The rise of China owes absolutely zero to communism. China still Leninist.

The rise of China owes absolutely zero to communism. China still Leninist. By Greg Sheridan.

China’s economic development since 1979 has owed absolutely nothing to communist ideology. Although on a bigger scale, it is pretty much the standard East Asian economic development template followed in Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Vietnam and to some extent other Southeast Asian nations.

Reduced to its simplest, and ­allowing for national variations, this involves in most cases using initially an agricultural surplus to invest in low-tech, labour-intensive manufacturing. State subsidies go to manufacturers, especi­ally early on, the economy is organised for producers rather than consumers, and while free trade is sometimes paid lip service, protectionism and export subsidies, under various disguises, are used to move up the technology ladder, build export industries and win export market share.

This builds up capital for more strategic investment. This model contradicted free market theory. I remember asking John Dawkins when he was trade minister in the mid-1980s how the free market squared with Japanese economic success. He told me Japan would be forced to comply with free market rules in the future.

This was nonsense. The East Asian model succeeded and was never undone. Some scholars argue that, proportionately, South Korea produced the biggest and most rapid rise from poverty. China’s economic rise has ­uniquely distorted global trade ­because its economy is so big. …

Leninism:

Left-wing extremism … is the official ideology of ­numerous ruling parties in several parts of the world. Here we must realise that Marxism was ­intrinsically one of the most evil ideologies that humanity has ever invented. It is the twin of Nazism, though it killed more people in the 20th century than Nazism did.

Everything about Marxism was evil or ridiculous, or both. Every word of it was a lie. Its ideas were absurd and never described any existing reality nor ever predicted any emerging reality. …

The Chinese communists came to power in a conventional civil war, after the Nationalists had exhausted themselves in part by fighting the Japanese. None of the communist regimes came to power through a proletarian ­revolt. There was no widespread ­industrial proletariat in Russia in 1917, still less in Cuba, Vietnam, North Korea or anywhere else communist tyranny triumphed.

The key figure in the historic development of communism was not Marx, or Mao Zedong, or Stalin, but Lenin. The Chinese Communist Party is best understood as a Leninist party. Lenin’s central contribution, both intellectual and programmatic, was his ruthless understanding of how to seize and retain state power.

This is the true heart of all communist ideology — the ruthless pursuit and maintenance of power. Almost everyone in modern China is materially better off than most Chinese have ever been. This is a big achievement but China is not remotely egalitarian, as communism would notionally desire. There are vastly more billionaires in its national parliament than in the US congress.

While the modern Chinese leadership has certainly reversed many communist economic policies, it has never reduced its fidelity to Leninism. If anything, Xi’s ­removal of term limits, reduction of institutional legalism, downgrading of traits of collective leadership and increased oppression of religious and ethnic minority groups and legal rights lawyers is a purer expression of Leninism than the cautious political reform of his recent predecessors.