Sunday, 29 September 2019

Communist China at 70…

I’ve got to say “communist”  because it’s just the founding of the People’s Republic that’s being celebrated on 1 October.  For China, the country, the nation, the notion, could be celebrating, who knows? maybe 5000 years. The invention of writing, Confucianism, the compass, and all.
Though at the same time “communist” isn’t quite right either as China is a “unitary socialist republic”. And there’s a difference between socialism and communism.
Beijing now follows what it calls “socialism with Chinese characteristics” a mixed economic system with private and state capitalism. While the political system of government is Leninist authoritarian.
So how they doing?
Answer: mixed.
The good: economy grown 10% pa for last forty years. Wages increased 14% pa. 500 million people lifted from poverty. Stability: if China lost control we’d have millions of refugees rather than millions of tourists. Really, which would we prefer?
The bad: revolting treatment of Uygur Muslims (a million sent to what? labour camps? Vocational training centres?). Censorship. IPR theft.
The ugly:
  • Largest CO2 emitter (IEA)
  • 135 out of 162 in Human Rights index (CATO)
  • 177 out of 180 in Press freedom (Reporters Without Borders)
  • Bottom in Internet freedom (Freedom House)
Challenges: Treatment of minorities, esp. Uygurs. Economy slowing. World economy could go into recession. Leftism. (Also a US challenge…). Hong Kong. How to improve soft power: science, IP, World view of China (mostly negative). Environment. Energy (Renewables).
The nature of 70… not just people getting tired, so do regimes. In Confucian Analects it’s 七十而从心所欲, “when you turn seventy you can relax and go where your heart desires”. Have the cadres had it, are they tired? Do they want to head off to where their heartstrings pull them? Is Xi reaching his use-by date? I don’t think so, but some do, and you will be wise - you will be an enlightened Confucian person (君人) - to keep it in mind.