The Communist Party of China: a name that is often followed by headlines about human rights abuse, economic might and questionable politics. But it’s not all doom and gloom apparently. Here a Chinese studies student, who lived and studied in China for a year, shines a more positive light on the Communist Party, showing what the Party has achieved for China, the reasons for their actions and what lies behind their success.
The Communist Party of China, or CPC, is often making headlines for the wrong reasons. Western politicians like to wade in on Chinese politics and berate them for their human rights record without having any grasp on Chinese culture or history, both of which are vital to understanding any country’s politics. These are the same politicians occupying foreign lands, killing, and displacing millions of civilians in the process.
It is widely known that in China you obey the government or risk severe consequences. This may seem severe, but if you look at the country’s history it’s not that surprising. The condensed version: almost constant warring and change within empires and dynasties coming amidst significant social fragmentation. There is one thing, however, that remains constant throughout this history – civilian uprising. There’s nothing like a rebellion of the people to bring down the ruling house and plunge the whole country into chaos and war for the next few decades. And you wonder why it’s illegal to protest in China? If the state loosened its grip, even a little, everything could very easily and rapidly unravel. I understand repression as a means of maintaining stability.
Statistically, it’s ridiculous that China even survives as an empire. It is roughly the same size as Europe, yet has nearly twice the population, has 50 state-recognised ethnicities and just as many, if not more, languages, including scores of dialects. It’s the diversity of Europe squeezed into one country, and yet in Europe we are struggling to just maintain a common currency. With a society that is so diverse, any fragmenting within it could easily and quickly lead to chaos.
The government is also frequently criticised for suppressing individual expression – something I actually don’t think the Chinese lack after having lived there – and forcing uniformity. I don’t see what’s wrong with uniformity. People get along together much better in China than in any European country I’ve been to. Shared beliefs really do benefit society. In particular, I think the restriction of religion does a great deal of good reducing conflict. People can still follow certain religions in China, and many do, but it is kept personal and rarely enters the public sphere. Unlike the United States, there’s no room for extremism and evangelising, two forces that have nearly torn their union apart. Europe, too, suffers from an influx of extreme Islam and is facing a similar struggle at the worst possible time for their reunion.
People should also not forget the wonderful results of Chinese Government leadership. They opened up the country, influencing the West, and have made the country the most prosperous in the world. Although China is labeled as a communist country, capitalist consumerism is thriving. Any highway or city across the country is littered with billboards advertising everything from housing to milk. The economy is booming and everyone’s getting richer. Even those living in the rural backwaters are enjoying perpetually increasing standards of living. After a century of occupation, famine and social upheaval, many Chinese are just happy to have food on the table and time to relax, play mah-jong and have a chat with their neighbour.
So while maintaining their status as a communist nation, the party has successfully opened up China and brought it into the modern world, whilst holding onto their power and maintaining social and economic stability. No easy feat. This is down to the general rule of China: You can do what you like, as long as you do as you’re told. Keep to the rules, don’t get on the wrong side of the Party and you can spend your life and money as you wish and are free to prosper. And people for the most part are happy with that.