The National Question in China


  • Simon Gilbert


Writing nearly 150 years ago Karl Marx noted that it was a “precondition for the emancipation of the English working class” that Ireland be freed from British rule as “a nation that enslaves another forges its own chains”. In other words it was crucial that British workers break from the ideology of their own ruling class and support Irish independence if they were to achieve their own emancipation. Much the same argument applies to contemporary China and its emerging labour movement. The regime, having largely abandoned any claims to socialism with the country’s integration into global capitalism, has fallen back for its legitimacy on a crude nationalism that involves the oppressive rule of Tibet and other non-Han Chinese areas.