It was 1922 when followers of Communism usurped power and established the former Soviet Union, but what laid the foundation of this communist state were the February and October Revolutions of Russia in 1917. Today, at the centennial of the first communist regime, there have been many reflections on Communism’s slaughtering of humanity. Mainstream media in the US such as the New York Times also published a series of articles on Communism.
However, one article by Zhang Yan entitled “How the Communist Party Guides China to Success” on the Chinese version of the New York Times in February was a real shocker. People cannot help but wonder if American media was entrapped by the Chinese Communist, or walked into the trap on their own, as it advocated something that only the People’s Daily could possibly voice and something that fits squarely into the “Grand Foreign Propaganda” plan of the Chinese Communist Party!
Zhang Yan is in fact Ian Denis Johnson, a Canadian American journalist working mainly on China and German news. He was a reporter for the Wall Street Journal in Beijing. In 2001, Johnson received his Pulitzer Prize for reporting on the persecution of Falun Gong by the CCP. In 2004, Johnson published his well-received book “Wild Grass”, a triplet of stories on contemporary China.
Johnson’s article claims that the Chinese Communist Party guided China to it “success”. Nevertheless, how is “success” defined in this context? Is GDP the only measure of success for the Chinese nation? What if the GDP number in itself is fabricated and false? The current Chinese premier secretly told US Ambassador that his province (when he was governor of a Chinese province) was not reporting its GDP number accurately and that he did not even trust the statistics himself. If we go beyond the economic that is full or falsification, real estate bubbles, and overcapacity, how about other measures of success for any state, such as culture and tradition, morality and ethics, fair election, and environment? From which angle and vantage point did Johnson view the current state of China? If viewed from the perspective of the people and not the elites, the vista is going to be quite different. If seen from the privileged view of the Communist Party of China, the party is indeed quite “successful”, as it is singing in the wind even though forerunners of Communist governments, such as former Soviet Union and Easter Block countries, are long gone and trashed by their people.
Johnson quoted Debastian Heilmann, founding president of the Mercator Institute of Chinese Studies (Merics) in Berlin and a government professor at the University of Trier. One of Heilmann’s major works, a comprehensive guide to how China is governed, is being translated into English as “China’s Political System.” In an interview, Mr. Heilmann discussed the “underappreciated strengths” of China’s political system, the operation and functions of various ministries and commissions under the CCP.
Johnson and Heilmann seemed very impressed by CCP’s cadre system. They acknowledged that in the West, policies were enacted by law and executed by civil servants. However, in China, “the implementation of the policy depends on the cadres, who are given clear indicators and goals to complete their performance and are told to do things.” “The policy transformation program is managed through the cadre system, rather than through the law.” If Johnson believes this is a “success” factor of CCP’s governance, it would simply be an insult to the wisdom of the Chinese people and a saying that the Chinese people are unworthy of having a bona fide justice system. The people of China suffered tremendously from the rule of power, or rule of man, during the eras from Mao Zedong to Jiang Zemin. A system with corrupt officials wantonly flourishing in a law-less society, that is not what the people of China desires in the post-Communist Chinese state.
Johnson praised long-term political goal of the Chinese Communist Party in developing industrial technology or modernization, and the focus of resources on priority areas is a kind of strength in the initial stage of development. This seemingly great strength is in fact a weakness. Even in the initial stage of development, the CPC’s “capitalist industrial and commercial transformation” cramped the development of Chinese economy. The so-called centralized national resources, or the “nationwide system”, is so notorious and something the Chinese people know extremely well and loathe tremendously. The “success” of the nationwide system in competitive sports such as Ping Pong did nothing good to the people, but only adding to the bragging rights of the party. Today, even the Chinese Communist Party itself found the “nationwide system” and the sports card not of much use, and the people could really care less and less, if any at all, about the performance of Chinese athletes in Olympic Games, etc.
Johnson admired how “surprisingly flexible” the bureaucratic system is in China, and the “flexibility was born in the revolutionary practice of the Communist.” Westerners may feel that this nationwide “experiment” is efficient, swift, and effective because people in the West often criticize the democratic system for being too slow and inefficient in decision-making and execution. Yet the Chinese people are more aware of the lack of democratic mechanisms, oversight, and the consequences of hasty decision-making processes. From the indigenous steelmaking in people’s back yard in the 1950’s to the Three Gorges Dam, to Jiang Zemin’s hasty decision to suppress Falun Gong spiritual movement, the CCP’s deeply rooted bureaucracy was not efficient, but autocratic, dictatorial, arbitrary, and hugely wasteful.
Johnson wondered, “How does a socialist bureaucracy get this adaptation that is not seen in Eastern Europe?” He argues that this is “due to the specific historical experience of the CCP.” This conclusion is also very absurd. The “adaptability” of Chinese society is not a unique feature of the Chinese Communist Party. The Chinese nation as a whole has always been highly inclusive, adaptable, assimilatory and learning-oriented. In its five thousand years of history, China integrated with high degree of assimilation more than 50 ethnic groups within its boundary, including the Mongols and Manchurians that once ruled the central kingdom by force.
Johnson found that the Chinese model could not be duplicated, because “these other countries don’t have a Communist Party with the special history and features of China’s.” “When people want to know whether the Western model is the best in the world, China’s experience is an eternal question mark.”
Indeed, the Chinese model is not replicable, because there is no other party in the world that is as violent, as evil, as brutal, and as bloodthirsty as the Chinese Communist Party! In addition, no other people in our world are as tolerant and forbearing as the Chinese people are! The Communist Party of China is indeed a “Grand Master”, because it assembled in itself the worst of all evils of humanity: from the repression in Chinese history to the darkest of European history, and to the tyranny of Russian Communists. The CCP model is not good at all, the application of such model in Southeast Asia, Venezuela, and Africa have brought disasters to those people. In fact, communist and socialist style economic policies in Greece, Iceland, and other European countries have dragged the Western civilization deep into hot water. The people of China know that the Western model may not be the best in the world, but the CCP’s communist model is certainly the worst of all!
Three years ago, I wrote an article entitled “Marx’s Curse is happening in China,” where I pointed out that the overall crises of China’s economy, coupled with the political crisis of the Chinese Communist Party, makes even the hardline Chinese communist theorists think twice and reflect on Marx’s theory. Although Marx’s theory was a prediction of capitalism more than a hundred years ago, its anger and hostile curse and speculation, the description of the phenomenon, is in fact vividly presenting themselves in China today. Overcapacity in China nowadays is exactly what Marx predicted: overproduction in capitalist society! What Marx hoped to be leading to capitalist “demise” is leading the Chinese economy into demise. China has not only real estate bubbles at present, but also surplus and excess in raw materials, production, transportation, and energy production as well.
Johnson also contemplated about what the Chinese political system will be like if Xi Jinping suddenly becomes seriously ill, “hierarchical systems are susceptible to shocks” and “The system has been tailored to him. Or, if there are military skirmishes, how will the nationalistic forces in society react?” Exactly! Isn’t that precisely the reason the practice of the communism is not a “success”? America never fear about illness or natural death of their leaders, only CCP and Kim Jongun are worried about that! We just hope people in editorial departments of mainstream American media are not overly concerned about that as well…
Dr. Frank Tian Xie is John M. Olin Palmetto Chair Professor in Business and Associate Professor of Marketing at the University of South Carolina Aiken, in Aiken, South Carolina, U.S.A.