Mao Zedong died in the year 1976. In 1978, China started its economic reforms and opening up. This year 2018 we have the 40 years anniversary.
The success of reforms and opening up tells the failure of Mao’s era. He was a total failure, both domestically and internationally; he made China one of the poorest countries in the world.
In general, China’s efforts towards a market economy have been successful. China created its wealth, its production among the best in the world. But this good point will not last long without the backing of clear politics. Corruption has been a serious problem; it hurts the market economy.
How to solve the problem? Besides clear politics, you need to have freedom of speech, supervision from the public, and independence of justice. But you don’t have any of these, and economic development shall surely suffer. From my experience, the main obstacle to a market economy is the interference by political powers.
In the 1980s, China enjoyed a period of clear politics; that was at the time of Zhao Ziyang and Hu Yaobang. In my case during that period, I normally had 40-60 speeches annually in colleges and universities in Beijing and other cities. That was about once in a week. The process was interrupted by the June 4th Movement in 1989.
Clear politics in the 1980s could be felt mainly with the openness for free speeches and press freedom. I have published a total of 16 books in China, more than half during the 1980s. These years, I cannot have my books published; there is no freedom of speech.
Dong Xiaoping made his achievements in reforms and opening up, but he was an obstacle in the advancement of politics. The massacre of June Fourth Movement stopped the process to clear politics, when Zhao Ziyang and Hu Yaobang were dethroned.
We all know that Jiang Zemin’s era and Hu Jintao’s time followed. They both followed Deng’s policies, without aggressive determination in reforms or opening; and they were responsible for what China is like today. Reforms and opening up have been on its propaganda fronts all the time; but that was only a slogan, no substance of any action at all.
So I have said Deng has made his achievements in market reforms, but he made a mistake not to lead the country toward clear politics and openness. This is still a problem today, difficult to solve too.
To manage a country, one needs to have a clear idea. Mao Zedong had his idea, although that was a wrong one. But he had targeting measures and solutions to problems. In my opinion, Xi Jinping has nothing we can call an idea. So he tries to copy Mao’s. But as time goes, he loses his directions. He surely is not capable to have any personal idea. Where are you going to lead the nation to? your objectives? Which way to take? What kind of personnel you are going to use? Xi is not clear about any of these. So he has to copy Mao’s idea.
US president Donald Trump said, “let’s cancel the life tenure as well!” I know he was joking. When we talk about Xi’s advisors, these people were causing him more troubles from under the table; and Xi himself is a foolish man. If he wants to stay for life on the top job, he does not have to make changes to the Constitution.
The idea of communism is over now. I myself can see things clearer now that I no longer want to be a CCP member anymore. Among many Chinese intellectuals, they all want to give up their membership. Xi was so stupid as to try to set up a CCP unit in all organizations, including private enterprises. He will fail trying to control very private businesses.
According to the Party’s Constitution, all CCP members have the right to denounce his membership. But in reality, that is not allowed. But there is a way out: you stop paying membership fees, and you shall be expelled from the Party. So I have not paid the fee for many years.
China’s Constitution states that the country exercises a People’s Democratic Dictatorship; this is the greatest joke in the world. When you have a democracy, there is no place for dictatorship; and when you have a dictatorship, democracy no longer exists. But that what our Constitution states; isn’t that funny? There is no logic there.
In reality, China has a dictatorship. It needs an open economy; it wants to do business with the world; but it sticks to this dictatorship.
I feel that it is not a right time to talk about “self-reliance”. Compared to western countries, the Chinese government accumulates huge amount of taxes and income from monopolies. This income is not for the people to share. This is the result of public ownership. It is an excess of capital, deficiency of consumption. The ordinary people are poor while the governments are rich. In western countries, conditions could be the opposite. Chinese government spends part of its income in infrastructure investment and state-owned enterprises. There is an over production capacity because the ordinary people don’t have the money to buy. That’s why it promotes exports, and starts the Belt and Road Initiative.
Let’s talk about China’s state-owned enterprises. As government, you cannot do business; you are the administrator. Who can compete with you when you are in business?
After the reforms and opening up, no political criminal was executed, different from Mao’s era. The crime “anti-revolutionary” was taken away from law. With that, they can persecute any individual. Without that, it is a good step to civilization. This tiny advancement was made only under pressure from international communities.
The term “inciting subversion of state power” is not sensible at all. No state power can be subverted. You may be able to subvert a leader, or a government, as that can be replaced with a new one. What’s the wrong of it to change a bad government?
The world is changing. All forces, internally and externally, are going towards democracy, the rule of law, clear politics and human rights protection. Whether you agree or disagree, this is reality.
Sun Yat-sen also said, “Those who submit will prosper; those who resist shall perish”. If you sail downward with the current, you will feel more at ease; if you sail against the current, you’ll need lots of efforts. This is simple reason.
Chinese leaders have all sent their kids to the United States, same as China’s middle class. That means there is the trend there.
In my view, in a short time, China will change. I am fully confident. But I may not be able to see that happen. I am ninety year old now.
By Mao Yushi
Translation by staff editor
Mao Yushi is a Chinese economist. Mao graduated from Shanghai Jiao Tong University in 1950 and was labeled a ‘rightist’ in 1958. In 1986 Mao was a visiting scholar at Harvard University and in 1990 Mao was a senior lecturer at Queensland University.