Will China stay capitalist?

70 years of the People's Republic of China : The principle is to maintain power

There was no special speech given by Mao Zedong on October 1, 1949 at the Gate of Tiananmen in Beijing. He announced a few appointments and hesitated several times. He had already said the most important sentences a few days earlier at the consultative conference of the Chinese people: "The Chinese people have risen" and "Our state system, the people's democratic dictatorship, is a powerful weapon (...)".

Nevertheless, Mao Zedong officially announced the founding of the People's Republic of China that day in front of a hundred thousand people. Which is why the incumbent head of state and party leader Xi Jinping, who again likes to refer to Mao Zedong, can now also celebrate the 70th anniversary of the People's Republic of China on Tiananmen Square.

What happened in the 70 years?
Very, very much - and even more that has not yet been fully investigated because it is not in the interest of the Communist Party to come to terms with it. The founder of the state, Mao Zedong, who died in 1976, is still venerated in China as a liberator from Japanese and European colonialism, even though his rule cost the lives of many millions of Chinese. 45 million or perhaps even more are likely to have perished in the so-called “Great Leap Forward” (1958-1961). The campaign is considered the largest man-made famine in history.

Subsequently, reformers in the Chinese Communist Party gained influence, but Mao Zedong struck back with the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976). This time at least 1.5 million Chinese were killed again across the country as a result of the terror of the Red Guards, 100 million were indirectly affected. After Mao's death in 1976, Deng Xiaoping, who was never officially head of state of China, but in fact did, laid the foundation for today's China with his reform and opening policy. At the time, many hoped that the economic reforms could also be followed by political reforms. But on June 4, 1989, the rifles and tanks of the People's Liberation Army bloody destroyed the students' dreams of democratization.

Further texts on the People's Republic of China:

After Deng Xiaoping's trip to the south in 1992, to the economic metropolises of Shanghai and Shenzhen, China's steady rise to the second largest economy in the world began. And at the same time, the Communist Party has since legitimized its claim to power with the unwritten social contract: We ensure that everyone is doing better economically, you stay out of politics. Xi Jinping is continuing this pact, supplemented by his “Chinese dream”, which is also a promise of national strength.

How did the Communist Party stay in power for so long?
With an amazing ideological flexibility that actually only knows one principle: maintaining your own power. Deng Xiaoping justified his economic reforms, which were also used in the market economy, with the sentence: "It doesn't matter whether the cat is black or white - the main thing is that it catches mice." Continuity within narrow limits.

The official party judgment from the 1980s reads: Mao Zedong was 30 percent wrong and 70 percent right. In 2002 the party effectively gave up the old class struggle mandate and threw elements such as the "abolition of private property" or the "fight against the capitalist class" overboard. China has long followed capitalist market economy methods, but rejects the underlying western values.

“Socialism with Chinese characteristics” is the name of the Chinese model, whose long-term goal remains the realization of communism. Xi Jinping is increasingly relying on ideology again; his theories are compulsory reading in China, not just for party members and state employees.

At the same time, the authoritarian state takes merciless action against any kind of deviation. Ethnic minorities, religious groups or dissidents are monitored, persecuted and imprisoned. The budget for homeland security now even exceeds the expenditures for the military.

Where does China stand today?
Today no one can avoid China. It is only a matter of a few years before China overtakes the US as the largest economy. Chinese companies are already leaders in some areas of the future, such as electromobility or artificial intelligence. Economic success also brings with it tremendous military strength, with the country spending $ 250 billion this year on weapons and upgrading the military. China wants to be a military superpower by 2049 - on par with the US.

In general, authoritarian China is developing more and more clearly into the political adversary of the United States. The current trade war is just one expression of the increased competition. The country is trying, among other things, to expand its global influence through the billion-dollar infrastructure project “New Silk Road”. As a result, the Chinese government appears self-confident, lays claim to 90 percent of the South China Sea and threatens Taiwan, which Beijing has classified as a breakaway province, with violent reunification.

However, the Chinese government is currently facing greater challenges. In addition to the trade war with the USA, the democracy movement in Hong Kong is also clouding the celebrations from their point of view. The Communist Party has so far failed to contain the protest movement. On the contrary. Government, corporate and household debts are increasing, but the economy is growing more slowly. This is one of the reasons why Xi Jinping recently moved the ideological “struggle” to the fore.

Will there also be a 100th anniversary of the People's Republic?

At least the 72 years of existence of the Soviet Union are already within reach. And in contrast to this, the rule of the CP in China survived the global revolutions of 1989. Kristin Shi-Kupfer, political expert from the China research institute Merics, says: “So far there is no other strong political force in sight within China, so the Communist Party is likely to be even after a deep crisis, albeit with a different program and structure will still set the tone in 30 years. "

Minxin Pei, professor of government at Claremont McKenna College in California, writes in the South China Morning Post: “With the party's new Maoist turn - the strict ideological conformity, rigid organizational discipline and fear-based rule of a strong one Führer includes - the risks of catastrophic political mistakes also increase. "

And the Hong Kong democracy activist Joshua Wong also believes that a surprising end to the Chinese Communist Party and thus the People's Republic is possible. "In 1989, people also thought that the Berlin Wall would last forever," said Joshua Wong recently in Berlin, "and then suddenly it fell."

Now new: We give you 4 weeks of Tagesspiegel Plus! To home page