Recently your correspondent Ben Sagal-Morris has written about a timely topic, the 70th birthday of communist regime in China. His conjecture on whether China is staying true to socialism and giving up on world revolution chances upon the million-dollar question: the intent of the CCP leadership. Secluded from public view, their deliberation can only be glimpsed from oracular pronouncements. Inference of their intent is always difficult, as rhetoric can be alternately sincere, boastful or deceptive.
The most significant narrative calls for going back to the founding virtues of the Communist Party. Ahead of the pageantry of celebration, Xi Jinping has visited historic sites of the communist revolution to commemorate the difficult times. His numerous speeches in past two years taps into the spirit of the past when the party was a startup. Reading between the lines, one can only guess what is on the agenda once economic development goals are accomplished. Fundamentalism emerges as the keyword among party watchers.
Socialism with Chinese Characteristics demands that China crafts its own path of transition, and a hot topic among ideologues is whether China can skip the stage of advanced capitalism and find a shortcut to communism. This is called skipping the Caudine Forks, a reference to a humiliating defeat the Romans suffered under Hannibal, before they triumphed at the end. Mao decided prematurely to skip the Caudine Forks, a lesson party leaders no doubt remember.
But development in recent years is encouraging for those who relish a good leap. Despite the promise of economic liberalization, the playing field slopes in favor of the public sector at the expense of private sector. State Owned Enterprises monopolize access to credits and enjoy exclusive leverage dealing with red tapes. The private sector, accounting for 60% of GDP, no doubt feels more squeeze from economic slowdown. Since last year, Jack Ma’s retirement from Alibaba sparked speculations over nationalization of China’s tech giants that had become a crucial part in the nation’s economic fabric. At the end, whether the state will hold controlling stakes or not, it will hold more sway over these businesses. Technologically, the development of big data, widespread use of electronic payment, ubiquitous surveillance and social credit system all provide useful tools for the planners to manage the economy, analyzing the details of every consumer’s spending and commuting habits. True believers will be able to keep their hope alive.
UConn, Office of Early College Programs Department, PhD Candidate
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