Scientific and political writing of Paweł Krawczyk (

Communist China, really...?!

There are two primary groups of people who talk about #China being a “communist” country and for both it had replaced USSR as the archetype country – an absolute evil of “central planning” for US neoliberals, and a modern “socialist utopia in making” for diehard communists.

The opinions I've see in discussions with the latter indicate quite clearly that the picture of China as “success of #communism” is being actively distributed by some left-wing activists. Just as in case of neoliberals, whose semantic confusion about socialism I discussed in the past, China – although formally ruled by a Communist Party of China – is as far from communism as practically possible.

State-owned-enterprises (SOE), which could be considered one way of “collective ownership of means of production”, are a significant part of Chinese economy and control strategic sectors, but in total they account for just 40% of GDP.[^1] The remaining 60% is output from a very broad spectrum of micro, medium and large private enterprises. It's hard to call a country “communist” if more than half of its enterprises is privately owned...

Second argument I've heard is that China maybe departed from communism in 70's but is now gradually nationalising its economy again, and thus is “on its way to communism”. Indeed, since then the People's Bank of China has gradually nationalised most of the private banks as they defaulted in wild-west economy. With entry of China into WTO however, banking market had been significantly liberalised and has a number of banks fully privately owned such as China Merchants Bank.

As an anecdotal evidence, do watch this Voice of China (posted by Channel 4 in UK, 2011) where students from China talk quite openly about what does work in their home country, and what doesn't:

China is facing difficulties internally, when people from outside look at China, they just see 8% growth, but people inside China see unemployment, inflation, increasing cost of houses.

Notably, under communist doctrine unemployment cannot even exist![^2]

Lastly, if the objective of communism is increasing income equality then China had departed from it by light years: Gini index for China is 0.385 (per WolframAlpha), only 7% smaller than... USA (0.414), a model capitalist economy. In 2010 income inequality in China peaked at 0.44, beating USA and Russia. For comparison, Czechia income inequality is just 0.249, but nobody calls it “communist”.

China is certainly a country with high share of state enterprises in the economy, but this is no way a criterion of economy being communist or not. I have already discussed the postulates of communism in detail, and very few of these are even present in modern China.

[^1:] WEF How reform has made China's state-owned enterprises stronger, 2020
[^2:] USSR dealt with unemployment simply by... mandatory employment: everyone had to be employed somewhere by law. Housing on the other hand was “given for free” in a very Soviet way – they were neither given, as people were allocated as tenants in state-owned houses, nor for free, as they paid a basic rental. Families also could wait 20 years to get an allocation due to never-ending “temporary shortages”, and they could be kicked out of the state-owned flat if they engaged in opposition activity.

Paweł Krawczyk