The Labour Party has called on the Conservative government to not make PPE contracts with Xinjiang-based firms in the latest set of unfounded attacks by western politicians against China. Writing to the current Health Secretary Sajid Javid, shadow cabinet member Emily Thornberry reiterated the forced labour narrative that has long served to justify economic and military manoeuvring by imperialist nations against Chinese interests.
In her message to the government, Thornberry argued that “evidence has emerged in recent years of the widespread and systematic use of forced labour against China’s Uyghur population in the factories, farms and prison camps of Xinjiang.” This claim is unproven however, with a United Nations investigation of the Xinjiang region – one invited by the Chinese government – finding no evidence of mass human rights abuse. Neither did the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, representing almost 2 billion Muslims including 49 Muslim-majority nations, who also visited Xinjiang.
These accusations from Labour come only four months after the UK Parliament voted to declare an ongoing genocide in Xinjiang (April 2021), and a month after the US Senate banned the import of products from Xinjiang (July 2021). This was after the US State Department’s own Office of the Legal Advisor had concluded there was insufficient evidence to declare genocide or mass human rights abuse.
It is clear that these actions by Labour, the Conservatives, and US politicians are not motivated by evidence but in fact fly in the face of the evidence in pursuit of a anti-China narrative. The reason for this is simple: nations like China challenge the hegemony of the western powers, and the materially evident success of socialist nations in fighting COVID-19 must be discredited.
The relative success of nations like China, Vietnam and Cuba, when compared to most other countries is a clear demonstration of the ability of ruling communist parties to care for their people. China has 4,636 deaths, while the USA has 644,281 (August 24). The UK has almost 6.5 million cases, while even following an unfortunate Delta Variant spike Vietnam has only 323.2 thousand.
The imperial core cannot stand for this. The deployment of soldiers by the Vietnamese government to provide food packages for their people must be framed as a ‘crackdown on liberty by a controlling state’. The CPC’s immediate lockdown and mass testing of cities that eliminated the new Delta outbreak in a single month must be discredited by bizarre stories in outlets such as Spiked, who warned that “Beijing has pioneered the use of anal-swab tests,” or a conspiratorial opinion piece in City A.M. by John C. Hulsman arguing that “If China was going to get sick, the world was going to get sick” because (according to them) the TV show Chernobyl proves “authoritarian regimes” can never admit mistakes.
This narrative against socialist nations, particularly China is clearly farcical. Full of hypothesising and fear-mongering, it is designed to shock and disgust the workers of the west and use these feelings to build anti-China, anti-socialist and pro-imperialist sentiment. Every new article, every outlandish claim, every formal condemnation further justifies the actions of NATO and Co. It provides an explanation for the public as to why it is for the ‘greater good’ that a UK Carrier Strike group of 21 warships entered the South China Sea just last month.
This new message from Emily Thornberry, intentionally or not, adds to those justifications and reiterates the rightwards shift of the Labour Party away from the internationalist, anti-war project under Corbyn. Starmer’s Labour Party is a dead end in the fight against the established narrative, having demonstrated yet again its propensity to side with the imperialists, and to blindly follow their lies.
Only one movement truly challenges the imperialist line, embracing a message of peace and international solidarity. This movement is not found within the likes of the Labour party, it’s spokesmen are not the Starmers and Thornberrys of this world. Only the Communist movement is unwaveringly devoted to fighting imperialism in all its forms, and to establishing peace and socialism in our lifetime.
Philip English, is a member of the YCL’s Manchester Branch