Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Former International Marxist Group Leader, John Ross, “China made the world’s largest contribution to human rights.”

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Former Leader of International Marxist Group Praises China’s Human Rights Record. 

Note for Jeremy Corbyn – How China made the world’s largest contribution to human rights

By John Ross. October the 20th. 

From this site, “20 years of accurate predictions on China and the world economy  实事求是 – seek truth from facts, Chinese saying originally from the Han dynasty.”

I supported Jeremy Corbyn’s election as leader of the Labour Party. As I have known him for thirty years I know Jeremy Corbyn is the most principled leader of the Labour Party in my lifetime – the most committed to human well-being. On Tuesday he is scheduled to have a personal meeting with Xi Jinping during the latter’s British visit.

The significance of China’s contribution to human well-being can be understood by both Jeremy Corbyn and the left in the US and Europe.

On key issues for the development of China, Britain, and other countries Jeremy Corbyn has the same positions as China. He is an opponent of any US military build-up against China and of proposed measures in trade agreements such as the TransPacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) which are against the interests of the population of the participating countries, China and developing countries in general.

Sections of the British media present a supposed choice that Britain has to choose between either pursuing purely economic interests or criticising China over ‘human rights’. This posing of the issue is totally false – China should be supported precisely because of its contribution to human rights. China has done more to improve the overall situation not only of its own people but of humanity than any other country in the world – as the facts show.

Pause for large intake of breath.

Taking the latest World Bank international definition of poverty ($1.90 daily expenditure at 2011 internationally comparable prices) from 1981 to 2010, the latest data, China has raised 728 million people from poverty. The rest of the world reduced poverty by only 152 million people. China therefore lifted almost five times as many people out of poverty as the rest of the world put together.

To demonstrate what this means for humanity’s well-being 728 million people is more than the population of the EU, more than the population of the Latin American continent, more than twice the population of the US, and 11 times the population of Britain.

For someone with Jeremy Corbyn’s concern for humanity, particularly the least privileged within it, this is the best imaginable news.

Nor is this a gigantic step forward just for China but for human well-being. China’s entire population, not just the poorest, has seen increases in living standards which are without comparison in human history. China’s average annual increase in ‘total consumption’, including not only direct household living standards but education and health spending, has been over eight percent a year for three decades – not only the world’s fastest but by far the most rapid increase in living standards for the greatest number of people in human history. China has brought social security protection to 820 million people, more than the population of the EU, and health care to over a billion – three times the population of the US, almost the population of Africa, and nearly twice the population of Latin America.

The simple but gigantic example of women in China and India graphically illustrates the real issues involved in human rights globally – and women in China and India together constitute one in every five people on the planet. A Chinese woman’s life expectancy is 77 years, and literacy among Chinese women over the age of 15 is 93%: an Indian woman has a life expectancy of 68 and literacy rate over the age of 15 is 66%. India may be a ‘parliamentary republic’, in which Facebook may be used, but (regrettably for India) the human rights of a Chinese woman are far superior to the human rights of an Indian woman.

This presents the issue of human rights in the clearest fashion. The most pressing questions facing the overwhelmingly majority of the world’s population, who live in developing countries, are not those of Western ‘human rights’ campaigns such as those of ‘Amnesty International’. Over 500 million people in India do not have a toilet – for those who live in the real world to have a toilet is a far more important human right than internet restrictions. And if Indian women had the right to move to China, and would live nine years longer and achieve literacy by doing so, innumerable people would move north of the Himalayas – and that is said by someone who wants nothing but for India to make the same progress China has achieved.

Another deep intake of foul breath.

Do these gigantic achievements in human rights in the real sense mean China has no problems? Not a single serious person in China believes this. To take merely some striking issues, major environmental damage exists in China. But despite this real issue overall China’s social and environmental conditions demonstrate that great progress has still been made. Life expectancy, as Nobel laureate Amartya Sen has demonstrated, is the most sensitive of all indicators as it sums up all different pluses and minuses in social, environmental and other indicators. A person in China lives three years longer, and someone in the US two years less, than would be expected from their respective per capita GDPs – showing overall social and environmental conditions in China are significantly better than would be expected from its stage of economic development and in the US significantly worse. But that does not alter the fact that China still has to take huge steps to overcome environmental problems.

Furthermore despite China’s unprecedented achievement in the reduction of poverty, it still has to finish the job by raising another 100 million people out of poverty. It would therefore be highly interesting for Jeremy Corbyn to discuss with Xi Jinping the President’s recent pledge to complete the task of eliminating internationally defined poverty in China by 2020.

As China is still building up its social security system towards the level made possible in Britain and other advanced countries, and as international studies show Britain’s health service to be the world’s most cost efficient, a mutually valuable discussion could take place between Jeremy Corbyn and President Xi on how, taking into account their countries different conditions, both can strengthen their health services.

But what China has no need of at all, indeed what is grotesque given China has produced the greatest improvement in human conditions in human history, is to be delivered sanctimonious lectures by other countries – particularly those whose recent activities include invading other countries, such as Iraq, resulting in hundreds of thousands of deaths spreading chaos throughout the Middle East, or whose historical relation to China was to force it to import opium, to burn its greatest architectural achievements, and for a century and a half to hold islands off its coast as a colonies.

I cannot put words in someone else’s mouth, but my summary of the basis for an honest discussion with China would be roughly the following: ‘President Xi, the world rightly greatly admires China’s progress in the improvement in the conditions of human beings, of human rights in the real sense – which are the greatest of any country in the history of the world. We should discuss how other countries can draw lessons from these achievements.

Oh dear, oh dear.

‘As you yourself have pointed out China, as it is still a developing country, still has long path of development ahead. You have set out the “goals of completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects by the centenary of the CPC in 2021 and building China into a modern socialist country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, and harmonious by the centenary of the PRC in 2049 so as to realize the Chinese Dream of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.” Could you outline this in more detail? And in the same way we study your achievements in improving the conditions of not only China but humanity there may some aspects of our experience China may draw lessons from?

‘I particularly noted your statement of what China sees as its relation to the overall condition of humanity: “Throughout 5,000 years of development, the Chinese nation has made significant contributions to the progress of human civilization… Our responsibility is… to pursue the goal of the rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, so that China can stand firmer and stronger among the world’s nations, and make new and greater contributions to mankind.”

Dumbfounded doesn’t begin to cover it.

‘Britain is also one of the world’s great historical nations. I love my country deeply, and the enormous contributions it has made to world culture and science, and in which struggles such as the Suffragettes or to create our health service are a source of great pride. There are regrettably some things in my country’s history, as with every great state, which I am not proud of. Some of these I mentioned and were crimes done by Britain to China. It is therefore particularly gratifying that this negative past can be put behind and China and Britain can now work in conditions of equality and mutual respect. On that basis, in the very different conditions of the two countries, we can both make further contributions to what must be the goal of any country’s policy – the improvement of the condition of human beings, of human rights in the deepest sense, including the right of each country to pursue its own national way of life. On that basis, as with China, my hope is that Britain will not only improve its own conditions of life but make new and greater contributions to humanity.’

Jeremy Corbyn is totally devoted to the interests of humanity, and in particular to the least privileged within it. He can therefore make up his own words. But any balanced reflection on human values will make clear that not only he but the world should rejoice to see that China has been able to take the greatest step forward for real human rights of any country.

Well that’s got it off his chest.

John Ross is a former leader of the International Marxist Group.

At present is part of the group Socialist Action, as can be seen from the above and these, recent articles:

Saturday, 05 September 2015 No China’s economy is not going to crash – why China has the world’s strongest macro-economic structure by John Ross.

Wednesday, 02 September 2015 A victory parade for China and humanity John Ross, on China’s 70th anniversary Victory Parade.

This is how the Labour Leader will receive the Chinese President.

Corbyn to challenge China’s strongman president Xi Jinping over human rights abuse during private one-on-one talks today

  • Labour leader given an unprecedented private meeting with President Xi
  • It came after he threatening to raise concerns at an exclusive state banquet
  • Expected to demand release of hundreds of jailed human rights lawyers
  • He’ll also raise concerns over Chinese steel dumping threatening UK jobs


26 Responses

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  1. The significance of China’s contribution to human well-being can be understood by both Jeremy Corbyn and the left in the US and Europe.

    I’ve only got one thin g to say about that. “Free Tibet!”

    Kevin Algar

    October 20, 2015 at 5:59 pm

  2. Kevin you are one of the few people around who’d almost make me sympathise with Cde Ross.

    Andrew Coates

    October 20, 2015 at 6:03 pm

  3. […] to Comrade Coates for drawing this to my attention. Here former leader of the International Marxist Group, John Ross […]

  4. Wow- its Pabloism gone mad!!

    Rob M

    October 20, 2015 at 6:10 pm

  5. 1930s fellow-travelling plus British patriotism, “Britain is also one of the world’s great historical nations. I love my country deeply,….”

    Andrew Coates

    October 20, 2015 at 6:18 pm

  6. Taiwan, South Korea, Taiwan, South Korea … repeat until mentally cleansed of Ross’ drivel.

  7. Thanks for this Andrew.
    John Ross presents very compelling arguments.

    Nick Wright

    October 20, 2015 at 6:22 pm

  8. Perhaps you would care to give the man a page in the Morning Star.

    It would go very prettily with the one about how Russia’s involvement in Syriza is not foreign intervention, because Assad requested it.

    Andrew Coates

    October 20, 2015 at 6:25 pm

  9. I thought his lyrical patriotism rather moving.

    “‘Britain is also one of the world’s great historical nations. I love my country deeply, and the enormous contributions it has made to world culture and science, and in which struggles such as the Suffragettes or to create our health service are a source of great pride.”

    No man should be ashamed (wipes manly tear away) of love of their country.

    Ross is so much of a man that he can love China as well.

    Andrew Coates

    October 20, 2015 at 6:50 pm

  10. Again, it is necessary to take serious the following demand – Reforge the Fourth International!
    Pablo-ism is part of the problem, tailing stalinism and social democratic and left nationalists is another, and Max Shachtman deviation is also a big problem.

    I genuinely want to know what kind of Trotskyism that Tendance Coatesy upholds? Pablo, Cannon, Shachtman? I assume the Tendance Coatesy is not a Cliffite or a Mandelite.

    To reforge the Fourth International, a current needs to be built on the legacy of James P Cannon.

    I honestly cannot see how anyone would possible object to the demand to reforge the Fourth International.

    All these problems are mainly down to a crisis of revolutionary leadership.



    October 20, 2015 at 7:34 pm

  11. OK Deigo, you do that, reforge the Fourth International. History might tell you something, perhaps not.


    October 20, 2015 at 8:17 pm

  12. John Ross was always a shit.


    October 20, 2015 at 8:19 pm

  13. Other than Andrew Coates, Jim Denham, Phil BC and a couple of others is there actually a left any more?

    Howard Fuller

    October 20, 2015 at 8:29 pm

  14. Ernest Mandel was never my favorite guy. But Mandel would rage at this kind of nonsense.


    October 20, 2015 at 8:32 pm

  15. Some of us always thought Ross and his people were total power-crazed wankers: this proves it.

    Jim Denham

    October 20, 2015 at 11:57 pm

  16. Ross is the least of our problems: I understand that Corbyn has just appointed Seumas Milne as his press officer.

    Jim Denham

    October 21, 2015 at 12:40 am

  17. Sorry: not “press Officer”, but
    Executive Director of Strategy and Communications.


    Jim Denham

    October 21, 2015 at 12:44 am

  18. A BTL comment at Shiraz Socialist:

    “Exclude the SWP by all means but to then give a major job to a Putin-loving Stalinist like S Milne – are they trying to make it as difficult as possible to support Corbyn?”


    Jim Denham

    October 21, 2015 at 1:06 am

  19. Although you try and mock the demand of ‘reforge the fourth international’, it seems to me the only serious proposition. There is also the idea of some to set up the Fifth International, and there is a league for the fifth International set up.

    That is serious work, looking to provide serious leadership

    All i’m asking is this, yes/no, short answers are fine.

    Do you think the Fourth International should be reforged?

    If so, why? If not, why not?

    If not, do you think that there should be a fifth international set up, with an explicitly Bolshevik Marxist program?

    I want to know if any of you still consider yourselves Trotskyists? If so how, if you don’t uphold the transitional program and have no interest in reforging the fourth international and building an internationalist organisation.

    Or would the term ‘post-Trotskyist’ be better?

    The stalinists are organising and consolidating their forces. But the perspectives for international revolution are better than ever. Can we do better than Syriza, Jeremy Corbyn, Podemos etc?

    Yes, we can.

    If not, then on what basis can we criticise this former IMG Trotskyist of anything? There is no real principle to his actions apart from opportunism. But if there is no leadership, then what can be expected?

    However, with a leadership, such as a real fourth International, then there can be ideological leadership, which is what the world needs right now and which can really solve the problems of history.

    Another person that should be criticised for her ‘Anti Dialectics’ is Rosa Lichenstein, who has sown dissent in our ranks by her attacks on dialectics and on the revolutionary method.

    There is no other historical choice for the international proletariat other than, sooner or later, to reforge the fourth international, and carry out an international proletarian revolution.

    I hope you can join me in trying to reforge the Fourth International.
    It is the demand of our time, and a heavy and important task for humanity.

    Think about it.


    October 21, 2015 at 2:33 am

  20. This is very relevant, and should be carefully studied by Shachtmanites such as JD.


    October 21, 2015 at 2:40 am

  21. Reg

    October 21, 2015 at 10:41 am

  22. It is a major error of judgement to appoint Milne.

    Andrew Coates

    October 21, 2015 at 12:27 pm

  23. Deigo,

    As I don’t have time to answer all your questions, I think the best thing you can do is read the writings of the Weekly Worker’s Mike Macnair on Trotskyism and its usual problems (quasi-syndicalist trade union economism, sectarianism, bureaucratic centralism, etc.).

    Please look through the articles listed here:


    We need a mass democratic revolutionary socialist International based upon Marxist principles. We don’t need to reforge the Fourth International — which never became a mass movement in the first place and was greatly flawed from its inception.


    October 22, 2015 at 9:49 am

  24. This Macnair piece covers most of the ground re: the problems with Trotskyism:



    October 22, 2015 at 10:33 am

  25. Having read through a large number of pro-Soviet books, pamphlets and articles from the 1930s, I find the parallels between what they said then and what John Ross says now — and what indeed Martin Jacques says as well. The idea put forward by Ross and Jacques that China has done so much for the masses through its economic advances is very redolent of 1930s fellow-travelling. Some writers of that time, I’m thinking here especially of Lion Feuchtwanger, made the same sort of excuses about the democratic deficit as Ross and Jacques make today.

    What is ironic is that the Chinese élite barely bothers to hide the fact that it’s building a capitalist economy, whereas the Soviet regime of the 1930s claimed to be building an alternative to capitalism. So Ross and Jacques are essentially praising capitalism.

    As it is, I view both the Soviet Union and China as examples of non-capitalist development within a capitalist world, a means of modernising — through industrialisation, urbanisation, literacy and education, etc — a big, backward country. And it worked. The Soviet Union did develop an massive industrial sector, as we saw; China has done so as well, as we can see now. They both modernised in a big way. But this was not socialism: at some point, if economic growth were to continue, the élite had to revert to capitalism, to reintegrate into the world market at a much level than when it left it.

    The Soviet regime toyed with this in the early 1960s, but decided it was too risky. Later on it paid with stagnation and then stasis; China has managed the transition back to the market quite well; China is now the world’s second-biggest economy. This is no small achievement, although what its future is towards achieving the living standards and political norms of Western Europe, of course, is something I would not wish to hazard a guess.

    Were Ross and Jacques to take a more sober and less triumphalist view of China, then I’d be more prone to take them seriously. But so long as they follow the fellow-travellers of the 1930s, then I find their gushing applause and sneaky apologies as unfortunate as Sidney and Beatrice Webb and their cohorts of 80 years back.

    Dr Paul

    October 23, 2015 at 5:37 pm

  26. And to finish off… The whole thing about fellow-travelling in the 1930s is that the Soviet Five-Year Plans were pretty much irrelevant to Britain, the USA and other advanced capitalist countries. They, after all, had gone through their initial period of building industries and other aspects of urbanisation and modernisation. And the question to ask Ross and Jacques is what, precisely, is there for Britain to learn from China? China is a vast manufactory of consumer goods and basic producer goods; Britain was in that position 80 years ago.

    Dr Paul

    October 24, 2015 at 12:08 pm

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