Is the People’s Republic of China a Force for Good?

I must admit I wasn’t going to read this story from Australia, but it is doing the rounds on the state-run media (ABC) and Fairfax media. The ABC calls it, “Australia’s sovereignty under threat from influence of China’s Communist Party,” while Fairfax calls it “China’s Operation Australia.” The story carefully tries to present an image of an authoritarian communist party reaching out its evil tentacles to threaten the just causes of “democracy activists.” It also gives significant weight to well-known China-bashers, and makes light of other views.

But the story actually reveals a rather different picture despite itself. To begin with, the acts of the Chinese “democracy activists” actually constitute acts of treason. Why? They are seeking to overthrow the state in China and impose bourgeois democracy  (which has been repeatedly ruled out as leading to social chaos, in contrast to China’s socialist democracy). Try to overthrow the state anywhere else and you will promptly be in prison. By contrast, the Chinese authorities seem to be remarkably patient with these people.

Second, the overwhelming number of people who turn up in the story supporting the People’s Republic is the real story. The vast majority of Chinese-language newspapers that work hard to counter the corporate media’s negative images (as witnessed by this story), the well-placed Australians of Chinese background who seek to present a more realistic picture, and the thousands upon thousands of students in the Chinese Students’ and Scholars’ Association who come out to welcome visits by Chinese leaders – all these support in various ways the Communist Party and the People’s Republic. The story tries and fails to spin all of these as controlled by the Communist Party. Instead, we need to ask why all these people support China. The reason, as people here tell me again and again, is that the Communist Party has for the last forty years led an incredible process of reforming the Chinese economy into a world power. They know their lives have improved immeasurably, in which the process of reform is based on revolution. This is what is meant by ‘socialism with Chinese characteristics’ and a ‘socialistically modernised society’.

The upshot: the few people championed in these reports threaten to undermine all of these achievements. No wonder the vast majority is not impressed.

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15 thoughts on “Is the People’s Republic of China a Force for Good?

  1. I have noticed that since China has been presenting a ‘reasonable’ face to the world, and cooperating more with the west, that those who oppose the system there (Taiwan, and ex-pats) are becoming more vocal. Perhaps we are seeing the end of their hope for a return to the pre-revolutionary days.
    Best wishes, Pete.

  2. I’m working on Xi’s book now and it is allaying some of my concerns about China’s development and long-term strategy, but I still don’t quite understand why China has to flirt with capitalism so much. The Soviet Union became a superpower without resorting to capitalist “reforms.”

    It hurts my feelings that China has billionaires. Why couldn’t the economy be completely state-owned? Is capitalism allowed as a concession to the West in order to facilitate trade, foreign investment and technology transfers that come with it? If so, then why not acknowledge that fact openly?

    When Lenin began the NEP he openly acknowledged that it was a strategic retreat. He didn’t call it socialism with Russian characteristics.

    I hope these concerns of mine are taken as constructive criticism, which is my intent. I’m sure there is still a lot that I just don’t understand and the answers will come as I read and study more.

    At any rate, China’s accomplishments in lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty speaks for itself.

    1. A beginning point is to take seriously the Chinese term ‘socialist market economy’ (not market socialism as in Yugoslavia). I will write a post on it, but my research here is in its early stages. The beginning point is that most markets throughout history have not been capitalist markets, that is, markets where the primary purpose was to make profits.

      1. Yes, excellent point! I was also thinking that while the term, “the market” or “markets” has become synonymous with capitalism, this is not necessarily always the case. If I’m not mistaken a market simply refers to the exchange of goods and/or services and that has been happening long before capitalism and is not tied to a capitalist system of private ownership of productive property. Just because there are markets does not preclude the role of planning or state/public control over the economy.

        Thanks, Roland!

  3. As you are working on Chinese Communism, in the future will you offer a reply and rebuttal to Enver Hoxha and his followers who claimed that Mao “sold out”?

      1. My view of the “fall” is in terms of the Sino-Soviet split, the seeds of which were sown with Khrushchev’s “secret speech” no doubt, but culminated with the Nixon rapprochement with China in the early seventies. I think the Sino-Soviet split did enormous damage to the international communist movement. I don’t believe that Khrushchev was the complete “revisionist” that some have made him out to be, but he did commit a grievous error in his slanders against Stalin. Mao and Deng after him also committed errors by collaborating with the US against the USSR.

        I think we need to recognize the mistakes of the past and learn lessons from them, but not get bogged down and demoralized by them. The question is, where do we go from here?

        Again, we should acknowledge the errors committed by communist leaders, but I also like and agree with the Deng Xiaoping quote that, “We will not do to Mao what Khrushchev did to Stalin.”

        Our leaders are and were human – they should not be either deified or demonized. We need to stick to a scientific and rational approach.

      2. As Xi Jinping said of Mao, but it applies to any communist leader: ‘Revolutionary leaders are not gods, but human beings. We cannot worship them like gods or refuse to allow people to point out and correct their errors just because they are great; neither can we totally repudiate them and erase their historical feats just because they made mistakes’.

      3. Do you think in Communist Heaven, Mao would reply to Enver by asking him to remind him whose country is still run by a Communist party?

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