Capitalism is democracy

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By Jon Parton

If you want to ask someone how they are doing in China, you would say “Ni hao ma?” Most Americans do not understand the Chinese language. In fact, there is a lot about China most Americans do not understand, language being just one of them. China is well on its way to becoming a democracy within the next 20 years.

The Chinese economy is now the second largest in the world. It finally opened up its trade borders in 1976, largely thanks to the Nixon administration’s efforts to normalize relations with the communist nation. Economic reforms led China to a complete overhaul of its longstanding system.

China’s poverty rate fell from 53 percent in 1981 to just 8 percent in 2001, according to a report by the World Bank. It is now the world’s largest exporter and has an increasing number of middle-class citizens who have benefitted by the nation’s adoption of capitalism. It also features a widening gap in wealth, something with which Americans are all too familiar.

However, China’s growth potential is limited by bureaucratic red tape and corrupt government officials. In order to start a business in China, the potential owner must get clearance by city, province, and national officials. If at any time an official declines to give the OK, there can be no business.

Elections were recently held in the village of Wukan in China’s southern Guangdong province. While villages have voted for local leaders before, this election came about by a 10-day protest and standoff between villagers and police and military officials after an elected official sold much of the village’s land to a real estate developer. It is the first time the authoritarian government has relented to the will of its people rather than suppress them.

It is just the beginning. As the middle class rises, citizens will demand better pay and working conditions. It is already happening in the Foxconn plant, the manufacturer responsible for assembling Apple’s iPads and iPhones. The company announced that it would reduce its grueling work schedule and increase pay for its workers.

The middle class in China can afford to buy cell phones and computers. They are able to bypass Chinese censors and take a critical look at the government that tries so hard to hide the world from them. It will be the middle class that will force the Chinese government to reform.

To truly understand why communism in China is doomed to fail, you need to take a step back and look at what happened to other communist countries. The downfall of the Soviet Union mirrors the situationChinais currently facing. The rise of “perestroika” and democratic reforms led to the overthrow of the Soviet regime.

Last year, former Cuban dictator Fidel Castro stated that communism had failed in Cuba. In 1979, there were a total of 23 communist nations in the world. In 2011, there were only five. China’s current economic might was only made possible by the rise of capitalism. Human history tends to fall into patterns. The patterns are in place for China to become a democracy.

Small changes are often the ones that contribute to greater changes. As one Chinese proverb said, “A tiny spark can start a fire that burns the entire prairie.”

Contact Jon Parton, news editor, at jparton@jccc.edu.

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