The Chinese strides
70 years of the communist regime’s unhindered and ruthless focus has made China the second-largest economy in the world
Few countries in the world have seen a single political party, following a democratic succession system within, enjoying such a long uninterrupted power and political authority as the People's Republic of China. Under the Communist Party of China's (CPC) seven-decade rule since 1949, the country has evolved from an economic backwater into a world economic powerhouse. Since the success of the October revolution in 1917 by the Bolsheviks and Red Guards along with other Left groups, Russia was under a one-party rule till 1991. However, the political succession system was less comfortable in Russia than in China, under the Left rule. In fact, China learnt a lot from the evolution of Russia's socialist system, its frequently interrupted pace of economic reform, especially during the cold war period against the United States and its West European allies, until the demise of its much cherished socialist political system in 1991.
Cuba is the only other country under a prolonged communist rule, under 'one state-one party' principle since 1959. Cuba is constitutionally defined as a Marxist-Leninist socialist state, guided by political and economic ideas of Karl Marx, Friedrich Engles and Vladimir Lenin. Behind the success of China's communist system are its fast-growing economy, high employment rate, military might and massive foreign exchange reserves. The world's largest economy by 'purchasing power parity' (PPP) and second-largest in terms of US dollar value, China is solidly on a path to becoming a very strongly 'powerful socialist country' by 2050 that remains the centennial goal of President Xi Jinping's Chinese dream. Xi's 'one belt, one road' (OBOR) policy is part of an initiative to economically rule the world.
It is difficult to believe that 70 years ago, China, having almost one-and-a-half times the size of India's population, had a much smaller economy than that of India, which was liberated in 1947 after a 150-year-old British rule. In 1950, China's GDP was only around $28 billion as against India's $30.6 billion. China's production of steel, coal, power, engineering and agriculture was all much too less than India's. Thanks to its one-party communist regime under some highly pragmatic political leaders, starting with revolutionary founder-chairman Mao Zedong to its present president Xi Jinping, China is now the world's largest producer of coal, steel, power and construction materials. It boasts some of the world's best ports and transport systems, construction engineering and defence production.
China is the world's largest export house. It also has the world's biggest army and one of the most equipped naval forces. China's political leadership has been ruthlessly focussed. The economic wellbeing of the state receives the top priority although development programmes may have often unsettled some people. Political protests and dissents are ruthlessly handled. The people of China and the world will long remember the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre. In 1989, following several weeks of demonstrations, Chinese troops entered Tiananmen Square on June 4 and fired on civilians, killing thousands. The rally at Tiananmen Square drew an estimated 1.2 million people.
Nevertheless, the economic achievements of China's strong communist system, which had over the years got itself reformed to allow the politically-controlled rise of the bourgeoisie and private industry in vast areas, have been unparalleled in the world. In 2018, China's GDP was US$13.61 trillion. China's nominal GDP surpassed that of Italy in 2000, France in 2005, the United Kingdom in 2006 and that of Germany in 2007, before overtaking Japan in 2010, making China the world's second-largest economy after the US. But adjusting for PPP, China became the world's second-largest economy as early as 1999 surpassing Japan and toppled America to become the biggest economy since 2014. China's population now stands at 1.417 billion, the largest in any country. According to the 2010 census, 91.51 per cent of its population was Han Chinese, and 8.49 per cent were minorities. Its population growth rate is only 0.59 per cent, among the lowest in the world. China's historic policy encouraging the migration of its people to other parts of the world has led to the emergence of powerful Chinese communities in a number of countries to the great advantage of Mainland China.
In contrast, India, under a multi-party political system, frequent inter-party conflicts and bitter centre-state political relations, remained somewhat directionless on its economic, industry and trade, population, development, job and security policies. India is still struggling to raise its GDP to the level of $3 trillion. India's per capita GDP averaged only $753.30 between 1960 and 2018. It reached an all-time high of US$2,104 in 2018 and a record low of $330.20 in 1960. After 72 years of independence, India's industrial sector accounts for only 29.02 per cent of its GDP. The 'free-to-choose' population expansion policy witnessed a massive growth of the country's headcounts — from only 330 million in 1947 to nearly 1.4 billion now.
Strictly speaking, India does not follow any well-researched development model that should help grow its economy fast. The public sector, which served as a strong pillar of its economy until the mid-1990s, is being randomly privatised for funding national budget expenditure. In contrast, China's massive economic expansion is being led by its giant state-owned corporations. In the words of veteran Chinese economic planner Li Deshui, the former head of China's National Bureau of Statistics, Chairman Mao said in 1958, 'if we have grains in one hand and steel in the other, we have nothing to worry about.' Li said "China had 650 million people in that year, and many didn't have enough food; now we have 1.4 billion people and everyone can have as much food as they want. China's surplus steel output each year is equivalent to the total steel production of the US." This sums up China's economic growth in 70 years.
(Views expressed are strictly personal)