Beijing opens new chapter, seeking to take the lead among world’s communist parties.
With little fanfare and no mainstream media publicity, two of the world’s most important communist parties have begun rebuilding relations after five decades of minimal contact.
At the invitation of the Communist Party of China (CCP), a two-member delegation from the Communist Party USA (CPUSA) toured China from May 26 to June 3. The duo, Chicago-based party Chairman John Bachtell and New York official Carol Widom, represented the CPUSA at a conference on the 200th anniversary of Karl Marx’s birth.
“We were invited to attend a forum to celebrate the 200th birthday of Karl Marx with 70 communist, socialist, left, and revolutionary parties in Shenzhen, an eco-planned city, followed by a week touring Beijing, Hefei, Fengyang County, and Xiaogang Village, the site of the first rural economic reforms.
“The event reflected the feeling by the Communist Party of China [CCP] that a qualitative turning point has been reached in socialist construction and that China is playing a new role on the global stage. The meeting is an example of China and the [CCP] opening wider to the world and expanding and deepening relations with communist and workers’ parties.”
Indeed, the meeting did signal a new era. With CCP leader Xi Jinping re-orientating the Party to a more revolutionary path domestically, it follows that old revolutionary ties would be rekindled internationally.
The world’s largest communist party, centered in Beijing, had little contact with the world’s most important Western communist party for almost half a century.
After the China/Soviet split of the early 1960s, the CPUSA sided with Moscow and was openly hostile to China and pro-China American communists. In the United States, this was more than political rivalry; it often spilled over into violence. Both factions spied on each other for their respective masters in Moscow and Beijing.
According to the archives of the former East German intelligence services, in January 1963, leading CPUSA official Henry Winston met with leaders of the Moscow-aligned East German Communist Party. Winston secretly provided the East Germans with a list of members of the “Progressive Labor Party,” the pro-Beijing communist organization in the United States. The list was prepared by CPUSA comrade Mille Stand, a chemical engineer who fled Germany in the 1930s to escape Nazi persecution. It is very likely that the list of “Beijing parrots” was also passed on to Moscow.
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