Today is the 60th anniversary of the People's Republic of China, an event that has drawn praise for China's economic leadership
and scorn for its human rights failures
. As Beijing is flooded with goose-stepping soldiers and clean energy workers waving
from parade floats, experts evaluate the state of China and its
communist rule. There's no question that China's middle class enjoys
dramatic economic progress while the Communist Party's still-tight grip
loosens, but many experts are asking how much their interests align. Do the Chinese people
and their leaders share the same goals, or are they pulling the world's
most populous country in disparate directions?
- Celebrate Chinese People, Not Politics Isabel Hilton argued
in the Guardian that China's rise is an accomplishment of the Chinese
people despite its political leadership. "The message is one of
prosperity and national strength under the
party's benign, enlightened leadership: a story exclusively of the last
three decades," she wrote. "It is more accurate to say that the people
lifted the Communist party out of poverty – once it had the sense to
get out of the people's way." Hilton described the Communist Party's
horrific abuses during its first 30 years of power. "Let us wish too
that the people soon have the right to their own version of history and
their own place in the parade."
- China Should Abandon its 'Big Lie' Minxin Pei wrote in the Financial Times
that communist China must acknowledge its troubled history, which has
been "whitewashed" out. The years from 1957 to 1976 "are known for the
worst human suffering, brutality and fanaticism in Chinese history."
For example, "Mao's Great Leap Forward, an ill-conceived
scheme to vault China into the industrialised world in 1958, led to the
worst famine in world history, in which about 36m people starved to
death." Pei explained, "The party's suppression of historical memory
carries a huge cost.
Beijing cannot expect to gain genuine international respect unless its
leaders confront history and achieve political reconciliation with
their people, many of them victims of the party’s failures during the
- Communist Party 'Divorced From its Subjects' Gordon G. Chang warned
of troublesome discord between Chinese leadership and people. "As the
late Samuel Huntington noted, instability occurs under many
conditions, but especially when political institutions do not keep up
with the social forces unleashed by economic change," he wrote. "When I
went to my
dad's hometown, dusty Rugao in Jiangsu province, last summer, no one
wanted to talk about the Olympics, which were seen as 'the government's
games.' Instead, almost everyone asked how American democracy worked
and who would win the presidential election." Chang is the author of a
book titled "The Coming Collapse of China."
- Why China Must Go Free-Market Foreign Policy's John Lee lamented the billion-strong lower class that makes China "the most unequal country in all Asia." He wrote, "While the
Chinese state is rich and the party powerful, civil society is weak and the
vast majority of people remain poor." He explained, "For example, according to a 2005 Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
report, more than 40 million households have had their lands illegally seized
by corrupt and unaccountable local officials over the past decade. In the
1990s, poverty alleviation slowed dramatically, and since 2000, the numbers of
those still in poverty actually doubled in absolute terms." Lee concluded China must "take its hands off the levers of economic power."
- Communist Party Clamping Down Again The Wall Street Journal's Asia edition editorial
anticipated an "uncertain future" for the party. "Party apparatchiks
are reasserting their control over the judiciary,
instructing judges to follow the Party first, then the people and the
law. The Party has also reasserted its control over information by
clamping down on the Internet and expanding state-run media," it wrote.
"Chinese economist Wu Jinglian, who helped guide China's transition to
market economy decades ago, is now warning about the reversal of
reform." It concluded, "Until China's leaders can trust their own
people to attend a parade—and
pass judgment from the ballot box—the so-called people's revolution
will remain unrealized."
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