Thursday, July 1, 2021

On The Centennial Of The Chinese Communist Party

 July 1, 2021 is now over in China but for a few more moments it is still the centennial of the CCP where I am.  Just a couple of observations.  This is partly driven by seeing multiple posts on Econbrowser by "ltr" praising the CCP 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 CCP 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 CCP, 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 CCP could have done a lot better.

Barkley Rosser


Thomas I Palley said...

I'm not sure about your argument at the end comparing the PRC to the ROC.

The question is do you think China would be in a better place if Chiang Kai-Shek had won the civil war?

It's a massive counter-factual, but the Kuomintang were not doing a great job before they lost the civil war.

And surely Taiwan's relatively good performance has also been significantly influenced by the PRC threat, which has induced greatly improved political economic behavior? said...

Point well taken, Tom. Of course we do not know.

And Taiwan had some advantages upfront that are rarely discussed. Some of these have to do with it having been ruled by Japan for half a century, with that having two effects. One was that the Japanese had built some important infrastructure. The other was that because much of the land had been taken over by the Japanese, it made it easier for Chiang Kai-shek to carry out the "land to the tiller" land reform that he should have done on the mainland.

Of course the other part of this argument is that when it became clear how well Taiwan was doing, PRC could have imitated ROC more, but did not, although arguably Dengist reforms moved in that direction. But it is seriously telling that income equality is much greater in Taiwan than PRC, which has greater equality than does Hong Kong, a major problem there and one PRC government is now emphasizing as they end political and civil liberties there.

Andre Surkis said...

Here I fully agree with you that the CCP must be ready to acknowledge some past calamities, especially when they can claim to have gone beyond them, overcome them.