Beijing’s recently launched “common prosperity” development model is clearly already having an impact. But do the West and its allies see it the right way? Nervous fund managers looking at their Chinese portfolios are tearing their hair out. And journalists associated with Western mainstream and corporate media such as the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, CNN. Nikkei Asia and the Financial Times have now found a new reason to further demonize China and engage in further denigration of China.
The message conveyed by the Western media and ideologically obsessed allies with China is not just how investments in Chinese stocks in sectors such as education, big tech, real estate and services are affected by a range of new and unexpected policies. This is to sound the alarm bells on what some propagandist commentators describe as the ideological ramifications of the “new” Chinese socialism.
According to a recent article in the National Review, America’s influential bimonthly conservative editorial magazine that focuses on news and commentary on political, social and cultural affairs:
Now, however, global investors can no longer dismiss the image that the CCP cultivates at home. It is the image of a recalcitrant but evolved Marxism, of a new socialism adapted to the 21st century and ready to harness the power of profit to serve the interests of the CCP.
And apparently for the author of the article, this “new socialism” or “Marxism with Chinese characteristics” is being launched to take hold of the United States and the rest of the world. This development based on “the power of profit motivation” would undoubtedly cause Adam Smith and Karl Marx to turn in their graves at the same time.
Across the Pacific, seeking to outdo its US counterparts in anti-China media competition, a Nikkei Asia article by the agency’s senior editor on the latest political developments in China is titled provocatively gloomy and deliberately misleading, Xi’s China floats a dangerous “revolution” test balloon.
Common principles of prosperity
So what exactly is there about this “recalcitrant but evolved Marxism” and this coming “revolution” that has some of the western media undergarments in a twist and guts in an uproar?
During its recent August meeting on the state of the country’s economy, the Chinese Communist Party pointed out that
- China would focus on moderate wealth for all, rather than a few
- The planned measures included restrictions on “excessive” income and encouraging the rich to give more to society.
The goal of “common prosperity” for the next stage of the country’s development to become a modern socialist country was announced to allow all citizens to share the opportunity to be rich. The meeting notes emphasized that this was a way to “properly address the relationship between efficiency and equity”.
Balanced development without letting it happen
There is nowhere in the meeting notes and reports that can be used to accuse the Chinese authorities of being revolutionary or anti-capitalist. Or eliminate free markets and private enterprise. Or work towards the goal of absolutely even distribution. In fact, according to a CNBC translation, the following assurance to the party – and also presumably aimed at critical China watchers and nervous investors – was made by President Xi:
“Finance is at the heart of the modern economy, linked to development and security. It must follow the principles of commodification and the rule of law, and coordinate the prevention and resolution of major financial risks.
What is clear in this prominent – not secret – reunion event by state media, immediately after the party celebrated its 100th anniversary in July, which pledged to modernize and rejuvenate China. its people, is not only the determination of the party to improve its governance. practices in the repression of big technologies, financial corruption and manipulative free market practices.
A more important concern – although not explicitly discussed in detail – is knowing that the income disparity between rich and poor in China must be addressed aggressively. Despite the remarkable success of the national anti-poverty program, inequalities in China have increased dramatically. China had more than 5 million US dollar millionaire households at the end of last year, according to a Credit Suisse report. In 2020, the richest 1% of Chinese held 30.6% of the country’s wealth, up from 20.9% twenty years ago. The launching of this capitalist boil in China is starting now, but it is about recovery and balancing, not revolution.
It remains to be seen to what extent these measures aimed at curbing the excesses that have marred the Western model of neoliberal economics over the past 40 years. China’s recalibration of economic policy aimed at boosting the shares of low- and middle-income households and strengthening the socialist economy is in many ways unprecedented. It should be applauded rather than condemned by those who support more inclusive, just and progressive global systems.
This new political development is also occurring at a time of multiple crises facing the party, resulting from the excesses of the earlier reform and opening up of the economy and the country, growing corruption and abuse of power in the country. within the party leadership as well as by a much more hostile foreign environment now and for the foreseeable future.
However, it is a battle which, even if it obtains modest results, can point the way to another model of development more sustainable, more responsible and balanced, and which avoids the pitfalls of the “middle income trap” that is. the CCP. well aware.
So far, two small victories can be discerned. The first – the rollback of the privatization of public services in the areas of education, elderly care and medical care – began when the government emphasized the importance of inclusion and affordability for young people. service providers. This important battle has been a battle that the traditional left and the new left in the United States, Britain and other Western countries have not been able to win.
The second on “third distribution” refers to creating opportunities for high income groups and businesses to give back to society, including through voluntary giving and charitable giving. Fortune reported that in the past eight months, five of China’s richest and most prominent tech billionaires have pledged at least $ 13 billion of their personal or corporate fortunes to foundations and charitable initiatives. This is a sum that will surely increase.
Many countries, including the United States, struggling with how to correct entrenched rich-poor polarization and the lack of fairness, stability and sustainability in neoliberal ideology in their part of the world, would do well. to follow China’s progress with its “” “common prosperity” with an open mind and without judgment. This may cause them to perhaps even want to imitate the CCP reform policies being implemented.
- Lim Teck Ghee, a former graduate of the Australian National University, is a political analyst in Malaysia. He has a regular column, ‘Another Take’ in The Sun, one of the nation’s print media.