For decades, life in China has evolved around its local version of let-it-rip capitalism.
Although technically a “communist” country, the government had trusted the runoff economy, believing that allowing some people to become extremely wealthy would benefit all of society by pulling it out of the disastrous quagmire as quickly as possible. Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution. as possible.
To some extent, it worked. A sizeable middle class has emerged and people from virtually all walks of life now have a better standard of living.
Since the stagnation of the 1970s, China has been propelled to the top of the list, now challenging the United States for global economic domination.
But that left a chasm of income disparity.
He is there to be seen in the children of those who were in the right place at the right time.
Parents who were able to take over factories in the 1980s made exorbitant profits that paid for their offspring to now drive flashy sports cars in glittering cities, passing construction workers who were walking past. wonder how they will ever be able to afford to buy a house.
The Party’s prison release card had always been the phrase “with Chinese characteristics.”
The concept of socialism – “with Chinese characteristics” – allowed the government a great deal of philosophical latitude to run a society that in many ways was not at all very socialist.
Secretary-General Xi Jinping seems to have decided that this is no longer acceptable.
The Chinese government, under his leadership, began to put the Communist back into the Communist Party, at least to some extent.
The new slogan is “common prosperity”.
He hasn’t really appeared on the street-side propaganda posters yet, but it’s not far.
It is now the cornerstone of what the Chinese leader does.
Repression on daily life
Under this banner, targeting tax evasion by the rich makes more sense, as do measures to make education fairer by banning private tutoring companies. The ongoing crackdown on the country’s tech giants can also be seen as part of the plan.
So does Xi Jinping really believe in this idea of ââa communist project? It is difficult to be 100% sure, but some observers would say it certainly appears to be.
For comparison, in the past it was unlike many other Party officials.
The point is that – along with the wealth redistribution aspects of the Communist path – Mr. Xi also seems to believe that it means suppressing the Party in most aspects of daily life, as the only realistic way to accomplish what needs to be done. be done.
Are kids lazy, wasting their youth playing video games? Party to the rescue: three-hour play limit.
Teenagers who have their minds poisoned by stupid idolatrous television? Party to the rescue: “sissy-looking” boys banned from programs.
Demographic Time Bomb: Once again, the Party has the solution: the three-child policy for all!
Football, cinema, music, philosophy, babies, language, scienceâ¦ the Party has the answers.
Disagree with his father’s beliefs
To try to understand what made Xi Jinping the leader he is today, we have to take a look at his journey.
His father, Xi Zhongxun, was a Communist Party war hero known as a moderate who was later purged and imprisoned during Mao’s time.
At the time, Mr. Xi’s mother was forced to report his father. After his father’s formal rehabilitation in 1978, he pushed for economic liberalization in Guangdong province and is said to have defended one of China’s most progressive leaders, Hu Yaobang.
Given the persecution of Mr. Xi’s father at the hands of Communist Party fanatics, given his father’s penchant for reform, many have wondered why Xi Jinping now appears to be leading the Party in a direction that would seem at odds with it. his father’s beliefs?
There are various possible explanations.
Maybe he just disagrees with his father’s line on some political issues.
Or perhaps the Chinese leader intends to pursue a plan which, while different from his father’s priorities, will not come far from the politics of the Mao era. At least not intentionally.
However, it still looks quite remarkable.
When his father was sent to prison, Xi Jinping, aged 15, was forced to go to work in the fields for years, living in a cave house.
These tumultuous times clearly hardened him but could easily have turned into a hatred of politics, especially of a harsh variety.
Some Chinese observers have speculated that he perhaps believed that only a strong leader could guarantee that China did not return to the chaos of the 60s and 70s.
And remember the rules have now been changed so he can stay in power for as long as he wants.
One of the reasons for all this guesswork is that we never hear him explain what he does in terms of decisions. Chinese leaders do not give interviews even to compliant Party-controlled media.
Mr. Xi shows up in rural villages for television opportunities and is greeted by orchestrated crowds of cheering locals who receive his wisdom on growing corn or other aspects of their work, and then he leaves.
It is therefore difficult to predict what new rules, restrictions or guidelines might be imposed on economic activity in China or how far it will go.
In recent times, barely a week has passed without a major change in the regulations governing one part or another of the Chinese system.
It was, frankly, difficult to follow them. Many of these changes came completely out of nowhere.
It is not that there is an innate problem here with the state controlling various levers of production. It’s up to economists to debate what is most effective. The problem was the sudden uncertainty.
How can someone reliably make investment decisions if they don’t know what the ground rules will be in a month’s time?
There are those here who see the whole process as a natural part of the “growing” country. In areas that were not regulated, regulations were needed.
If so, then this period of shock tactical transition may just be a temporary state that will eventually subside as new rules become clear.
But we do not know in any way what will be the duration or the width of these movements.
One thing is certain, any change must be seen through the prism of Xi’s will for “common prosperity” at a time when the Party will not give up an inch of its power by implementing it and, in China, you will. You can either get on board this truck or get run over by it.
This is the first in a three-part series devoted to the changing role of China in the world.
Parts two and three will explore how Beijing is rewriting the rules of doing business and the global implications of this.