By Adrian Chan-Wyles
LAST WEEKEND saw the annual Chinese New Year celebrations usher in the Year of Horse in and around Gerrard Street, that area of Soho known as London’s Chinatown. In the Chinese lunar calendar the New Year is counted as the 4712th since the rule of the legendary figure known as the Yellow Emperor (Huangdi). Whatever the actual historicity of Chinese civilisation, archaeology confirms that it is ancient.
The celebration of the Chinese New Year has spread out of China and into the international community, making it a truly multicultural affair. It is a time of old ritual now used in a modern context to facilitate psychological and physical renewal. Its widespread appeal is confirmed by the thousands who gathered before 10am on a cold Sunday morning at the beginning of February, to witness the parade that initiated the celebrations, to be followed by dragon, unicorn and lion dances up and down the streets.
What used to be limited to Gerrard Street is now spread out into Soho proper, and from there into Trafalgar Square, and what used to take an hour or two, now takes up most of the day. This is the general area of London lived in and frequented by Karl Marx in the latter half of the 19th century.
The police presence is always strong during Chinese New Year, but crime always remains small, despite the crowds. People from every conceivable ethnic group attend and are brought together in the celebration of what amounts to the looking forward to prosperity and good fortune for the year ahead. To this end, corporate business has its foot in the door. When families arrive in the general area they are met by a bewildering array of stalls selling all kinds of articles from food and drink, to balloons and toy horses and so forth.
A mobile telephone company was giving out colourful flags on wooden sticks to children who then ran around waving them. The flags said in Chinese characters ‘Sun Lin Fai Lok!’, or ‘Happy and Joyous New Year’, and above this message was the name of the mobile telephone corporation in big letters!
Small children ran around acting as free advertising for a brutal and ruthless capitalist business entity that does not care about their well being whatsoever. The parents looked on seemingly mindless of the exploitation unfolding in the name of celebration, that was being perpetuated (with their agreement) by big businesses using their children as commercial fodder.
The Labour Party was up to its usual tricks. It had a stall with information in both English and Chinese, hoping to recruit British born Chinese people to the Labour cause. Labour lurched dangerously to the right of the British political spectrum under Tony Blair and has never recovered.
In London, however, and amongst ethnic minorities such as the Chinese, Labour presents a false image that implies that it is in political accordance with the Communist Party of China, which it certainly is not. Labour has no intention of repealing the anti-union laws, or turning back the Tory cuts to the welfare State, the NHS, or the education system. Toward the mainstream British electorate, the Labour Party panders to the Tory Press and treats the ordinary British Worker as some kind of error or illness in the system. This is not surprising when it is considered that Clause Four has been removed from the Labour Party’s constitution, breaking the direct link with Karl Marx’s Communist Manifesto.
Chinese people are intelligent and should not fall for the Labour Party’s misleading political rhetoric. Only the communists can lead the people and mirror the success of the Communist Party in China. In this way Chinese New Year can be raised out of the feudal conditions that created it and used to create a truly progressive and advanced socialist society.