Editorial: Can socialism save China? | Apple Daily HK
In recent years, the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) expansion policy is backed by strong national power. Since Xi Jinping came to power, he has advocated the “Four Confidences”, confidence in the path, theory, system, and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics; in summary, these constitute confidence in the “superiority” of socialism. The CCP self-hypnotized into believing that China has the national power it has today thanks to a centralized socialist system that 'concentrates power to do great things", but has socialism ever saved China? In today’s thorny path along which China walks, will socialism still come to the rescue?
If socialism can save China, why is it that the people have never had a good life since the founding of the CCP? Why are the two countries with centralized powers, North Korea and Cuba, still falling behind after decades? And Communist Vietnam, which insists on adhering to a market economy, has taken off economically?
At the beginning of its establishment, the CCP implemented a privatized economy for a short while. It gave it no time for things to truly revive before turning immediately to a cooperative collective economy that led to a great famine. The CCP also borrowed the “three self, one guarantee” strategy to resuscitate the individual economy. Only after a short moment to catch a breath, Mao Zedong launched the Cultural Revolution, and the economy was once again on the verge of collapse. Deng Xiaoping adopted reforms and the open-door policy, introduced a market economy, and once again saved the CCP – socialism has time and again been a mistake that had to be rescued by capitalism. History has made that very clear.
China lacks national power. It is neither because the Chinese people are stupid, nor are they lazy. It is because the CCP’s centralized rule has restricted productivity. When the means of production are nationalized, the enthusiasm and proactiveness in the people are stifled by collective labor. Political movements continue, people are easily alarmed, and the authoritarian system has suffocated the production enthusiasm and creativity of the Chinese people.
At the beginning of the reform, the CCP relaxed its spiritual and cultural constraints on the people. The Chinese people got bolder and attempted new production technologies and business strategies within this open market space. ‘Let a few get rich first," gave birth to the first wave of momentum for development.
When the development funds were insufficient, the government introduced foreign capital; as foreign capital flowed in, so did modern technology and management methods. The CCP acquiesced to the corruption of low-level government officials to increase the enthusiasm of those in the higher levels. It based political performance on GDP figures, and encouraged competition among different provinces and cities to stimulate the vitality of production in society.
The CCP took lessons from the Western countries and vigorously developed infrastructure, including building high ways and power plants, injecting new energy into the sluggish economic structure. The entire country looked towards money in unity, and officials and the people tasted its sweetness for the first time. Later on, Zhu Rongji implemented the reform of state-own enterprises, and pushed them into the market. He also implemented tax reforms to give the central government greater fiscal power and laid the foundation for the economy to take off.
China’s economy grew rapidly after the reform and opening up, but it was neither because of socialism’s enterprise owned by the whole people, nor the leadership of the centralized power. On the contrary, it is the relaxed control of the central government, which relieved political constraints and released the proactivity, enthusiasm and creativity within civil society. The CCP hopped onto the momentum of capitalism to defrost the stubbornness of socialism, thawing society, and allowing for a new situation to sprout.
Every time the CCP revives its socialist fanaticism, the economy plunges and the people suffer; every time the CCP takes advantage of capitalism, the economy revives and the people live a good life. Is it socialism that is saving China, or is it capitalism?
Regrettably, a centralized system is the lifeblood of the CCP. It hides its ability and bides its time during troubling times; but once recovered, it falls back on its bad habits, forgets the pain, and never learns from the past. In recent years, the country has advanced but the people have fallen backward, and state-owned enterprises have monopolized both resources and the market. The room for private enterprises has been narrowing by the day. The CCP thought that resources are the country’s resources, and the market is the country’s market. When the economy is attaining energy and a foundation, socialism should dominate the world. What they are forgetting is that what has repeatedly rescued the Chinese people is not the autocratic system in socialism, but really the market economy in capitalism.
The CCP is reluctant to forgo socialism, because only socialism can protect the interests of dignitaries and powerful families. If capitalism is allowed to expand excessively, it will inevitably destroy the room for socialism to exist. Therefore, after the CCP has secured a firm foothold in the economy, it has immediately set off on suppressing the individual economy to prevent socialism from being exploited and hollowed out. In the end, this is not a misjudgment, but an ultimate choice for one-party selfishness.
Since ancient times and still holds true today, whether it is in China or around the world, only proactivity, enthusiasm, and creativity of the people can truly drive long-term economic development. Socialist politics and cultural restrictions are the spiritual shackles that are stifling the vitality of the Chinese economy at the moment. Although China’s economy is gigantic, the large number of technological and scientific achievements is thanks to import, and the great accumulation of wealth is thanks to foreign investment. Once it returns to the old path of autocracy, the driving force for economic development will be exhausted quickly. Coupled with the shortcomings of the system, the continuous breeding of leeches in the treasury, the grievances of the people, and the long-term consumption of energy for economy construction, China has landed on another pivotal moment at the verge of a Cultural Revolution revival where the prospects are bleak.
The “Four Confidences” is no longer a slogan being chanted, "building a shared destiny for humankind’ is no longer a song being sung. Faced with misfortunes on the outside, and returning to the thorny path of internal circulation, banking on socialism to come to the rescue is but pure self-hypnosis.
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