An Eyewitness Account from The Canberra April 24 Pro-Peoples Republic of China Rally
From The Bright Depths of The Sea of Red
April 6, 2008: PRC supporters in London gather to watch Olympic torch relay.

I was immediately impressed by the "sea of red" around me. The red was from the red pro-communist flag of the Peoples Republic of China (PRC). These flags were everywhere. And there were thousands of vibrant young people carrying them. This was the scene in Canberra on April 24. The day of the Olympic torch relay.

I had gone to Canberra to support the expected pro-PRC rally. But not even in my most optimistic dreams did I think that it would be so big. ABC radio, which is downright hostile to the PRC, reported that there were tens of thousands of pro-China demonstrators. And even the next morning's mainstream papers, which are equally anti-communist, reported the pro-China rallies as variously being 10,000 or 20,000 strong. Probably they were up to 30,000 strong.

There has not been such a huge show of support for a pro-communist flag in this country in at least the last 30 years, perhaps ever. The PRC flag is often referred to as "the five star flag." It contains one big star and four small stars on a red background. The flag was adopted as the Chinese flag by Mao's Chinese revolutionaries when they triumphed over capitalist and landlord rule in the latter part of 1949. The red background of the flag symbolises the revolution. Meanwhile, the big star symbolises the leadership of the Communist Party in the liberation struggle. The combination of yellow stars on a red background is meant to be similar to the famous yellow hammer and sickle on a red background that was the Soviet Union's flag.

Fighting Back

Of course, the reason that this pro-PRC rally took place at all is that there has been an anti-communist, China-bashing campaign in Western countries. The right-wing French president Sarkozy and U.S. politicians have threatened a boycott of the Beijing Olympics' opening ceremony. Meanwhile Kevin Rudd, while addressing students in Beijing, arrogantly attacked China's supposed "human rights" violations in Tibet.

But the government of Cuba and Fidel Castro personally have come out strongly against the anti-PRC campaign and against the Dalai Lama. So too have people like Venezuelan leader Hugo Chavez and many leaders of Third World countries. Pro-PRC supporters living in the West were energetically fighting back as well. There had already been thousands-strong pro-China demonstrations in Sydney and Melbourne a few days ago. Now PRC supporters in Australia were going to Canberra. They were going to stop anti-PRC forces from disrupting the torch relay. Interrupting the torch relay has become the current favoured propaganda method of anti-communist China-bashers. PRC supporters were not going to trust Australian authorities to stop this from happening here. PRC supporters knew that the authorities in Paris and San Francisco were lying when they claimed that they had no choice but to abandon scheduled relay legs there and to shuttle the Olympic torch in secret. It was a self-constructed fiasco, an attempt by authorities to embarrass China by playing up the extent of the anti-PRC protests. Several large rallies in China have already condemned the French government's connivance with anti-PRC forces during the Paris torch relay leg. But what happened in Paris and San Francisco was not going to be allowed to happen in Canberra. No way, said pro-PRC Chinese students!

The Canberra torch relay leg was scheduled for the morning of a weekday in a city that is several hours drive from either Sydney or Melbourne. But still a big crowd of pro-PRC demonstrators was expected. Trotskyist Platform (TP) comrades were exhausted from frantic building of another campaign and we had been just starting to take a few days to rest and recharge. But it was important to solidarise with the pro-PRC action. So I was going to represent TP at the demonstration and as well hand out copies of the 29 March TP, Open Letter of Solidarity with Consular Staff of The Peoples Republic of China And with China's Masses. The Open Letter noted that, "the capitalist ruling classes in the U.S., Britain, Germany, France, Australia etc have no interest in the well being of the Tibetan masses. They are using the Tibet issue to put pressure on the PRC. Their aim is to weaken the PRC workers state, so that they will be able to bring back capitalism to all of China."