Communism Today in China
By the mid-20th century, many thought Soviet communism might replace democracy as the dominant political ideology worldwide. Today, mercifully, only five communist countries remain across the world, co-existing with about 188 other nations—a majority with democratic governance of differing kinds. The five are China, Cuba, Laos, North Korea and Vietnam, but the focus here will be on China.
With 89 million members, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is the largest political party in the world, larger than the entire population of Germany. China is still the world’s most populous country and now has the second largest economy and a third of the world’s billionaires. However, because of its huge population (about 1.388 billion), the GDP per capita last year was under $7,000, just 55 percent of the world’s average, thus highlighting that it still has a long way to go.
Like North Korea and Russia, the party-state in China pretends to be a democracy. Isaac Stone Fish, a senior fellow at the U.S. Asia Society’s Center on U.S.-China Relations, writes: “Beijing goes on insisting—despite its lack of free and fair elections, uncensored media, or an independent judiciary—that it’s a democracy…But… lying to the people is not the sound foundation good governance makes. In the seven years I lived in China, no Chinese person who was not a Communist Party hack could tell me with a straight face they were living in a democracy.”
Wei Jingsheng of the Chinese democracy movement observes from America on whether democracy exists within the Party itself: “The constitution of the Chinese Communist Party very clearly states: the whole country of China must obey the CCP leadership, the whole CCP must obey the central committee of the CCP… Some people said Deng Xiaoping created a democratic atmosphere within the CCP… (He) was retired at home (in 1989) when he called a few retired old men who were just as angry as he was, and thus they were able to remove the Secretary-General of the Communist Party as well as decide on using the people’s army to kill the people. Is this ‘democracy within the Communist Party’?
In 2006, the Coalition to Investigate the Persecution of Falun Gong in China (CIPFG) asked David Matas and me as volunteers to investigate persistent claims of organ pillaging/trafficking from Falun Gong practitioners. We released two reports and a book, “Bloody Harvest,” and have continued to investigate. (Our revised report is available in 18 languages from www.david-kilgour.com). We determined that for 41,500 transplants done in the years 2000-2005 in China, the sourcing beyond any reasonable doubt was Falun Gong prisoners of conscience.
David Matas and I visited about a dozen countries to interview Falun Gong practitioners who had managed to escape both the camps and the country. They told us of working in appalling conditions for up to sixteen hours daily in these camps with no pay and little food, crowded sleeping conditions and torture. Inmates make a range of export products as subcontractors to multinational companies, including Christmas decorations and McDonalds’ restaurants toys. This constitutes gross corporate irresponsibility and a violation of WTO rules; it also calls for an effective response by all trading partners of China.
James Mann, author of “The China Fantasy: Why capitalism will not bring democracy to China” and former Beijing bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times, writes: “Democratic governments around the world need to collaborate more often in condemning Chinese repression—not just in private meetings but in public as well…Why should there be a one-way street in which Chinese leaders send their own children to America’s best schools, while locking up lawyers at home? The Chinese regime is not going to open up because of our trade with it.”
Premier Wen Jiao-bao noted before leaving office in 2012, “Without the success of political structural reform, it is impossible for us to fully institute economic structural reform. The gains we have made… may be lost… and such a historical tragedy as the Cultural Revolution may happen again.”
Governments, investors and business people should also examine why they are supporting the violation of so many basic human rights in order to increase trade and investment with China. This has resulted mostly in national jobs being outsourced to China and continuous increases in bi-lateral trade and investment deficits. Are we so focused on access to inexpensive consumer goods that we ignore the human, social and natural environment costs paid by abused Chinese nationals to produce them?
Many Chinese nationals seek the same things as the rest of the world: safety and security, the rule of law, respect, education, good jobs, democratic governance, and a good natural environment. The party-state must end its systematic violations of human rights and begin to treat its trade partners with respect if the 21st century is to move towards harmony and coherence.
David Kilgour, a lawyer by profession, served in Canada’s House of Commons for almost 27 years. In Jean Chretien’s Cabinet, he was secretary of state (Africa and Latin America) and secretary of state (Asia-Pacific). He is the author of several books and co-author with David Matas of “Bloody Harvest: The Killing of Falun Gong for Their Organs.”