søndag 25. juli 2021

Rana Mitter: Power, control and 100 years of the Chinese Communist Party

A hundred years ago this month, a group of young men gathered in Shanghai and founded the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). This ragged dozen had no idea that the body they were founding would turn into a machine that would rule over a quarter of humanity. Today, the CCP governs a country of 1.3 billion people with cities studded with skyscrapers. It maintains some of the most entrepreneurial cultures of technological and economic innovation on earth, while also ruthlessly repressing political dissent. Mao Zedong, one of those founders, was fond of discussing the Marxist concept of “contradictions”. There are contradictions aplenty in today’s CCP.

First of all, the Chinese Communist Party governs one of the most capitalist countries on earth. The days of the Soviet-style command economy are long gone, abolished by the moves of paramount leader Deng Xiaoping and his protégé, party secretary Zhao Ziyang, to create “socialism with Chinese characteristics” — in other words, a market-driven economy in which the state would still play a major role, but as an enabler of capitalism rather than a destroyer of it. In the 2000s, a later leader, Jiang Zemin, would officially welcome business leaders to the party. 

Today it is a party that wears business suits, not boiler suits. But it is still a very male party; while there are growing numbers of women leaders at lower levels, the closer one gets to the Politburo, the fewer there are. China’s business elite has significant numbers of women; its political elite, far fewer.