Chinese Labor Academic Visits US, Seeks to build China-US labor Ties

August 29, 2018 Updated: August 29, 2018

The current U.S. tour by leading Chinese labor academic Liu Cheng, Professor of Law and Politics at Shanghai Normal University, signals increased contacts between Chinese and American organized labor.

It also indicates a greater alignment between the American and Chinese Communist parties, and the return of the Chinese Communist Party to a more traditional interpretation of classical Marxism, and an emphasis exporting more revolution and fewer consumer goods.

According to the Communist Party USA publication, People’s World, Liu is “meeting with top labor activists, government officials, and academics, promoting what he describes as a much-needed labor exchange effort to familiarize union workers from China and the U.S. with each other and with their shared challenges”.

Liu’s August 5 to September 1 tour began in California, visiting the Labor Center at the University of California, Berkeley. From there, Liu visited the U.S.-China People’s Friendship Association, the Communist Party USA’s Niebyl-Proctor Marxist Library in Oakland and the UCLA Labor Center in Los Angeles. From August 12-18, Liu held meetings in Washington, D.C. with officials from the Department of Labor, the U.S. State Department, the AFL-CIO, and America’s largest private sector union,SEIU.

Professor Liu is Director of the Center for the Study of Chinese Labor Issues and President of the Asian Society of Labor Law. He served as an adviser to the Chinese Communist government during the drafting of the 2008 Labor Contract Law, which was adopted by the National People’s Congress in 2007 and went into effect the following year.

Liu claims that this law “tightened restrictions on private companies and boosted the power of labor unions throughout China”.

Liu previously served on the Binzhou Municipal Planning Commission in Shandong province and later in the Shandong Provincial Auditing Office.  Liu has enjoyed a “close working relationship” with the Communist Party-controlled All-China Federation of Trade Unions for over thirty years.

When U.S business organizations tried to lobby the Chinese government against the new law,Liu testified before the U.S. Congress in its defense.

Liu’s visit to the Boston area included a “special presentation on the conditions and consciousness of the Chinese working class” at the Communist Party USA’s Center for Marxist Education in Cambridge and a dinner hosted by the Walden Workers Club of the Communist Party USA in Central Massachusetts.

During his presentation at the Center for Marxist Education, Liu told the assembled labor academics and officials: “Capital moves freely across national boundaries, but the workers fight each other!” He continued:

“Workers of the world really do need to unite. The good news is, I think there is a willingness and the resources available to begin a U.S.-China labor exchange program that can help to unite workers, but this work takes patience.”

When U.S. labor activists ask Liu “what model needs to be embraced to make change”, he replied, “[L]et’s go back to examining the Labor Theory of Value contained not only in the work of Marx, but also Adam Smith.” Liu emphasized“…the importance for U.S. and Chinese workers to understand and revisit the growth of inequality”.

According to Liu, alleged inequality is one of the reasons more“labor exchanges” are needed.

At a meeting with Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health (MassCOSH), Liu indicated his intent to convene a conference in Shanghai to advance international labor cooperation around occupational safety and health tasks, and to invite MassCOSH and U.S. unions to send representatives.

MassCOSH, incidentally was co-founded by Ed Collins, a former Executive Vice President of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO, and a long-time member of Democratic Socialists of America (DSA).

The involvement of the Communist Party USA Liu Cheng’s tour marks a significant change over his last U.S. tour in 2007.

That tour was organized by Vermont-based labor activist Ellen David Friedman, a Marxist and early Bernie Sanders supporter who has spent the last several years working with grass-roots Chinese labor groups in the Pearl River delta region, while her husband Stuart taught at Guangzhou University.

Friedman raised funds for the 2007 tour, which included more than 40 meetings with trade union leaders, activists and government officials. Liu met with AFL-CIO leaders Richard Trumka and Barbara Shailor, SEIU leader Andy Stern, State Department officials James Viray and Samuel Chang, Pete Hoefer and Pat Greenfield of the National Labor College, and representatives of North Dakota Senator Byron Dorgan and the House Progressive Caucus.

Ellen David Friedman has close ties to Maoist-leaning radicals from the Freedom Road Socialist Organization and with Democratic Socialists of America, and Liu’s grass-roots meetings reflected this.

Liu paid visits to the pro-China Chinese Progressive Associations in San Francisco and Boston, and several Freedom Road-linked organizations including the IUE-CWA Local 201 in Lynn, Massachusetts, and Jobs with Justice in New York and Massachusetts.

He also met with Harvard Law School, Labor and Worklife Program head, and Democratic Socialists of America comrade Elaine Bernard, and DSA labor officials Steve Early and Rand Wilson.

The Communist Party USA was nowhere to be seen during the 2007 visit. The organization was still mourning the loss of its beloved Soviet Union and was not yet ready to transfer allegiance to the Communist Party of China.

Liu Cheng’s visit almost certainly signals increased China U.S. labor ties, which will be exploited by the Chinese Communist Party in their economic war against the Trump Administration.

This program will be aided and facilitated by the Communist Party USA, playing the role – as a loyal 5th column for the Communist Party of China – that it once played for the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

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