Thinks 203

From The Economist on China’s Communist Party: “The party has 92m members, or about 8% of the adult population. It is not an easy group to join, and admission is getting harder. Mr Xi wants to fashion it into a super-loyal elite, capable of taking on any task at the drop of a hat. Deng Xiaoping, who launched China’s “reform and opening” in 1978, spoke of separating the roles of party and government. Mr Xi has fused them, putting the party more firmly in charge. Ordinary members are now first responders to disasters such as covid-19, as well as eyes and ears in workplaces, neighbourhoods and campuses, alerting officials to potential trouble.” More: “China did not turn into a straightforward kleptocracy in which wealth is sucked up exclusively by the well-connected. Corruption did become rampant, and the most powerful families are indeed super-rich. But many people felt their lives were improving too, and the party was astute enough to acknowledge their demands. It abolished rural taxes and created a welfare system that provides everyone with pensions and subsidised health care. The benefits were not bountiful, but they were appreciated.”

And more from WSJ: “The CCP has survived because of its adaptability, but a generational shift from traditional values to more liberal attitudes could undermine its popular support.”

FT: “The economic emergence spurred by the reforms has led to the biggest and longest-run economic boom in history. In 1980, China’s annual gross domestic product stood at a mere $191bn, or $195 per capita, making it one of the poorest countries in the world. Nearly 40 years later, its GDP has increased 75 times to $14.3tn, or $10,261 per capita, in 2019. On its current trajectory, it may overtake the US as the world’s largest economy in about a decade or so. It is well known that such achievements are the products of economic reform. Deng Xiaoping, the diminutive political survivor who became China’s paramount leader in 1978, is rightly credited with a clutch of commercial liberalisations that included the de-collectivisation of agriculture, the opening of China to foreign investment, the lifting of price controls and the rolling back of state ownership, to name just a few. “

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Rajesh Jain

An Entrepreneur based in Mumbai, India.