Research and study of ideologies of social and national emancipation and their application to conditions within imperialist society

Summing up a busy year of activity for Friends of Socialist China. Speech at a Friends of Socialist China end-of-year social. 17 December 2023.


Minister Zhao Fei and Comrades from the Chinese Embassy

Comrades and Friends

First, thank you all for being here. I hope you will have an enjoyable evening.

This is, of course, the season for coughs and colds, for viruses, and cancelled trains, and so on. So we are sadly without a number of comrades who had planned to be present. The only upside is that we’d actually exceeded the number of places available, so at least you hopefully now have some space to breathe. But we are indeed missing a number of good comrades very much this evening.

I should mention in particular the apologies and greetings from the Ambassador of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and his staff who had planned to be with us. However, today is the anniversary of the passing of Comrade Kim Jong Il and last evening they unexpectedly received some instructions from their capital in this regard.

Our friend the Ambassador of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste sends his apologies due to the arrival of a high-level delegation from his Foreign Ministry.

And we could also not be joined by the Counsellor for Press and Cultural Affairs from the Cuban Embassy due to illness.

I’m sure we all send our best wishes to those comrades who can’t be with us this evening.

All of you here have supported, helped and encouraged the work of Friends of Socialist China, in your various ways, over the year that is just ending. Thank you.

When we sent out the invitations for tonight, we wrote: “Without wishing to seem immodest, we are pleased with what we have managed to achieve in 2023. It is inseparable from your cooperation and encouragement.”

I thought I’d give you some flavour of that, which I’m able to do thanks to the invaluable and forensic input from Carlos.

We started Friends of Socialist China in May 2021, with no resources and no masterplan.

As of now, our followers on Twitter, or, as I should say, X, formerly known as Twitter, are now just under 35,000.

We have 5,400 followers on Facebook.

Our YouTube subscribers are just under 10,000.

The subscribers to our weekly e-bulletin, containing links to all of our articles, are around 2,000.

In terms of events this year, we began with a hybrid meeting hosted at the Marx Memorial Library, and also organised in conjunction with the Morning Star, the Cuba Solidarity Campaign and the Nicaragua Solidarity Campaign Action Group on Socialist Solutions to the Climate Crisis, with speakers including the Nicaraguan Ambassador (much missed since her return to Managua), visiting US comrade and author Dan Kovalik and a comrade from the Greener Jobs Alliance.


We responded to Genocide Joe Biden’s laughable Summit for Democracy with our own online counter summit, joined by top quality speakers including Margaret Kimberley from Black Agenda Report in the US, the legendary activist and cultural worker Lowkey, Luna Oi, the inimitable Vietnamese blogger, Venezuelan Vice Minister for Foreign Affairs Carlos Ron, Pawel Wargan from the Progressive International, Calla Walsh, a true rising star of the Young Communist League in the United States, as well as in Cuba solidarity work, who was recently arrested for taking direct action in support of Palestine, Ju-Hyun Park from the Korean diaspora, Mohammed Marandi from Iran, and Ben Norton, whose work will be familiar to many of you.

Then we were back at the Marx Memorial Library for the hybrid launch of Carlos’s book, The East is Still Red. If anyone hasn’t read it yet, you really have to. And if you’re still wondering what to get that special comrade in your life for Christmas – problem solved. Carlos has, in my view, made a truly outstanding contribution to the movement with this book. If there is one book on China by a non-Chinese author – where it is today, where it has come from, where it is going – that everyone on the left should read, it’s this one.

We were joined for this launch by the Venezuelan Ambassador – who previously served as her country’s Ambassador to Beijing during many of the visits by Hugo Chavez – as well as by our New York comrade Danny Haiphong, Roger McKenzie, Foreign Editor of the Morning Star, Jenny Clegg, in my view one of just a handful of people in Britain who actually deserves the accolade of China specialist, and Iris Yau, our indispensable link to the Society for Anglo-Chinese Understanding (SACU) and other organisations.

We then had another online book launch, together with our close comrade and dear friend Professor Radhika Desai, Chen Weihua, China Daily’s combative bureau chief in Brussels, Ben Chacko, Editor of the Morning Star, Sara Flounders of the US Workers’ World Party, and others.

Then, in late September, at the invitation of the Communist Party of Ireland, Carlos and I took part in book launches in Dublin, at the famous Connolly Books, and on the Falls Road in Belfast, which were also attended by members of a number of other socialist and republican organisations.

Our most recent webinar last month marked ten years of the Belt and Road Initiative, with speakers including Erik Solheim, former Norwegian government minister and former Under Secretary General of the United Nations, Zhang Weiwei and Li Jingjing from China, Senator Mushahid Hussain from Pakistan, one of our great supporters and friends, Martin Jacques, the famous author of When China Rules the World, Fred M’membe, the leader of the Socialist Party of Zambia, one of the new wave of Marxist parties emerging in Africa, and Camila Escalante, the well-known revolutionary journalist from El Salvador.

We were honoured to be invited to China on a number of occasions and participated in four delegations in 2023. Carlos and I were joined by Francisco on the Third Communist Party Leaders Delegation of North American, Oceanian and Nordic Countries in June and July. We attended the High Level Forum for the Belt and Road’s tenth anniversary in October, hearing President Xi Jinping, President Putin and others speak in the Great Hall of the People. And I attended the World Socialism Forum last month and the beginning of this. In July, we were joined by our comrade Danny for another event focused on the Global Civilisation Initiative put forward by President Xi.

In these and other ways, we strengthened our friendship, comradeship and unity with the International Department of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and other Chinese comrades.

In particular, around 30 of us were able to attend the online high-level dialogue of the Communist Party of China with world political parties, at which President Xi first advanced his Global Civilisation Initiative and which was also addressed by a number of other heads of state, including those of Venezuela, Nicaragua, South Africa and Serbia.

We have also made online presentations to numerous webinars and conferences, including those organised from China, the United States, the Russian Federation, Pakistan, Türkiye, Italy and Canada.

We started life as a media platform and we have regularly contributed articles, interviews and comments to the People’s Daily, Global Times, the Xinhua News Agency, CGTN, China Daily, Al-Mayadeen Television, the Morning Star and others.

As for our own website, we have published 425 articles so far this year. So clearly averaging more than one a day. And they are not selected or published at random. They are carefully chosen, discussed, and introduced. As a result, we are increasingly recognised as a ‘go to’ source on China’s socialism and China’s international relations, which is my own area of special interest.

Above all, we have steadily increased our circles of collaborators, friends, and comrades, eschewing any form of sectarianism, narrow mindedness, or closed-door attitudes, and with a focus on those already active in the broadest range of progressive activities. And we have joined together in common struggle supporting each other’s activities.

Of course, at this time what can only be at the forefront of our minds here is the genocidal war being waged against the Palestinian people, the demand for peace and a ceasefire now, and the courageous resistance of that heroic people. Besides the movement here, we have been honoured to develop our comradely relations with the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and to participate in two online activities, most recently last evening, at their invitation, together with communist and left-wing parties and organisations from around the world.

Four days ago, for the tenth successive year, China solemnly commemorated the Nanjing Massacre, which took place when Japanese troops captured the city on December 13, 1937. The Japanese invaders brutally killed approximately 300,000 Chinese civilians and unarmed soldiers in just over six weeks, marking one of the most barbaric episodes of World War II.

As we recall that dark page in history, and as our hearts are broken by the bestial atrocities being perpetrated, with the support and connivance of our government, in Gaza, and indeed on the West Bank, too, let us remember that ultimately nothing is stronger than the people’s will for freedom. The Chinese people won their liberation and, however long it takes, the Palestinian people, and all the oppressed people of the world, will surely win theirs, too.

This is also perhaps the best time to express our thanks and appreciation to the management and staff of this proudly Palestinian restaurant. It’s a favourite of ours and I hope you will support it whenever you can. We’ve had many a working Editorial Board dinner here. We welcomed our US comrade Professor Ken Hammond, China specialist and organiser of the famous May 4th 1970, student protest at Kent State University against the US invasion of Cambodia, here. And, on the initiative of Ali Al Assam, we celebrated the 93rd birthday of our dear comrade Kamal Majid here.

So that’s been our year in summary. We are pleased with what we’ve done. But we are also perfectly well aware that it is but a drop in the ocean of what needs to be done.

As Chairman Mao, whose 130th birthday falls on December 26th this year, expressed it in one of his poems:

So many deeds cry out to be done

And always urgently

So, as we gather this evening, we look forward to stepping up our work and doing better in 2024. We look to all of you for your help and support. Your advice, criticism, and suggestions. We are still feeling our way but, as some of you know, we are planning to start getting better organised with the formation of a more broadly based committee to take things forward in the new year.

For now, it just remains to wish you a good time this evening, a happy Christmas, and a revolutionary 2024.

Thank you all.



Writings of Keith Bennett


Writings of Keith Bennett