Socialist Studies Socialist Studies

Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics

It's 100 years since the Chinese Communist Party was set up under the dictatorship of Mao - and there was an uncritical article in the French newspaper paper LA MONDE, (China's balancing act: power or prosperity? By J-L Rocca, July 2021) praising its historical development.

The Communist Party of China was set up in 1921, just a few years after the Bolshevik coup in Russia. The Party is based on Leninist model, authoritarian leadership, a one-party state, control of the media, totalitarian dictatorship, secret police, party control of the unions and expansion of aggressive armed forces. It is alleged to have 700 million members.

The Communist Party in China likes to refer to itself as "socialism with Chinese characteristics". Socialism has never been established in China. Nationalisation is state capitalism. Where you have a working class you have class exploitation and class struggle. The State exists to conserve the power and monopoly of the ruling class, in particular the private or state ownership of the means of production and distribution.

With 'Marxism- Leninism' in power, you get the emergence over decades of a "new class" - as the apparatchiks gain wealth from their positions of power and political control. This had been the case in Russia and Yugoslavia. A ruling class with access to commodities and services denied to the majority of the population live a life apart and distinct from the rest of the population.

The Chinese Communist Party was responsible - under the 'Great Helmsman' Chairman Mao - for a massive famine, caused by their policy and their method of government.

The "Cultural Revolution" of the 1960s, also instigated by Mao and a Party clique around him, saw the death or imprisonment of thousands, with workers and students forced out of the City into the land. The "cultural revolution" foreshadowed the genocide of Pol Pot in Cambodia during the 1970s, a regime influenced by the ideas of Mao.

Under Xi and his predecessors, it is follows racist policies towards the population of Tibet and the Uighurs. Opponents of the state are held in concentration camps, tortured and indoctrinated. Criticism of the regime is not tolerated as seen by the brutal suppression of protests in Hong Kong.

And the Communist Party waged war against protesters against the dictatorship with the Tiananmen Square massacre. Troops armed with assault rifles and accompanied by tanks fired at the demonstrators and those trying to block the military's advance into Tiananmen Square. Thousands were killed, injured and imprisoned.

The Chinese government, controlled by the ruling polit bureau, has used forced sterilisation as a form of crude birth control. Ironically the policy has proven self-defeating with a drop in population affecting access by capital to sufficient number of exploitable workers. China scrapped its decades-old one-child policy in 2016, replacing it with a two-child limit which has failed to lead to a sustained upsurge in births. The cost of raising children in cities is prohibitive for many workers (BBC NEWS 31 May 2021).

And its current 'Belt and Road' expansion is imperialist in its intent. The Belt and Road Initiative, reminiscent of the Silk Road, is a massive infrastructure project that would stretch from East Asia to Europe. The purpose is to impose global economic power and political hegemony for Chinese capitalist interests around the globe. The imperialist project is seen as a threatening expansion of Chinese power, and the United States has struggled to offer a competing economic and political alternatives.

Locked in a global conflict with US capitalism China's military expenditure, the second highest in the world, is estimated to have totalled $252 billion in 2020 ( This represents an increase of 1.9 per cent over 2019 and 76 per cent over the decade 2011-20. Like any other capitalist state, the Chinese government is prepared for war and conflict, seizing territory, monopolising raw resources and defending trade routes and spheres of influence.

As Socialists, we argue that "Socialism is not socialism unless it is democratic".

And the Chinese ruling party dictatorship is not anything but a corrupt authoritarian dictatorship, trampling over the lives of their wage-slaves. It's Leninist ideology has nothing to do with Marx who insisted that socialism could only ever be established by the working class and the working class alone.

And the working class in China are exploited just as ruthlessly as they are in the rest of the world. The class struggle in China is a daily occurrence as employers try to extract the highest rate of exploitation as possible and this is resisted. Despite strikes not being permitted workers periodically strike for higher pay and better working conditions.

The Chinese Communist Party may be criticised by liberals and conservatives but you will not see in the capitalist media a critique of the communist party by socialists. Socialists have a powerful refutation of the Chinese Communist Party. We use a Marxian explanation of why the Chinese Communist Party has nothing to do with socialism/communism.

The Chinese revolution can be placed within Marx's theory of history as a capitalist revolution which would lead a feudal country into the conditions of an advanced capitalist country with industry and an accompanying working class. Peasants would be driven from the land by force or economic necessity and form a working class with its own economic and political interest. That is what the Chinese Communist Party has achieved over the bodies of millions of peasants and workers.

And as a capitalist country it has a constant class struggle between employers and workers with the Chinese Communist Party siding with employers. Despite the power of the state, workers still strike, there is dissent and questioning. Socialist ideas can still be assessed as can be seen by the number of visitors to our web site from China.

There has never been socialism in China. There has never been common ownership and democratic control of the means of production by all of society. Production in China takes place for profit not to directly meet social need. This has created billionaires of unimaginable wealth much of it invested abroad.

The fashion to be Maoists and open Maoist bookshops as in 1970s has long since passed. However there are still Maoists today giving their support to Chinese capitalism on the basis that any country who is an enemy of the United States is "our friend". It is the politics of the idiot.

And the monolithic Chinese Communist Party is not immune from the contradictions and powerful forces of global capitalism. World war could shatter its power. Within the Communist Party there are bitter factions vying for control, there are economic interests in China wanting their own political representation and there are national struggles which will cause civil war, secession and separate capitalist regions.

And the class struggle will create socialists in China who will try to form their own democratic and principled socialist political party. Socialists look forward to the day when workers in China will organise with their fellow workers to replace capitalism with world socialism.

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