In the latest episode of Global Pulse, host Erin Coker asks whether China's 60th anniversary festivities were a display of power for the world or just for Chinese citizens. Watch the episode and leave your comments below!
Media worldwide covered China's celebration of 60 years of communist rule, acknowledging China's rise over the past six decades, while also pointing out its spotty human rights record and the barring of its own citizens from attending the festivities.
Such general wariness of the Communist Party of China's (CPC) celebration may be indicative of a greater global anxiety concerning China's new place on the world stage. In marrying the tenets of communism with explosive economic growth, the country has, perhaps, come to embody the worst of communism and capitalism -- reckless urbanization within the rigid framework of a repressive authoritarian system. The result? A growing power whose rapid industrial expansion and repression of personal freedoms is both a detriment to its people and a possible threat to western interests.
Some experts question the durability of the so-called "authoritarian capitalism" model. "The more open and competitive an economy becomes, the greater the pressure to liberalize political institutions and democratize civil society," notes Tim Dunne in a Guardian editorial. "China wants the former while resisting the latter."
For state-run Chinese media however, capitalism remains an opposing ideology that is distinct from both the country's government and its burgeoning economy. A recent opinion piece in the state-run People's Daily extols socialism as the country’s historical choice, while an article on the CCTV website attributes China's private sector expansion to the country's larger socialist market economy.
In Yasheng Huang's 2008 book, Capitalism with Chinese Characteristics, the MIT professor points to reforms of governance, not market reforms, as crucial for China’s brand of capitalism to thrive. "Many of the endemic problems in the Chinese economy today—massive pollution, corruption, inefficient capital deployment, land grabs, and so forth—cannot be tackled without…reforms of Chinese political governance," a Reuters article notes in an analysis of Huang's book.
In the end, whether seen as a pure success story, a threat to the west, or the worst of two economic systems, China's continuing rise assures that it will not be ignored.