Seven myths about China

Seven myths about China, by Paul Monk. An interesting read, but one myth in particular stands out:

Myth 6: The Chinese Communist Party has lifted hundreds of millions of people out of poverty in the past 30 years

This needs to be put in clear ­perspective. It credits the party with something that, by and large, the Chinese people, unshackled from communism, have done for themselves.

The Communist Party kept China poor and oppressed for 30 years under Mao and inflicted enormous human and cultural damage on it. Then it opened up progressively to ­market forces and foreign investment, and hundreds of millions of its people lifted themselves out of poverty.

This began in the 1980s, with the peasants being told that, over and above their grain quota for the state, they could grow any other crops they chose and sell them on the open market. Food supplies trebled in short order.

Who lifted whom out of poverty here?

When Deng decided to experiment with special economic zones to bring capital and technology into a China that ­the Maoist autarchy and command economics had left destitute, he reached out to survivors of the old Chinese capitalist elite, many of whom had been on pig farms during the Cultural Revolution. He asked them, in exchange for seed capital, to reach out to their relatives in the diaspora and tell them that China was opening for business again. Within a few years, foreign direct investment began to pour into China.

Who lifted whom out of poverty here?

When China began to get on its feet, the OECD countries worked hard to draw it into the global trading order, including giving it membership in the World Trade Organisation while retaining its status as a ­“developing” nation and before it had privatised its strategic ­industries or financial system, or created a working, open stock exchange. It still has not done these things.

Who has been lifting whom out of poverty here?

hat-tip Stephen Neil