Communist China at 60

As the Daily Blog noted in our previous post, Oct. 1 is the feast day of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. But this day is also fraught with a secular significance: It’s the 60th anniversary of the Communist seizure of power in China.

According to Register correspondent Father Raymond J. de Souza, the six decades of existence of the People’s Republic of China is something that merits no celebration. In an Oct. 1 National Post column titled The Great Failure Goes On, Father de Souza encapsulates the disastrous first 30 years of Communist rule under Mao Zedong as follows:

*During the first thirty years of its existence, the PRC was arguably the worst place on Earth to live. Grinding poverty abounded in many parts of the world, but Chairman Mao added catastrophic development schemes and a special measure of brutality. The victims of Chinese communism measured in the tens of millions, not counting the imprisoned and those condemned to forced labor. Secret police surveillance, informants betraying family and professional ties, and the full panoply of “re-education” measures destroyed the ancient traditions of Chinese civilization.

In the communist mind one must break a few eggs to make omelets, but it’s quite another thing to slaughter the chickens en masse. Which came first — the dead chicken, or the lack of eggs? Mao’s wickedness gave even the most enthusiastic communist fellow-travellers some pause.*

Media accounts of the three decades of Communist rule post-Mao generally credit the regime with very substantial progress. But Father de Souza argues that Communist rule remains a very destructive reality, especially when the devastating human and demographic consequences of the PRC’s coercive one-child population policy are taken into account.

Writes Father de Souza,

*An entirely poor country has developed a sizable aspiring middle class — no small achievement. But two-thirds of the Chinese population — a staggering 800 million people — are still very poor. Other countries in Asia have achieved as good or better economic results since 1949 — including Japan and India.

Meanwhile, life in the PRC means having no freedom of religion or expression, and experiencing the full powers of the arbitrary police state, even if they are used more sparingly. China has enormous ecological problems, and the one-child policy — the hallmark of the PRC’s second thirty years — has wreaked havoc with its human ecology. State regulation of family size — breeding licenses, forced sterilization, coerced abortions — is a massive, systematic violation of human rights, even if human rights advocates prefer to avert their eyes. Only the wilfully blind can ignore the results: tens of millions of Chinese girls aborted or left to die, with the consequent social problem of tens of millions of Chinese men with no prospect for marriage; generations of Chinese for whom brothers, sisters, uncles and aunts do not exist; a society older than even the shrivelling populations of Europe; and a social welfare state that will soon be overwhelmed by the indigent sick and elderly.

Japan will soon be the oldest society in history. China will be second. Japan will try this dangerous experiment as a rich country. China will attempt it as a poor one. There is perhaps a decade, at most two, before China’s violence to its own demography will means hundreds of millions of elderly people dying with no one to adequately take care of them.

Doh! I was going to do something on the PRC’s birthday, you beat me to it!

The People’s Republic of China (中华人民共和国), Argh’s overly simplistic interpretation:

The Good:
-An economic miracle - only Japan, or perhaps Germany following unification can rival the incredible economic development brought about by the PRC’s policies (side note: the Guomindang did the same for Taiwan).
-An end to foreign domination - the Guomindang and the Qing dynasty failed horribly to protect China from foreign domination and, frankly, humiliation. The Qing could not prevent the British (and to a lesser extent, French, American, Russian, etc) from imposing unequal treaties including the forced importation of opium, It would be as if, say, Columbian or Mexian drug cartels, backed by the governments of Columbia or Mexico fought a war with the United States to force the U.S. to open trade for cocaine and then force the United States to pay for the war when they lost to the cartels.

The Bad:
-The Chinese Communist Party, after initially promising a New Democracy as a prelude to a far off transition to socialism, has seized hold over all political power in Mainland China. The CCP tolerates no threat to its monopoly and has brutally surpressed any opposition that has challenged it openly.
-Religion, since this is after all a Catholic forum, has been brought under control of the state (Ministry of Religious Affaires). There isn’t even a “guarantee” of free speech in the national constitution anymore. Christianity, Buddhism, Islam, etc have been co-opted under threat of violence.

The Ugly:
-Millions of Chinese have perished due to the disastors of the Great Leap and the Cultural Revolution, to say nothing of those jailed for opposing the people’s dictatorship.
-Chinese National Minorities (there are 55) were promised autonomy prior to the Revolution, only to be continually discriminated against and, so far, meaningful autonomy has never been realized (in Argh’s opinion).

I would advise those on the forum from calling Chinese from the PRC slaves or anything implying the sort; the great majority of Chinese hate this sort of condescending attitude from foreigners even though the great majority are not pleased with the CCP entirely for the above reasons. You know how some people pick out all of America’s failings and calls America a horrible imperialist and so on and so forth (do people call you Canadians anything? I can see people being displeased with the United Kingdom but)? That’s how Chinese sometimes feel when foreigners like us beat up on their country.

Also, not that I’m a Mao apologist, but there is a great debate over how much Mao really knew during the Great Leap and when.

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