ArrowArtboardCreated with Sketch.Title ChevronTitle ChevronIcon FacebookIcon LinkedinIcon Mail ContactPath LayerIcon MailPositive ArrowIcon PrintIcon Twitter

Xi Jinping points China to Communist Revolution 2.0

President's Mao-like common prosperity policies could end up terrorizing Chinese

Xi Jinping marks the Chinese Communist Party's 100th anniversary on July 1. His policies are becoming more like Mao Zedong's.   © Xinhua/Kyodo

BEIJING -- Chinese President Xi Jinping on Aug. 17 announced policies toward achieving "common prosperity," a redistribution of income arrived at through new remuneration, tax and donation systems.

Twenty-six hours after the policies were unveiled, tech giant Tencent Holdings said it would provide 50 billion yuan ($7.8 billion) to the common prosperity initiative.

China needs income redistribution, but even with the flurry of announcements, societal tensions are mounting.

This is because Xi's policies are becoming ever more similar to those implemented by Mao Zedong. Here are some of the echoes of Mao's policies China hears today:

Attack local tyrants, divide up the farmland:

In its early days, the Chinese Communist Party won the hearts of peasants by seizing farmland from its owners and redistributing it to the peasants.

Donations under the initiative of common prosperity are supposed to be voluntary, but the policies call for "adjusting excessive incomes and prohibiting illicit income." These words have great power in a country where leaders, not laws, determine what should and should not be done.

Public-private joint management:

Under this economic reform, "delighted" private company owners were forced to dedicate their enterprises to the party.

In July, the Education Ministry said private schools should be operated by public authorities or abolished under certain conditions. A private high school in Henan Province won praise by swiftly deciding it "will donate everything to the government."

In another example, some cash-strapped private companies that relied on government rescue funds have been put under state control. Also, many private enterprises such as Alibaba and Tencent have internal party organizations that can serve as the foundation for de facto nationalization.

Supply and marketing cooperatives:

Along with people's communes and rural credit cooperatives, these took charge in distributing produce and supplying materials while heeding a rations system.

In June, the national organization of supply and marketing cooperatives -- all but forgotten since Deng Xiaoping introduced his reform and opening-up policy in 1978 -- made a surprise announcement: It will team up with the People's Bank of China and other parties to establish a business model covering everything from production to supplies and marketing to credit in rural areas. If materialized, it's a return to the era of the people's commune.

Why is Xi implementing policies that could make capital markets uneasy and put the brakes on innovation? If the "revival of the Chinese race" is the Chinese dream, policies that deny the path set by Deng and hamper economic development will certainly backfire.

But a close examination of Xi's ideology reveals a different ambition. Below are excerpts of important speeches about the developmental stage of Xi Jinping Thought.

"Marxism argues that humankind will inevitably take a path to communism, but it will be achieved through historical phases."

"Comrade Deng Xiaoping said socialism is the primary stage of communism and China is at the primary stage of socialism, in other words, at the undeveloped stage."

"With that judgment, he promoted reform and opening-up, made historic achievements and ushered in a new era."

"We already have a rich material basis for realizing new, even higher goals."

These remarks are in line with the historical materialism of Marxism. Karl Marx argued that capitalism's contradictions prompt socialist revolutions and eventually lead to communism. Ironically, revolutions occurred in countries where capitalism was undeveloped, and experiments to create communist societies ended in failure.

From this point of view, Xi has not denied the path taken by Deng. Through the inevitable developmental stage of the "maturing of a capitalist economy and the exposure of contradictions" brought about by Deng, Xi is leading China to Communist Revolution 2.0, an attempt to renew society.

In fact, East and West have arrived at the same historical perception of today's society. Look at the theme of this year's canceled World Economic Forum, "The Great Reset." It denotes an attempt to reflect on and re-imagine capitalism to bring about a better society.

However, Xi's revolution differs from the great reset. To borrow the words of Deng, China is at the primary stage of democracy, the undeveloped stage. If Chinese leadership suppresses people's desires by ignoring the manifestation of mature public opinions while trying to achieve innovation, it will have no way to do so but to impose strong peer pressure and terrorize people.

Domestic distortions can lead to extreme actions abroad. If China veers toward communism, major economies like Japan won't be immune to the fallout.

The future we envision now is one based on discontinuity, perhaps a power reversal or a decoupling between the U.S. and China, but we also need to prepare for a communist revolution by a superpower, a future everyone thinks is improbable.

Sponsored Content

About Sponsored Content This content was commissioned by Nikkei's Global Business Bureau.

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this monthThis is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia;
the most dynamic market in the world.

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia

Get trusted insights from experts within Asia itself.

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 1 month for $0.99

You have {{numberArticlesLeft}} free article{{numberArticlesLeft-plural}} left this month

This is your last free article this month

Stay ahead with our exclusives on Asia; the most
dynamic market in the world

Get trusted insights from experts
within Asia itself.

Try 3 months for $9

Offer ends July 31st

Your trial period has expired

You need a subscription to...

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers and subscribe

Your full access to Nikkei Asia has expired

You need a subscription to:

  • Read all stories with unlimited access
  • Use our mobile and tablet apps
See all offers
NAR on print phone, device, and tablet media

Nikkei Asian Review, now known as Nikkei Asia, will be the voice of the Asian Century.

Celebrate our next chapter
Free access for everyone - Sep. 30

Find out more