks to local Communist Party cadres who, with support from the government, carried out mass tree planting in the area. Youyu country is not the only place where this has happened. Shandong, Saihanba, Dongying, and Sichuan are all villages that have been liberated from sandstorms due to afforestation initiatives. Furthermore, in 2018, the Chinese government deployed 60,000 People’s Liberation Army troops to carry out mass tree planting. The plan is to cover an area the size of Utah in the USA – 6.66 million hectares to be exact.
One last point to be addressed here when discussing China’s fight against climate change is in nuclear fusion. In December 2020, China successfully power up the world’s first ‘artificial sun’ nuclear fusion reactor. More scientifically speaking, this ‘sun’ is called the HL-2M Tokamak Reactor. It is by far the most advanced nuclear fusion device on the planet and scientists in China are determined and hopeful that the device can unlock and unleash a pleasantly mind-boggling amount of clean energy. The reactor is located in Sichuan province in China and is often named the ‘Artificial Sun’ for the impressive heat it produces (which can go up to being 10 times hotter than the core of the sun) and because of the potential power surge it can create. Hence, ‘sun’ certainly fits the bill.
Environmentally speaking, nuclear fusion is perfectly ok for our ecosystem. Science shows that fusion does not create radioactive waste like nuclear fission does. Additionally, fusion is less likely to be involved in a natural accident, meaning it is safe to use if monitored carefully by experts. Fusion, particularly in the eyes of the Chinese Communist Party, is the direction worth pursuing in fighting against the ever growing climate crisis our species is faced with. Fortunately, science seems to support this, showing it to be a safe, effective, and clean way to produce energy. Nuclear fusion maybe the key in preventing complete climate breakdown and ecological collapse and right now, it is socialist China that is paving the way forward for us – the rest of the world. This is a truly inspiring story indeed.
To close off, it is evident and well documented that China is doing so much to save the world and humanity from the unrelenting and sinister enemy of capitalist-caused climate breakdown. As private corporations and undemocratic, bourgeois governments suck the last remaining natural resources we have left, exploiting it all for the profit of a very small minority of people, we, the international working-class, will find ourselves in a very scary place. As of March, 2021, only socialism has shown itself as a viable alternative for the oppressed and exploited people of the world, and socialist China has led the way in tackling the current environmental crisis. China has dedicated itself for several years now to ecological sustainability and statistics show that they have been successful. The option for our future is very clean: extinction or socialism?
(2011 article). The Evolution of China’s Communist Party, 90 Years in the Making. China Briefing News. https://www.china-briefing.com/news/the-evolution-of-chinas-communist-party-90-years-in-the-making/
(2021 youtube video) Why China Has the Best Train Network in the World. Barrett. https://youtu.be/6FTA1CdMrGs
(2017 article). How is China Feeding its Population of 1.4 Billion? China Power. https://chinapower.csis.org/china-food-security/
Harsha, D. (2020 article). Taking China’s Pulse. The Harvard Gazette. https://news.harvard.edu/gazette/story/2020/07/long-term-survey-reveals-chinese-government-satisfaction/
Kopf, D and Lahiri, T. (2018 article). The charts that show how Deng Xiaoping unleashed China’s pent-up capitalist energy in 1978. https://qz.com/1498654/the-astonishing-impact-of-chinas-1978-reforms-in-charts/amp/
(2020 YouTube Video). How the US Fell Behind China in the Fight Against Climate Change. CNBC. https://youtu.be/4zt-SMlaaM8
(2020 article/report). ‘China’s Inland Surface Water Quality Significantly Improves’. Eurek Alert. China’s inland surface water quality significantly improves | EurekAlert! Science News
Gilbert, D (2018 article). “60,000 Chinese Troops Are About To Plant Enough Trees To Cover Utah”. Vice News. 60,000 Chinese troops are about to plant enough trees to cover Utah (vice.com)