This week China has it's annual session of the National People's Congress, where the leadership gathers to deal with the contradictions of the Communist Party running a huge capitalist country - see this week's New Statesman article. They say that the CP 'struggles to find the words to explain its policies without telling the truth - that it has abandoned ideology, replacing it with a mixture of nationalism, expediency and the determination to remain in power. Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has just pronounced that 'China is and will remain in the primary stage of socialism for a long time.' [Read more below]
There is also a lengthy article in Germany's Der Spiegel magazine, in which modern communist China is chacterised as Red China Inc - essentially run by an all-powerful board of directors (or Politburo). After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it seems odd that another so-called communist country is 'relentlessly transforming itself into an economic superpower'. According to Der Spiegel, the West might ask, 'Does communism work after all?'. But The whole country 'amounts to gigantic low-cost factory' under conditions of 'unfettered capitalism'. The CP no longer uses the rhetoric of the revolutionary class struggle, but talks more in Confucius style language about the 'harmonious society'. Officially, the country is 'a social market economy with Chinese characteristics'. And workers rights are minimum - strikes have been forbidden since 1982, and there is seen to be a patience amongst workers. Yet the magazine notes that in '20005 alone, the Chinese authorities officially documented 87,000 incidents of social unrest in the People's Republic, mainly in rural areas'.
It is interesting to read that the CP 'employs about 30,000 censors to patrol the world of cyberspace', yet the last time I checked, this blog is available for viewing in the country.
But leaders and businesspeople in the West is both dazzled and alarmed by China's frenzied growth. Politicians note the global balance of power is shifting, while businesses are concerned about the effect of China on the profitability of the West. One Guardian report from the recent World Economic Forum said that, curiously, 'the global elite sounded like a lot of old-style trade union officials', and seemed genuinely worried that globalisation wasn't working for everyone. The Guardian explained this by reference to the elite feeling threatened by China but that 'it is generally not considered acceptable to attack them directly so the criticism takes the indirect form of expressing concern for Western workers'. Furthermore, China and other countries like India are being integrated into the world free market economy, which is in line with the elite's ideology, but in practice threatens their position, and 'it is easier to criticise China and other indirectly by feigning sympathy for Western workers as supposed victims of this process'. Signs of a protectionist backlash therefore builds.
Meanwhile, in ex-communist Russia, Trotsky's old meeting rooms on Red Square has just been demolished by the Kremlin to be replaced by a luxury hotel. Apparently more than 2000 historic buildings have been demolished since 1991 - the country's history is essentially being erased.