“There are decades where nothing happens; and there are weeks where decades happen.” – Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
Lenin’s words seem to be coming true. Since the Wuhan-sourced Covid-19 pandemic has gripped the entire world a whole decade seems to pass by. Ironically, this happens while majority of earth’s population stays indoors and on the verge of facing huge economic crises.
It begins in December 2019 in a wildlife wet market in Wuhan, China. A hospital in Wuhan starts receiving patients infected by a mysterious virus. 27 out of 41 patients initially infected by the virus had been to the wildlife wet market of Wuhan. Soon, the world is introduced to a global pandemic.
China’s wildlife trade is gruesome, and the Internet is full of videos showing the terrible conditions of the caged and cramped animals in these markets. It is difficult to comprehend the audacity of the Chinese government which has recently re-opened these wildlife wet markets, even as the world faces the consequences of their inhumane obsession with consuming wildlife.
Where does this absolute disregard for the global community come from? It comes from its deep-rooted Communist ideology, which by default is an isolationist philosophy and thrives on people remaining subservient to an autocratic authority. This authority is often romanticized as “the state”.
In the Communist system, the state is believed to own all the means of production instead of a select few individuals (i.e. the ‘haves’). Time and again, history has proved that nations and societies which set to implement the communist ideal have found themselves in the vicious pit of dictatorships. The Ba’ath party of Iraq, the Soviet Union, the communist party of Cuba and the North Korean Juche are but a few examples of how the Communist ideal soon becomes an excuse for totalitarian regimes.
In an article in the Washington Post, Ilya Somin lays out a detailed account of how Communist regimes have proven to be a disaster killing over 100 million people so far. Yes! The number is staggering and yet, future generations have not been warned of the havoc this outwardly liberal ideology can cause.
In the 1970s and 1980s the USA was vocal against Communism. However, the Cold War against the Soviet Union led the American establishment into several detrimental situations such as the Vietnam War. In 1989, when the USSR broke down, an already weary USA, looking desperately for a face saver post the Vietnam debacle, found a way to bring home a win. The narrative was clear – Communism was defeated; democracy and open markets had won.
Unfortunately, this narrative was nothing more than a convenient excuse to end the expensive Cold War. The pro-democratic, pro-open-market forces were still very much aware of the Communist dictatorial regimes across the world, but simply chose to ignore them out of their battle-weariness.
In the post-Soviet era, these Communist regimes weakened but managed to survive, and one amongst them, China, did more than just survive. After Mao Zedong, whose disastrous policies had brought on the biggest man-made famine in the history of mankind, died in 1976, Deng Xiaoping started to gain prominence in the Chinese establishment.
Deng Xiaoping brought in his policy of ‘Reform and Opening up’ which was described as ‘Communism with Chinese Characteristics’. Before these reforms, the real GDP per capita of China grew at 2.9% annually. Deng Xiaoping turned the tide, first by de-collectivization of agriculture and then by opening China to foreign investors. Meanwhile in China, only pro-establishment entrepreneurs were allowed to exploit its labour force and produce goods at an unmatched rate.
Suddenly, Western investors found a partner who was flexible on the issue of labour rights and could produce more at efficient costs.
China was now the new manufacturing hub of the world and for the first time in centuries, the Chinese tasted development and economic growth. Surrendering individual freedom seemed like a minor cost to bear in return for this sudden influx of wealth and prosperity.
By 2005, China’s private sector accounted for 70% of its GDP. Communism with Chinese Characteristics was essentially, Capitalism with Communist Characteristics. The single party rule, blatant suppression of free speech and sweat shops that flaunted labour rights abuse made China a perfect partner of the consumerist Western societies.
The West which fashions itself as a champion of human rights and democracy allowed China to abuse all the liberal ideals of freedom in exchange for cheap, outsourced mass production.
Leadership within the CCP kept changing, but their iron grip over Chinese people and a desire to outsmart the West did not. Soon, the West became overwhelmingly dependent on Chinese production abilities; in 2017, the US-China trade deficit alone was at a staggering USD 337 billion. Further, with global initiatives such as the One Belt One Road (OBOR), the Chinese regime began flexing its muscles and gave the world a glimpse of its imperial ambitions.
As a direct effect, the US-China trade war began in 2018. President Trump’s administration started setting tariffs and other trade barriers on Chinese goods to stop what they called “unfair trade practices”. In the 1980s and 1990s, a trade war with the USA meant absolute isolation and eventual demise of economic growth. To this day, countries such as Cuba and Iran suffer the brunt of US sanctions. However, the world had changed since then and even though Chinese producers were dependent on the American markets, it was now a two-way street.
Today, just like the USSR, China has the muscle to enforce its will on economically weak nations and the ability to crush any internal dissent. However, unlike USSR, or any other country for that matter, it has a grip on the Western markets.
The Western civilization has many qualities, but far-sightedness is not one of them. Their endemic short-sightedness has led them to believe that in Communist China, they have a partner they can trust.
The Covid-19 crisis, China’s blatant denial of any responsibility, its arrogance of pushing faulty medical equipment across Europe is merely a glimpse of a rogue and dictatorial thought process. With its growing economic power, China demands to call the shots. While the demand may have its merits, the problem lies with the mindset with which China governs its own country.
Outwardly a business-friendly country, China remains a deeply Communist regime which believes in suppressing those it swears to protect, just like any other rogue regime the world has seen.
The West has conveniently ignored this fact, but the Covid-19 pandemic might just be the wakeup call they need to acknowledge the real problem – Communism with Chinese Characteristics.
(This post was first published here on The Tilak Chronicle.)
Amogh Oak is a marketing and brand management specialist and an entrepreneur.
The views and opinions expressed in the above article belong to the author(s) and do not necessarily represent the official opinion, policy or position of Lokmaanya.