When will communism in China end?

Is China Still Communist?

Beijing l Over three and a half hours, Xi Jinping mentioned the word "socialism" 148 times. In the tiresome speech of the head of state and party, Karl Marx also appears 18 times. A hammer and sickle in gold next to red flags decorate the podium of the party congress, which only meets every five years. Language and symbols deliver what is expected of a Communist Party. It seems as if the spirit of Marx blows through the Great Hall of the People. But the German theoretician of communism would probably turn in his grave if he saw what is happening in his name in China: wild capitalism, exploitation and greed.

Three delegates to the party congress in Beijing alone have assets of between $ 900 million and $ 1.3 billion. The number of the super-rich with property of more than 300 million US dollars in China rose this year by 348 to 2130. "That is twice as much as five years ago and four times as much as ten years ago," reports Rupert Hoogewerf, who compiles the rich list of the prestigious Hurun magazine every year.

Is China still communist? No, says the Chinese historian Zhang Lifan. “There is an elitist capitalism that carries a socialist flag in front of it,” he says. “People with huge fortunes now hold power. They exploit the lower classes. ”The privileged would have monopolized property, resources and power in the hands of the party. “A couple of oligarchs sit on great prosperity, and the social distribution is extremely unjust.” All that remains of communism is autocracy - the sole rule of the property class.

The list of lawsuits is long: workers toil for 50 to 60 hours for little wages in Chinese factories. Construction workers lose their jobs if they fall off the scaffolding and injure themselves. Workers have few rights and get fired quickly. Independent unions are not allowed. The employee representatives in large companies belong to the official trade union federation and usually do common cause with the bosses. Worker activists are silenced or even jailed for denouncing abuses.

The gap between rich and poor is growing, only in a few other countries in the world is it greater. The class society already begins with the place of residence (Hukou), on which school attendance and social benefits depend. The rigid system cemented the differences between the backward country and the rich metropolises, where today more Ferrari, Porsche and Rolls Royce drive than in European metropolises. Xi Jinping speaks of "Marxism of the 21st century".

"You create an illusion to deceive people," says Zhang Lifan, once a member of the Academy of Social Sciences. “You don't believe in it yourself. What they do is exactly the opposite of what they say. Nobody believes them anymore. ”Many rub their eyes at how China's communists bring Marx and Mercedes, Louis Vuitton and Lenin under one roof.

“It doesn't matter if a cat is black or white. The main thing is that it catches mice, ”said the great economic reformer Deng Xiaoping after the failure of communism and the chaos of the Cultural Revolution (1966-76). Pragmatism replaced communist ideology.

Xi Jinping even elevates the growing discrepancy between claim and reality to a virtue. "In the movement of contradictions, a society makes progress," said the party leader in his speech on Wednesday. “Where there are contradictions, there is also effort.” He is in good company.

Even the pioneers of communism agreed "that contradictions serve as a driving force for progress and the further development of entire systems", as Matthias Stepan from the China Institute Merics in Berlin explains.

"So for ideologically stable Chinese leaders, contradictions are not a problem," says Stepan. "Exploitation and social hardship are just the negative effects of the current economic system."

Insignificant side effects that could be neglected. The more than three decades old reform and opening-up policy, which successfully introduced capitalism, is justified by the fact that China is only in the “transition”, in a “preliminary stage of socialism”.

While cadres convert their governmental power into economic power and enrich themselves with the system, it is argued that China must first develop “100 years” before the “fully socialist stage” can begin. So China has to get rich before it can afford communism.

“Achieving the 'fully socialist stage' is an intermediate goal on the way to communism,” says Matthias Stepan. Inequality can thus be defended as a “transitional state”. Class struggle is no longer on the red flags of the Communist Party anyway. "Since the late 1990s, it has seen itself more as a ruling than a revolutionary party."