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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 36, Number 18. 26th July 1973

Industry - For Politics And People

page 10

Industry - For Politics And People

Photo of a Chinese gathering

The workers at this Shanghai steel workshop successfully made an uninterrupted casting machine in eighteen days ujier reactionary "technical authorities" had failed to make one after spending several years. The workers use this vivid example to criticise the capitalist "technical authorities".

Talien July 13, 1973: For the past three days we have been touring Liaoning Province in the Northeast of China. Western commentators have often referred to this area as a 'closed' part of China because few foreigners come here. This area is the industrial base of the People's Republic where the iron and steel industry in particular is concentrated, and before we arrived here some of us had visions of a bleak area crowded with dark, satanic mills.

The industrial development in Liaoning province is in fact one of socialist China's most remarkable achievements. For years the area was occupied by foreign invaders, mainly the Japanese. Shenyang, the capital of the province, was the scene of the 1931 'Mukden Incident' when the Japanese ruled the Northeast (formerly known as Manchuria) through the puppet state of Manchukuo. The Kuomintang regime's troops returned to the Northeast alter the Second World War and wrecked a good part of the few industries that existed. Social development in Liaoning province had to begin from scratch.

The tremendous industrial development of Liaoning province since the area was liberated in 1948 has not been at the expense of social and cultural life. Shenyang, for example, is famous throughout the People's Republic as a cultural centre. The city's acrobatic troupe has just completed a tour of the United States and is now visiting North Korea. While we were in Shenyang we attended a performance by local musicians and dancers. The entertainment included western instruments (a medium size symphony orchestra) and traditional Chinese and Vietnamese instruments. In Talien we watched the local acrobatic troupe which put on some amazing acts, especially on the trapeze.

In Anshan, which is known locally as the Iron and Steel City', we saw large-scale heavy industrial development for the first time. We visited a small part of the massive Anshan Iron and Steel Complex, and saw huge ingots of iron being made into steel. The shed where we saw this being done was about half-a-mile long, and we watched a swirling river of red-hot metal being rolled and forged into sheets of steel. One heavy rolling mill produced 3,500 tons of railway line every day.

Watching this process in operation was an exhilarating experience. Less impressive was the atmosphere outside. The thick black smoke billowing from the chimneys, the heavy smog and the strong smell of sulphur was an unpleasant reminder that heavy industry produces heavy pollution.

The Vice-Chairman of Anshan Iron and Steel Complex's Revolutionary Committee gave us an outline of how the Revolutionary Committee was tackling the pollution problem. The principle that was used, he said, was multipurpose utilisation, or reutilisation of waste.

Before the Cultural Revolution the slag left over from the iron and steel processes was dumped and apparently looked like a "huge mountain". Now it is used for making bricks for building houses.

Polluted water is utilised by drawing off the chemicals — over 14 chemical elements can be taken from this water — and using high temperature water to heat Anshan's housing area. Ashan's weather is very cold in winter, and the use of waste water for heating saves coal and reduces manpower.

The liberation of the Northeast area from the Kuomintang reactionaries and the Japanese imperialists did not mean that all political problems were solved, and that the local people could build China's heavy industrial base unimpeded.

In 1960 the Soviet Government suddenly tore up its agreement to assist industrial development in Liaoning province. The Russians tried to sabotage production and future development not only by withdrawing their experts but also be refusing to supply certain essential products. For example the Russians stopped the supply of rollers for the rolling mills, and the bricks which are put on top of the furnaces. The local Chinese workers and technicians replied to this stab in the back by developing these supplies themselves. They, replaced the chrome bricks supplied by the Soviets with aluminium and magnesium bricks which proved to be more efficient.

The period of the Cultural Revolution provided another test of the creativity and ingenuity of the workers of Anshan where the national conflict between the revolutionary line of Chairman Mao and the capitalist road of Liu Shao—Chi became a question of basically whether the Iron and Steel Complex could develop further or not.

The Vice-Chairman of the complex's Revolutionary Committee explained the difference between the "two lines" (i.e further socialist development or the restoration of capitalist development) at the complex. The capitalist roaders in the complex management believed that the complex was big enough and thought that output could not be increased. They considered that because the complex was already very advanced industrially there was no need to develop new techniques. Finally these people considered that the problem of utilising wastes could not be solved because the complex was so big.

In short one line at the Anshan Complex was complacent and defeatist: the complex didn't need further expansion or development and couldn't handle the problems that such development would create.

Opponents of this attitude in Ashnan followed Mao Tsetung's advice of relying on the masses to overcome problems, and they put forward the principles of the Anshan Constitution of 1960 which had been approved by Chairman Mao. With the support of the People's Liberation Army (PLA), which Mao had ordered to support the workers, peasants and the revolutionary left during the height of the Cultural Revolution, the Anshan Revolutionary Committee was set up in March 1968. After summing up the experience of the masses in the struggle for socialism at Anshan the Revolutionary Committee put forward a six point programme of applying the Anshan Constitution.

In brief this programme called tor the expansion of the Iron and Steel Complex, utilisation of all potentialities at the complex, and the development of technical innovations to increase production.

The examples of reutilisation of wastes which have already been mentioned illustrate how the management and workers are trying to utilise all the complex's potentialities. A huge blast furnace which produced 3000 tons of pig iron a day illustrated how the complex was being expanded. This furnace which had a capacity of 2025 cubic metres, was built last year in only 10 months through the hard work and ingenuity of the workers who designed the furnace.

Before visiting the complex we saw a remarkable demonstration of the development of technical innovations to assist production when we visited a power substation near Anshan and saw workers carrying out free live line operations. A free live line operation means doing maintenance work on high voltage lines without turning off the current and thus disrupting production by causing power cuts in factories. This innovation was a practical example of serving the people, and had been developed by a careful combination of theory and practice. The workers we talked to at the substation emphasised that the innovation of the free live line operation in Anshan was a case of applying Mao's philosophical works. It was not surprising to find that the "Four essays of Philosophy" were constantly studied by these workers.

Impressive as the industrial processes we have seen in operation have been politics are still in command, rather than industrial development for the sake of it. At the Anshan Iron and Steel Complex it became clear that without the creativity of the rank and file workers in applying Marxist theory in their work the mistaken ideas of the capitalist roaders in the complex's management would have become the reality. For New Zealanders who are used to politics being divorced from the lives and work of the ordinary people it is difficult to understand that the development of heavy industry in China is primarily a political question, and only secondarily a question of economic and technical expertise.

It is very easy to adopt a cynical attitude to the Chinese view that economic and social progress depends on the creativity of the ordinary people in applying Marxist politics. But the transformation of a backward area, exploited by foreign invaders and their local stooges, into an advanced industrial area which is the industrial base of socialist China in the space of 20 years is an achievement which is a kick in the guts for cynics and western economic experts who sneer at socialism.

On the docks of the port of Talien we saw some of the products of the Liaoning province's iron and steel industry; crates of material which were about to be shipped to Africa to help build the Tanzam railway in Tanzania and Zambia. This reminded us that China's industrial development is not only for socialist construction at home, but also to help the development of the Third World and the struggle against imperialism and racism in Southern Africa.