Taiwan: On the eve of the storm

Taiwan capitalism in the context of Sino-US imperialist conflict – document endorsed by the 4th Congress of the CWI section in China/Hong Kong/Taiwan

Note: The political parties which advocate Taiwan’s independence, of which the ruling DPP is the dominant one, bloc together as the ‘pan-greens’, while the Kuomintang and its allies who favour closer China ties / oppose independence are the ‘pan-blues’.

Taiwan, within the context of the Sino-US Imperialist conflict, finds itself on the front line of the new “cold war” between the superpowers. This marks the end of a period of relatively stable cross-strait relations since at least the start of the century, and the beginning of a new more turbulent period in which Taiwan, its people, economy and politics, are hostages of the two imperialist giants.

Taiwan is affected in multiple ways by this conflict, of course economically, but even more as a crucial geopolitical “chess piece” in the respective strategies of US and Chinese imperialism. The US has shifted decisively to a containment policy to thwart the rise of China. The Chinese ruling class requires control of Taiwan not only because of its powerful symbolism for the project of building a Great Chinese “nation”, but to fundamentally tilt the military balance against the US in the South China Sea and Western Pacific. The US military is still more powerful, but the gap is narrowing in China’s “backyard”.

These new geopolitical realities cast a dark shadow over all other processes in Taiwanese politics. Military emergencies, “incidents” and even “proxy wars” are possible within the region in the next period if the US-China conflict intensifies. These processes, posing great dangers for all the people of the region, can spill over into Taiwanese politics, drawing the various political parties and capitalist factions into the conflict on different sides. No wing of the capitalists in Taiwan are capable of holding an independent position, rather they will seek to become vassals for one of the superpowers. Only the working class, based on strong organisation and independent politics, can offer a way out of this nightmarish future.

The Taiwanese economy, highly dependent on China and the United States, has already been severely impacted. Taiwanese capitalism, which relies heavily on exports, has been partially transformed from a model of “taking orders in Taiwan, manufacturing in China, and exporting to the United States” to Taiwan companies providing independent production chains separately for China and the United States. How far this process goes depends on how far the Sino-US conflict and the de-globalisation of the world economy go.

Politically, the Taiwan bourgeoisie is no longer able to maintain its previous “bilateral balance” position. This bilateral balance was based on the past co-operation between China and the United States, which has now been superseded by the Sino-US conflict.

In accordance with its economic interests, the capitalist class in Taiwan will be torn in three directions: pro-US, pro-China and trying to balance between the two. This means that the confrontations and splits within the ruling class will intensify in the coming period, and become one of the main trends of political development of the Taiwan capitalist class.

If Tsai Ing-wen is re-elected, the military threat on both sides of the Taiwan Strait will heat up. For Xi Jinping this will be the latest in a series of serious economic and political setbacks, increasing the pressure upon him to deliver a “strong” response.

The CCP will inevitably strengthen its propaganda of “anti-Taiwan Independence” and attempt to block the united struggle of the working class on both sides of the Strait. The future of Taiwan is an intensifying arms race and more threats of war. Proof of which is the Tsai Ing-wen government’s vigorous promotion of “self-reliance” in national defence. In reality, far from an “independent” position, this pushes the DPP further into the China containment strategy of the US. The situation between the three sides (US, China and Taiwan) will grow even more tense.

The political and military threats of the CCP towards Taiwan and the lack of international working-class unity has created domestic support for militarization and nationalism in Taiwan and has increased the peoples’ illusions in US imperialism. Bourgeois Taiwanese nationalists tend to be the most reactionary on this issue and may push the anti-CCP movement to the right, such as supporting nationalism and military cooperation with the United States and Japan. If nationalist sentiment heightens, it can cause tremendous pressure on international socialists. Marxists call for the Chinese and Taiwanese masses to unite together against military threats and the militarisation of both US and China, and stand for the united struggle to defeat the CCP’s dictatorship and the capitalist system.

National oppression like class oppression is endemic under capitalism. Marxists explain that only the working class based on the programme of international socialism can resolve the national question in Taiwan. In the world today we see many examples, from Catalonia to Scotland, of bourgeois nationalist parties that are incapable of conducting real struggle even to achieve their own, nationally limited, agenda. Invariably these capitalist parties and politicians have ties to or illusions in foreign imperialism.

Only the working class, which “has no country” as Karl Marx said, can provide the leadership of the struggle for national and democratic rights, as part of the struggle against capitalism and imperialism. We stand for an independent socialist Taiwan as part of a struggle against capitalism throughout our region. This problem cannot be solved within the borders of Taiwan alone or within the framework of crisis-ridden capitalism. As long as Chinese and US imperialism dominate Asia any move towards Taiwanese independence will be blocked. With capitalism defeated, and workers’ democratic governments linking together in solidarity and voluntary cooperation across our region, the right of self-determination (including the right to independence) can be realised for all national groups.

Marxists must understand that the mass hatred against the CCP’s dictatorship and reunification is mainly based on the desire to defend existing democratic rights and autonomy, and rejection of a return to one-party dictatorship. Thus most people regard Taiwan independence as a way out. Currently, racism and chauvinism are not dominant in the mass consciousness. However, in the future, without a strong left-wing workers’ party to intervene and propose a platform for uniting the working class on both sides of the Taiwan Strait and an independent socialist Taiwan, the Taiwan independence movement will continue to be used by the DPP and its right-wing flank, and become a pawn in the US imperialist strategy. In view of the above, when the CCP intensifies its attacks on Taiwan, it might push the anti-CCP pro-independence sentiment towards right-wing chauvinism and racism.

Economically, the bourgeoisie has become more inclined to nationalist economic policies, hoping to stimulate domestic investment and consumption. The DPP government has also used such trend to promote nationalist economic policies, to create a wave of repatriation of Taiwanese capital. In order to maintain its profits and market competitiveness, the regime will further attack and deregulate labour rights, land, taxation and financial controls and plunder the environment.

Taiwanese capital played a vital role in the historic rise of Chinese capitalism. Today, of China’s top 20 companies exporting to the United States, 15 of them have a Taiwan background. According to the average of the previous years, 40% of Taiwan’s exports and 60% of foreign investment are in the Chinese market.

The Sino-US conflict has resulted in a drop in Taiwan’s foreign trade with China, but an increase with the US. Taiwan’s investment in China has also declined by 56.9% (the first three quarters of this year compared with the same period last year); the amount of new investment in China as a proportion of total foreign investment has dropped from 83.8% in 2010 to only 34.1% this year. In the long run, this can weaken the CCP’s economic influence on the Taiwan capitalist class.

Although US imperialism enjoys dominance in the global production chain and most Taiwanese capitalists (in terms of technology, capital and markets) are dependent on the US, how the prolonged struggle of Chinese and US capitalism unfolds is not possible to predict accurately. This struggle will involve periods of ebb and flow, temporary agreements and new eruptions of conflict, in which both economies can be weakened, with a negative impact on the rest of the global economy.

With the rise of Chinese capitalism, a faction of the Taiwanese capitalists that is highly dependent on China has been formed. Based on the economic benefits brought about by the expansion of the Chinese market and power, they have become the “CCP agents” in Taiwan. As such, the Taiwan bourgeoisie and its political parties will further divide and polarize based on the future of the Sino-US conflict.

According to the above trend, next year’s general election is one of the battlefields between China and the US. Given the unappealing prospect of the CCP’s “One Country, Two Systems: Taiwan Plan” theory, as well as the democratic struggle in Hong Kong, the general mass consciousness is to resist the CCP and Kuomintang pro-China forces and to restore and defend existing democratic rights. Therefore, the DPP and the US have gained a competitive advantage in the electoral battlefield. Especially in the short-term, with the absence of a strong left-wing alternative, the hope of “oppose authoritarianism and protect democracy” is wrongly attributed to the DPP and US imperialism.

The re-election of the DPP will greatly undermine the authority of the CCP and exacerbate differences within the CCP over policy toward Taiwan. On the other hand, the re-election of the DPP will not bring about a more distinct and progressive “Taiwan Independence policy”. It is subject to the pressure of pro-China Taiwanese capitalists and also depends on US strategy towards China. Even the pan-greens’ bourgeois democratic demands for independence, state building and changing the constitution are no longer part of the DPP’s blueprint for governance.

Taiwan’s capitalist economy and the impending recession

The prospects for the global economy look increasingly grim, with a “synchronized slowdown” in nearly 90 percent of countries according to the IMF. A new world recession, even if the timing is not clear, is unlikely to resemble the last recession of 2007-9, which was the most devastating in 70 years. The ability of central banks and governments to cushion the crisis with stimulus policies and massive monetary easing is considerably less than ten years ago, and China with its debt mountain is unlikely to again step forwards as the “saviour” of global capitalism. Inter-imperialist tensions, the paralysis of global capitalist institutions like the WTO, and the worldwide trend towards nationalist economic policies, make it much more difficult for the capitalists to coordinate solutions to a new global crisis. This raises the possibility of a more serious or more prolonged downturn even than in 2007-09. For Taiwan, with its high level of dependence on the global market, the next recession can bring unprecedented pressures and a massive intensification of the class struggle.

Although Taiwan has been described by a United Nations report as the biggest winner in the Sino-US trade war, this is not the case. The Taiwanese capitalists are deeply concerned. The Industry Council pointed out in a 2019 White Paper: “With the escalation of US-China trade conflicts, Taiwan’s export-oriented economy will suffer from tit-for-tat retaliations.” This is no exaggeration.

The Ministry of Finance reported that Taiwan’s overall exports have shown a decline. Although exports to the US in the first nine months of this year increased by 17.7% over the same period, exports to China fell by 7.1%. Overall, from September last year to September this year, exports fell by an average of 1.7%. Given the likelihood that the Sino-US conflict intensifies the impact will be even more dramatic.

The export price index hit its biggest decline in a decade. The conflict between China and the United States has caused a decline in global market demand. On one hand, demand from Chinese has declined, and on the other hand, Taiwanese exports face more competition from Chinese exports – such as in the steel industry.

In this context, the DPP government is hailing as its “economic achievement” that Taiwanese repatriated investment has already reached NT$627 billion (as of November 8th – 152 firms) and is expected to reach 700bn or even 800bn this year. But at the same time the number of workers on unpaid leave has risen sharply. This shows that in the imperialist conflict, the working class is the first to suffer, something that will have serious implications for the class struggle.

In 2018, Taiwan-listed companies had an average net profit of NT$2.19 trillion (a fall of 1.3% for the year). By the fourth quarter of the year, profits had been severely reduced by 36.3% (by year) and 38.3% (by quarter). By the first half of 2019, profits were still down by 21.31%. This reflects the impact of the Sino-US trade war on the profitability of Taiwanese capital. This profit decline is likely to be translated into more pro-business laws in the future. This is the case for listed companies, and unavoidable for SMEs. Workers employed by SMEs (accounting for 80% of Taiwan’s total workforce) will definitely suffer.

Therefore, even though trillions of dollars in investments may have been repatriated to Taiwan to invest in industrial production, it will mostly be in capital-intensive high-end sectors, thus is only able to provide a limited amount of jobs. According to optimistic government estimates, one trillion Taiwan dollars of investment can create 100,000 jobs. However, there is a shortage of profitable industrial production in the world market and a large amount of excess capital is more willing to flow into real estate and financial speculation to profit from arbitrage and create economic bubbles. The prolonged rising cost of living (especially house prices) has reduced the disposable income of grassroots people, thus it is not possible to substantially stimulate consumption power to increase domestic demand. The repatriation of Taiwanese capital will not recreate the period of the so-called economic miracle, especially in the context of the world economic recession and decline of Taiwan’s exports. On the contrary, it may exacerbate domestic capital concentration and monopoly, which especially because of the Sino-US conflict will destroy numerous small and medium-sized enterprises.

According to a statistical survey by the Academia Sinica and the National University of Political Science, “Up to 24% of wealth in Taiwan is in the hands of 150,000 people (1% of the propertied population). 64% of the wealth is in the hands of approximately 1.5 million people (10%), their average wealth is NT$41.8 million.” According to UBS, the assets of Taiwan’s rich overseas are as high as US$500 billion, behind only to China at US$1.4 trillion and the US at US$700 billion. As the old saying goes: “Don’t suffer from scarcity, but suffer from inequality.” This fact and development of inequality between the rich and the poor will become a hotbed for polarization and social conflict.

Since the DPP government came to power, it has been trying to stimulate the stock market and corporate profits using state capitalist measures. At the same time, to boost domestic demand and promote industrial modernisation it follows typical neo-liberal policies to attract domestic and foreign investment and reduce various operating costs.

As the capitalist crisis deepens, the Taiwan bourgeoisie needs to step up exploitation and oppression to maintain profits. However, if the DPP is re-elected, it may delay in the initial period the implementation of policies that directly attack workers, so as not to trigger mass protests and to maintain public opinion support. At the same time, the government has turned to “saving the economy” as a pretext to promote pro-business policies. These policies indirectly harm the interests of workers in order to defend profits but are presented in such a way to make workers think they are not affected. This is the case with the Factory Law, the Mining Law, and the Overseas Fund Repatriation Program Law. The DPP government also keeps up regular releases of small improvements to shore up its popularity and political legitimacy.

This is a new trend of the global bourgeoisie. After nearly a decade of austerity policies, the consumption levels of the working class have fallen due to the increased cost of living and falling wages, and economic growth has stalled further and has fallen into a vicious circle. More and more countries are moving towards adopting more state capitalist and nationalist economic policies in an attempt to stimulate growth. However, although these stimulus plans will include some public infrastructure or services, these measures will not reverse the above trend. Instead, capital tends to flow to speculative sectors, therefore creating more economic bubbles and wastage, which will only delay and intensify the economic recession.

Taking a recent example, the DPP government has made concessions under the pressure of public opinion, concerning the rights of gig economy workers, rules on advance notice of strikes, and fire fighters’ rights. However with the Factory Law and the Mining Law, which have largely escaped public attention, the government stands firmly on the same side as the big corporations.

As the Sino-US. Conflict worsens the outlook for the world economy, the Taiwanese capitalists will be even more intolerant of calls for various reform policies. For more than three years, various pro-capitalist policies have shown that even in the face of resistance from the working class, the capitalists and DPP government are becoming more hardline and have made no significant concessions. In general, it is increasingly difficult for bourgeois governments to balance the interests of the ruling classes of all factions. No matter what policy the government implements, it will not only lead to a backlash from the working class, but it will also be more difficult to meet the demands of rival factions of the capitalists.

The expected bankruptcy of the public pension system by 2026 has become a hidden bomb of class confrontation in Taiwan, and will likely detonate larger social conflicts in the future – whether it is to de-regulate, reform, or wait for the problems to erupt. This will also become a hot potato that the ruling party cannot avoid after 2020. Avoiding the issue and trying to postpone the inevitable bankruptcy will only make future labour resistance more intense.

Blue, green and white parties and “third forces”

It is nineteen years since the political scene came to be dominated by pan-blue and pan-green parties [with the DDP’s election breakthrough of 2000]. Since this time the pan-blues and greens have generally played the role of conservatives and liberals respectively. As neither party represents the interests of the working class, and the mass disappointment and disillusionment with pan-blue and pan-green parties increases, the political vacuum has grown.

In this situation, the Taiwan People’s Party [the “whites”] emerged as a form of pro-capitalist populism. The TPP was formed by former second and third-level politicians of the pan-blue and pan-green parties. Objectively, on the one hand, it reflects that capitalism needs a new face to maintain control over political power, while different factions of the bourgeoisie engage in an intensified power struggle to try to advance their interests in a crisis. It can be expected that tri-polar politics will become the norm of the political landscape in the coming period. This will not resemble the clear division of the two-party system in past years, but it will be a period of instability and turbulence, as political parties will see more splits, new alliances and new formations.

“Third forces” refer to the minor pan-green parties that have emerged after the 2014 Sunflower Movement. Their common characteristics are electoralism, opportunism, and zigzagging positions. Although there is a huge political vacuum, these petty-bourgeois parties are unable to provide a real alternative, so most of them can only depend on the DPP to varying degrees, and it would be difficult for them to unite together to fill this void. For example, the DPP will further co-opt social movements and third forces in the legislative elections and in the next term to strengthen its “progressive” image, while most third force parties (such as the Social Democrats and the green Party) and pan-green social movement organisations are vigorously supporting Tsai Ing-wen. As such, we can expect that these third forces will experience more challenges and volatility in the future.

The New Power Party [part of the “third forces”] are trying to use progressive policies and moderate reformism to promote a social movement-friendly and progressive image to attract those who are disillusioned by the blue, green and white parties. In order to consolidate their own support base, recently they have purged the pro-DPP elements within their party. They are now posing as a liberal party independent of the DPP in order to attract the social support lost by the DPP. It cannot be ruled out that in the future, mass resistance and new formations will adopt more leftist positions for electoral purposes. But because they lack a solid and active mass base, and embrace a pro-capitalist program, it will still be difficult for these formations to become a leading force in mass struggles.

After five years of transformation and development, the Social Democratic Party and the much-downsized Green Party have transformed from social movement NGO election machines into parties of professional politicians. The Taiwan Statebuilding Party zigzags between liberalism and far-right pro-independence populism to capture support from pan-green voters, and its influence among the “third forces” is second only to that of the New Power Party. As Taiwan nationalism increases, it cannot be ruled out that far-right forces advocating more open racism and xenophobia can grow. In the future, the political situation will become more fragmented. The positions and relations of different parties will become more complex and volatile. The above situation will become the “new normal” in Taiwan politics.

We must stand against the CCP dictatorship, Kuomintang (KMT), and the Taiwan People’s Party, and at the same time expose the pro-capitalist and conservative nature of DPP. From this, we will establish a revolutionary vision for a workers’ mass party and the perspective of socialist workers’ democracy, upon which we will build a solid revolutionary backbone with flexible methods. This is the best way to fight against the DPP, the illusions in the “third forces”, and prepare for the subsequent disillusionment so that we are in a better position to consolidate and expand our party’s influence amongst the most advanced workers and young people.

Consciousness of the advanced youth and working class

The 2018 election, given the lack of a left-wing alternative, was dominated by a mood to punish the DPP. But this also increased the fears among the advanced youth and workers about the prospects of the KMT’s return to power and CCP infiltration. The promotion of the “One Country, Two Systems: Taiwan” plan by Xi Jinping, and Hong Kong’s mass anti-authoritarian struggle have greatly stimulated the political consciousness for defending democratic rights and Taiwan’s autonomy. It cannot be ruled out that in the future, a democratic movement against the CCP and its military threats comparable to the “Two Million People Holding Hands to Protect Taiwan” movement in 2004 may again break out.

If the DPP wins the upcoming presidential election, as expected, the masses would lose some of their sense of crisis and political fervour following the election. When faced with pressures from Taiwan’s bourgeoisie, the DPP would not be able to resist and can only bow down to them. Of course, this does not mean that the DPP will not want to protect the reputation of the ruling party by making slight concessions. This will also push the advanced youth and workers into seeking new political solutions. However, in the unlikely event that Han Kuo-yu [KMT presidential candidate] is elected, it will make the situation more complicated. Far right forces can have more space to grow. Because the DPP will be able to hide behind the veil of opposition whenever attacks on workers are being done, they will be exposed more slowly before the masses than if they are the ruling party. As a result, the DPP as a pro-capitalist opposition may still be able to directly or indirectly lead the movement against CCP and KMT, which will considerably limit and weaken the scope and the program of such struggle. But even in the event of Tsai Ing-wen’s victory the situation can still be complicated, and so the DPP will also face a governance crisis.

Encouraged by the success of China Airlines strike in 2016, labour rights awareness has grown significantly since then, especially among the younger generation, and has led to the founding of many new unions. Trade unions in the transportation industry have played a considerable role for example in helping and encouraging the China Airlines and Eva Air cabin crew strikes, the Taiwan Railway Union struggle, and the China Airlines pilot strike. The capitalists are vigorously pushing for the revision of the Labour Standards Act and anti-union laws, which is a significant proof of the growth of the labour movement.

Since the large-scale westward movement (towards China) of Taiwanese capital, which has led to de-industrialisation and the widespread implementation of neoliberal policies in Taiwan, the long-term growth of wages has stagnated, and purchasing power has fallen. Both the pan-blues and pan-greens are unable to fundamentally solve the problem of falling living standards (the “onshoring” of Taiwanese capital will not reverse this). At the same time, the gap between rich and poor continues to widen and there are more and more attacks from big business.

Today’s average monthly take home pay is only NT$40,773, which is less than NT$40,890 of 16 years ago. At the same time, the salary of young employees has grown by only 15% on average over the past 20 years. Yet the national housing price-to-income ratio has increased by 178% in the same period. The gap between the bottom 5% of households compared to the richest 5% has increased from 55 times to 113 times. Indeed, the real situation must be even more serious.

Grassroots young people’s illusions about “class mobility” are weaker than those of middle-aged and elderly people. In the struggle against the reform of the Labour Standards Act in 2017, and the two largest strikes of recent years (Eva Air & China Airlines), most of the protestors and activists who showed solidarity were working class youth. The above objective facts are a solid foundation for the growth of labour consciousness and anti-capitalist sentiment. This trend will give the left and the labour movement important development opportunities in future social crises.

However, due to the lack of mass left-wing workers’ political parties and the lack of organisation of the working class, the Taiwanese labour movement is still weak. With a few exceptions, the main union leaders are out of touch with the mass struggle, bureaucratized and extremely conservative, failing to attract many young workers who are new to the struggle. The different unions have not yet been able to coordinate and unite with each other, so we urgently need to propose a fighting national trade union federation. Marxists must be involved in the labour movement and fight to radicalize it.

International Socialist Forward was fully involved in the Eva Air flight attendants’ strike. We gave support to the striking workers and independently proposed winning strategies and plans. During the strike, we gave suggestions to the trade unions to step up their propaganda in order to win a wider layer of mass support as well as concrete proposals. We also pushed the Eva Air Strike to link up with different union organisations to hold rallies in support of the strike.

Taiwan’s social movement is still stuck in the NGO-style, small circle leadership model that lacks organisation and clear leadership. It does not base itself on organised and fighting mass struggle, nor does it consciously seek to raise the political awareness of the mass movement, thus acting as a bureaucratic obstacle.

Factors such as the CCP’s crackdown, capitalist exploitation, homophobic threats, the party-state legacy, and environmental damage will all provoke struggles from the advanced groups in society. However, this is bound to challenge the existing NGO-based social movement model and corresponding organisations, as was shown by the defeat of the struggle against Labour Law Revision in 2017 and the defeat of the Marriage Equality Referendum in 2018. Lessons will be drawn and the “NGO-model” of leadership will increasingly be challenged in future. In this context, Marxists call for a fighting left-wing workers’ party that is democratically accountable.

After more than a decade of saying goodbye to the era of “economic prosperity” the social mobility of the working class in Taiwan has been greatly reduced, and class consciousness is growing. The living standards of the petty bourgeoisie are also being proletarianized, so they are also agitating, causing political changes and instability. There will be more and more social movements with significant participation also from the middle class and youth, such as campaigns on environmental issues and gender equality issues.

Our organisation’s involvement in the LGBT rights movement in these two years is a good example. Our involvement in the gay equality movement with an anti-capitalist program and a class struggle line attracted a new group of young people from working class and middle-class backgrounds. The global climate movement that has emerged this year has also attracted millions of people in many European countries, the US and Australia, with youth as the largest group. Marxists must fight for the attention of most progressive and radical elements and provide a working-class struggle strategy for the movement.

The struggle for democracy and socialism

The struggle to defend and deepen democratic rights will play a pivotal role in the future. In the face of mass resistance to the CCP’s bullying and fear of the KMT’s return, coupled with the historic anti-authoritarian movement in Hong Kong since June 2019, the DPP is regarded as the force to “defend Taiwan against China”. Thus, Tsai is expected to win a landslide presidential victory, and she hopes to return to the peak of popularity. As the Sino-US conflict escalates, the DPP is becoming more dependent on US imperialism.

We do not rule out that Tsai Ing-wen, given US support, would be more confident to adopt more anti-China rhetoric and use “democracy” to win support, but the real purpose is to increase the geopolitical and economic interests of Taiwan’s capitalism and the political prestige of the DPP within the Sino-US conflict.

However, we know that, as political representative of Taiwan’s bourgeoisie, the DPP is in fact weak in its stand against the CCP dictatorial regime, playing the role of a brake on mass struggle. If the pro-democracy masses in Taiwan are further radicalized, the role of the DPP would be exposed. For example, on the issue of “transitional justice,” addressing the legacies of the KMT dictatorship, this could widen and even be translated into practical actions and demands that go far beyond the DPP “s compromise and reconciliation position.

In this situation, Marxists must be the “democratic vanguards of the workers”, independent of the blue, green, and white factions of the capitalist class and both Chinese and American Imperialism. We not only defend existing democratic rights, but also point out that the unity of the working class across the Taiwan Straits is the only thing that can truly resist the CCP dictatorship. It is necessary to fight for workers’ democratic rights and an independent socialist Taiwan, and to oppose the dictatorship of the capitalists. Only in this way can our party be rooted in revolutionary youth and workers.

Taiwanese capitalists who desire and depend on profits from the Chinese market are the main CCP representatives in Taiwan. Therefore, in order to win, the struggle against these CCP proxies must be an anti-capitalist struggle led by the working class, combining democratic demands, including the demand for national independence, with the programme of socialist revolution.

The CCP’s policy of extending its influence over Taiwan’s economy is currently being resisted by the DPP government, and this may increase in the next period with the escalation of the Sino-US conflict. A weakened control over Taiwan will undermine Xi Jinping’s authority and intensify the CCP’s internal power struggle and could, under certain conditions, strengthen the confidence of the Chinese masses to engage in struggle.

At the same time this process is contradictory. The political positions of the pan-greens – of narrow bourgeois nationalism and collaboration with the anti-China strategy of US imperialism – cannot attract the mainland masses and in many cases will repel them. The CCP will of course exploit such propaganda gifts to mould domestic opinion in favour of more severe political and military intimidation to show strength.

Only by mass struggle to defend and extend democracy and ending the dictatorship of the capitalists can the people of Taiwan effectively resist the CCP’s policy of bribes and intimidation. Only by nationalising the banks and big companies and placing them under the democratic control and management of the working class and the public can foreign capitalist manipulation, a central strategy of the CCP, be broken. Failing this, then of course the CCP’s enticement policy would enable it to have a deeper and more rooted influence on Taiwan’s political situation.

The rapid rise of the right-wing anti-LGBT movement is based on its tightly centralized church-based organisation, solid beliefs and massive financial strength. After the 2018 referendum victory, their confidence has grown. Now they are eyeing the parliamentary elections, although the chances of winning a seat are small. This is intended to create an organisational basis for a political “party” of the religious anti-LGBT movement.

Their political rise shows that the conservative right-wing religious forces are filling the political vacuum created by the disillusionment in both pan-blues and pan-greens – some of which is turning into the political power base of the conservative right-wing sect. The bureaucrats of the official LGBT movement have yet to draw the correct lessons from the last defeat and therefore the far right offensive will continue with the campaign for the abortion referendum [to restrict abortion rights] and other reactionary positions, threatening another blow to the movement for democratic and equal rights.

As with the situation globally, with the lack of a left-wing socialist alternative, we see the rise of right-wing forces that seek to divide the working class and the oppressed, with their growing attacks on women, LGBT, and immigrants, which the far-right parties in Europe and Trump in the United States have used as scapegoats for the capitalist crisis. But as our international shows, only a combative mass movement can effectively resist and fightback. In Ireland, we have won the right to abortion; in the United States we are fighting against Trump’s gender discrimination policy, and in South Africa we are active against xenophobia.

Capitalism and imperialism on a world scale and in Taiwan is entering into a period of unprecedented crisis and turmoil, which in turn means the mood of the masses will be more radical and the scale of the mass struggle is likely to expand. This places heavy demands on a Marxist organisation to build our forces and win support for socialist ideas and methods. At the same time, the mass movement will become more complicated as a result of the deepening social and political crisis and the fact that mass consciousness is lagging behind the objective situation.

Given that we are still a small organisation, and the left is currently just a small voice within the whole movement, it requires even more effort for us to get our voice heard, so as to attract the best workers and youth into our ranks. We must follow events closely, be always prepared to intervene in the ever-changing situation, and train a bigger and stronger Marxist cadre.