Yves here. On the one hand, the Chinese Communist Party does deserve a lot of credit for the simply remarkable rise in living standards in China. I don’t know if this factoid is still true, but as of about ten years ago, Jospeh Stiglitz pointed out that all of the reduction in poverty in developing economies was due to the rise of China. Other low income countries, on average, had stood still as China marched ahead.
On the other, the Chinese Communist Party’s apparent success was due in large measure to China being allowed to enter the WTO despite not meeting its entry conditions. The US was particularly keen to see China join, since the belief was that a more prosperous China would become more democratic and therefore aligned with the West. That movie didn’t work out according to script.
Finally, I wonder what readers make of the closing jibe about Taiwan. I must confess to not knowing much about its founding period, but I would assume that the Chinese who fled were not peasants. If true, having a high or even moderate skill level in population would seem to confer considerable advantage.
By Barkley Rosser, Professor of Economics at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. Originally published at EconoSpeak
July 1, 2021 is now over in China but for a few more moments it is still the centennial of the Chinese Communist Party where I am. Just a couple of observations. This is partly driven by seeing multiple posts on Econbrowser by “ltr” praising the Chinese Communist Party and not allowing for even a hint of crirticism.
So indeed there is much to praise in the Peoples’ Republic of China (PRC) today, with indeed by and large the CCP able to take credit for leading to these outcomes. These include such widely publicized matters as apparently eliminating deep poverty, having a successful space program that is matching achievements made by the US in the past and is moving into new ones in the future such as a joint moon base with Russia. It also includes developing a substantial solar energy industry, and getting the largest real economy in the world according to PPP GDP measure. There is much more, a lot more.
Of course, most critics note current problems that are being either ignored or lied about, with the treatment of the Uyghurs in Xinjiang at the top of the list. But policy in other minority areas such as Tibet, suppression of liberties in Hong Kong, aggressive policies towards many neighbors, and suppression of efforts to determine the origin of the Covid-19 virus.
However, I think the Chinese Communist Party should be willing to admit some past disasters, especially as they can argue they have moved beyond them, overcome them. At the top of this list is the massive famine in which millions died that accompanied the Great Leap Forward. There is also the horrible mistreatment of many people during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. These were excesses of Maoism. But they were overcome by following the Dengist reforms later, with Deng Xiaoping labeling the Mao legacy ad 70% good and 30% bad.
More deeply there is the problem that if one compares the PRC to the ROC, the government on Taiwan, which predated the Chinese Communist Party, its record is simply far superior. Aside from things that can be achieved by a very large country, Taiwan has a superior performance on pretty much all economic, social, and political measures. The latter not only is a functioning two party democracy, but it has a far higher real per capita income, as well as much greater income equality.
The Chinese Communist Party could have done a lot better.