China’s former leader Deng Xiaoping allowed the country to embark on a liberal economy, while repressing communist ideology. That “China Model” helped economically, but it was only useful in a temporary transition, writes political analyst Shirley Ze Yu in the Interpreter. Now president Xi Jinping swallows Deng’s bitter capitalist poison pill, she writes.
Shirley Ze Yu:
China’s contemporary economic renaissance, measured across the past 40 years, is largely an orchestration of the expansion of capitalism, and the repression of communist ideology. The economic divergence brought forth by the Global Financial Crisis, between China and the West gave China the legitimacy to crown its unique “China Model”.
This China Model is a fallacy. It was liberalism that has led China to its reform success, not in spite of. China’s economic growth has been in lock step with a liberal reform agenda. The aggrandized China Model is nothing more than the twilight zone for an economy in transition. For China, it has been an exceptionally elastic and successful one.
To bring China, engulfed in class-based social destruction, towards global economic convergence, late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping replaced dogmatic Maoism with pragmatic utilitarianism. In a John Stuart Mill way, it was about the greatest good for the greatest number.
Utilitarianism is amoral. Deng had one objective – economic growth.
When the West challenges China’s human rights records, the plausible reply has always been that China lifted more than 800 million people out of poverty. For a nation that indoctrinated utilitarianism at its core of national political governance up until the Xi Jinping era, this was indeed a stellar record.
Deng may have spared China from Maoism. His utilitarian prescription for the cure, however, is economically prosperous, but politically poisonous. Now 40 years on, the effect of this poison is spreading, seen through Hong Kong, China’s ethnic and religious territories, foreign policy, and virtually every fiber of the Chinese economy.
Utilitarianism created China’s economic euphoria, and with it the delusion that it may surpass fundamental human moral challenges, both within and beyond its borders.
Xi has swallowed Deng’s poison pill.
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