Sunday, April 23, 2023

Sweden: swapping Kurds for NATO

by Evgeny Glebov

NATO has a lot to gain from Sweden's entry into the transatlantic military bloc. Sweden is one of the few Western countries that has maintained it own strong industrial manufacturing sector and its own military industry. Swedish weapons are modern and effective and are listed on the world market.
    Geography is also important: Sweden's accession would turn the Baltic and North Seas into NATO lakes. Russia still has small areas along the Baltic coast of the Kaliningrad enclave and the St Petersburg region. But even without conflict Swedish accession to NATO would still pose problems to Russian shipping. In fact the Swedish, Danish, Norwegian press, for example, are already openly discussing how to cause economic damage to Russian shipping in peacetime.
    And it's very easily done. Why do the Swedes and Finns need to raise their navies to NATO standards? The answer is to conduct coordination and general naval exercises with the Western alliance. Why?
    Well large sections of the sea will inevitably be closed for these exercises, and commercial vessels will have to bypass these sections, get stuck in straits, stand in line for pilotage, etc, etc. And note – all of this without any formal hostile activity.
    Covert hostile reconnaissance and sabotage penetration, including underwater, will also be facilitated.
    It is also important to note that the Swedes, who have been neutral for more than two centuries, are not simply abandoning it. They are going to immediately join the most aggressive military bloc on the planet. It is a very sad signal for the countries not only of the Non-Aligned Movement, but also for the "multi-vector" states in general.And what prevents such a pleasant prospect for NATO? The Turkish-Kurdish conflict.
    It stretches back to the Middle Ages. The story is long and complex, and even the presentation of that part of it that began in the last quarter of the twentieth century is a topic for several dissertations. So many troubles and claims have accumulated between the Turks and the Kurds that the end of this conflict is still not in sight. Both sides committed many atrocities in the struggle, all still bitterly recalled across the generations.
    Sweden’s involvement is through its long-standing Kurdish community. Kurdish refugees have been settling there since the 1960s, and now they have become an economically strong and politically influential part of Swedish society. Many ethnic Kurds are citizens of Sweden. They have their deputies in parliament. They enjoy authority and influence. And they willingly help their compatriots in Turkey and other countries. Money (and weapons, too), goods, shelter and propaganda.
    Of course, seeing the prospect of Sweden joining NATO, and the dependence of the final decision on Turkey's vote, the Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan did not fail to take advantage of the opportunity.
    He set a condition – the Swedes must stop all activities of the Kurds hostile to the Turks in their country. It is clear, to begin with, that he overstated Turkey’s requirements as much as possible for bargaining purposes. But Erdoğan will be quite satisfied with simply reducing the political and economic role of the Kurdish community in Sweden, depriving it of representation in the Swedish parliament, the Riksdag, and deporting those who are listed as terrorists in Turkey (that is, all members of the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) and the Kurdistan National Liberation Front). Many of them are Swedish citizens, by the way.
    That will however mean that the Swedes will have to restrict democracy, violate the rights of their citizens and hand over at least several hundred people to the tender mercies of the Turkish state.
    The Swedes will have to choose between the economic, military and geopolitical benefits of NATO or the demands of democracy and humanism. What will they do?
    You don't have to be Nostradamus to guess the answer. The Swedish government will, of course, try to soften the blow. It will “let” the Kurdish deputies lose their seats in the next election. It will adopt laws solely for the sake of “democracy” and “competition” to deprive the Kurdish community and the Kurdish refugees of the special advantages they current enjoy in Sweden.
    The most odious militants in Turkish eyes and those who were publicly proud of fighting the Turks will be expelled. Turkey will get all sorts of preferences and advantages in trade both with Sweden and with other NATO countries. And Greta Thunberg will be left to grieve about the Kurds…


UK is supplying depleted uranium (DU) shells to Ukraine to be used by the Challenger tanks Britain is sending. DU ammunition was first deployed by the United States in the 1990 Gulf War. In that war and the 2003 Iraq War 300 metric tons of DU weapons were used, and 10 metric tons were used in the 1999 NATO military action in Yugoslavia. DU weapons were also used by the US military in Syria in 2015.
    Significant increases in horrific birth defects, leukaemia and other cancers, kidney damage, and mental illness in children have been recorded in areas where the munitions were used.
    In 2001, the World Health Organisation (WHO) completed a scientific review that concluded that depleted uranium is both chemically and radiologically toxic.
    The DU used in battle is spread throughout the environment including the soil and water tables, and remains radioactive for more than 4.5 billion years.
    The rich Western countries which dominate and control the UN and its bodies have promised to clean up the DU in Iraq, but have failed to deliver.
    It is likely that the people of the former Yugoslavia and Iraq will be living with the tragic consequences of the use of DU for generations to come, unless the rich nations come forward to finance environmental cleansing and monitoring on a massive scale.
    But we can try to stop DU weapons being used in yet another NATO-backed war, a war which the entire NATO alliance is prolonging with billions in arms deliveries and active support for the Kiev regime through intelligence and undercover forces operating in the country.
    We are calling on the British government to reverse its decision to send depleted uranium shells to Ukraine, and ensure that DU ammunition already sent to Ukraine is not used in battle.

Look for the Golly...

...the Golly on the jar” was the jingle when Robertson’s used a “golliwog” to promote their jams and marmalade. Generations of kids collected the golliwog tokens needed to get a seemingly endless series of enamel Golly badges.
    Back in the news following a row over their display in a south Essex pub we’re told – at least in some quarters – that these rag-dolls are “loveable” mementos from the “good old days”. In fact these hideous frizzy-haired dolls with their bulging eyes and bright red lips are nothing more than offensive racist caricatures of black people.
    The landlord of the White Hart Inn in Grays wonders what all the fuss is about when the police followed up complaints about his collection of gollywogs displayed behind the bar – including two hanging from a beam above. He denies there’s any racist motive behind the display of his wife’s collection of these dolls. He says "a mountain has been made out of a molehill" and that the dolls were "part of our history".
    It certainly is part of our history – but not one that there’s anything to be proud of. The gollywog comes from the American slave-owning past seen through the spectrum of pre-war British colonialism, the “white man’s burden” and “lesser breeds without the law”.
    We have, of course, moved on from those days. The Empire has gone along with the colonial and racist ideology that was taught in our schools to justify its existence. The racist and Nazi movements that flourished in the 1970s have been marginalised by mass action on the street. Even the golliwogs have gone. They were eventually removed by Robertson’s in 2002. But the fact that there’s any discussion about this at all in the bourgeois media shows we’ve still got a long way to go.

Saturday, April 22, 2023

Smear campaigns are here again

Last week, the Labour Party tweeted a photo of a smiling Prime Minister alongside the words: “Do you think adults convicted of sexually assaulting children should go to prison? Rishi Sunak doesn’t”. A follow-up accuses Sunak of not wanting to jail gun owners who possess the weapon with intent to harm and another appears to accuse the prime minister's family of benefiting from a 'non-dom' tax loophole, after the Tories raised taxes for working people.
    Tory MPs have rushed to defend their leader denouncing Labour for the “gutter politics” of these attack ads that are focusing on the Tory leader in the run-up to next month’s local elections. Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey says "I think it's wrong when people attack individuals personally, particularly over subjects which are so sensitive, which are so important to the British people". Even some Labour MPs have expressed doubts about the new social media campaign including John McDonnell, the former Shadow Chancellor. McDonnell, who likes to pose as a left-winger, piously says "this is not the sort of politics a Labour Party, confident of its own values and preparing to govern, should be engaged in. I say to the people who have taken the decision to publish this ad, please withdraw it. We, the Labour Party, are better than this".
    But the Labour leader is unrepentant. Sir Keir Starmer says "I make no apologies for highlighting the failures of this government. They've broken our NHS, they've broken our economy. And this argument that because they've changed prime minister five times, that somehow the prime minister doesn't bear responsibility for 13 years of grief for many, many people, I just don't think stacks up...behind these adverts is a basic truth - that they have broken our criminal justice system, broken our NHS, and broken our economy".
    We need not trouble ourselves with the bleating of the Tories and the Liberal Democrats. These were the people, after-all, who had no qualms in targetting Jeremy Corbyn as an anti-semite and a supporter of terrorism throughout his leadership of the Labour Party. But adverse comments from Labour MPs, no matter how misguided they may be, have to be taken seriously.
    It’s not a question of personal attacks or taste. The political power invested in the leaders of the mainstream parties inevitably makes them fair game for public scrutiny and
    smear campaigns by their very nature are invariably in bad taste. What they achieve is, however, debatable.
    No one doubts the power of the media when it focuses on the foibles of the high and mighty. The truth is nobody likes them. When politicians are exposed for departing from the bourgeois moral standards of the day or as venal corrupt chancers they go down and rarely come up again. But when one falls another always takes their place.
    Denigrating Sunak may make a change from attacking Corbyn but it’s no substitute for genuine election pledges that reflect the demands of the labour movement as a whole.
    Smear campaigns only work up to a point. This one may put some off voting Conservative at the next election but it won’t in itself bag more votes for Labour. Disaffected Tories are more than likely to turn to the Lib-Dems or even the Greens rather than Labour. And at the end of the day they do little to mobilise your own supporters at election time.
    To do that Labour should restore the ‘Welfare State’ and defend the health service, champion the unions fighting for higher pay, lift the limits on councils to let them build vast new estates to end homelessness. All of this could be paid for by restoring the tax levels and the public sector existed until 1979 and cutting the wasteful arms expenditure that is crippling the economy. This is what Starmer should do. But he won’t.
    Labour hasn’t won a general election since 2005. Now there’s a surprise...

Tuesday, April 18, 2023

Freedom for Palestinian political prisoners and for the internationalist fighters: Illich Ramírez Sánchez and George Ibrahim Abdallah!

The undersigned communist and workers parties and anti-imperialist organisations, on the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with Political Prisoners on 17th April, express our solidarity with all Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails, as well as with the internationalist fighters for the Palestinian cause: Illich Ramírez Sánchez and George Ibrahim Abdallah.
In this sense, we reiterate our demand for the respect of human rights and the immediate release of all Palestinians illegally detained for fighting against the policy of extermination and occupation of the Zionist regime.

Likewise, we raise our voice for the freedom of the internationalist fighters:

George Ibrahim Abdallah, of Lebanese nationality, a Lebanese resistance militant and activist for the Palestinian cause, who was arrested in Lyon, France, in 1984 and sentenced without evidence to life imprisonment in 1987. In 2003 the justice system authorized his release, but the pressures of Zionism and US imperialism have kept him kidnapped for more than 39 years in prisons in France.

Illich Ramírez Sánchez, of Venezuelan nationality, member of the Communist Youth of Venezuela (JCV) in his youth, who joined the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine while studying at the Patricio Lumumba University, Moscow. He was kidnapped in 1994 in Sudan and sentenced in 1997 in Paris. He has been held for almost 29 years in French prisons and is denied his legitimate right to be repatriated to his country of origin, as allowed by international treaties such as the Convention on the Transfer of Sentenced Person, signed in Strasbourg, France on 21 March 1983.

We take this opportunity to reiterate our condemnation of the genocidal policy of the Zionist State of Israel against the Palestinian people, as well as our firm solidarity with the Palestinian cause and their legitimate struggle against the Zionist occupation, the right to self-determination and the return of Palestinian refugees to their lands.

Freedom for all Palestinian political prisoners!

Freedom for George Ibrahim Abdallah!

Freedom and transfer for Illich Ramírez Sánchez!

Long live free Palestine!

SolidNet List
  • Communist Party of Albania
  • Party of Labour of Austria
  • Progressive Tribune, Bahrain
  • Communist party of Bangladesh
  • New Communist Party of Britain
  • Egyptian Communist Party
  • Hungarian Workers' Party
  • Communist party of Kurdistan-Iraq
  • Workers Party of Ireland
  • Jordanian Communist Party
  • Lebanese Comuunist Party
  • Communist Party of Norway
  • Palestinian Communist Party
  • Palestinian Peoples Party
  • Communist Paty of Poland
  • New Communist Party of Yugoslavia
  • Communists of Serbia
  • Communist Party of the People of Spain
  • Communist Party of Swaziland
  • Communist Party of Venezuela
Other Organisations 
  • Swiss Party of Labour
  • Pôle de Renaissance Communiste en France
  • Partido Comunista Obrero Español (PCOE)
  • League of Young Communists USA (LYCUSA).
  • Socialist Party Malaysia.
  • Youth of the Jordanian Democratic Popular Unity Party.
  • Australian Communist Party.
  • Palestinian Popular Struggle Front.
  • Palestian youth struggle union.
  • Youth sector and students in the progressive Tribune. Bahrain
  • Youth of the Jordanian Communist Party.
  • The National Revolutionary Democratic Youth Organization "Kifah" in Tunisia.
  • The National Social Democratic Party Tunisia.
  • Leftist Youth Front of Slovakia.
  • Labor Democratic Approach Party Morocco.
  • Youth Democratic Workers' Path Part Morocco.
  • Sahrawi Youth Union.
  • The Young Communist League of Kenya.
  • Yemeni Socialist Youth Union.
  • Movement we can Mauritania.
  • Student office of the We Can Mauritania movement.
  • Iraqi Democratic Youth Union.
  • Iraqi feminist uprising movement.
  • General Student Union in the Republic of Iraq.
  • Kobaba Iraqi Feminist Organization.
  • Party of Communists USA (PCUSA).
  • League of Communist Youth of Yugoslavia" For SKOJ.
  • Revolutionary Socialist League (Kenya).
  • Socialists of Slovakia
  • Giovani Comunisti (Young Communists) – Italy.
  • Moroccan Progress and Socialism Party.
  • Moroccan Socialist Youth.
  • Communist Youth of Denmark.
  • Communist Party of Kenya.
  • The Palestinian Progressive Youth Union.
  • Organization of the Left Cultural Forum in Iraq.
  • Anežka Michnová from feminist organization SdruŽeny, Czech Republic
  • Union of Palestinian Communist Youth (P.C.Y)

Monday, April 17, 2023

Fare Thee Well, James Monroe!

by Bernie Holland

The ‘Monroe Doctrine’ originated by US President James Monroe in 1823 proclaimed that the whole of the Americas was its own ‘backyard’ and that any intervention by external powers in the politics of the Americas was a potentially hostile act against the USA. During the Cold War this ‘principle’ was extended to enable US imperialism to establish its hegemony over Western Europe and large parts of Africa and Asia.

It was during a visit to South Africa by US Foreign Secretary Anthony Blinken that Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor explained it is South Africa that will decide who their allies are and not have their choice of allies dictated to them by the USA. The purpose of Blinken’s visit was to ‘persuade’ South Africa that it should join the ‘democracies’ of the ‘international community’ in a concerted effort to isolate and contain Russia and to join the clamour and outrage against the Russian leadership in what can only be described as an effort towards regime change in Russia.
    As much as efforts are made to disguise the fact, this has been primarily the purpose of the provocation of Russia through the expansion of NATO over more than three decades. Over the same period, Vladimir Putin and Sergei Lavrov have gone to great lengths to de-escalate tensions, largely borne of a Western animus towards Russia, by offering every opportunity to engage in diplomatic exchanges in the interest of furthering cordial relations. They have been rebuffed with insults and threats at virtually every turn, however.
    Gripped by an obsession with a ‘Cold War’ mentality, the USA continue peddling the lie that this ‘international community’ is united in ridding the world of the menaces of communism and imperialism, still viewing the Russian Federation as the old Soviet Union, the autocracy of which has to be supplanted by the liberal democracy of the Anglo-American sphere of influence based on 19th century geopolitical doctrine.
    Ignoring the fact that the emergence of that global majority of Eurasia and the Global South represents 85 per cent of the world community, the minority of the Anglo-American bloc display little in their view of the rest of the world that can be regarded as ‘internationalist’ in nature. In their drive to isolate and contain others, particularly through punitive economic sanctions, they are only succeeding in doing exactly the same to themselves.
    Reflecting on views expressed by EU Foreign Policy Chief Josep Borrell, it appears that the West has placed a partition between its perfumed garden of freedom and democracy and that of the ‘lawless jungle’ of its former colonies to the east, perpetuating the mistaken view that this western democracy will prevail over the autocracies of both Russia and China.
    Herein lies the root of this problem, namely the pressing forwards a notion that it is necessary to create enemies of those who wish to be your greatest allies. The reason for this ‘necessity’ is simply that by removing the belief that these ‘enemies’ and ‘threats’ actually exist, then will come the abandonment of the idea that war itself is an imperative. And it follows that should this be the case, then so should be that of dismantling and abandoning the war industry once and for all.
    It is the greed and depravity of those who profit from the grotesque leviathan of the military industrial complex, however, sponsored by the central figures within corrupt political power bases, that guarantees the continuity of this evil, which can be likened to the growth of a malignant tumour, a diseased organ within the body of Mother Earth.
    We cannot look to others to cure this pathology. We have to assume the role of apothecaries to find a prescription to transform this poison into an elixir that can be administered to this belligerent juvenile, devoid of emotional intelligence, which thrashes around in violence, demanding that his perverse appetite be satiated by the suffering of others. We have to sift the herbs of truth, justice, compassion, dignity and diplomacy to fashion a pill, bitter-sweet in taste, that can be administered to lead those, driven by devilish functions, to a more enlightened condition of being.
    Addressing those who perpetrate this vile xenophobic, racist and fascist drive to demonise and destroy the Russian people, their traditions, culture and religious convictions, in taking the prescription of these medicinal herbs, they will be brought to accept that the people of Eastern Ukraine have voiced their unanimity in choosing to enjoy the peace and security offered to them by Russia, in a wholesale rejection of the imperative to suffer under this illegitimate Ukrainian regime that is infected with fascism.
    Furthermore, in containing the course of this treatment, the patient must abandon this conceit that the diverse characteristics of ‘exotic’ nations are an irrelevance to a Western mind that presupposes a dominant position across the spectrum of world affairs.
    It is this pathological narcissism that prevents the patient from realising the potential offered by a new model of internationalism, borne of the transactional relationships developed within this emergent global majority, by means of which the participants have gained the liberty to reject entirely any notion that a world order can be maintained through the prosecution of military interventions, the concoction of ‘popular revolt’ by means of externally sponsored ‘colour revolutions’ and the bringing about of the overthrow of regimes which, leaning more towards social emancipation, are not inclined towards being further oppressed by the predatory instinct of western imperial and neo-colonial interests that are intrinsically founded on premises that are specious and immoral and benefit no one other than the merchants of death who reside in luxury, distancing themselves from the world of the ‘foreigner’, soaked in blood and carnage and permeated with human misery.
    Whilst the US President and his pack of cronies stage the pantomime of their Summit for Democracy in furthering their futile attempts to dismember and dismantle Russia, China and the BRICS movement, Brazilian President Lula continues his diplomatic endeavours with Chinese President Xi Jinping, choosing to work out bilateral trade agreements rather than engaging in plans for the next ‘war of choice’.
    Whilst nuclear disarmament remains on the horizon, shining a beacon of hope for the further evolution rather than the extinction of our species, another form of disarmament has already been effected, that being the removal of the economic weaponry of the dollar as a tool of sanctions. This has been effected by the rejection of the dollar in favour of the Chinese yuan and the Brazilian real as units of international currency. Furthermore, Lula will be in Shanghai on 13th April for the investiture of former Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff as head of the new Development Bank within which the dangerous speculative adventures, favoured by the failing Western banking cartels, will be prohibited.
    Furthermore, what will surely stick in the craw of this increasingly belligerent and provocative Transatlantic alliance is the fact that, with South Africa chairing the BRICS-Plus Summit this year, Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor will find her ‘in-tray’ heaped with more than a dozen applications from other nations eager to join this alliance of the global majority, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Algeria, Argentina, Mexico and Nigeria being amongst them. Just one question remains here – will the USA be dispatching their ‘sophomore diplomat’ Anthony Blinken on yet another tour of these countries demanding once and for all that they gang-up against Russia?

A taste of the Potteries

by Carole Barclay
A bottle-kiln from the old days

Stoke-on-Trent is not a major tourist magnet. This northern city is actually comprised of six towns brought together as one civic authority in 1910. Known as ‘The Potteries’, this was the home of the English ceramics industry that began in the 18th century and continues to this day in the six towns that make up modern Stoke.
    Thousands of workers once toiled in Stoke’s pottery and steel plants or went down the mines in the locality. But the pits and steel-works have long gone, and glory days of Wedgwood, Royal Dalton and Spode are of another day. Nowadays the largest employer is Stoke-on-Trent City Council – closely followed by the Royal Stoke University Hospital with over 7,000 staff.
    These days most people come to Stoke to use it as base to visit Alton Towers, the famed theme park and resort complex just 10 miles from the city centre, or to explore the magnificent pocket wilderness of the Peak District.
    Football fans will come to see the once mighty Stoke City play in its new stadium where the ashes of their legendary former player, Sir Stanley Matthews, lie buried beneath the centre circle of the pitch. Robbie Williams, however, the singer who was born and bred in Stoke, favours their humbler rival Port Vale. But artists, collectors and students of the Industrial Revolution that turned the six towns into ‘The Potteries’ will come to study the past and the still vibrant, although much smaller, ceramics industry in this north Staffordshire town.
    The city claims with some justification to be the “World Capital of Ceramics”, and visitors can see for themselves by going on the tours organised by the remaining pottery factories that continue the traditions of a bygone age or to visitors’ centres such as the World of Wedgwood and the Middleport Pottery.
    The first port of call, however, has to be the award-winning Gladstone Pottery Museum. Here you can see how the workers mass produced tableware in the appalling conditions that were considered acceptable by bourgeois society until outlawed by the unions in the latter part of the 20th Century.
    The first factory opened in 1787 to produce earthenware and decorate Wedgwood’s plates and dishes, but what we see today is the old coal-fired plant that was closed in 1970 and re-opened as a living museum in 1974.
    For kids of all ages there’s a maze of workshops and kilns to explore along with hands-on displays of throwing, moulding and decorating, and a gallery charting the history of lavatories from the times of the Tudors to today.
    In the engine rooms and the bottle-kilns of the old works we can look at examples of the skill and craftsmanship of generations of Stoke workers in the old plant, which goes back to the Victorian era. We can see what conditions were like for the men, women and children who slaved away at the centre of the world’s pottery industry. We get a glimpse of what it was like to work in the miserable and hazardous conditions of those days through the audio-visual displays scattered throughout the complex and see what it was like to live in the hovels for the workers that surrounded the factory. What we don’t, of course, see is how the factory owners lived in their luxurious mansions well away from the noise and the poisonous fumes that their workers had to endure throughout their lives.
    There’s the usual cafe and a museum shop that sells a wide range of gifts including ceramics, local paintings, children's novelties and local guides and history books, as well as pottery made and decorated at the museum.
    The museum in Uttoxeter road is open from Wednesday to Saturday from 10am–5pm and Sunday from 11am–4pm. The admission charge is £8.50 for adults, £5.95 for children, and £6.95 for students and senior citizens.

Wednesday, April 12, 2023

To vote or not to vote…

That indeed is the question that millions will face when the local elections in England are held next month. In the good old days you only had to produce your voting card to cast your vote. Now voters will have to prove who they are at the polling station with an approved list photo-ID card. Anyone who cannot confirm their identity with a passport or an ID from the Government’s list will be simply turned away.
    Now this won’t be a problem for the overwhelming majority of the electorate who never bother to vote in local elections. For those who do it won’t be much trouble for the elderly who only need to produce their free bus passes to get their ballot papers. But for the rest – particularly those who don’t have a driving licence or a passport the only alternative is to apply at least a week in advance for a photo-ID “Voter Authority Certificate” to cast their vote. This clearly will deter many young people from voting.
    The Government say they’ve done this to combat electoral fraud. But the scale of this abuse of the voting system is miniscule. A total of 193 cases of alleged electoral fraud were investigated by the police during 2022 when local elections were held in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. The police issued one caution in relation to a case of alleged electoral fraud and court proceedings were initiated in relation to one other case.
    Many suspect that what really lies behind this move is a Tory belief that most young voters lean towards Labour and anything that deters them from voting can only benefit the Conservative & Unionist Party.

Struggling for peace

Campaigning to end war isn't an easy thing to do these days as the supporters of No2Nato are finding out when they try to book rooms of halls for anti-war events. The hidden hand is working overtime to ensure that all venues are closed for George Galloway and Chris Williamson in England, Scotland and Wales while a whisper campaign is underway to divert or demoralise the growing number of workers and students who’ve been drawn to the new anti-imperialist campaign,
    Some say No2Nato should just join the Stop the War campaign. Others that it will simply become another political platform for George Galloway and Chris Williamson and the left social-democratic parties that they head.
    Though only launched in February No2Nato has already held a number of street meetings while work proceeds to build national campaigning network. The union conference season, which kicks off in a few weeks’ time, is a golden opportunity to reach out to the activists and counter the torrent of propaganda on Ukraine that’s being pumped out on the mainstream media by the bourgeois lie-machine on a daily basis.
    Merging with moribund movements is a recipe for disaster. Stop the War and the almost forgotten Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament are dead in the water. They do nothing apart from providing a refuge for the has-beens and also-rans of the labour movement these days. As for where No2Nato is going – that largely depends on us and all the others who want to see a genuine anti-imperialist and anti-war movement take off in Britain.

Monday, April 10, 2023

Grey power sleuths

by Ben Soton

The Bullet That Missed: The Thursday Murder Club 3) by Richard Osman. Hardback: Viking, 2022; 432pp, rrp £20. Paperback: Penguin, 2023; 432pp, rrp £9.99.

We meet up once again with the septuagenarian sleuths Ron, Elizabeth, Joyce and Ibrahim; who between them make up the Thursday Murder Club. Richard Osman, former presenter of the successful television quiz show Pointless, has written his third novel: The Bullet That Missed. The underlying theme of this series of novels is never under-estimate the elderly, as this rather diverse group solve crimes that the police have so-far failed to.
    The Bullet That Missed delves into the world of money laundering and crypto currency, whilst at the same time the group uncover the murder of a television journalist.
    Elizabeth, the former MI6 spook, is re-united with Vicktor Ilyich, a former KGB man from the 1980s with whom it is apparent that she had a brief affair. It turns out that Ron, a trade union leader from the 1970s, was on a KGB list of those who might have been sympathetic to the Soviet cause. The author doesn’t really develop this aspect of the story however, instead making reference to the KGB man being politically disillusioned.
    Ibrahim, the mild-mannered psychologist, gains the trust of Connie Johnson, a dangerous criminal on remand who featured in the previous novel, The Man Who Died Twice. In the end it is Joyce the retired nurse, who solves the murder mystery as well as having a money launderer threaten to kill her.
    Another aspect of the story focuses on Stephen, Elizabeth’s husband, who is drifting further into dementia. He still manages to locate the whereabouts of the money launderer who is threatening Joyce however, although towards the end of the story he slips further into dementia. The story contains elements of sadness as well as mystery and humour.
    Meanwhile, with some of the characters having a limited shelf-life, Osman manages to involve younger characters in the development of what is becoming a highly popular franchise. These include Bogdan, the chess-playing handy man from the retirement home who occasionally acts as muscle for the crime-solving pensioners. There are also the police officers from the previous novels, Donna and her partner Chris, who between them play the Inspector Japp role to a collective Poirot.
    The story ends with the mystery of the missing television journalist solved; all be it with a twist. the There are still a number of loose ends that need to be resolved however, opening the possibility of another novel.

Ireland: No to the proxy war in Ukraine!

protest outside UK embassy in Dublin 
by Bill O’Brien

one of the co-founders of the Irish Truth & Neutrality Alliance

The war in Ukraine has been going on for more then a year now and the left in Ireland are in a most confused state as they are in the rest of Europe and globally. Let's examine the issues involved and the different attitudes that prevail.

the history

Modern Ukraine became the state after the Russian Revolution when it was established. The commission of Nationalities chaired by Joseph Stalin established Ukraine, took the proposals to the Politburo where it was discussed and voted upon and agreed, then made official and stamped by Lenin.
    Previous to that the landmass of what is now the Ukraine was divided between different empires, mostly Polish, Hungarian and Russian.
    The new entity was to be economically viable, the existing big estates were to be nationalised and controlled by Soviets, production was to be collectivised, and the large estates amalgamated to increase the production of cereal crops. This continued until the collapse of the Soviet Union, when privatisation then took place.
    The Soviet republic of Ukraine guaranteed religious and civil liberties of all citizens. It incorporated two languages on equal footing within the state. In short, Ukraine had over 70 years of peaceful co-existence enjoyed by all Ukrainians. In 1953, Crimea was added to Ukraine by Nikita Khrushchev who was himself a Ukrainian from the Donbas. This was to increase the availability of hard-currency for the Ukrainian economy because most of the Black Sea holiday resorts, frequented by Western tourists, were on the Crimean peninsula.
    The Crimea had been for centuries part of Russia. In the 1860s a war was fought between the British Empire and the Russian Empire known as the Crimean War, no mention of Ukraine at that time, as it did not exist. A small part of what is now modern-day Ukraine was itself called Ukraine, which gave the name to the larger entity when that came into existence.

genesis of the current crisis

After the collapse of the Soviet Union different forces in Ukraine began to come into being. Two schools of thought began to come into play. There were those who wanted to merge with the European Union and the other that wanted to merge with the Russian Federation. A general election was held and those who supported the Russian Federation got 52 per cent of the vote and those for the EU 48 per cent. This was an extremely divisive result. It also had a linguistic and geographical divide as the EU vote was concentrated mostly on the western side of the Ukraine, where Ukrainian was spoken, and the pro-Russian vote on the eastern side, where Russian was spoken.
    The American imperialists and the CIA organised a coup d'état and the elected Ukrainian president had to take refuge in Russia. This led the provinces in the Donbas separating away from the rest of Ukraine. An eight-year war between Donbas and the rest of Ukraine took place. There were at least 14,000 dead in that eight years.
    There was a peace agreement signed twice in Minsk but it was never honoured by NATO. A former German Chancellor, who was supposed to be the guarantor of the agreement, said they never had any intention of honouring it. The agreement was a way of playing for time till they built up an army. It became clear to the people of the Donbas that they were in mortal danger as just before the Russian intervention in 2022, the Ukrainians forces who had been trained in the most modern of warfare by NATO and were about to commence a genocidal war against them and their two provinces. Russia had to make its move.
    But Russia seriously under-estimated the determination and callousness of NATO and the West and initially were left unprepared. They did not believe that NATO and the EU would allow Ukraine to be totally sacrificed the way they did in order to get at Russia.
    Both the EU and the USA had agreed not to extend NATO forwards to the East to include Ukraine, this too was an undertaking that was not kept. The West had prepared themselves well and were initially able to repel the Donbas/Russian intervention. The situation has since been dramatically reversed.


A propaganda campaign to totally control the media in the West and particular those in Europe, which has not been seen since the 1950s and ‘60s during the height of the Cold War, had been prepared and ruthlessly put into action. No Russian media outlets are allowed.
    Russia Today was banned immediately. Even some diplomats from embassies were treated very hostile by the interviewers. There was never any mention of the 14,000 killed in the eight years previous to the intervention. Nor were there any comments made as to the type of Nazi state the Ukraine is and the corruption that was prevalent in it at the time of the Russian intervention.
    Programmes like {Ukraine on Fire} by Oliver Stone were taken off the Internet, as well as programmes exposing Nazism done by independent television in Britain. A Russophobic culture was created so that people were reluctant to question anything they heard from the media. Comments would not have been published in any event. That total censorship is only recenty begging to be dispelled.
    All of the print media in Ireland is anti-Russian, social media such as Facebook is monitored extremely thoroughly. A lot of people, including Russians and Russian-speaking Ukrainians, have had their accounts suspended for posting information they received from the relatives back home.
    Ukrainian flags placed on all civic buildings, churches and city streets of the main towns, give the impression that there's a war going on between Ukraine and Russia and not a war between Russia and NATO, totally ignoring the civil war that is also going on in the Ukraine between Russian speakers and Ukrainian fascists.

potential global conflict

As the war progresses vast portion of the population of Ukraine have fled the country. There's reports of between 2–3 million people moving to countries in Western Europe. Russia has also taken in four million but you don't hear about that in the Western press. It's believed that as many have gone to Russia if not more, that have come to Western Europe.
    Ukrainian casualties in this war have been horrendous, they have now turned to conscripting 16-year-olds, plus men up to the age of 60. It's believed also there are 20,000 Polish troops fighting in Ukrainian uniforms. The Polish government have ambitions of regaining some of their old Empire in western Ukraine in the final settlement of this war.
    The American armaments industry is making a fortune and testing their new technologies at the expense of the ordinary Ukrainian. One of the biggest dangers is that this could escalate into a nuclear war or that the Ukrainians fascists could make a dirty bomb, which is not beyond them.

the fascist state

Since the current regime came into power all opposition has been banned, including even Social Democrats, Christian Democrats and other Liberals. The Orthodox Church has had their churches desecrated and expensive valuables stolen. Orthodox convents have been desecrated and the nuns both young and old assaulted and sexually violated. Most of these nuns are elderly as young women have not been entering these congregations in recent years.
    The minorities have been discriminated against also, particularly Romany gypsies and Hungarians living in the extreme south-west of Ukraine. The Hungarian government made representations on their behalf in recent weeks.
    A very common occurrence in the streets of Kiev and other cities is to look for Russian speakers and ask questions in Ukrainian. When they are unable to answer they are tied with cling film and their faces are painted green to show they are septic to Ukrainian society. Romany gypsies are particularly prone to this treatment. A lot of these incidents were exposed on social media but none of the National media have taken them up. This is another example of biased censorship.
    Trade unions were also banned. On one occasion in the city of Odessa the trade union hall was burned to the ground causing 50 deaths and over 100 hundred serious injuries. This was done by a group called the Right Sector who have now been incorporated into the Ukrainian army, enforcing the regime's philosophy and idolatry.
    A large element within Ukraine has a long history of supporting Nazism. During the Second World War these people supported the German occupation. They carried out the extermination of Jews and Romany people plus Communist and other anti-fascists. They built and carried out many of the tasks in the concentration camps within Germany itself. The collaborator of the time, Stefan Bandera, who was assassinated in West Germany in 1959, now has monuments erected to him and main streets in the capital city Kiev called after him in recent years.
    Ukrainian soldiers wear Nazi decorations on their uniforms and are quite often seen doing the Nazi salute. Nazism is the idolatry and philosophy of the Ukrainian army. An army that is now being armed by NATO.

Opposition to war

The opposition to this war in Ireland has been very disappointing overall. There has been no serious focusing on the atrocities committed by the Right Sector, the Azov Battalion or any of the other fascist forces at play on behalf of the Ukrainian regime. Those who even attempt to raise these issues are accused of being pro-Russian and are subject to all kinds of derogatory remarks and name-calling. Nevertheless there appears to be growing awareness that something is not right and people are beginning to question the media narrative. Groups have emerged and held demonstrations against the war in both Dublin and Cork such as the Stop The War group, the Irish Neutrality League, the Peace and Neutrality Alliance and the Truth and Neutrality Alliance. Of these, the Truth and Neutrality Alliance has the most migrant support with Russian speakers from East Ukraine and Crimea.
    The Irish Neutrality League have been doing tremendous work in Cork by exposing the breach of our neutrality by allowing NATO warships to visit the city for courtesy calls and a bit of recreation for their sailors. They haven't missed picketing one of those ships in recent years. This is very much to their credit.
    The Peace and Neutrality alliance, which has been going for around 26 years, has held monthly demonstrations at Shannon airport against Americans travelling via Ireland to battle zones in the Far East. They also picket the Irish parliament, the Dáil, one day a month. They have produced pamphlets and leaflets and statements on neutrality, which is commendable.
    The Anti-War group is a group of individual young people not affiliated any party. They have demonstrated against the war on the streets and within social media, and should be commended and supported. The last demonstration at the spa was organised by them.
    The Truth and Neutrality Alliance is made up of various Republican and Socialist groupings. It has only going since the beginning of this war but it has some old hands who have over 50 years of experience in protesting against war. At least two of them were in the CND in England in the 1960s.
    They believed that truth is essential to the building of peace and the best foundation for the building of a peace movement. They have been exposing the type of regime that has been going on in Ukraine since the coup in 2014.
    They have a lot of of Russian speakers from the Crimea and from Ukraine itself, and therefore their particular knowledge is of critical importance getting the truth out regarding this war. They have held three demonstrations so far in central Dublin against the war. One was outside the British Embassy as it was Johnston who prevented a peace deal being accepted on more than one occasion.

The negative left

The people on the left whom we consider to be negative as they find it difficult to accept the actual truth coming out, never cease to amaze us.
    The Irish Anti-War Movement claims they are for peace when they’re clearly in support of NATO. They even had the cheek to distribute their leaflet amongst the supporters of our anti-war group, which included a lot of Russian-speaking Ukrainians. The first demand on the leaflet was “Russian Military out of Ukraine”. One Russian-speaking Ukrainian asked who was giving out that leaflet. I said he is a toffee-nosed Dublin architect and a member of the Socialist Workers Party/People Before Profit. She said has he any idea what's going on on the ground? It was pointed out to her that that man was living in the clouds for so long he wouldn't recognise the ground.

the unions

The trade union movement has been extremely silent in all of this. When it makes soundings it always anti-Russian. The members of the Dublin district trades council and a full-time official from a British-based union involved themselves with a picket at the Russian embassy at the early stages of this war.
    All this despite the fact that their colleagues in Ukraine had been banned by the fascist regime and over 50 trade unionists were burnt alive in the trade union hall in Odessa after a May Day rally in 2014. There was no mention of that nor condemnation by the Irish union movement, which is to their shame.

the Irish Labour Party

The leadership of the Labour Party in Ireland have condemned Russia even though the social democrats have been banned by the fascists in the Ukraine. Do they not realise if they were in the Ukraine they too would most likely be jailed and their money and property confiscated?!

Sinn Féin

Sinn Féin have called for the expulsion of the Russian ambassador. An organisation that claims to be for Irish neutrality should be behaving in a neutral manner and inform themselves of the facts of what's going on within the Ukraine. It should be putting particular attention to the atrocities and bombings that took place previous to the start of the war in the Donbas.


Different campaign groups can take heart that all the opinion polls taken in recent months clearly state that the Irish people are very much in favour of neutrality. The campaign is growing and there is great potential to build a genuine anti-war movement. Truth is the main foundation for peace.
    If the fascists were to win in Ukraine, which thankfully is most unlikely, it will embolden fascism in other European countries and it will be the working class that will suffer.

Tuesday, April 04, 2023

Corbyn’s last stand?

Jeremy Corbyn has been blocked from standing as a Labour candidate at the next election. Labour's National Executive Committee voted 22 to 12 on Tuesday for a motion from current Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer to prevent his predecessor from being endorsed for the seat he has been an MP in for 40 years. Corbyn said this was a "shameful attack on party democracy".
    None of us would disagree with the former Labour leader when he says "today's disgraceful move shows contempt for the millions of people who voted for our party in 2017 and 2019, and will demotivate those who still believe in the importance of a transformative Labour government. Now, more than ever, we should be offering a bold alternative to the government's programme of poverty, division and repression".
    Some of Corbyn’s supporters are urging him to stand for re-election as an independent Labour candidate. He’s held the seat since 1983 and over the years he’s built up a personal vote within the constituency. Whether that is enough to overcome Labour’s machine is another matter.
    Corbyn can rely on the support of his loyal constituency activists and what’s left of the Corbynistas in the Greater London area. But it’s highly unlikely that any of his former colleagues will stick their necks out to support Corbyn if he decides to defend his seat as an independent.
    It’s true that John McDonnell has given him some lukewarm backing. The former Shadow Chancellor who was once Corbyn’s Number 2 says he believes the decision can be overturned. He said it is a “matter of principle” and “quite a number of us will be campaigning to reverse this decision” in the hope that “common sense does prevail”.
    Jeremy Corbyn says he will "not be intimidated into silence". Sadly the same cannot be said of most of the Labour MPs who once supported him in the House of Commons.

Is Paris burning?

Barricades and fires. Tear gas and water cannon. Violence on the streets as millions of French workers take to the streets throughout the country in protest at the Macron government’s move to cut their state pensions. Sending in the riot police has only triggered more demands for President Emmanuel to stand down following his emergency presidential decree to raise the retirement age from 62 to 64. No wonder Macron’s postponed King Charles’ visit to France.
    The turmoil in France is a bitter lesson for those who believe the European Union is some sort of haven for social progress and peace. Pensions cut to enable the rich to continue to live their lives of luxury and ease. Workers forced to pay for the billions spent arming the Ukrainian fascists. This is the reality of France today.
    The likes of Macron can be found all over Europe. Venal politicians who serve the ruling elites of Europe who, in turn, do the bidding of their masters in Washington, It’s what the European Union is all about.
    But the spirit of the French Revolution and the Paris Commune lives on. Passed on through generation after generation of French workers who struggled to wrest concessions from the grasping bourgeoisie they are now fighting to defend their rights on the streets of France today.

21st Century Communism

by Robin MacGregor

The International Communist Movements – Annual Report 2019-2020: Academy of Marxism, Chinese Academy of Social Science ; Bari: Marx 21 Edizioni, 2022, 328 pp; €18:00 from:

This volume is a welcome collaboration between the Academy of Marxism, which is part of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) and the Italian publisher Marx 21 Edizioni of Bari. CASS is not just another think tank, but plays an important role in shaping party and government policy in China.
    It is “an English and compressed version” of a work first published in Chinese in June 2020. Both Editors, Xin Xiangyang and Pan Jin’e, hold senior positions in the influential Academy of Marxism, while the individual authors and translators (all Chinese) share the same affiliation. It seems this is the second such report, but is the first to appear in English.
    In all there are fifteen chapters, plus an Appendix summarising recent developments in the world’s communist parties.
    The first by joint editor Pan Jin’e not only summarises the contents of the book but looks at the recent activities of various other parties such as the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. This is followed by an article on history of the Communist International which was established in 1919, and offers interesting reflections on its positive and negative impact on the communist movement, particularly on China. Two articles are devoted entirely to China; one outlines the achievements of the entire 70 year life of the Peoples Republic, while the other focuses on the May Fourth Movement, which in 1919 saw student protests in Beijing over China’s shabby treatment at the Treaty of Versailles spread like wildfire across the country resulting in a widespread interest in Marxism at the expense of reactionary traditional nationalism, which resulted in the foundation of the 50 strong Communist Party of China in 1921.
    These are followed by an account of the global balance of forces since the fall of the Berlin Wall. Despite the fall of socialism in the Eastern Bloc capitalism has not got all its own way thanks to China’s powerful economy which will be the anchor of a new order with “a community of shared future for mankind”.
    There are four articles on the recent activities of the ruling parties in Cuba, Peoples Korea, Laos and Vietnam. That for Vietnam covers the Communist Party of Vietnam in the run up to its 13th National Congress which took place in 2021. The two articles on Cuba and DPR Korea both focus on constitutional developments which both countries made in 2019, when the DPRK made important amendments to its constitution and Cuba brought in an entirely new one. Finally, that on Laos deals with the Lao People’s Revolutionary Party’s policy on developing the party’s cadres.
    The final section deals with recent developments of non-ruling communist parties. This starts with general survey of activities of Western European communist parties, their congresses and electoral activities. It does so fairly and, unlike some Soviet era publications on this theme does not pretend that they on the verge of revolution.
    This is paralleled by a similar piece on activities in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe where there have been some positive results under very difficult circumstances, particularly the legislation passed in some countries and in the European Union which brazenly equates the liberators of Auschwitz with its builders. This is followed by a useful summary of those parties involved in the European Left, which had as setback in the 2019 elections for the EU’s so-called parliament. This section also includes a more detailed account is of the Workers Party of Belgium which has had an unexpected electoral success.
    The article entitled “The Communist Party USA: 100 Years in Struggle for New Development” is interesting,but does not really live up to its title as it largely revolves round the CPUSA’s 2019 Convention. The informative article entitled at on “New Developments of the Japanese Communist Party” is more accurate. This gives a detailed account of the party’s recent policies, achievements and activities. The article does not shy away from addressing the party’s recent decline.
    On the whole the translations are decent enough with few obvious howlers, but on occasion a native English speaker should have been on hand to give a final polish. The title of the Belgian article is “Revival of the Workers’ Party of Belgium and its Enlightenments” could obviously have been improved upon.
    However, these are small grumbles which a reviewer feels entitled to make. The volume provides useful concise outlines of subjects which for British readers are normally below the horizon. We hope to see another volume, which is promised in the introduction before not too long.

Re-birth of a Great Nation – The Rise of China

China - the workshop of the world
by John Maryon

Millions of workers were inspired during first half of the 20th Century by the unprecedented growth of the world's first workers’ state. Under the leaderships of Lenin and Stalin the Soviet Union made many historic achievements.
    Revisionism ultimately destroyed the USSR, but the Red Banner is today carried forward by People's China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Vietnam, Laos and Cuba. I would like to examine the impact of the dramatic rise of China under the leadership of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and its role in the world today.
    The new people's governments in both Russia and China faced similar challenges with peasants and an emerging working class living in near feudal conditions with mass poverty. Each applied Marxism, adapted to their own specific conditions, to build socialism. Xi Jinping, general secretary of the CPC and chairman of the Central Military Commission, was re-elected as President of the People's Republic of China for a further five years at the 2023 National People's Congress. Xi, who comes from a humble background, has remained a man of the people and is well respected in his homeland.
    At the 2023 National Congress, Xi Jinping spoke of the challenges facing the nation and the objectives for the current development period. He said that China would unswervingly advance high quality development on the journey of building a great modern socialist country. The President called for innovation and open development that was green and would benefit everyone. Whilst rural poverty had been eliminated, further efforts were still needed to advance rural revitalisation. He also spoke of the need for self-reliance in the face of US sanctions and called for protecting the nation's security with “A Great Wall of Steel”. He stressed that Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan were integral parts of People's China.
    China's GDP grew by three per cent during the last year to 121 trillion Yuan and is planned to rise by 5.2 per cent in the current year as the country emerges from its strict Covid restriction measures. In size its GDP is second only to that of the USA. China will soon surpass the USA, but when population is taken into consideration its per capita value is much less.
    The USA, alarmed at what they see as a challenge to their world domination, have done much to try to undermine China's economy. They have applied sanctions, disrupted supply chains and imposed selfish trade restrictions. No doubt they hoped that companies such as Huawei would be bankrupted, but the company has responded with an ambitious programme of research and development.
    It in the field of space research that China has been able to demonstrate its rapid advance in science and technology. Soil samples have been returned from the Moon and a rover vehicle soft-landed on Mars. Being banned by the USA from the so-called ‘International Space Station’ has not been a problem. They have built their own and are looking forward to working with other nations in its laboratories. Ambitious plans for the near future include the construction of a manned research station, in co-operation with Russia, at the lunar South Pole.
    China’s military expenditure is set to rise by 7.2 per cent in 2023. By comparison, Japan's rise will be over 20 per cent and Germany 17 per cent. China's defence spending remains at 1.5 per cent of GDP compared with four per cent for the USA.
    The Chinese military is being strengthened and modified to meet increased threats of US aggression. The current US spend is 855 billion dollars compared with China's 225 billion dollars. Xi Jinping said last year that China does not want war but that the era of being bullied was over.
    Unlike the USA, China accepts the fact that we live in a multi-polar world. Its Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is designed to promote mutually beneficial co-operation and bring peoples together with investment projects that foster trade and development.
    China's foreign minister, Qin Gang, described the BRI as a “high quality public good initiated by China and jointly built by all partners, whose benefits are shared with the world”. The BRI has provided vital infrastructure, created over 420,000 jobs in countries along the route and helped to lift 40 million people out of poverty. The BRI is the world's broadest and largest platform for international co-operation and offers colossal business opportunities on a win–win basis.
    One of the great achievements of the CPC has been to lift billions out of poverty. Life expectancy in its rural regions, including Tibet and Xinjiang, has more than doubled since people's power was established in 1949. After the eradication of absolute poverty in 2020 China has continued to revitalise its rural areas, which have been left far behind the big cities. Residents of rural areas have less disposable income than urban dwellers. As called for by the People's Congress, the building of new rural homes is being accelerated and greater investment in agriculture, rural infrastructure, education, health and social care are being stepped up. Greater efforts are being made to provide greater opportunities for young people to stay in their home villages.
    The USA is stepping up its efforts to cause trouble and create tensions throughout the globe, in order to provoke wars and conflicts that support its own hegemonic ambitions.
    China on the other hand has emerged to become a powerful force for peace and diplomacy. Two important recent examples were as follows.
    Firstly, Iran and Saudi Arabia have agreed to establish diplomatic relations following a conference hosted by China. This will be a major setback for US imperialism.
    Secondly, China's peace proposals for Ukraine contained in a 12-point peace plan for the Ukraine conflict. China has called for respecting sovereignty, abandoning the Cold War mentality, ceasing hostilities and resuming peace talks. It has also called for resolving the humanitarian crisis, protecting civilians and prisoners of war, keeping nuclear power stations safe, reducing strategic risks, facilitating grain exports and the stopping of all unilateral sanctions while keeping supply chains stable. And as you would expect from China, the promotion of post-conflict reconstruction.
    China's progress in building up its infrastructure has been amazing and has become symbolic of its modernisation. Investments in civil engineering projects, the power network and expansion of the transport network, including rail, air and roads, have been impressive. The total length of China's railways now exceeds 155,000 km, of which 42,000 km are high-speed.
    A further 2,500 km of high-speed links will be added this year. The China–Laos railway, which opened at the end of 2021, has brought economic benefits to both countries, increased trade and encouraged an increase in people-to-people contacts. Regular freight services now operate between China and Europe.
    China is forging new relationships with the multi-polar world. Xi Jinping made an important speech at the recent Dialogue with World Political Party's High-Level Meeting. He called for respect for the diversity of civilizations, underlining the principles of equality, mutual learning, dialogue and inclusiveness. Stressing the importance of the common values of humanity, Xi said: “Peace, development, equality, justice, democracy and freedom are the common aspirations of all people.”
    The president urged countries to keep an open mind in appreciating the perception of values by different civilizations. He called for more people-to-people international exchanges to promote mutual understanding and friendship. He discussed China's path of modernisation and peaceful development that was at variance to the crooked path taken by others in their pursuit of hegemony in a uni-polar world.
    In People's China a great nation has been re-born. A dynamic new political force has emerged, under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, which seeks to unite all people and nations to create a beautiful, new multi-polar world. A respectful, peaceful new society based upon Marxism and equal, shared values.