A Communist Party USA delegation to China and Vietnam returned to the United States on Dec. 12 with a wealth of political and cultural experiences they say they hope to share with the U.S. public in order to build better understanding and friendship between the peoples of the U.S., China and Vietnam.
The delegation, made up of National Chair Sam Webb, Executive Vice Chair Jarvis Tyner, International Secretary Pamella Saffer and Labor Secretary Scott Marshall, visited at the invitation of the Communist Parties of China and Vietnam.
In China, they were hosted by the CPC’s international department and were able to meet with leaders of the All China Women’s Federation, the All China Federation of Trade Unions — including a leader of the now famous Wal-Mart union — and other leaders, party members and everyday citizens.
Saffer said that, although she’d been to China before for a UN conference, this was the fist time she had ever had the chance to “experience” China. While much of the U.S. news media portrays China as a land of freewheeling capitalism and exploitation, Saffer said she was impressed by the country’s socialist construction.
“You have to get out of the mindset that socialism looks a certain way, and that we know what it looks like,” she said. “In China, laws are made to support working people.”
While no one would deny China’s current problems, such as the gap between urban and rural areas, or the hardships faced by migrant workers, Saffer said that the Chinese leadership seemed to be determined to solve them.
This is what CPC leaders mean, she said, when they talk about building a “harmonious society.” She added, “They’re lifting people out of poverty. It’s an enormous task, if you picture the population of 1.3 billion.”
China’s Communist leaders expressed a desire for peace and better state-to-state relations. Saffer added, “The Chinese were pretty clear on that. They’re not into getting into any conflicts or confrontations. They want to develop their own country, continue to lift people up to a better standard of living.”
The entire delegation engaged in cultural activities, such as a visit to the Peking Opera and a visit to the China Folk Cultural Heritage Village, which showcases the culture of China’s 55 minority ethnic groups.
The delegation then traveled on to Vietnam. While the CPUSA has sent people to Vietnamese party congresses, and Tyner himself had visited Vietnam in 1972 while bombs were falling, this was the first official CPUSA delegation to ever visit. They described it as a moving experience.
“All of us were of the generation that had opposed the Vietnam War,” Saffer said. “It’s astonishing, the progress that Vietnam has made. One of the things that was very clear to me, and very moving, was how they have always made a distinction between the government that dropped bombs and Agent Orange on their people, on the one hand, and the American people, on the other.”
“One of the challenges for Vietnam is how they are taking care of victims of Agent Orange, and their children,” she said. “These are disabled people. How do they fit them into society, to be contributing members of society? This is a challenge.”
Saffer noted Vietnam’s stunning progress since the war. It has been able, despite immense destruction wrought by the U.S. during the 1960s and 70s, to become one of the most economically dynamic nations in the world. In doing so, it has brought huge swaths of its population out of poverty — and has plans to eradicate all poverty within a few decades.
Saffer and Webb both said that relations with between the CPUSA and the Chinese and Vietnamese parties had been further strengthened, and they look forward to building even stronger relations in the future.
dmargolis @ pww.org