On Saturday 19 January 2008, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Great Britain Marxist-Leninist (CPGB-ML) organised a friendship dinner to welcome the new year, together with our friends and comrades working in the London embassies of the socialist countries.
The dinner was held in Saklatvala Hall, in Southall, west London, which was well decorated with party flags and banners as well as a photo exhibition of the life and work of Shapurji Saklatvala, a staunch member of the old CPGB, communist MP, and fighter for colonial freedom from India to Ireland, whose name was given to the British Battalion of the International Brigade that fought side by side with the Spanish people against fascism in the 1930s.
A warm and lively social occasion, which was much enjoyed by all present, this was also a significant political event in the life of our party. The CPGB-ML is the only political party in Britain that steadfastly and consistently upholds proletarian internationalism. While working for the social emancipation of the British proletariat, we resolutely support the communists and national liberation fighters of all countries.
Our party upholds with the greatest pride the glorious record of socialist construction in all fields in the Soviet Union under the leadership of Lenin and Stalin. And today we are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with those countries and peoples, such as Korea, China and Cuba, building a new socialist life under the leadership of their vanguard communist parties.
The reception and dinner were attended by delegations from the Embassies of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
From the DPRK: Comrades Ja Song Nam, Ambassador; Jong In Song, Counsellor; Ri Ung Chol, Second Secretary; and Jang Song Chol, Third Secretary; together with several family members.
From the PRC: Comrades Zhang Lirong, Political Counsellor; and Xu Bin, First Secretary.
Comrade Luis Marrón Oroza, Political Counsellor of the Cuban Embassy, who had originally planned to be present, sent his apologies and greetings, due to a pressing political engagement that had arisen, as did Comrade Gerry MacLochlainn of Sinn Fein. Comrade MacLochlainn, now a Sinn Fein Councillor in Derry, was for many years the Sinn Fein representative in Britain, during which time he forged close friendships with many of our party members.
Greetings were also received from Comrade He Dalong, London Bureau Chief of the Xinhua News Agency, who was in China on business.
CPGB-ML Chairman Harpal Brar welcomed the Korean and Chinese comrades in turn. He explained that our party wanted to take this opportunity to celebrate and welcome the new year, together with our comrades from the socialist embassies, so as to express our thanks to them for the moral, political and ideological support and guidance they had extended to us in the past year and to assure them that they have genuine friends in this country who, however limited our capacity at present, will always be prepared to support them wholeheartedly and in every possible way.
He praised the achievements of the Korean people in socialist construction and particularly in standing up to the nuclear blackmail of the US imperialists.
Turning to China, Harpal said that the country had been built by successive generations of Chinese communists and working people into a great and powerful nation that absolutely could not be ignored in the contemporary world. In the last six months alone, he noted, China had added more electricity generating capacity to its national grid than the entire annual electrical output of the United Kingdom. When Comrade Mao Zedong said, at the time of the founding of the People’s Republic in 1949, that “the Chinese people have stood up”, his words were ignored or ridiculed by some imperialists, but now they could all see only too clearly what Comrade Mao was referring to.
Harpal also quoted Mao’s words that, “to be attacked by the enemy is not a bad thing but a good thing”. When the Korean comrades are attacked for defending their country and when the Chinese comrades are attacked for assisting the development of Africa, this was confirmation that they were on the correct road.
Concluding his remarks with successive toasts, the entire hall rose and raised their glasses to the success of socialist construction in Korea and China, to the Korean and Chinese peoples, and to the good health and long life of Comrade Kim Jong Il and Comrade Hu Jintao.
Responding first, Comrade Ja Song Nam, Ambassador of the DPRK, expressed the delight of himself and his colleagues at having friends and comrades like the CPGB-ML in Britain. He said that the Workers’ Party of Korea and the Korean people are well aware of all our stands and activities. They were genuinely moved to have loyal and sincere comrades in Britain, who had never hesitated to stand united with them during some of the hardest and most arduous phases of their revolution, and the Korean party and people would never forget us.
Comrade Zhang Lirong, Political Counsellor of the Chinese Embassy, expressed the thanks of the Chinese comrades for the warm welcome and Comrade Harpal’s remarks. He said that it was true that the Chinese people and Communist Party had scored many achievements. However, he cautioned that his party was well aware of the fact that they still had a long way to go to reach their final goal and that many challenges and difficulties lay ahead. The Communist Party and the Chinese government were doing their best to solve these problems and they would remain sober minded and serious.
Comrade Zhang said that the Seventeenth Party Congress, held last October, had set the course for the next five to 10 years of China’s development. He affirmed that the Chinese communists by no means lose sight of their socialist goals and that the party is determined to build a society where all the Chinese people are equally well off, not just some sections of the people. (See Proletarian, Dec 07/Jan 08)
He went on to say that while China wished to develop good relations with every country, it also attached great importance to strengthening relations and exchanges with other communist parties, with whom it was united by the same goals and ideals.
The Chinese party, he said, wished to exchange views, study and learn from the analyses made by other communist parties on aspects of the contemporary international situation and a range of other issues. In this regard, they looked forward to continuing dialogue and exchanges with our party in the coming year and, Comrade Zhang concluded, the staff members of the Chinese Embassy stood ready to assist in this work.
Following these speeches, our party took the occasion to confer honorary membership on Comrade Marie Shapiro.
Now in her 96th year, Comrade Marie has been a staunch Marxist Leninist and unwavering communist revolutionary for eight decades. She joined the illegal and underground Communist Party of Poland at the age of 15 and as a teenager served nine months in the prison cells of the fascist dictator Pilsudski for distributing Communist Party leaflets in celebration of May Day, before being deported to Britain, a deportation that almost certainly saved her life.
Like her husband, Jack Shapiro, her late brother-in-law Michael Shapiro, and her late sister-in-law Liu Jinghe, Marie Shapiro is a model communist and a hero of the working class. It fills our party with pride and a great sense of duty that she has agreed to honour us by joining our ranks.
Receiving Comrade Marie’s party card from Comrade Harpal on her behalf, as she is now confined to home, Comrade Jack Shapiro explained how proud and happy his wife, comrade-in-arms and best friend was to once again return to the ranks of a genuine communist party, after many long and disappointing years as a result of the depredations of revisionism.
He shared with the comrades some memories of their happy and militant life together over more than seventy years, since they first met in a CPGB bookshop, raising their family and fighting together for the cause of communism. Jack referred in particular to the fact that Marie had gone to work in the Polish Embassy in London following the war, and with the founding of the Polish People’s Republic, and of the great kindness and humanity she brought to bear on issues such as reuniting and supporting families who had been divided and decimated by the ravages of fascism and war. (For more about the Shapiro family, see Proletarian, October 2007 and Lalkar, September 2007)
Besides a delicious Indian meal, comrades enjoyed a buffet generously provided by the Korean comrades. The Chinese comrades presented the party with a calendar containing beautiful reproductions of the paintings of Qi Baishi. Qi (1864-1957) is considered by many to be the most noted contemporary Chinese painter. From peasant origins, after liberation, he became a Deputy to the National People’s Congress, China’s parliament, and in 1953 was elected President of the Association of Chinese Artists.
The entire evening left our comrades enthused at the prospect of tackling the hard work of the year ahead in firm unity with our international comrades.
Long live proletarian internationalism!