In the forty years since Deng Xiaoping reformed and opened China to foreign investment, Western media assumed that the country would embrace capitalism. But if we apply Marx’s ten-point test of communism (from the Communist Manifesto), it seems that assumption is not borne out:
Abolition of property in land and application of all rents of land to public purposes. Land reform was completed in 1953. All land is owned in common.
A heavily progressive or graduated income tax. Individual income tax runs from 3 percent to 45 percent. Until a property tax–which is meeting stiff resistance–becomes law, there are no plans to change income tax rates.
Abolition of all rights of inheritance. There is no inheritance tax, since the PRC follow Confucius’ recommendation, “First enrich the people, then educate them”. After the people are educated and a property tax legislated, expect an inheritance tax to follow.
Confiscation of the property of all emigrants and rebels. This was accomplished by 1951. Beijing today is the world’s most popular domicile for billionaires.
Centralization of credit in the hands of the State by means of a national bank with State capital and an exclusive monopoly. Mao founded the world’s richest bank, the People’s Bank of China, whose new digital RMB will allow it to deal with its citizen-owners individually, and owns the four biggest banks in the world.
Centralisation of the means of communication and transport in the hands of the State. China’s government owned media are the most trusted on earth and the communications industry is 90% state owned.
Extension of factories and instruments of production owned by the State; the bringing into cultivation of wastelands, and the improvement of the soil generally in accordance with a common plan. The Chinese people own all strategic assets–including finance, energy, infrastructure, and commodity trading companies. Soil improvement has been ongoing for seventy years and crop yields continue climbing steadily.
Equal liability of all to labour. Establishment of industrial armies, especially for agriculture. Used effectively in the early years, this has been phased out in favor of mechanised agriculture.
Combination of agriculture with manufacturing industries; gradual abolition of the distinction between town and country, by a more equitable distribution of the population over the country. The combination of agriculture and manufacturing was successfully implemented during the Cultural Revolution and the dispersion of manufacturing is still ongoing–as we see with factory relocation to Xinjiang. Urban hukou have been issued to those who want them and the population is being redistributed.
Free education for all children in public schools. Abolition of children’s factory labour in its present form. Combination of education with industrial production, &c. The OECD’s Andreas Schleicher says of China’s PISA results, “Even in rural areas and in disadvantaged environments, you see a remarkable performance. The test results showed the resilience of pupils to succeed despite tough backgrounds - and the high levels of equity between rich and poor pupils”.
The CPC, founded in 1921, became the single ruling party in 1949, by which time 300,000 members had given their lives in the war. Its membership increased from 4.5 million in 1949 to 93 million in 2020, or seven percent of China’s population. Membership in the CCP is prestigious, but membership selection is strict. Only twelve percent of applicants reach the final examination which opens the path to membership if applicants meet personal requirements. The admission process typically takes 2-3 years. In the public service, party membership is almost always mandatory for career-oriented employees–though some have reached Ministerial rank without it.
If all applicants for membership were admitted, there would be 560 million Party members today, or 40% of the population.
Composition of the CPC
Because membership makes heavy demands for volunteer work and many women care for children, only one in four members are women. Members’ average age is 28 years. Membership can provide personal opportunities but, overall, members do not profit financially from Party membership.
We estimate the returns to membership of the Communist Party of China using unique twins data we collected from China. Our OLS estimate shows a Party premium of 10%, but the within-twin-pair estimate becomes zero. One interpretation is that the OLS premium is due to omitted ability and family background. This interpretation suggests that Party members fare well not because of their political status but because of the superior ability that made them Party members. The estimates are also consistent with another interpretation that Party membership not only has its own effect but also has an external effect on siblings. Economic Returns to Communist Party Membership: Evidence from Urban Chinese Twins.The Economic Journal. Vol. 117.
The proof of the Party’s effectiveness is that there are now more hungry children, drug addicts, suicides and executions, more homeless, poor, and imprisoned people in America than in China.